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Work Drawers & Sale

The most common question I hear from teachers is "What do your kids do while you are meeting with small groups?"  As a resource room teacher, I didn't have to worry about that.  However, now I have 9 students with special needs at 9 different levels who need customized work while I meet with each of them 1 on 1 or in pairs.  My biggest reading group is 2 students.  I started the year with individualized work folders.
You can read about those here.  Basically, I was printing individualized work for all the students every day...a lot of books from Reading A to Z.
Here are the bins.

Inside each crate, each student had a folder for Monday-Friday.  

My principal has limited our paper and ink supply so I had to come up with a new plan.  It was also a lot of prep work to make that many books and packets a week.  My new plan was to use work drawers.  I inherited a cabinet full of games and activities.  I assigned each child a drawer (a few students share a drawer but again, no more than 2) and loaded it with games and activities that target the skills the students are working on.  I now change the drawer contents once a month.
I bought dry erase labels from Martha Stewart at Staples for the drawers.  I recommend writing with wet erase markers because as the kids touched the drawers, the writing started to come off.  
Each morning my students had to complete a checklist before going to their work drawer.  The checklist changed a little but it was something like: 
Journal Writing
Spelling Page
Sight word flash card practice
Sight word book (2 pages)
Phonics book (3 pages)
As the students worked, I pulled my reading "groups" over.  
I really like this system because it is very low maintence and the routines are easy to teach.  The drawers also served as my "When I'm Done" work.  My biggest problem with it is that so many of my students need adult support to read the directions and make sure they aren't practicing wrong. The other problem is that during times like the week before Christmas, it was slightly too unstructured.  The kids were bouncing off the walls (some literally jumped on walls).  Maybe I'm the grinch but I like a quiet, structured classroom so starting after break, I'm going to attempt centers (again). 
 Any advice as I work on setting centers up over break? 

Also - I'm going to have a Sale from December 26th to January 1st in my store to celebrate finishing Grad School!!

2 comments on "Work Drawers & Sale"
  1. I feel like we're in similar situations! I was recently told that my 4th grade math resource center class needed to be split and some kids needed 3rd grade curriculum and some needed to stay with a modified 4th grade curriculum. I actually used your post about the folders and based my "folder work" center off of what you did! It worked great because I could easily differentiate, but you're right, it does get to be a lot of papers, a lot of planning and whooole lot of grading! Maybe I'll try the drawers, that seems like a good idea and then I can still differentiate games and activities. I just hope I actually do as much planning as I think I will during break (fingers crossed!).

    Congrats on finishing grad school!! =)

    The Resource Room Teacher

  2. Thanks Ashley! I love the drawers! They are so much less planning/work than the work folder system. If you have any questions or want to bounce ideas off of someone, feel free to email me!


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