April 05, 2006
I taught my students how to use their binders to do much of their school work each day in class. We begin by organizing the binders with notebook paper and dividers labeled for our subjects. Students turn to that labeled section to do their work for math, writing, etc. Assignments that are in progress stay in that divider section. (Parents are told to not disturb those papers.) Only when an assignment is finished do the 3 rings unsnap and the paper is removed for turning in or I have a student move the assignment to the plastic folder in the front of their binder, as described below for a homework assignment.) I never allow pages to be ripped from the binders. Students can learn to unsnap the rings quietly. Also if I have subject packets, they are 3-hole punched and snapped into the binder in the appropriate section and students keep track of their packets much better this way. I have found that using plastic two-pocket 3-hole punched folders, both in the front and at the back of a student's binder, helps students become even more organized. Paper folders are just too flimsy to last a school year. The front folder is the Home Communication Folder. Students are informed to share that folder with parents daily. (Parents are told to look for that folder daily, too.) The left pocket is for homework assignments to be finished and notes that need to be signed by parents. The right pocket is for school flyers, finished and graded work to be read by parents and left at home. (You can write on the plastic folder with a sharpie pen 'Take Home/Leave Home and Take Home/Bring Back'.) Students know where to find their homework assignments that are to be turned in the next morning, and they know where to put their mail from their classroom mailboxes. It's very easy for me to see which students have not collected their papers from their mailboxes and put them in their binders so they get a reminder from me to 'do it now'. The back plastic folder is the Safekeeping Folder. This is where 'in progress' or unfinished work goes that are not 3-hole punched, such as art projects, things that are being assembled, friendship notes, or whatever. By having this folder, a student's desk stays much cleaner and if something does get lost, a student is reminded to use the back folder. This Safekeeping Folder also allows motivated students to have items to work on at home, but they don't feel the pressure that it is homework. Since they take their binder home daily, the student is always free to work on any assignments in the divided sections as well. Parents appreciate being able to look through the binder and know what their child is working on without the fear that the child has left something important at school.