I’ve been blessed to acquire many teaching resources and tools over the years, and there are quite a few things I don’t know what I would do without. From the basics such as clipboards and books to more advanced resources such as a digital projector and document camera. However, there is one tool that I absolutely could not teaching without: a 3-ring binder. Technically 3-ring binders. I’m not able to stay organized with just one or two binders, so I have quite a few 🙂 I do try to use as few binders as possible, because at one point I had to organize my organizational system! My binders are the root of my classroom’s organization. When I found that I was moving schools last year, my binders were the first thing I packed, because they are my most used teaching resource. If you’re already thinking that this post isn’t for you because you’ve moved to digital organization, keep reading… I have something for you too! In this post, I discuss strategies for both paper and digital organization.
I keep my organizational binder separate from my lesson plan binder, because my lesson plan binder is already completely full. In my lesson plan binder, I have my weekly lesson plan page that shows my week at a glance. I also have a full page formal lesson plan for each of my lessons that I keep in the same binder. (But I don’t write those for fun-we have to turn them in.)
I divide my binder into 9-week sections, so I actually have 4 lesson plan binders. Behind my week at glance lesson plan overview, I keep all printables, notes, long lesson plans and anything else I may need for that week’s instruction. The only think I don’t keep there are task cards, because they’re just too big. I add spine inserts in each of the binders, because I keep them in a small bookcase in my classroom. I have a few other binders, so it makes it easy for me to find what I need. Next, I organize the binders by 9-weeks, and at the front of each week, I include an overview of the week. This overview gives a brief layout of what I am teaching in each subject, each day of the week. I also have a section for my station activities and journal prompts. To be honest, if I didn’t have to turn in my plans, this would be all I needed for lesson plans.
Behind the overview, I keep a copy of everything I will need for the week. I include lesson plans, worksheets, homework, pictures of finished products, etc. If I use it, it’s in there. I also use page dividers with pockets, so I can keep the week’s behavior log and anything else that I may need to save in the pockets. My long lesson plans include: materials, standard, mini lesson, work time, closing, differentiation for intervention, differentiation for extension, essential questions, and formative assessment.
I also keep a data notebook for my students. I refer to this notebook on a regular basis, and it is so convenient for data meetings, RTI meetings, and parent teacher conferences.
In my data notebook, I keep one plastic page divider with a pocket for each of my students. I prefer using the dividers with pockets, because I keep almost everything in the pockets, rather than punching holes and organizing my binder regularly.
I keep all of my students’ data in the data notebook. This notebook include their DIBELS booklet, their DRA forms, running records, progressing monitoring, status of the class form, and more. I love having a place for everything, because that keeps me from losing everything!
My other essential binders are for my reading and math groups. Once again, I use the plastic dividers with pockets, and I store all of my booklets and any cards for sorts in the pockets. At the front of the binder I keep my group schedules and notes.
As I mentioned in this blog post, I’m moving more and more toward blending paper and digital organization. I consider myself in a transitional stage where I have both digital and paper forms. Because while I prefer digital, it’s hard to let go of the hard copy. That’s why I’m thankful that I can print directly from my Digital Teacher Notebook…..let’s just say change isn’t always easy for me!
Since my first year teaching, I’ve been on the search for that perfect classroom form to keep myself organized, prepared, and on track. I’ve since come to the conclusion that no such form exists. I’ve made some forms that are very helpful, but I’ve found that what works for one class may not be effective the following year. Also, what works for one subject may not work for a different subject. I’ve experimented, changed, and revised my collection of forms until I realized that I had quite a large collection! While I do not claim any of these forms to be the secret to perfect organization, I do believe that the just right combination of papers can make organization quite a bit easier! I’ve combined all the classroom forms (conference notes, student data, lesson plans, RTI, etc.) together and put them on TpT, so that hopefully they can help you too.
The form below is what I originally used for my reading groups. I had two forms on one sheet of paper. The paper has a section for me to describe what we did each day of our reading groups, as well as a place for notes on each student in the group. (I’m also a firm believer that taking notes with bright pens is an essential part of the note taking process.)
While I really liked that form, I found myself needing more space for student anecdotal records, so I made a full page version of the form. This had become my go-to form for guided reading groups. These forms are all editable, so you can add or take away students to a group, because I know the size of my reading groups changes all of the time. I also have forms for groups that meet five days a week, four days a week, and three days a week.
The form below was requested by many teachers who wanted all of their groups and pull-out information on one sheet of paper. Once again, this is editable, so if you need to add or take away groups you can adjust it to however best fits your needs!
I love the form that shows student data at a glance. I love being able to see a students DIBELS, DRA, and benchmark scores along with my notes for reading, writing, and math conferences, as well as a parent communication log.
Once again, I needed more space, so I adjusted the form to only include reading and writing conferences. I found that I was better with using a separate form for math and parent communication, so I made a few tweaks.
Below is another option for those wanting math, reading, and writing on the same page.
Hopefully, some of these forms will give you ideas of how to streamline our mountains of notes and paperwork we’re required to maintain! If there’s something you need, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do! How do you balance paper and digital organization?