I am so excited about today’s classroom organization tip! It is one of the best things I’ve done in my classroom and I can’t wait to share it with you.
Something that drove me bananas when I was teaching was trying to keep up with who was absent when, what they needed to turn in from when they were absent, what assignments and notes they needed to get when they got back, and so forth. My first year I tried making little individual packets for each kid of all their absent work each time they were out…but that was super time consuming since I would have 10 or more students out each day and the majority of the time they never picked up their work anyway.
I quit using the packets my second year, and although of course I was happy when the students would ask for their work when they got back (because so many never cared enough to ask) it was also frustrating to have to take up instructional time to figure out what they missed, track down those worksheets, give them their homework assignment, etc. My aunt (who teaches 6th grade math) shared a tip with me that completely changed the way I did absent work and absolutely saved my sanity. I implemented this method when we got back after Christmas break and it worked so well.
I set up a little corner of my classroom (much like my student supply area) for assignments, specifically make-up work.
On the bulletin board I had a large calendar that I put holidays and such on, but I also printed off a small calendar for each different class (I just Googled “printable calendar”, picked one that was fairly plain, printed it off, and made enough copies for each class to have their own).
That part (the calendar thing) I’d always done, even my first year, and while it was helpful for students to be able to go to the calendar to see what the assignment was, they would still have to ask me for the worksheet if there was a worksheet, and they didn’t really have a good way of knowing if we did any work in class that they missed as well.
Enter the make-up work file (try not to faint from excitement….)
Each subject (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, whatever) gets a hanging file. Then each day of the unit gets a folder within the hanging file. I put all materials that we used each day in the appropriate folder.
So after I taught day 1 of a certain unit in Algebra, I would put everything from that class (bell ringer, guided notes, in class worksheets, homework worksheets) in the file. The only thing not in the file is the assignment if it came out of the book, and if that was the case, then it was written on the calendar above.
The students knew when they were absent that they were to first go check the calendar…that would tell them what day of the unit they missed (you can see that written at the top of each date on the calendar) and what their assignment was. They then were to go to the correct folder for that day and get out any worksheets from that lesson.
For example: Algebra 1 student misses class on September 6. When student gets back, he/she walks over to the calendar for their class, sees that September 6 was Day 2 of our unit and that the homework was a worksheet over 2-step equations. Student then walks to hanging file, finds the Algebra 1 file, looks in the Day 2 section, retrieves 2-step equation worksheet as well as any other notes and worksheets that he/she missed.
Student never has to interrupt class or bother teacher to find out what he/she missed.
Life = Changed
Then at the end of each unit I would remove all the leftover papers from each folder, file them in my filing cabinet, and re-use the folders for Day 1, 2, etc. of the next unit.
I also had most of my stuff (including worksheets) online on my website (which we will talk about more later), but if you have a student population where many of the students don’t have computer access outside of school (like mine) then your students will need a place in class to get their assignments.
Anyway, creating this absent work area and using the hanging files worked great for me. Give it a try and see if it works for you!
Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday