First of all, I just want to say that my DonorsChoose project (digital microscope) has been fully funded! I'm so beyond excited and grateful to my donors. Thank you!
Now, moving on to textbooks.
When I taught 5th grade science and language arts, I did not have my students check out their own textbook. We just didn't use them enough for it to be worth it. Really, the only reason I had them for for a quick and easy activity when I had a sub. I checked out a class set of textbooks that I kept in my room just to use as needed.
This year, in fourth grade, we still don't use the books a whole lot. I have a class set of science books, but the students have checked out their own social studies and math books. Looking back, I would have preferred a class set of social studies, but I went with the preference of the team.
To try to keep desks neater, my students keep only their math book in their desk. I have collected their social studies books to keep on the bookshelf with the science books. I have two "book managers" to pass out the books when we need them.
I switch classes with another teacher. It's pointless for those students to carry a huge textbook back and forth everyday, when we only use them once or twice a month.
To let my students in my switch class know if they need to bring their math book or not, I post a sign on my door. I actually got this from a 5th grade math co-worker, and it works well. On one side of the sign it says "No math book" and on the other side it says "Bring math book today." In the morning as students arrive, the sign is posted on my door letting them know. They're learning to take responsibility, and I don't have to interrupt my partner's class (or even remember to!) to let the kids know to bring their book.