Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tame the Paper Moster: Part 1 Student Papers

Tame the Paper Monster Series 

Part 1 Student Papers




I have been battling with the paper monster since my teaching career began 7 years ago. I feel like I've tried every solution out there to dealing with the mounds and mounds of paper that seem to magically appear in the classroom.

I'll save you the recap of all the systems that came oh so close but never quite made the cut. I'm an organization lover (okay, I might have just a slight obsession with it) so having all these homeless papers floating around the room really bugged me.  Now after all my scouring teacher magazines and office supply stores I have hit upon the perfect solution (at least it is in my little world)! 

I give each student a number at the beginning of the year and we use it to label papers, books, mailboxes etc.  Well those little numbers come in super handy, so first things first - give all your little darlings a number. 

I went to Wal-Mart and picked up packages of slash pocket dividers for 3 ring binders and attached a number (from an old calendar set) to the front.  I used one little Command poster strip and stuck those babies to the wall under my chalkboard.  I also have a deep love for Command strips.  What can't those things hold up? These have been up in my classroom since before Christmas and are still holding strong on our cinder block walls. 



Now when students come into the classroom they have a place to put homework right away.  There are no baskets, check lists, folders or other fancy systems - just these little pockets.  Students place their work in the pocket with their number on it and ta da! - papers managed! 

Here are some reasons why I love these pockets: 
  •  In one glance I can see who didn't have homework to turn in. 
  •  When I pull work out of the pockets it is already in alphabetical order. 
  • When its time to put work into mailboxes the papers are already in order.
  • They are using up that dead space under my chalkboard. 
  • When I have a student absent for the day I stick whatever work they've missed in the pocket. When the office calls for Johnny's make up work to be ready at 3:00 and it's 2:58 I can swoop in like Super Teacher and have it all together! 
  • We have a rule - nothing goes into your pocket until you pick up make up work. 
  • No name? No Problem!  I can use my class list to see whose paper is missing the name. 
I do have a few thoughts about why this has been so effective for me and my students.  First of all the pockets are right under the chalkboard and easily visible to everyone.  I've tried them in the back of the room and students seem to ignore them back there and make up work stays there forever! 

They are clear, durable, and easy to use.  I've tried using file folders this same way (just staple the edges together), but it is more difficult to get papers into the file folder and they don't hold as much.  These little plastic sleeves of goodness (told ya I loved 'em) hold A LOT of work and it all looks neat - nothing is flopping out of the side of the pocket. 
Stick around for part two of the series when I'll reveal where papers go after they leave the pocket. 




21 comments:

  1. I love this idea! It is brilliant to use something that you can see right away who needs to do what. I love your other posts about taming the Paper Monster. =)

    I am happy to be your newest follower. I would love for you to hop over and visit me when you get the chance.

    Heather
    Heather's Heart

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    1. Heather, I just checked out your blog ~ such neat stuff there! I really enjoyed your post about fussing and the suggestions on how you deal with that in your classroom were great. This time of year seems to always bring out the tattling and nagging in even the best of students.

      Don't you just love Ruby Payne? Our school had one of her representatives in for an inservice a few years ago - I was just blown away! I find something new every time I pick up that book.

      Thanks for following!

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  2. Wow! What a neat idea! I'll have to consider a space like that next year. My under-the-whiteboard space this year is filled with bookcases.

    I'm your newest follower! :)

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  3. Just saw this on pinterest and am so excited to try this out this coming year! I'm your newest follower!

    my second grade journal

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  4. I too am battling the paper monster ... Thanks for the new weapon to use against this beast. I am going to arm myself this fall for battle; this time I believe I will finally come out the victor! THANKS FOR YOU SUGGESTION!!!!!

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  5. Hi,
    This is a colorful and clever idea. I teach French in high school and we have a short homework assignment nearly every day. Do you think this could work for the high school level (4-5 classes per day?) The system I used last year didn't work for me so I'm trying to find a new system.
    Thanks so much,
    Maureen

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  6. Wonderful idea! I will begin my first year teaching next fall and am excites to try this. A fear of mine is paper clutter.

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  7. You are hilarious! "...homeless papers...swoop in like SUPER Teacher...plastic sleeves of goodness"! I needed a good laugh and these wonderful teaching ideas. Thanks :)

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  8. I love this idea! Have you used the pockets for collecting and turning in other papers than homewrk?

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    1. Yes! I now use this every day in my first grade classroom to collect papers throughout the day! It makes my life so much easier! If I know the papers are just going to be "checked" and not graded I'll leave them all the pockets and collect a stack for each student at the end of the day. Then after I've looked over the papers I only have one set to file in each child's mailbox and it's a big time saver!

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  9. Love love love. I have been looking at different ways to implement this type of system. Command poster strips to hold them on the walls...duh...why didn't I think of that! I have also been looking for pocket charts but I want to believe you that these are durable enough to do the job.

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  10. Courtney, this inspired me with a major clutter breakthrough. I'm not a teacher but I need papers relating to a vast array of life activities to be in my face, and this is a perfect way of doing so. I got the Grip-a-strip that has cork at the top for pinning things in addition to the magnetic grip that holds the folders in place. So happy and so grateful to you! A million thanks!

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  11. Love this idea.. how could I use this for.multiple classes?

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  12. Love this idea.. how could I use this for.multiple classes?

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  13. I've used a number system a long time too for lots of things. Some other ideas include (but certainly not limited to)numbering their report card covers, calculator number, and math journals and notebooks. I can easily put their things in numerical order and tell almost instantly who didn't turn in what. Great idea!

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  14. I've used a number system a long time too for lots of things. Some other ideas include (but certainly not limited to)numbering their report card covers, calculator number, and math journals and notebooks. I can easily put their things in numerical order and tell almost instantly who didn't turn in what. Great idea!

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  15. What are these folders called and how do you get them to stay on the wall? Loooooove this idea!

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    1. Nevermind I see you answered them, thank you for sharing your great ideas!

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    2. Nevermind I see you answered them, thank you for sharing your great ideas!

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  16. What are these folders called and how do you get them to stay on the wall? Loooooove this idea!

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