Tool Time

Thursday, August 1, 2013
I hope that title was enough to remind you of your love for Jonathan Taylor Thomas...the only reason I watched that show.  This post is not about power tools, sawdust, and grunting.  Instead, I want to talk about the toolboxes that I use for student materials.  My students are divided into seven groups. (Yep. It's a tight squeeze.) Each group has a toolbox of supplies that we use in class.  They have been helpful in minimizing the "I don't have a pencil" conflict, allowing for spontaneity, and speeding up transition times. 

Here's how I assemble them:

I start with a plastic tub that looks like it was made to hold shoes.  You can buy them for about a dollar a piece at Walmart or Dollar Tree.

I glue an inventory to the inside of the lid.  Students are responsible for checking their box to make sure that all supplies are back and ready for the next class.  I do a more intensive check at the end of each Six Weeks and will replace supplies then.

Before school starts, I am one of those crazy people at office supply store that is buying up pencils, markers, glue sticks and spirals by the hundreds.  It has become a point of pride that I do not buy any school supplies during the school year.  Why when you can buy them for pennies before?  My stockpile of supplies lives in tubs like this.  I will walk around and count out what I need for each group's toolbox.

Soon, you've got toolboxes that are ready to go.  Seriously, these little boxes minimize many unnecessary conflicts and keep class rolling along smoothly.  Two things:
1.  The ruler is there for the guys.  I was surprised by how many guys I had ask for a ruler at some point during the school year.  Just watch.  It's like our own little social experiment.
2.  Students will eat the glue sticks.  Okay, not literally...hopefully!  But they will use an excessive amount.  I frequently remind them that they do not have to glue for the apocalypse. In the event of the end of the world, these notebooks do not have to make it.  Scotch tape could be a good alternative.  

I do label each box for accountability.  They also keep each other in line because it's frustrating to have to use a box that is incomplete or cluttered with trash.  

What time is it?...TOOL TIME!!


  1. I actually JUST thought about using pencil boxes to make groups of markers & such for my room, because the big tub of markers dwindled down over the course of the year.
    How are your desks arranged and for how many students? I'm curious about where these boxes stay most of the time.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment!
      I have seven groups of desks, each containing 4-5 desks. The boxes stay out on the desks each day. I like the flexibility it provides. If I realizes our class is moving more quickly/slowly than I thought, I can adapt and have them grab a post-it from the box for peer review or an exit ticket. Because our school is running out of space, I share my room with a floating teacher on my conference. I have my students move the boxes to the top a cabinet on the side of the room.
      We're planning to have a "Show Us Your Classroom" link up on September 3rd. I'll be sure to take pictures that show these areas. I hope you'll join us and show off your classroom!

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  3. I've struggled all year to figure out the best way to handle supplies in my 8th ELA class. I hate taking up instructional time and having supplies stolen! With 3 1/2 weeks left of school, I'm going to experiment with these!

    1. Kacey, that's awesome! These supply boxes have changed the way I teach! Make sure you hit all of those back to school sales and keep a stock pile in your cabinet. Power're almost there!