Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tackling my Back to School "To Do" list

As I mentioned in my last post, a friend of mine is preparing to move to 3rd grade, so I've shared my Beginning of Year To Do list. This is an ever-changing document, as I add to and delete from it as I change ideas from year to year, but the majority of it stays the same.  One major task on my list, and one that takes up a lot of space in my house, has to do with the folders and binders I use in my classroom.  (Once I take care of this task, I can carry all the folders and binders back to school and free up my dining room table again.) 

Twice each year (December and May), we are given an allotment from school that we can spend ordering supplies.  On the December order I order the folders and binders I will need the following year, so I don't have to wait on the summer order to arrive at school.  This allows me to prepare these when I have some downtime, instead of when my time is more limited once preplanning starts. 

Yesterday, I picked up the labels I use, Avery Address Labels #48860 (size: 1in. x 2 5/8in.) to print headings for each folder and I use a Sharpie to write the student number on the corner. I usually prepare 24 folders, but only number 20 of them.  If I have more, of course I assign them the numbers higher than 20, but my class size usually falls between 18 and 21.   The additional folders are for new students that may arrive or I'll save them for next year.   I will also load the folders with notebook paper, also collected last year.

Here is a list of the folders I use:
Writing Folder (we also use a composition notebook)
My Reading Life Folder
Math Journal (in a composition notebook also)
Classwork Folder (for all other subjects)
Signed Paper Folder (for weekly school-home communication with finished/graded work)
AR Folder

As you can see from this picture, there are 30 labels per page. 
I just save the remainder from year to year. 

In addition to the labels I print for our folders, I print several labels for our STAR books.  These are 1 1/2 binders that have a clear pocket on the front.  STAR stands for Stuff To Always Remember.  Our classroom theme centers around the students being stars, so I thought this fit perfectly.  I print it off on white paper, but I make photocopies using yellow paper.  I write the student's name on the line and insert it into the front outside pocket.   Here is a picture in black and white, before I copy it onto yellow paper.
(I've changed the dates at the bottom, but this picture still has last year's dates.)

Click on the image above to grab one for yourself. In your free image, I've removed my class name and year.   Just add a text box if you want to add your own class and year at the bottom.

Inside there are two pockets.  On the first I put the label, "Notes & Money".  I like this one in the front, so I will see notes or money easily.  On the back pocket, I put the label, "Homework Handouts". Whenever I handout a worksheet for homework, it is put here.  

About this time of year, Wal-Mart starts putting out their school supplies.  I am currently on the lookout for clear zipper pouches that sell for about $0.79 each.  I put one inside each binder and I add the label, "Study Cards". (I should have bought extra last year.)  This is a great place to keep vocabulary flashcards or multiplication flashcards, and since the pouch is clear and in the front, the student is visually reminded to study them.  If you are looking for a more economical idea, before I found these clear pouches, I used small report-card size envelopes from our supply order.  After attaching the label, I snip off the metal brad and laminate them.  After laminating, you'll need to slice open the envelope where it normally opens and you can add a Velcro dot for a closure.

Next, I add a single clear pocket protector sleeve and add the label, "Newsletters".  Inside I put our monthly school newsletter and our classroom newsletter. Since it is clear, both newsletters are viewable on either side.  Whenever a new newsletter is ready to go home, I have my students remove the old one and we slide in the new ones.  I have found that my parents appreciate having them in the same place on a regular basis; not having to sort through the weekly papers to look for the monthly newsletter, and possibly misplacing it. 

Now I add our student agendas, which our school provides, and lastly I add a good amount of notebook paper.  This notebook paper is for students to use for homework.  They leave it in their STAR book and don't tear it out until they arrive in the classroom.  The agenda is a calendar notebook that provides a week at a glance where students write their daily homework for each subject. 

I love using this binder because it houses everything needed in one concise location, aiding in the development of the students' organizational skills.  I only started using binders about four years ago, and looking back, I wished I'd been using them all along. 

If you are interested in using a similar binder system and you just can't think of a catchy acronym, here is a very helpful website that lists tons of acronyms you can choose from. 

Click on the image below and check them out for yourself.

Here is what the page looks like where I found the STAR acronym that I use.
 I hope these ideas help get your organizational juices flowing so you can start preparing for next year at a relaxed summer pace.



  1. Thank you so much! You rock!

  2. I love your binder cover. Thank you so much. I found you through Manic Monday Classroom Freebies.
    Mary Ann


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