I’ve been reading James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, and one of my favorite quotes is “You do not rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems.” Hopefully you’ve set some personal boundaries and goals for your work life this year. Maybe you want to leave school by 4:15 each day. Maybe you want to stop working nights and weekends. With some strategic systems in place, you’ll be able to get all your work done without sacrificing your nights and weekends.
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Using Trello Boards in Your Classroom Organization
Trello is a program that is based on a Kanban organization structure. If you’ve never heard of Kanban, it’s just a technique of organizing data so that you have a visual view of the different stages that a work process can be broken into. Kanban organization can be complex or simple, and Trello is an easy to use (and free!) program that lets you easily create organization structures that will keep you on top of all the things you need to do.
We’re excited to show you several ways you can use Trello to help organize your teacher life! You’ll love Trello because…
- It’s free.
- It allows you to keep related data and information in 1 place.
- Trello helps you create organization systems that are fluid.
- You’ll save a ton of time.
Before we get into some specific ideas you can use in your classroom, here are the basics of Trello.
- Your system starts with a board.
- You will make lists on the board.
- You will put cards in a list.
- You can move cards between lists.
- Your cards can have checklists, attachments, notes, due dates, and more.
So let’s dive in!
Trello Boards make lesson planning and collaborating with your grade level team a breeze!
I feel best when my team and I are organized and have a long range plan for each quarter. At the beginning of a new grading period, we sit down and plan out the quarter. In Trello, I created a list for each week. From there you can write a card for each unit you plan to teach that week. The best part is, we all know some classes may need more practice and more time spent on a particular unit. Instead of rewriting your plans, just move the card over to continue reviewing the following week.
Once you have your long range plan done, you can begin uploading specific introduction videos, lessons, task cards, activities, and assessments to each card. As your team plans each unit, the Trello cards allow you to add all the attachments your team will need! No need to sort through your emails anymore to find the links your team has sent you to use! Everything is now right inside the card in Trello ready to go!
In a card, you can also create a checklist. If you are collaborating with a grade level team, you can create a checklist of items to do, and team members can check items off the list once they are completed. Trello Boards have made our team organized and prepared for the school year!
Use the power of your phone to say goodbye to all those random notes you have laying around!
A classic Kanban structure is “Do,” “Doing,” “Done.” This is a perfect system for random tasks that pop up throughout your day.
One of my favorite things about Trello is how great the iPhone app is!
Using the app makes it fast and easy to jot little notes in a place that’s easy to find. Whenever a task pops into your head (Oh, I need two more copies of that re-test,) you can add it to your Trello to-do list right from your phone. No more post-it notes laying around everywhere.
Basically, you’ll just create a card for the task that you’ll need to complete and place it in the “Do” list. When you’re done, you can drag it into the “Done” list. (Let me tell you, seeing that “Done” list grow is soooo gratifying!)
Sometimes a task can be broken into parts. Trello makes it easy to add a checklist within a card. For example, you may need to make copies of multiple things. Just create a checklist inside of the card and you can check each item off as you complete it. Trello will show you how many of the checklist items that you have completed.
If you’re like me, you have a notebook full of different reading groups that you’ve formed throughout the year and then also have to look through a huge stack of papers to locate a spreadsheet to find where you typed your students’ reading levels.
With a Trello Board, it is now easier for teacher organization! You can easily keep track of your students’ reading levels, reading groups, AND move a student from one reading group to the next as they increase their fluency and comprehension during the school year!
I was determined to get organized this year, and this is how I am making it work!
- Create a Trello Board and have a list for each reading level.
- Create a card for each of the students in your class and move each student’s card to the correct column with their reading level.
- You can then easily group students into guided reading groups or learning partners based on their reading level.
- Click on Labels to assign each student a color so you can easily see which reading group they are in.
- When a student is ready to move up in reading levels, you can drag their card over to that corresponding level.
Trello Boards will make it convenient for you to access each student’s data when you have a parent conference or when speaking with your administration about a student’s progress. I added Custom Fields in each card to track Prosody and Words per Minute during the year. In the Activity box I write notes that are helpful when discussing each student’s progress.
- 8/31- Matthew has wonderful fluency for a beginning of the year 4th grader. He is reading on a Level Q at 101 words per minute.
- 9/3- 75% on the reading comprehension quiz from Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Continue to monitor comprehension.
Keep your stations or center activities organized with a Trello board.
I LOVE using math stations in my class. The students learn to work independently, collaboratively, and gain so many real-world skills. I’ve tried tons of different managing techniques for math stations, but Trello is a strategy that combines what I love from several different systems I’ve tried.
Here’s my plan for getting the Trello board set up:
- Create the board and add a list for each math center or station. (Look closely at the picture to see my favorite math station groupings!)
- Create a card for each of your student groups. Name the card with all the group members’ names.
- Use the label feature to color-code each group.
If you just want to use the Trello board to show the students what station they’ll be working in, you’re basically done. When it’s time to rotate, you’ll just drag each card into the next list so that the groups knows which station to visit next. You can project the Trello board so that students can see where they should be.
But, if you want to make this organization strategy even more useful, you can fill each list with the directions, materials, videos, or information that the students will need to complete the activity. You can invite students to join the board with a link or a QR code. Doing this will cut back on questions that students will have about how to play the game or where to get the materials, which will free you up to work with your students that need you the most!
You might also be interested in our blog post about organizing your classroom centers.
Teaching writing can sound intimidating when you think about how each student writes at a different pace. You have some students who will fly through the writing process and ask what is next, while you have some students who may need more support with brainstorming ideas for their next composition.
For years I would write each step of the writing process on my interactive panel and have students write their name where they were in the process (brainstorming, drafting, editing, etc.) Sometimes a student’s name would accidentally get erased or I would have to walk over to the board to see who was next to conference with me.
Trello Boards have made organizing and tracking my students progress so much more efficient! Here’s how I set it up.
- Create a list with each step of the writing process. Also add a list to sign up for a teacher conference.
- Make a card for each student. Each student will start in the Brainstorming list. As the student moves through the writing process, move their card to track their progress. I have always had my students tell me when they move on to the next step.
If you want, you can even invite your students to join this Trello Board. They can then move their own card as they go throughout the writing process. This will make it easy for you to know who is ready for a conference with you!
In addition, have a list for early finishers. You can add creative writing prompts, grammar game or video links, or another activity of your choice to keep them engaged while they either wait to conference with you or have completed their final composition.
Use a Trello Board to Build a Stronger Home/School Connection
Sending home a newsletter is a great way to strengthen the relationship with your class parents. This wasn’t a task I loved doing, and it always seemed to sneak up on me. Last minute, I was scrambling to write something, proofread it, make it cute, and get it sent out. Using a Trello board as a newsletter of sorts can really save time without sacrificing that important communication with your parents.
Here’s how you can get it set up.
- Create a Trello Board and add a list that is titled “Week Of ____”.
- Add a card to your list titled to give an overview of the activity that will be happening that week.
- You can add dates, details, links, or other information inside of the card.
- Share the Trello board with a link or qr code. But make sure you change the permissions to “observer” instead of “editor” so that your board can’t be changed.
One thing that I love about Trello is that you can copy cards. If you have a reoccurring task (like homework assignments, etc.) you can just copy the card and drag into the next week.