Saturday, January 12, 2013

Classroom Organization- Organizing Files

I have toyed with a plethora of ways to organize my curriculum over the years. 

  • I tried one big binder- It was too big and bulky and I could never fit all the dividers I wanted
  • I tried using file folders in a drawer- It was too difficult to find the files and I never seemed to be able to keep things in the right order
  • I tried printing as I went- This was just a waste of time and paper
  • I tried keeping my papers organized by each grading period- This was the worst of all my ideas!
This year I decided to try something that was more time consuming as the others up front, but it has been a breeze after the initial work. 

I decided that I wanted to keep a binder for each of the topics that I teach. 

I made a list of all the topics I needed binders for:
  • Figurative Language 
  • Symbolism
  • Foreshadowing
  • Inference
  • Conflict
  • Point of view
  • Theme
  • Context Clues
  • Irony
  • Characterization
  • Poetry 
  • Tone/Mood
  • Text Structure
  • RPS (Root Word, Prefix, Suffix program I created) 
  • Plot
  • Sub Plans
  • Study Guides
  • Editing and Proofreading
    • Commas
    • Apostrophes
    • Quotation Marks
    • Double Negatives
    • I vs. Me
    • Comparative and Superlative 
    • Capitalization
    • Staying on Topic
    • Transition Words
    • Fragments and Run ons
  • Essay Writing
    • Prompts
    • Rubrics
    • Descriptive Writing 
    • How to Write and Essay 
  • Short Stories to Choose From
  • Novel Units
    • Monster Novel Unit
    • Night Novel Unit
    • Outsiders Novel Unit
    • Hunger Games Novel Unit
    • To Kill a Mockingbird
    • Anthem Novel Unit
    • Animal Farm Novel Unit
    • Miscellaneous (for those activities that don't fit into any one category)
I waited until Wal Mart had their back-to-school binders on sale for 80 cents each and I bought enough for all the topics. 

I also bought a buttload of dividers so that I could break each binder down into specific sections. 

                                        Reading Topic Binder Sections 
I made a concerted effort 3 years ago to make sure each of my reading topics had:
  • Powerpoint and/or Prezi Presentation with movie clips
  • Identifying in Song Lyrics 
  • Identifying activity in short sentences
  • Short stories that exemplify that topic
  • Tests
  • Extra practice (I put extra practice questions/activities here in case my kids need more practice)
Writing Topic Binder Sections
Because I like to create editing and proofreading units in one packet that include:
  • Pretest
  • Guided Practice/Examples
  • Practice Questions
  • Multiple Choice Test
  • Fill in the Blank Test
I just made each writing topic its own divider tab!

Novel Unit Binder Sections
I prefer to read all my novels in basically the same style so my kids know what to expect so I make sure that each novel has:
  • Pre Reading Prezi
  • Vocabulary Activities
  • Chapter Questions and/or Quizzes
  • After Reading Activities/Projects
  • Final Test 
Jazzing Up Your Binders
I bought extra large mailing labels and created fun covers to put on the front of each binder 
I bought small mailing labels that I printed the topics on and place on the spine of each binder

Putting It All Together 
I printed ALL the pieces of my curriculum topic by topic and place them into each binder with the appropriate dividers

Here is a look at the finished product:

All of my binders across three student desks

I keep all of the binders on a shelf next to my desk (Can you tell I didn't think through sticker placement to keep them all even until about halfway through this process? I plan to correct that this summer!)

 When I am making my copies I only need to grab the binder/s that I need 

When a co-worker asks me, "Hey, have you got anything extra on Symbolism?" I can just hand them a binder

When I feel like creating new materials and need to know what topic needs to be beefed up, I just pull out a binder and check out my divider tabs to see what looks a little weak. 

The whole endeavor cost me about $35 dollars and quite a few hours of my time (with printing 1,000s of pieces of paper).

A few big binders or file folders might work better for you, but I love this system and plan to keep it for a long time! 

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