Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day 7... Numbering the Textbooks

I don't use numbers in my classroom for many things, but, for me, there are two situations in which using numbers is more-than-helpful. The first is lining up. My kids line up alphabetically. This translates into "number order." Why? I guess because it takes too many syllables to say,"alphabetical order."

When students are in alphabetical number order, I can quickly see if someone is missing. Somehow they learn that leaving a space to signify a missing person makes it easier on my tired brain. And, yes, I have had to move around a few kids because the person in front or behind them in line was not a good partner. And, yes, kids always seem to get added in mid-year (and their name never starts with Z), requiring either a re-numbering (which rarely works well) or a "phase two" strategy. I distinctly remember having someone be #2.5 in line. At least the kids in proximity to her learned decimals that year!

The other situation in which I use numbers is for textbook assignments. If you're #4 in line, you are assigned all of the books bearing #4. Our textbooks spend a lot of time on the shelves, but having them numbered allows a student to keep track of his/her books whenever we use them. Now and then, the system has even alerted me to someone who was missing. "Why is math book #17 still on the shelf? Oh, she is in the principal's office...?"

A few years ago, I found these neon adhesive labels and I knew I just had to use them for something in my classroom! Eventually, I decided that their bright color would be perfect for helping us locate our numbered textbooks. I made a very simple template  with TWO numbers so that the books could be identified from the front or from the side. A few snips with the paper cutter and everything was ready.

I just peel off the backing and apply the labels to the textbooks. Easy! There were four colors, so I alternated... That little detail makes me extra happy--and explains why the numbers look so funny when printed on a page.

I just love how the books look together. So organized!

In June, I found that the same-numbered books were missing from each collection of textbooks. This is how I knew which parent to contact because the child had left all of his books at home. The system worked (beyond looking pretty, of course!) and the missing books were returned. You will notice that the books are bar-coded. I'd like to tell you why that is the case. Alas... I have no idea! And I'm fairly certain our school does not have a bar code reader...

Here are the books lined up the shelves. A few were still on students' desks because the books fit on the shelves with little room to spare. Aren't school districts funny?

How do you keep track of textbooks in your room? Do you use a number system or something else? I'm guessing it won't be too long before there aren't any textbooks at all. I guess I will just have to resort to color-coding their iPads!


  1. You're killin' me with your amazingly-organized organization ... NICE!

    Happy Thursday,


  2. I wish wish wish we could do that... we have too much movement in our district & we've been told no to numbering. When kids leave, their books go to the office and are given to the next child (who may or may not go to me).

  3. I love the number stickers on your books! Great idea! I'm all about patterns too. Your template looks perfect!
    Grade 4 Buzz

  4. Love this idea. I need to head to Staples and track down labels that will work for my textbooks...

  5. I don't like to use numbers very much either. But I may have to try your lining up system.

    Simply Sixth Grade


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