I never seem to get rid of my piles. Piles, piles, everywhere! Paper piles, laundry piles, dog toy piles. Even if I have a place for the piles, they seem to end up on my desk or on the kitchen counter, or on the living room floor just waiting for me to step on them.
I think I tried organizing student work every way possible. Especially their writing. Holy guacamole. File cabinets, filing folders, recycling bins, etc. You name it, I’ve tried it! After running across the beeautiful binders in Target, I realized that I had to have them. And so I purchased a few. The following Monday I started looking for ways to use them. Because something this beautiful must be used. (Duh!)
And thus a beautiful friendship was born. I grabbed some of those dividers that go up to 25 and (with each student numbered) began creating a section for each kiddo.
I started doing this for reading conferences. But then quickly realized that binders were the way to go for evvvvvvverything. Seriously, friends. So I ditched my file folders and began a love affair with binders. (Grab a billion of them for cheap here.)
Why Do I love Binders? Well, let me count the ways!
(1) You can grab them inexpensively and cram in as much as possible.
(2) You can add and take away pages easily, unlike a notebook.
(3) Binders and the dividers can be reused year after year after year. It’s magical!
(4) Clear covers can be customized with spine and cover inserts.
(5) Did I mention there are some totes gorg binders at Target?
Once I discovered the amazingness that is a binder, I went ahead and switched everything to this binder system. It may be a bit expensive at first, but I’ve been using the same binders for ever. And it works great! This is epecially true for Writing. How in the world do you keep track of student writing?
I want them to keep a copy of their writing and I want access to their writing pieces. And most importantly, I want my system to flow smoothly. So to keep student writing organized, I insist that ALL writing be done in their Writer’s Notebooks. These can be any notebooks, but I really love composition notebooks because it’s hard to tear paper out of them (and they’re inexpensive!!). And I want to see everyyyything they do.
Students number their pages at the beginning of the year. This allows me to track how
many pages they write throughout the year and see who is fake writing. Because, data.
I use these simple conference forms to check in with each kiddo (or if you purchase my writing units, you can use my custom conference forms that go along with each unit!). All rough drafts and edits must be made in student’s Writer’s Notebook so when we meet for conferences, I can see everything. When students want to publish, they type up their final piece of writing and print out 2 copies. One copy goes into student portfolios (which are binders – because, space savers!) and the other is turned into me. I read it, take notes in my Conference Binder (focusing on goals, observations, and mini lessons needed), write a positive letter back to the author (because writing is supposed to be fun! More on this next week!) and return the writing and the letter for students to take home (hopefully in a timely manner).
By meeting with students once every other week (again – that’s the goal) I am able to keep up with their writing and learn all about them as writers. I’m also able to see everything I need to know in my writing binders.
How do you stay organized with so many papers?