Math = Love: What Worked; What Didn't: Calculator Storage

Friday, April 24, 2015

What Worked; What Didn't: Calculator Storage



For the past two years, I've been frustrated by calculator storage in my classroom.  I had calculator tubs, but the calculators never seemed to make it back in the tubs.  My school provides calculators for all of our students instead of asking our students to purchase their own calculators.  Because these are the school's calculators, my students sadly don't take as good of care of them as they should.

This summer, I bought three shoe hangers at Tuesday Morning (pretty much my fav store!) to keep the calculators more organized.  I had to do some rearranging in order to even find wall space to hang up the shoe hangers.


I had this idea that I thought was pretty brilliant.  Students would enter my classroom.  They would take a calculator out of a pocket.  They would place their cell phone in the pocket.  At the end of class, they would return their calculator and retrieve their cell phone.  This would leave my room cleaner at the end of the day, and there would be no distractions from phones.

There was something I failed to account for with this plan.  My students.


During the first week of school, one student stole another student's phone out of their pocket to be silly.  So, that was the end of having students put their phones in the pockets.

I've found that my students are much more likely to put their calculators back in the shoe holders than they were when I was using a tub.  I have found that my students do a better job of putting them away if I give them a verbal reminder at the end of class to put away their calculators.  I shouldn't have to do this.  But, I haven't found a better way.

I don't want my students packing up until the very end of class, so I can't really hold the class until all of the calculators are put away.  I do like that hanging the calculators on the wall has cleared up flat table space.

Did these solve all of my problems?  No.  Have they helped?  Definitely.

Tweak I'm thinking about for next year: numbers on each calculator that match up with numbers on the pockets.

Also, I need to come up with a better system for students to check out calculators to use on their ACT exams.  Writing names and calculator numbers on post-it notes and losing them in the mess on my desk is not cutting it.


20 comments:

  1. In our school, we have calculators available for low-income students (lots of those!), but we inventory them through the library. They are checked out to the students just like textbooks and library books, and if they aren't returned (rare occasion), they are responsible for paying for them just like lost textbooks. This is also helpful because they can take them home for homework and use them in all classes (science too). I love this system!!! Less responsibility on me, more on the students, and a fairly routine task for the librarian anyway! :)

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    1. This would make my life SOOOO much simpler! I don't think we have enough calculators to check one out to each student, though. :(

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    2. We don't check one out to each student. We wait a couple of weeks into the year, time to figure out who can/will buy one, and then we start checking them out giving priority to free/reduced lunch students (which is most of them). So far, we've had enough to make it work, and the library only has about 30. But it all depends on the numbers and the willingness of students/parents to follow through on purchasing. We used Title I funds to purchase the calculators and each year if we have a little money left to spend, we add another one or two.

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  2. I have used the shoe organizers in the past, now I have rechargeable calculators with docking stations.

    What has worked....the calculators are numbered, the holders are numbered and each student is assigned a number(alphabetically so it is easy to keep up with). The students seem to be more responsible with them if they know I will call them out individually if there is one missing, written on, etc.

    However, calculator #6 has been missing for a while and all 7 that use it during the day seem to be clueless :(

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    1. I have four rechargeable calculators now, and they are awesome! I hate dealing with calculator batteries. Hopefully we'll be able to transition to these over the next few years.

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  3. I used to have the same issue with sticky notes or a list for loaned out calculators. NOW, I take the student's photo with the calculator on my phone. When they return the calculator, I delete the photo.

    My students who borrow the calculators are now trying to test the best pose with their calculator.

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  4. I love the shoe pockets! I got the clear ones at bed and bath. No tuesday mornings by me anymore. Each student gets a calculator, protractor, fun pencil and their monthly bathroom pass (with 3 stars so they can go out of my class 3 times in a month or never leave and turn the starts to EC points at the end of a month) in their numbered pocket. the calculators have the same number on the back. They like picking up their stuff in the beginning of class and so far it has worked for me. thanks for everything you share! you are an inspiration to us all!

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    1. SO smart! I'm definitely thinking about bathroom passes for next year. I have a few students who abuse the privilege to go to the bathroom during class.

      Thanks for your sweet words!

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  5. I use similar pockets in class. In addition, our desks are numbered which I can also use for calling on students, creating teams, etc. At the beginning of the year, I also label the calculators with the same numbers. Anyways, the students take the calculator that matches their number. This way, I can quickly see who still needs to return their calculator and (sporadically) who damaged theirs. We also use the numbers for testing;no sticky notes just a numbers word document. It works well for me.

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    1. I like the idea of using numbers! This would help so much with seating arrangements. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    2. yes! this is what I did one year as well. Assign each student in each class period a number that matches a calculator. when the bell rang, I'd glance at my calculator hanger to make sure they were putting them back and if one was missing, I knew who to hunt down. As for ACT testing/End of Course testing, I have students turn in their car keys for a calculator.

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    3. If students were taking their ACT tests at our school, I would totally steal this idea. But, I think they might need their keys to get to their testing location. ;) For end of course testing, that's a great idea, though!

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  6. The calculator number needs to be on the case as well as on the battery compartment of each calculator. I use name badge labels for the covers and address labels for the back. I bought a calcPal storage from EAI. It won't rip and tear like the shoe organizers and has grommets for hanging.

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    1. I actually got frustrated part way through the year and took all of the cases off. Students were leaving them everywhere around the classroom.

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    2. In my class, students also have an assigned number. This holds them accountable for their assigned calculator, and they are not allowed to grab someone else's calculator. If one goes missing, then I always know who to ask. This has seemed to help and I haven't had a calculator go missing in years!

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    3. Definitely doing this for next year! Thanks for sharing!

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  7. I just got my shoe storing system a few weeks ago! My life has changed dramatically. I can quickly see if calculators are missing before my students leave the classroom. We have lost almost 20 calculators this year and we were desperate for a solution. Who knew that $9.95 a calculator could add up so fast? :)

    I know everyone has already said it, but numbering really is the best way to keep track and hold students accountable. My students have one number for everything in my classroom. It is amazing how they treat items when they know that I know that they are the one using my items. :)

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  8. Has anyone found a way to label the calculators so that they kids won't ruin the labels....or how about making sure they don't write on the calculators?

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