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?
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!