Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Student Organization

Corners are great hiding places in some classrooms. How do you use yours? My first few years of teaching, I spent some of my time trying to use one corner to camouflage the stacks of unfinished work my slower students would create. It was unsightly and I was embarrassed by the disorder. I had a difficult time managing unfinished work for students and found that when I went to search for something a student might suddenly be ready to work on, it was often difficult to get to.
A number of years ago, I began to implement a plastic folder system that has saved me and my students a lot of time and frustration. I found a set of plastic folders that open at the top like a pocket. They came in a pack of 25 with 5 colors. I have 4 tables in my room. I assigned a color to each table. I then numbered each folder. My students know their number and the color of their folder. Now, when they are unable to finish something they are working on and we need to put it away until we can work on it later, the students understand they have an organizational system. They simply pack what they haven't finished into their own pocket folder and bring it over to a hanging file box. They slip the pocket folder into their numbered file and transition to their next activity. At any time, during the day, if a student has finished something and has time to go back to finish their work from earlier, they simply return to the file box and retrieve their numbered folder and get back to work without any prodding. This has gone a long way toward teaching the students personal responsibility. They are now in charge of their own organization.
Since these folders are plastic and only numbered, they can be reused year after year.

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