Monday, August 15, 2011

MANAGEMENT MONDAY: Student Organizational Binders

Ever feel like this?

I know I never sometimes pretty much always do.  Over the past two years, I've picked up on a few "tricks" to help me stay organized to prevent the above situation.  However, there are times as a teacher when even the best organizational tricks will still only leave me with this:
Notice how pile is organized, yet huger. Yup.

So, what's a young, sensible teacher to do? TRY HARDER!  I completely overhauled my organizational strategies last summer and implemented the Student Organizational Binder as ONE of many tools to help keep me and my kiddos organized. I will NEVER go back to not using one.  It's a LOT of work in the beginning and it's also work to maintain, but the payoff is huge!  

Meet the D.O.T. Binder!  This is the tool that I use in my classroom to help keep my students organized.  Here's what I put in my D.O.T. Binder!

1. Labels

I have a lot of labels that I stick on the inside cover so that students have certain information accessible to them at home.  Here are the labels I include: 

2. Pencil Pouch with any student essentials

3. Dos For Your D.O.T.
A list of "Dos" in order to care for the D.O.T. Binder

 4. Classroom/School Informational Sheets: 

   For this section, I include:
       1. Classroom Birthday List
       2. School Lunch Menu
       3. 40 Book Challenge Sheet
       4. STAR Reader Log (School-wide Reading program)
       5. Cranium Club Checklist (for the student to track)
       6. Our Daily Schedule
       7. Business Card Holder for Reward Passes

4. The Homework Folder
The Homework Folder has two sides.  A "Keep at Home" side and a "Return to School" side. Homework or forms that need to be returned go on the "Return to School" side, while newsletters and flyers and the such go on the "Keep at Home" side. 

5. The Planner
I'm fortunate enough to work in a school where the school provides us with planners for each student every year!  This is a huge help.  Plus the students have been using it for years by the time they reach me so it's not as tedious to teach!  (Many, however, still need CONSTANT monitoring with this tool.) Homework is listed on the board and it's part of their morning routine to fill this out!

6. The Friday Folder
The Friday Folder is lovely!  It helps to increase Parent/Teacher communication and helps students to track their progress throughout the year. The Friday Folder also has two sides--a "Return to School" side and a "Keep At Home" side.  On the "Return to School" side, I keep the Friday Folder tracking sheet.
Each sheet will last 5 weeks.  It has a section for teacher comments and a parent signature (that's required weekly). I also assign students a score (from 1-4) in four categories for the week: Classwork, Homework, Behavior, & Organization.  All graded work from the week goes on the "Keep At Home" side of the folder. Students LOVE getting their Friday Folders back every week.  It's like a report card every week for them.  Parents like it because they see EVERY grade and there are no surprises during report card time. It also allows me to document progress throughout the year in case I need to refer a student for one issue or another.

7. Parent/Teacher Communication Log
This Communication Log is just a specific place that parents can jot me quick & casual notes for me to check once a week.  It also ensures the note will be delivered, not that any students I ever teach are irresponsible with paperwork.....;)

8. Pre-made Note Templates

In the back of the D.O.T. Binder I keep prewritten notes for: Bus Notes, Early Dismissal, and Excused Absences.  This helps parents because they're already written (they have to fill in a couple of blanks), it's quick & easy for them, & it ensures that I get all the information I need as the teacher.

I collect D.O.T. Binders on Friday Morning (see the crate on the left?) and during the kiddos' Recess or Special, I complete all of the Friday Folders.

Love this idea and want to implement your own Organizational Binder?  You can buy your own Organizational Binder Starter Kit from my TpT store or my Teachers Notebook store!!  These kits have EVERYTHING you need to get started, except the binders of course.  I have a variety of kits available, all pictured below!  Click the captions to see the items!  Here's to a phenomenal week! :)
D.O.G. Binder Starter  Kit
O.W.L. Binder Starter Kit

B.I.R.D. Binder Starter Kit
H.A.I.R.Y Binder Starter Kit
D.O.T. Binder Starter Kit      

C.A.M.P. Binder Starter Kit


  1. Great ideas! The picture of the paper pile definitely looks like my desk! I like the DOT binder - I may have to try something like this - right now all of my stuff is "organized" into many different places.
    Runde's Room

  2. All of you downloads are adorable!! I also love your classroom!! I too am a Polka Dot fan!!

    Miss J @

  3. The labels are from Vistaprint. (Real shocker--I KNOW!) :D

  4. what do owl and all the other things stand for

  5. Pllleeeaaase tell what O.W.L stands for. It's my favorite but the only one that doesn't show what each letter stands for. I will buy it if I know! Thank you so much!

  6. I love all of the sections you have in your dot binder. I'll definitely be using these next year. Thanks!

  7. I love the Owl binder! im so gonna use it for school, it's so cute!

  8. What font did you use for the cover of the D.O.T. binder? I love it!

  9. Hi I wood like to have on of thies

  10. I'm not going to lie. I could use some links for seo purposes. On the bright side, you'll be saving countless souls from months if not years of torment and poverty. Thanks.