[FREEBIE] 7 Steps to Painlessly Organize Your EL Education Materials

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series How to Organize your EL Education Materials

I’m not going even pretend that organizational materials and school supplies aren’t my love language for this post. Pretty folders, organizational bins, pretty labels–I NEED ALL OF IT AND MORE!  Especially when I think about organizing my EL Education materials!

Ok, but seriously–when my district implemented EL Education, it took me a very long time to wrap my brain around this beast for a number of reasons. I was going through a really hard time personally (my brother had just unexpectedly passed away + my first baby was still under a year old) AND we were in the middle of COVID. Talk about overwhelm.

Our district provided TONSSS of training and our literacy coaches were amazing. But to be honest with you, it took me months to figure out how to even begin to approach this. New mom brain fog (which I’ve since learned never really goes away ha!) and grief brain was my default status for a long time and really hindered my ability to be able to dig into the curriculum.

Instead of looking at the year or even a module at a time, I began trying to only look at it as the next cycle or unit so that I didn’t get overwhelmed. This is how my labeling system came about.

If you ask any of my teammates at the time, once I figured out how to manage all of this, literally anytime they came into my classroom there were just piles of labels and folders and me frantically printing out master copies because I was SO happy to have found something that worked for me.

The bonus for them was that then we used these files during team planning and could easily pass around the folder for the cycle or unit that was coming up next to make copies.

So what worked for me?  Let me explain.

el education organization

Organizing EL Education Materials in a Way That Makes Sense

1. Cute and Functional Organizers

I bought 3 cute filing crates and hanging file folders. I knew if this system was going to work for me it would have to be visually appealing AND functional. 

2. Labels, Labels, Labels

I made ALL the labels for ALL the things. I broke it down by cycle and unit, and also included the skills, decodable titles, and high-frequency words. 

el education small group kit

3. Master Copies

I printed master copies for each unit or cycle that I knew I would use. By this point in my teaching career, I had a pretty good feel for the types of activities I preferred to use with my students.

So, as each new cycle or unit approached, I would look through the supporting documents and extra resources to find what I wanted to use. While my district was using EL exclusively, we were given a lot of flexibility to adjust and supplement independent tasks and centers to meet the needs of our students.

4. Align Activities

I went through my favorite TPT resources and aligned them to my EL Education folders for each skill or high frequency word. This was a great way to save money because I didn’t have to go purchase new supplementary EL materials (but there were not a lot of EL resources on TPT at the time either).

The downside is this took a lot of time and planning. If you don’t have time on your side, then I would look into investing in a supplementary resource that is already EL Education aligned like one of my center games or worksheet resources.

el education organization

5. Everything Gets Its Own Folder

I made a file folder for each cycle or unit and put the lessons and anything else I needed to be able to teach it. Then, I made another file folder of resources labeled by skill that I could use for centers, independent work, or even small group work.

These stayed together in the same hanging file folder in a filing crate. At the end of this step, I had 2 filing crates–one for the skills block and one for the meaning-based lessons. 

6. File the Decodable Readers

I organized all of the decodable readers by cycle and put them in their own hanging file folder by cycle and then in their own filing crate. A filing cabinet works just fine, but I am a visual person, and having these out where I could see them was helpful to me when planning or even teaching because I could just grab and go. 

7. Label the Front

Then I stuck a cute sign on the front so I knew what was in each. 

So there you have it! While this will take some prep work on the front end, you will thank yourself next year when all you have to do is grab a folder to make your copies! 

This came in handy the following year when I went on maternity leave because I just gave the sub the filing crates and she could easily find the resources she needed quickly.

Hopefully, these steps will help you simplify your materials and systems too!

These labels are pretty easy to recreate in a Word document, but you can also grab them and the signs as part of my EL Education Small Group Kit.

You can take a peek at the Small Group Kit below! You’ll receive sound boards, reference pages, personal word walls, labels, and more! Basically anything you need for small group instruction!

el education sound board
el education small group kit
el education organization
el education organization

I’ve also included my personal skills block lesson template. This does not follow the structure of the skills block lessons entirely, but I’ve worked alongside a literacy specialist to ensure I’m covering every possible scenario. I knew they needed more writing practice, so I began incorporating strategies that I knew worked alongside the skills block curriculum.

It really helped me make sure I was hitting all of the skills block components while also supplementing what my kids were missing from the skills block material!

Watch this resource in action below!

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[FREEBIE] EL Education Organization Kit for K-2

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