Have a place for students to turn in work. I’ve seen (and tried) different folders for each class or each student even. I’ve seen accordion files or hanging files for students to turn their work in. I’ve tried having a different place for late or make up work. I can never keep up all of that sorting, and eventually, I just give up. What I’ve come to find is that the more places you store the “Grade Me” work, the more opportunity for it to get misplaced. And that method takes up a lot of real estate in the classroom, too. I’ve been using one basket as a place for students to turn in work for about three years now, and it has been the ONLY thing to stick – and work. Whether it’s make up work, late work, or daily work, it goes in the “Grade Me” basket. Whether it’s first period, second period, or fourth period, it goes in that one basket. Now, if I’m collecting work from one period, once everyone has turned in his/her paper, I’ll go ahead and paperclip all those together. If I have the answer key handy, I’ll even attach that to the pile as well. Then when I’m ready to grade, it’s all right there in that one place. Yes, make up work or work from other classes gets mixed in from time to time, but that’s ok with me. I know and kids know if their work makes it to the basket, I will eventually see it and grade it. It’s also simple for the kids, and we all know why that’s important. If they can’t figure it out, you can forget it.
Have a place to store graded work until you can get it handed back. You probably already have a space like this in your classroom, but again for me, it must be simple and not take up much space. I just use a magazine bucket, but a hanging file folder box would work well, too. All my classes do have a separate folder in that box, and when it gets full, I know it’s time to hand work back. Just be aware that students needing to do make up work, might go pilfering through that box for answers on work you’ve already scored.
Have a place for teaching materials that you are using on a weekly and daily basis. Again, this is something that I’ve struggled with for years and years, and I just now have a system that works. It also works for having materials handy for makeup work. It goes like this: one box, one hanging folder per class. The end. I think you might be noticing a trend. I like to keep everything in one place. This crate sits on the corner of my desk, and when I make my morning or afternoon copies, I drop them in the correct folders when I walk into the room. If I have multiple lessons going for one class – which I usually do in an honors class – there are smaller folders inside the hanging folders. And, I usually have a folder for the master copies (which came out of my binders and are in sheet protectors) and then another folder for the student copies. I actually have one crate for each prep, and the past few years, I have had three preps, so that’s three crates.
Have a place for master copies of teaching materials. I mentioned master copies in sheet protectors above. By master copies of my teaching materials, I mean one blank copy of any worksheets, etc. the unit plan overview, daily lesson plans, and the answer keys. These go in a sheet protector in a 3-ring binder by class: junior honors, senior dual enrollment, yearbook, etc. Any extra copies or ideas I find during the unit that I might use later go in a manila folder to be filed. As a side note, these sheet protector packs can get pretty hefty, so I use extra capacity sheet protectors that I get from Amazon. Those binders sit on the shelf behind my desk. When I’m ready to start a new unit, I pull out the sheet protector pack and move it to the daily materials box.
Have a place for teaching materials that need to be filed. Since I do have three preps out of three preps each year, this is probably the pile that gets the largest more quickly than any other pile. My “FILE Me’ box is big enough to fit file folders and several stacks of papers. Then, when I’ve finished a lesson and have extra copies or student work samples to file later – during my down time 🙂 – it’s all in one place ready to go in its long-term home in the filing cabinet. If I can, I’ll go ahead and pop it in the filing cabinet as soon as I can. But if it has to sit for a minute, at least it’s already in a folder.
Here’s to a strong end to the year and a great summer! Share your best end-of-year secrets below!
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