Dude, Where's My Shelfwork?

1 Comment

Classroom Grouping

In one of my earlier posts, I talked about table jobs and folders. First, I will introduce the inspiration for our table “mascots”.  We have two fish tanks is our classroom, post on those later, and the tables have a species of fish pictured on them.  I have found that having a “mascot” has more of a team building effect than numbering the tables.  It also helps us organize for other things in the room such as the table jobs and folders.  The signs are cut in half so that when tables get rearranged in the room they can get reunited correctly when we restore the environment.

Table Sign

Table Sign

Fish signs we have are: Endler Guppies, Neon Tetras, Long-fin Blue Danios, Ramshorn Snails, Giant Khuli Loaches, Celestial Pearl Danios (CPDs), and Rachovii Killifish.

Most of the fish that I use for table “mascots” are ones that are in our classroom tanks, or that I have at home.  I have the CPDs at home, they are too expensive to have at school and they are skittish so not as much fun to watch.

There is only one fish that I don’t have either place because they only live for about 3 months, so if you can’t get them to reproduce, they are very heartbreaking.  We tried, unsuccessfully, to hatch some rachovii at home last year. Frustrating. They are very beautiful and colorful, so they seemed appropriate for a Montessori classroom table.

Bins with the table folders for each class period in them.

Bins with the table folders for each class period in them.

To coordinate with the tables, each class period has a color of folder and each table has a folder that matches their fish.  I can’t rave about this enough. ALL work that is turned in to me on paper goes in the table folder where students sit.  Post on this to come.

Flexible Grouping Assignments

Flexible Grouping Assignments

Another way that I group students for just the day, or alternative activities such as Literature Circles, is to create signs with students’ names on them.  I just laminated different colors of printer paper and use either a dry erase marker or overhead marker to write the names of the students on the sheets.  I intend to remake some so that each is a different color, these just happened to be the colors in the copy room the day that I needed to make them. I still have students turn in work to their original table folders to save confusion for all of us.

This allows for flexible grouping (big buzz phrase right now), which is great for Montessori classrooms since we are 6-8th grades mixed in one class.  Since the ability ranges in my students have nothing to do with their grade level, and students might have different levels depending on the skill (great at main idea, bad at compare/contrast), this allows me to regroup depending on the activity or skill we are working on.

Do you have great ways to group students? Please share in the comments!

Leave a comment

We Are Doing It TOGETHER…

Classroom jobs are very important to helping students be responsible to the community of the class.  My classroom jobs are by table so that students work together as small teams to help our class time run smoothly and make sure our environment is clean and inviting.

Classroom jobs

Classroom Jobs help students be responsible to the community.



This is our classroom jobs chart.  Each of the jobs has a card with an explanation of what is expected. There is a picture that matches the fish picture on each table so that students can be reminded of which job they are to do.

  • Materials Managers -check art supply caddies and refill glue bottles
  • Agenda -in charge of reading the Goals/Guiding Questions and list of activities for the day.  This is always interesting to watch when the students are deciding who will read it out loud to the class.
  • Time Keepers -in charge of setting the timer for our 15/20 minute reading time. THey are also in charge of letting us know it is time to do jobs before the end of class.
  • Folder Friends -pass out and collect the table folders at the beginning and end of class time.
  • Grounds Keepers -make sure all of the tables are back in position and have 4 chairs/stools to sit on. Also, they make sure the floor is picked up.
  • Paper Patrol -pass out checklists on Mondays and any other handouts needed.
  • Center Inspectors -check to make sure shelfwork is put away properly and all of the pieces are there for each activity.

Background for the cards is designed by Kindergarten Printables.

You will notice that one of the large explanation cards is askew. This is because it this table’s job to host Morning Meeting during our Foundations class. There is no Center Work, so they don’t have a double duty, and don’t get out of having a duty that week. The card itself doesn’t fit very well in the pocket, but it just seemed to belong there.

The bottom 3 on the blue pocket chart are jobs that need to be done daily, or weekly, but not for every class. This includes:

  • Ichthyologist -feeds fish and monitors water levels in the aquarium as well as letting me know if anything seems out of place…or we lose one of our finned friends.
  • Botanist -waters the plants and refills the watering can when necessary.
  • Librarian -it is their job to put books away that are turned in to the bin and repair any books that need attention. There is a different bin for those.

Is this a perfect system? No, no it is not.  However, the only real issue we have is the students need to be reminded to check their job changes on Mondays.  Occasionally, the folder friends need reminding to pass out folders, they are usually very good at getting them back.  My co-taught Special Education class need time to decide which student at the table is going to read, and sometimes a moment to practice/confer to make sure they know all of the words.  That being said, my class knows reality, and is very patient with mistakes. None of us is perfect, but we are all better together.