Work smarter, not harder

Well, the past few weeks have been busy to say the least. I haven’t had a concrete post to write because I can’t take credit for almost any of the work I’ve been doing.

One of my colleagues is always talking about “working smarter, not harder” when she shares resources with us, and I guess I never really understood the beauty of that until this summer. One of the things that I’ve been intent on doing before school starts is organizing myself. Last year was a year full of haphazard filing, making large stacks of paper, putting things in drawers and forgetting where they were, and forgetting to make the one copy I needed for today. I’m hoping to alleviate that this year, and all I’ve come up with is a conglomeration of ideas from different people.

My first, actually authentic idea was creating binder covers – For the AP themes, I wanted to have a place where I could put anything that might fall under that theme – from level 1 to AP, so I could pull from them at any time. I’m still working on compiling the documents, but I knew that I wanted to use binders — there’s something that I love about hard copies that digital filing will never replace. Maybe that’s because I’m awful at labeling files on my computer? Anyway, here are the binder covers I made – 1 for each AP theme.

Binder covers

After that, I’ve been thinking about different ways to organize myself so that I can focus on curriculum and the day-to-day activities I want to do. First, I made my own set of question word posters, based on this post by The Creative Language Class. Then, on twitter, Kara and Megan challenged me to make each of my images a cultural image, something that I had neglected to do the first time around. But honestly, I did NOT know it would be so hard to find a picture of a French person shrugging for the “why” poster! If you have any leads, let me know.

I haven’t gotten permission to share that document, so I’ll only give you a preview. Here’s what I have for the “qui” poster:

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 11.45.47 AM

Then, based on another Creative Language Class post and the inspiration of Colleen (@CoLeeSensei on twitter, where she shared her inforgraphic syllabus), I decided to update my syllabus using Piktochart. I drew a lot of inspiration from K. Soltis’ syllabus from the CLC link, and took a few ideas from Colleen, since my syllabus last year left a lot to be desired. On Piktochart, I used one of the free templates, but change the colors to teal and aqua – my favorite color palette!


Also, using different files that I’ve found on TPT, I created my own lesson planner. I know it seems silly, but those little squares blocked out in a week really help me to plan what’s coming up each week, and if it was any larger than that, planning for 20 classes a week would make my head explode. So, again, I’ll give you a preview of it, since I adapted a few other files:

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 12.13.39 PM

UPDATE: I forgot to include my new, exciting idea. It was suggested last year that I develop a system for students who finish early with their assignments. Most of that project is still in the works, but part of it will be based on these choice boards by Senorita Gilbert, and I plan on modifying this Sub plan document explained in Frau Leonard’s post. I’m excited to have sub plans that don’t require me to do tons of extra work!

I’m feeling much better about the organization of this year, compared to last year. I’ve also decorated my classroom pretty heavily and I feel better about the space.

Since I combined lots of ideas I found around the web, I didn’t have to do all of the work myself, and I’m really appreciative of all the people who shared their ideas so that others could use them! Definitely better to work smarter, since my first year was so hard!

What about you? What do you do to organize yourself for each school year?



10 thoughts on “Work smarter, not harder

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  1. Great ideas! Good luck getting ready for school:) This is my first year to teach AP and I was thinking about reorganizing my “French education” pinterest board to reflect the 6 themes. Now I just have to find the time!

    1. Thanks! Good luck to you as well! Last year was my first year with AP and I HIGHLY suggest reorganizing almost everything to reflect the AP themes. I’m trying to do that with my Pinterest boards as well, but it is rather time consuming. I’ll have to look you up!

      1. I’m not sure how to look someone up on pinterest, but I should be under “Gwendolyn Albrecht” and you inspired me to reorganize last weekend! I have boards for all six themes:) I’ll try to find you so that we can connect and share. Working smarter!

  2. Man, I just finished and color printed my question word posters and now I see the AWESOME suggestion from Kara and Megan to make them cultural. Duh! Thank you for sharing, great ideas.

      1. May I see your finished question word posters, too? I LOVE the preview! -> mmeallen (at) gmail (dot) com Thank you!

  3. I really like what you have done with the “Qui?” poster shown in the post! Do you have other cultural question word posters to share?

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