large class size

The “Check-out” card.

20141020_081445Accommodating large class sizes along with their tool and supply use in the high school classroom is not easy! My classes have on average 36 students and are allowed to go as high as 38. That is a lot of students, a lot of questions, and a lot of stuff  to keep track of! One item I use to help try to keep track of some of this is a “check-out” card.

Students are all given a 3″x5″ card at the beginning of the year. They list their first and last name in the top left corner of the card with their period number below it. The right hand corner of the card contains their locker (drawer) number and combination so that, should an item go missing for some reason, I know the first place to look. Now having their locker number and combo on the card does run the same risks as leaving a key lying around, but I am able to reset combinations if it is a problem and the cards are so easily returned if left out.

After recording attendance and the usual introduction of the day’s work, students may bring their check-out cards up to my desk to get the tools they may need. For this it is a simple one-for-one exchange, tool (scissors, glue stick, colored pencil set, etc.) for card to be traded back at the end of the period. This allows me to ensure that I have a consistent inventory of tools available for student use.

Students often need to borrow tools and supplies from the classroom to complete work elsewhere. In a case like this the check-out cards become similar to library cards in which a student may check a supply or tool out by writing the name of the tool and the date on which it was checked out on the card and leaving it with me. they may then take a tool home with them to complete the work and return it at a later date. When that supply or tool is returned I cross it out and initial the card on the line. This card is then effectively taken out of use until the tool or supplies returned. Students also use this card to check out the restroom pass so becomes important to them to return tools and supplies in a timely manner.

20141020_083054I found it useful to purchase (or in my case, make) a card organizer in which the cards can be kept available for when the teacher or student needs it. I’ve also found it useful that my organizer can be arranged to support long-term checkouts (library cards) by dividing the cards according to period number. This way I can quickly return the cards as students return supplies.

I suppose it’s important to note that this is not without problems or drawbacks . I often end up with quite a lot of students at the end of the period waiting to turn supplies in. This can take some time given stack of cards I have to go through to make the exchange. In my classroom however, I’ve made the decision to sacrifice this time to save from the time and additional cost of replacing tools.

Although the check-out card may not be perfect and I’m sure other solutions exist, I find that it is an effective tool for managing some of the “stuff” that goes into the average art classroom with large class sizes. I hope you’ve found some of my ideas useful. If you have, or have other ideas on ways to manage tools and supplies in the classroom, please leave a comment below. Thank you!

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