Monday, August 4, 2014

Made4Math: Calculator Organizer

I'm not sure if this is a cultural thing or what, but my students can be extremely DESTRUCTIVE.  I'm just curious if anyone else has an issue with their students destroying anything they can get their hands on.  I never hear about it from other teachers outside of my school.  I have to keep an eye on anything that I make for my classroom from posters to pencil cups.  I even have to watch out for school property, especially window screens.  Even my (the school's) calculators are a target.  Calculators have been vandalized, intentionally broken, and even stolen.  (Interestingly, this year was the first that students stole the batteries.  I remember hearing about students stealing batteries when I was in high school, but they were used for CD players.  What in the world do teenagers need batteries for now??) 

Luckily, I was approved to get some new calculators this year.  There are two things I need though to share these calculators with confidence.  (1)  I need a way to assign my class set of calculators to students.  It will help me keep students accountable for the damage that they are inflicting on my calculators.  (2)  I need a new way to store the calculators.  The case I was handed down is pretty nearly destroyed.  (I was never really fond of the case anyway.  It is a large, clunky briefcase-type contraption.)

I remembered from my student teaching experience that my cooperating teacher swore by using an over-the-door shoe organizer to hold calculators.  She had each pocket numbered and quickly checked each pocket by touch to make sure her calculators were returned before the students left the classroom.  I knew right away that this was how I wanted to organize my calculators.  The problem was how to number each pocket.  Simply writing the numbers on them in marker won't do.  Aside from the near impossibility of me being able to write neatly on the shoe organizer, students would be able to also write on the organizer.

After some thought, I decided that I need to laminate numbers and attach them to the organizer.  This is where being a teacher and my papercrafting hobby cohesively meets.  (Knowledge of available products is a huge help!)  After buying the organizer at Target, I made a trip to A.C. Moore for a large (2") hole punch and neon green thread, and to Hobby Lobby for a double hole punch (1/16"). 
I printed and laminated the numbers and punched them out using the large punch.  Then I punched holes around each circle using the small double punch.  (This broke when I got to number 9, and I had to make a trip to Michael's to purchase a single 1/16" hole punch to finish the project.)  Then I sewed each number to each pocket.  (If I glued the numbers on, it would only be a matter of time before they were torn off.)

Here is the finished product:

And here it is up close and in action:

When I can finally get back into my classroom, I am going to print out two more sets of the calculator numbers.  One set will be taped to each calculator (over the battery door).  The second set will be taped to each desk to assign each calculator to a specific student (I assign seats).  

You can download the template for the calculator numbers here.  (I've included a second set in blue in case pink is too girly for anyone.)

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