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April 25, 2011

Simple Classwork Paper System

Written By: Charity Preston
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Simple Classwork Paper System
Preparing a simple system for student papers makes your room look way more organized immediately.  Just imagine the thought of a room without corners of lined paper sticking out from desktops or the fringe from spiral notebooks lying on your classroom floor.  It truly makes a difference in the your classroom to stay on top of student work organization.

Creating a Paper System That Works

I have a three-step solution for handling this in my classroom.  First, I begin the year by purchasing several class sets of plain two pocket folders in various colors.  Office supply stores that sell them for a penny or nickel each during the back to school sales are the best times to purchase way more than you think you’ll need (in case of student move-ins and move-outs).  I label each colored folder with a different subject and the child’s name using mailing labels.  These folders are then used during class for unfinished work and assignments only.  If it is time for reading, and I ask students to get out their red reading folder to complete the center work from the day before, I will know very quickly if a student is not following directions or is looking in the wrong place for the work just from viewing the color of the folder they retrieve.

Second, when student work is completed, students place it into a flat basket (wire or plastic works great) that is labeled “IN.”  An index card with two hole punches near the top corners and o-rings as attachments to the basket works perfectly.  All student work is turned into this basket in my room, from homework to tests.  It stays there until I am ready to grade it, that way I know it is all in a central location.  Usually I grab it one evening and take it all home to sort through and grade while watching a favorite TV program.

Lastly, after I do grade the work or check it over, I place the work into another basket of the same type, but this one is marked with an “OUT.”  My classroom mail helpers pass back the returned papers from this basket in the morning to the appropriate student mailboxes, which are not emptied until the end of the day.  Before dismissal, students go to their mailboxes, get out their plastic two-pocket folder homework folder, that contains labels on the inside pockets marked “Bring Back to School” and “Leave Home,” and place in the correct side of the folder.  This is the only folder that parents will expect to see in the child’s backpack.  This way, my subject folders stay intact as long as possible, and the homework folder, which is made of a harder plastic, withstands the wear and tear from the school-home round trip route all year.

As you can see, there is not an opportunity for stray papers to get lost in my classroom.  Nine times out ten, if a student cannot find work that was started, I just have to go through his or her subject folders and the culprit is usually from placement of the page into the wrong colored folder.  This rarely happens, and students almost always get assignments in when asked and into the correct location without me having to collect or return.  Not having to worry about misplaced assignments when it is time to grade and having an orderly way to return all work at the same time has also eased the chaos in maintaining student work organization.  How do you handle student work hand-in and pass-back procedures in your class?

Simple Classwork Paper System - ReallyGoodTeachers.com

About the Author
Charity L. Preston is an author, teacher, and parent.  Most importantly, she is an educator in all roles. The ability to teach someone something new is a gift that few truly appreciate.  Visit her now at The Organized Classroom Blog or at her Facebook fan page.  Check it out now!

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  • Kristen Bowers (aka Secondary Solutions)
    July 31, 2011

    Love this idea, Charity! So practical and something that can be used even in high school classrooms! Thanks for sharing. I will certainly be sharing this idea.

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  • Lisa (The Lesson Guide)
    July 31, 2011

    Color coding not only works for primary grades – but works for Middle and High School classes too!! Students are quick to recognize if their work was turned into the correct bin and helps teachers stay organized too.

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  • Peggy
    June 3, 2011

    I’ve been teaching 37 years and have used this method for my 1st graders to my 6th graders. This works really well and is easy for the children to follow.

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  • Sherry
    May 30, 2011

    This Author Rocks~~ Love these Organization Ideas! Thank You for Sharing.. we can all benefit from this 🙂

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  • Erin Holt
    May 30, 2011

    I am hoping to be organized next year! This article really helps! Thank you!

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  • Rachel
    May 30, 2011

    What a great idea – I could totally use this!

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  • Rachel
    May 30, 2011

    I love this idea.

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  • Suzy Leopold
    May 30, 2011

    As always, fantastic useful, and practical ideas.

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  • Jessica
    May 30, 2011

    Such a cool idea! And super organized!

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  • Wendy
    May 30, 2011

    Would LOVE to have these in my classroom!! I know I could use them in multiple ways!! Thank you!!!

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  • Diana
    May 30, 2011

    To Casey originally 4/25: I have used colored folders for each subject for years and it is great. This year, with my 2/3 split, I had everything for the 2nds in yellow, and everything for the 3rds in red. This goes from homework sheets, collection folders, posted word wall and spelling words, to helpers, etc. It helps the kids, but it helps me most, I think.

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  • Rosie
    May 30, 2011

    I can’t wait to implement this system next year in my classroom! I will be teaching math only to all the 4th graders in my building.

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  • annie light
    May 30, 2011

    Great idea! Organizing student work is definetly something I need to work on!

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  • Jana
    May 30, 2011

    I really really like this idea! I have used the heavy plastic folder for all of their work. It gets too full of assignments and students are always sorting through it to find what they need. Thanks for the idea!

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  • Jessica
    May 30, 2011

    What a great idea!! I would love to share this tip with other teachers in my building.

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  • Elizabeth
    May 30, 2011

    Anything to make me more organized gets kudos!! Love the color coding and the fact that the baskets are oversized….:)

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  • Casey
    May 30, 2011

    I would LOVE to have these in my classroom!!! What a great idea!!

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  • Jessica Peck
    May 30, 2011

    I love this organizational tip! I love all of your ideas though 🙂

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  • Angela W.
    May 30, 2011

    I love this idea! I had several students who really struggled with organization this year and this would be a great way to help them stay organized and not lose so many papers!

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  • Glynnis
    May 29, 2011

    Love the idea of the colored folders. I can see that working (with practice) in any grade level! Thanks.

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  • ‘becca
    May 29, 2011

    I have four sections and each uses a different color – so easy to do with the color coded baskets!

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  • Stefanie
    May 29, 2011

    Would love to have these baskets! I would use them with my reading groups.

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  • Dickye Reece
    May 29, 2011

    Using color coded folders is so helpful, because you know which one it is at a glance. Every second is so precious in the classroom, isn’t it?!

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  • Barb Bredlow
    May 29, 2011

    I like this idea. I use a file storage container that has a hanging file folder for each student (in alphabetical order). I pull the folders in reverse order and sort into piles for specific assignments. When I am ready to grade them, they are in alphabetical order. This makes it so easy for posting grades in my grade book.

    I have also made an assignment check-in sheet. The sheet is set up in a table format with the student names on the left and columns for each assignment. As I get ready to grade the assignment I put a check mark in the appropriate column. It is a great visual for the next morning when I am collecting the rest of the work, and it has also been great for documentation of homework concerns.

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  • jenn D
    May 29, 2011

    Looks like a great tool to instill a great organized system in the classroom or even at home!

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  • Sarah Jones
    May 29, 2011

    I’m always looking for ways to keep everything organized in my room! This is a great way to be able to keep the students papers and folders and homework organized!

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  • Tammy Jacob
    May 29, 2011

    Thank you so much for the folder idea. I have one central basket right now for finished work and as middle school teacher with 4 different homerooms coming in, I am always wasting time sorting papers. They could do the same thing at the start and end of class. One person passes out folders and they drop them in their basket at the end of class. 4 different colors is simple and I could have a basket labeled IN separately for completed folders. This is how the year will start next year.

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  • Jennifer Knopf
    May 28, 2011

    Great ideas! I just finished my second year of teaching kindergarten and I really need to stay on top of paperwork better! Thanks for the ideas!

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  • Michelle Francis
    May 28, 2011

    I’m always looking at these trays knowing I could do so much with them, no you’re giving me that last push to actually order some (or win some) this year.

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  • Christina miller
    May 28, 2011

    Love the tip! Thanks

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  • Kriste Trelz
    May 28, 2011

    Awesome idea as always!! I hope I am the winner of these baskets! Lord knows I could use a little organization next school year! 🙂

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  • Tami
    May 28, 2011

    Great system!! I’ve been an aide this year in the room that I will take over next year, and organization was a HUGE problem. This system will help me to stay organized from the beginning…hope to win the baskets!! 🙂

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  • Elyse Doerflinger
    May 28, 2011

    This is such a great tip. I’m studying to become an elementary school teacher so I’m in the process of gathering as many tips as I can.

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  • Kyle Smith
    May 28, 2011

    I just graduated and thank you for the great tip. I can’t wait to try this in my classroom. Very helpful for us first year teachers. Looking forward to more tips.

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  • Diane
    May 27, 2011

    Love the baskets. They are just what I need to go with my four color coded tables to put their daily small group activities in.

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  • Beth J.
    May 27, 2011

    I love this idea! I currently have students use pocket folders (and I buy a ton of them at the beginning of the school year when they’re so cheap) but I haven’t been using a color-coded system. I’m definitely going to do that for the next school year! I’m so glad I found this site by reading theorganizedclassroom blog! Thanks for the great ideas.

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  • Sarina
    May 27, 2011

    I love this idea…seems like it is a very good way to keep organized! 🙂

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  • Rhea
    May 27, 2011

    This is a simply great solution for all the papers that seem to be flying aroundmy classroom AND it teaches the student how to be organized.

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  • Kelly
    May 27, 2011

    I love the baskets! The idea of having colors for different things is awesome!

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  • LeeAnn
    May 26, 2011

    Great idea! I may integrate it in to my system. I use wire baskets with labels for individual subjects. Then the students put the graded papers in their Green Folders that go home and come back to school each day. The folder is labeled with notes/homework in front pocket, take home in back pocket, and in the middle I have my discipline calendar so that parents can see how each day went. Maybe next year I will do a Red Folder to put unfinished work in, because I do have a problem with missing papers sometimes.

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  • Valerie Fawley
    May 26, 2011

    The colored baskets would be great for separating my copies for my color-named math groups too!

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  • Elayne
    May 26, 2011

    Great idea. Oversized baskets are really helpful!

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  • Jill
    May 26, 2011

    The colored folders system sounds like a GREAT idea! I just wrote out my class’s school supply list for next year and I asked for them to send a red and green folder (one for stay-at-school work and one for homework), but this sounds even better! I’ll file it away for the future. Thanks!

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  • Tara
    May 26, 2011

    I love this idea! It is a simple way of keeping track of all the papers!

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  • Schelly
    May 26, 2011

    Love all of the ideas!!! I’m going from preschool to 1st grade next year and plan on using lots of your great tips.

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  • Janelle
    May 25, 2011

    Thank you for the suggestion. Papers can get out of control in the classroom and stray papers drive me crazy. I like the color coding method as well. I have a mailbox system in my classroom for students to take papers home, including homework. I think I will try this strategy as well.

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  • Charme’ McCabe
    May 25, 2011

    Love your ideas! I could really use these baskets to help get my room organized.

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  • Sabrina
    May 25, 2011

    Great tips! I love the suggestion of using an index card and o-rings as labels for the baskets—it’s always great to use supplies I already have in the classroom instead of buying new things. 🙂 I also like the idea of labeling the two pockets of the homework folder so there is no confusion or miscommunication once the papers go home.

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  • Martha P.
    May 25, 2011

    Great idea…thanks for sharing. Great for organization!

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  • Holly
    May 25, 2011

    What great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

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  • Jessi
    May 25, 2011

    I love this idea! Can’t wait to try it in my new classroom next year! 🙂

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  • Miss Kindergarten
    May 25, 2011

    Great idea!! Thanks! 🙂

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  • Miss T
    May 25, 2011

    Sounds like great ideas. Would love to win those baskets!

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  • Cheryl Barrios
    May 25, 2011

    Students and their turned in/not turned in work is a nightmare for me. I have tried everything. I love the folder idea. I do stock up on the folders every year, but never thought to do the folders in the manner she described. Fantastic idea – Mailing labels are sitting next to me and since I have so many available at school right now I’m going to print up the labels and label the folders tomorrow for this fall. That way, I’m cleaning out and preparing at the same time! Thanks tons!!!!!!

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  • Dana S
    May 25, 2011

    Anything that can help me organize is welcome. Because of the great products from Really Good Stuff, I am already planning on color coding for next year. These baskets would make a great addition to my new system. Thanks!

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  • Caitlin Orsborne
    May 25, 2011

    I love this idea. I am always looking for more ways to organize my classroom!!! Any new suggestions (or even old ones) are always welcome.

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  • Melissa Termine
    May 25, 2011

    Wow! What a great idea. My mind is working on how to adapt to kindergarten and our curriculum….hmmmm….wheels are turning!

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  • Tiffany C
    May 25, 2011

    I love this idea! Being a special education teacher I have mailboxes with unfinished work, pencils/erasers, etc. as soon as you walk in. Above that is my “in” box of completed work and a container of students’ plastic folders. (Red for 4th grade and green for 5th grade, purple for assessment folders). I put students individual goal practice in their red folders as well as practice for objectives for that grade level. All assessments and login information for websites are in the purple folder. This has helped a lot with my organization of the students’ daily needs. Behind my desk I have a file folder hanger with files with students initials on them. As students complete their work and it is graded I just file into those pockets. Then come an IEP meeting I just have to grab their work folder, walk to the door grab the green and purple folders and I have everything that shows that child’s progress throughout the year.

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  • Shauna
    May 25, 2011

    I love your ideas! I have watched the videos numerous times. I consider myself fairly organized but there is always room for improvement. The baskets would be a wonderful addition to get the ball rolling on that improvement 🙂

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  • Denise Veillon
    May 25, 2011

    Love organizing by color whether it’s baskets, files, folders…

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  • Rachael Ward Allex
    May 25, 2011

    As a first year teacher I’m ALWAYS looking for new ways to get organized! Thanks for the idea!

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  • Amy Maute
    May 25, 2011

    I love these baskets! So many uses for them…….from storing supplies to sorting papers to daily instructional trays!

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  • Tracy Simoncini
    May 25, 2011

    These baskets look great for organizing classroom stuff.

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  • Colleen
    May 25, 2011

    Love the colored basket idea, beats my white ones w/ paper tags that fall off!

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  • manjari Kapoor
    May 25, 2011

    Love this color coded basket system

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  • Liz
    May 25, 2011

    These baskets would definitely come in handy in helping my organization! Would love to win them!

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  • Lori Archer
    May 25, 2011

    These baskets look great. I am going to add them to my wish list. Also, thanks for the ideas.

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  • rachael reustle
    May 25, 2011

    I love these boxes. They are perfect for my classroom! I not longer have papers lyingall over the place.

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  • Jule Wright
    May 25, 2011

    I love these and as a new 5th grade teacher (after 20 something years in 3rd grade), can see the many uses. Organization has been a challenge this year, but no more!

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  • Barbara
    May 25, 2011

    This is perfect for my 2 6th grade classes. I them have color coded- blue and yellow group, the red is perfect for late or absent work, and green for paper storage.

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  • Suzi Cafran
    May 25, 2011

    Just think that the “Author”of this website/blog REALLY ROCKs! Only thing is I wish I had found her when I first started teaching, ha! Am a mentor to a new teacher and love to share with menteee … You have great ideas, that can be put in place for any situation, AWESOME!

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  • Jillian
    May 25, 2011

    I love the “in” box idea. Right now I end up with a bunch of papers all over my school bag. I already buy a ton of folders in the summer and use them for each subject. Instead of an outbox I have a folder I send home each Friday with all their work from the week. Their parents sign and return it and then I file the papers.

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  • Jennifer
    May 25, 2011

    Great idea! And I LOVE BASKETS! I am a little addicted to them!!!

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  • Beth
    May 25, 2011

    I LOVE using color-coded baskets and folders to organize the 3 different 4th grade Writing classes I teach – red for one class, blue for one, and green for another. The yellow baskets are for extra writing materials for the day. Besides, working, the colors make me smile =)

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  • Patti Bohlman
    May 25, 2011

    I love these containers. They will help me get my room organized so much. and keep me on top of paperwork.

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  • Kelly Dodge
    May 25, 2011

    I love these ideas. Thank you for all your help!

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  • Tracy
    May 25, 2011

    I love using baskets in my classroom as well as my home. I need to be organized and the kids always know where things are located around the room! Keep the baskets coming!

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  • Sarah C
    May 25, 2011

    Wow! You are so organized! I love this system! I will have to make sure to buy lots and lots of folders at the beginning of the school year!!

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  • Penny
    April 25, 2011

    In my K class we are using the color coded bins for different subjects. My K’s are very successful finding their materials and putting them away. I love not having to be responsible for my students supplies.

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  • Alexandra
    April 25, 2011

    Love these ideas! I’ve used the colored folders before, but have had the kids keep handouts, papers I want them to keep, etc. in them. I may try keeping just unfinished work in them next year.

    @Casey, I teach multiple sections as well. You could have a basket in the room where you keep the folders each day and the kids pick them up as they enter.

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  • Kris
    April 25, 2011

    I have used the In/Out system for papers and it works great. I am excited about the color coded folder system idea. Just added folders to my shopping list!

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  • Schelly
    April 25, 2011

    Great ideas. Always looking for ways to improve:) Love the colored folders.

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  • Chris
    April 25, 2011

    Love the organization tip,especially the fact that the baskets are color-coded.

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  • Sarah Jones
    April 25, 2011

    Love the idea! Thanks for sharing it with us! I am always looking for ways to keep everything organized! Especially all of the papers! It seems that by the middle of the year im more disorganized! I will be giving this a try!

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  • Charity Preston
    April 25, 2011

    Thanks for the kind words ladies!

    @Casey – You can make this work with multi-levels of students. I actually am currently teaching four grade levels. They will all have the same subjects and routine. The work in the folders and turned in will just be different.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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  • Debbie
    April 25, 2011

    I LOVE this idea. I just graduated and am always looking for ideas for my future classroom. This will definitely help keep my desk clean from stacks of paper and keep the classroom organized. Thanks for a wonderful page with so much useful information.

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  • Casey
    April 25, 2011

    I LOVE this idea. I will have to use something simular next year…but I teach 3 grade levels and have about 30 something kids. How can I make this work for me?

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