killing trees

I’m really trying to go paperless, let me just say that up front.

I really am.

But I’ve learned, especially with my students, that one of the skills they sometimes lack is a sense of organization, which is why I allow them to keep their class folders in my room.  Maybe I’m an enabler.  Maybe.  But there’s something to be said about modeling correct behavior, and if I help them to maintain a neat folder with all of their information, handouts, and graded papers, maybe–just maybe–they’ll do it on their own in other classes or in later grades.

In previous years, my co-teacher and I provided them with a spiral-bound notebook.  This worked great for keeping things from getting lost but didn’t do much for containing loose-leaf papers.  At the end of last year, I picked the brain of my astute student teacher and we began developing a folder template, which is still a work in progress.  If you plan to mimic the folder, feel free–share and share alike–but I would suggest including everything you needed as early on in the process as possible.  This weekend I spent hours organizing one class’s folders, taking handouts from one pocket and placing them in another, opening and closing the prongs to add in loose leaf paper. Oy.  But! they’re nice and neat and grading will be SO much easier when students know that if they want me to grade something, they’ll place it in the left-side pocket.

Photo Aug 25, 2 36 43 PM Photo Aug 25, 2 36 47 PM

Photo Aug 25, 2 36 55 PM

I bought the folders with the prongs because I wanted to be able to include important handouts that the students couldn’t claim to have lost or never received.  Handouts = killing trees, I know, but there are some things that as teacher I need to be able to justify students having received.  You know.

So, here’s the front of the folder.  I use the 5160 Avery mailing label templates.  I use a blank one for their name and then a “Please put all handouts & bellwork in the prongs.”  I actually had some who asked what this means.  Demonstration is everything.  Now, all of their handouts are in the prongs with the bellwork.  I’m still trying to decide if I want their notebook paper in there first or the handouts first (since one of the handouts is about how I would like for them to format their bellwork.)  I will probably have an update on this preference when they have several pages of bellwork and whether or not the other pages get in the way of the grading and writing.  The stickers that follow are ones my co-teacher and I developed last year for their notebooks.  We wallpaper the front of their folders with these stickers because we always had to flip back and forth to record their scores.  This keeps the labels on the same side of the folder as their names and also has a place for us to record notes scores.  The last little circle (or stars, actually for this year) are their True Colors results.  If you’ve never done this personality / learning style survey, you should really check it out.  Not only does it tell you their learning preferences, it provides you with information about how best to interact with them, signs they’re having a bad day, and working styles.  It tells you how other people misread their personality eccentricities and what message they’re really trying to get across.  Great stuff.  There are plenty of variations out there on the Internet, you just have to find the one that works best for you.  We’re going to mark their folders in times when we want them to work in groups; we may  have all of the “like” colors working together on one project, while other projects may call for one representative from each learning style.  Originally, we were going to have the whole folders be the color of the learning style, but we wanted to have the folders before students arrived and we had no way to anticipate how many we would need for each one.  We actually have our folders the same color of the crates in the back of the room that keep them organized, so students who have the red folders should file them away in the red crate.

Photo Aug 25, 2 37 25 PM

Photo Aug 25, 2 37 32 PMHere are the insides of the folders (for now.)  As a department, we opted to provide students with two hall passes per 9-week grading period.  These are transferable to bonus points for that grading period only at 10 points per pass if unused.  I urged students to write their names, in ink, on the passes and then stapled them inside the folders.  They must exchange these coupons for hall passes–it says that on the ticket.  I don’t want them waving it around the hallway saying it’s their hall pass.  On the other side, the Oops passes are another department-wide policy.  Students receive 3 Oops passes per 18-week semester.  This allows them to avoid the late penalty for submitting assignments 1 day late.  These are also transferable for bonus points at 5 points each.  They may be submitted during either grading period for the bonus points.  In the middle, I have a “Ready for Grading” label so students know this is where they “turn in” items that are not personally collected by me.  If something is missing or I believe they misplaced an item (I saw them working on it in class but it is not in the folder), I write them a little message on a sticky note.  This has worked INCREDIBLY well so far.  The next time I look at their folders, the sticky note is usually gone and the missing work is in the pocket.

The right side of the folder has more organizational stickers.  The label “Graded Items” lets them know that I’ve already graded and recorded that work.  They can either leave it in the folder or take it home.  One label allows them to record their Achieve3000 Lexile levels.  This is a program our corporation has adopted to help students improve their reading comprehension in non-fiction.  Last year, almost all of my students raised their Lexile levels.  In order to help them see and be part of their own improvement, I want them to record their Lexile levels at grading period marks.  The last piece of information on the remaining labels involves their Acuity login and scores.  Acuity is a program that, after testing students, identifies their deficits and assigns work that specifically targets those areas of concern.  Acuity testing takes place three times a year:  once in October/November, January/February, and April/May.

I’ll continue to update the folder template as well as post about my attempts in my elective to do paperless bellwork with Google docs, but that’s an entirely different post, and it’s a school night.

Until next time.


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