Thursday, April 18, 2013

Art Teacher Hack :: Managing Supplies in Classpacks

You ever have one of those moments when you are teaching/planning and something occurs to you along the lines of "Why don't you just do it like THIS?" and you do that very thing and all of a sudden you have a solid chunk of time that you never had before???!!!

I had one of those moments last week when I was trying to manage the classpack of Portfolio Series Oil Pastels that I both love and hate because they are a favorite and awesome media to work with. I mean, maybe it's me? But pretty much anything in classpacks is a real pain in my side to have to deal with. Are you the same way? Well, comrade-in-suffering-by-classpacked-supplies? OUR pains shall be no more!!!!

(Perhaps I am behind on this sort of classroom and classpack management technique but just humor me, OK?)

A typical Table Box and it's contents
My main system of dealing with everyday materials is to provide each of my students with Table Boxes. This is basically a plastic shoebox sized vessel that holds every day materials - pens, pencils, erasers, simple coloring materials, etc. I usually only pull out the Table Boxes at the beginning of a lesson when the students are drafting ideas and generally trying to figure out what they will do for their personal project endeavors. For what it's worth, it works well enough. However, it stops working so well when we get toward the midway of creative process when there are specialty materials that have to be drawn in. (This is where the whole business of classpacks comes into play...)

While I would love to assume that my students (who are high schoolers and mostly trustworthy I feel like) will be able to handle something like a nicely packaged and neatly organized classpack of beautiful Portfolio brand Water-soluble Oil Pastels, the keeping of such a thing just doesn't happen and I have learned enough at this point to not expect it to start happening. And why it doesn't happen and won't probably ever happen? I don't care what the reason is. The point is this: I just want a workable solution to end the issue of broken and/or disorganized classpacks of pastels (or pens or gluesticks or whatever) so that I don't have to have individual vessels for every little portion of every type of supply I might want to use.

So, I got to thinking: Wouldn't it be nice if I just had an individual tray for each table where I could portion things out almost catering-style? And I got all forlorn because I didn't have any trays until I realized that I DO because I could use the LIDS off of the Table Boxes that are already numbered (and the students are "trained" to use) to begin with!!!!

Oh My LANTA! What a gorgeous site and amazing solution this works out to be!!! I will never go back again!!!!
Something even better about this solution? It makes it REALLY easy to prep portions ahead of time and once they are prepped? They take barely any space to store until they will be used (see stack below). 

Prepped, trays stacked NEATLY and ready for distribution for the next follow-along demo in 2D Design

After they are used? I have the students take a moment to reorganize their portions on the lid trays putting them in spectrum order so when I collect the trays and then have to put back the colors in their respective compartments in the original classpack box that is NOT damaged in any way, it's completely easy-peasy for me. A bonus is that them learning to group and order their materials teaches them a little bit about the color spectrum and relationships within it as well!

And there you have it! My quarterly revelation (Seriously. How slow am I about this stuff sometimes?) of how to better manage both materials and my students during class activities. Let's not dwell on the fact that I might have told you something you already know and just virtually high-five me that I finally am a little more "with it." *wink*

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