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Binder Organization Tips

Compiled By: NCPinkTchr

Some teachers prefer to organize their materials in binders, rather than in filing cabinets. Here are some tips to help you gather your materials and get organized.

binder organization
Posted by: BlueAngel

I have some 3" binders and some 2". I wouldn't go any smaller than 2" because like the previous poster said, you have room to expand. :) My reading binders are 3" and I have 2 of those (3 units in each binder), but that includes the spelling and language arts sheets that go with them. I just tore those right out of the book. Oh, and that includes the corresponding transparencies, too. All of my supplementals are still in books but I keep those on my bookshelf with the reading binders. I do the same for math, social studies, and science. Each subject has its own shelf and on the shelves I keep the binders, teacher's editions, and supplementals.

For monthly themes I have things in a binder for each month. Each of those binders are divided into sections, for example: February binder is divided into Dental Health, Valentine's Day, President's Day, etc.

Hope this helps. :s)

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Posted by: Sharon D. W-L

Well I'm still working on this one myself. However, so far I've been keeping binders by the month. We usually teach various themes and topics around the same time each school year so I have one or two large binders for each month. They are not perfect but they are better then these files and files of stuff. I hole punch EVERYTHING or if you have to use large envelpoes and hole punch these to store samples of things in for the month. But the envelope goes into the binder. This is especially useful for craft samples if they fit. You can also do up unit boxes if you prefer. I often have a few of the plastic shoe box size ones for craft samples that I want to hold on to and for flash cards , mini games etc.

As for the magazines you could make copies of the table of contents from each issue and place these in each monthly binder. (I think I read about this in Mailbox!) Then as you preview each binder a month or too ahead you'll glance at the table of contents to see if that issue will be useful at this time.

I have the same folders on my computer - one for each month and as ideas come in that I just can't deleate (I'm such a pack rat!) I drag them into a folder for safe keeping. Every few months (3-6) I try and go through and deleate what I haven't used so I don't store too much... (Yeah right!)

I do have a few binders for math and science and language arts (Word Wall Words, Phonics, Spelling) in general but most everything else is in a monthly binder.

Oh yeah - label the binders clearly. It takes a while but it is worth it.


PS: I just moved and most of my precious binders are in storage in another province... I wish I would have brought them all with me.

Organization for next year
Posted by: Mary

I was looking for ways to make my teaching easier and ran across an idea that I am beginning to work on and one that I would like to share. I bought 9-1" binders (one for each month of the school year) and put in enough dividers for how many weeks in each month. Then I put in all of the HF words, books to read, videos to watch, worksheets, activities, songs, poems, samples of art projects, etc. behind each week. (I've been "saving" what I did this year). Everything is there -- lesson plans in a binder! I went one step further and typed up a "brief lesson plan" for each week and put it in at the beginning. In the back of the folder are "extra" worsksheets and activities if needed. If, for some reason, I would be gone a period of time, all of the things I would do would be easily accessible for a substitute and I wouldn't have to worry about rounding everything up. Next year, towards the beginning of each month I plan to "run-off" everything I will need for the month. It will all be there in the "binder"! I do realize that there are those "teachable moments and activities" that wouldn't be in the binder -- but most of what I teach is there.

Posted by: kimberly

I have been struggling with this for five years. I THINK I have found my solution. I hope so because I have tried everything.

The file folders didn't work because I would lose papers, give out my original. So I hole punched and put in binders. The pages ripped out. My solution although somewhat expensive has helped me so far. I bought page protectors and more binders. I put all my originals in the page protectors. When I need to copy I just copy through the protector. Downside is you have to manually place the page on the copier. But I haven't lost my originals since. As soon as I get back to my room Iput the original back in the binder (which I leave open to that spot) and put the binder away.

As for all the crap we accumulate because we might need it someday.Go through it. Ask yourself "Have I used this ...Ever? No? pitch it.

Like you after a couple of weeks my systems fall apart as the days speed up. Recruit a parent helper. Train her in your organizational system. I have made parents and invaluable resource for me and they take care of the repetitive stuff, like DOL and daily math. I just teach and assess. They do the prep work.

One day I had to have a sub but of course I still had to drop off a sheet I had made up the night before at home. When I walked into the classroom that morning my parent volunteer was showing my sub everything about the day. If I could afford to higher a secretary (as all other professions have) I would have hired that woman!

Posted by: 5th Grade

This year I have started using binders and sheet protectors. For example, I started a binder for science that has a master copy of every worksheet or idea that I have used so far this year and I just keep adding to it. When I find a new idea that might go with something that I have already taught I put a copy of it in the binder so it will be handy for me next year. I have another binder for book reports and reading responses. I have another binder for all correspondence that I have had with parents, and so on. At this point I probably have 8-10 binders started. These binders are labled on the front and on the spine and are kept on top of a file cabinet at the end of my desk and are very easy to grab. So far it is helping me to keep organized.

Organization (sort of)
Posted by: Debbie

I am an inclusion/resource teacher. I keep an enormous 3-ring binder for my data. It has tab dividers, one for each student, and in each section I keep everything from the modifications and accommodations page from the IEP, tally sheets, testing data, to alphabet and number cards in it. My IEPs are kept separate in folders.

A friend of mine, however, keeps a small, 1-inch binder for each student. In it she keeps pretty much the same data for her students as I do. She doesn't like handling a big, bulky binder like I have and likes to be able to reach and grab Johnny's binder when assessing him and not have to pull out a "Mother of All Binders" like I prefer. You'll have to try different ways and see what fits your style. You'll probably figure out what you DON'T like before you settle on what works for you.

I agree...
Posted by: ConnieWI

Binders with plastic sleeves have become my best friend! I have a binder for each level in guided reading, one for each chapter of Everyday Math, one for each quarter (nine lessons/quarter) for spelling, and one for each unit in social studies. When I find new materials for these subjects that would be useful, I just put them in a new sleeve and add them to the binder. It is so much easier to page through the binder than though files.

I wish I had found binders and plastic sleeves earlier in my career... they have made organization so much easier!

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Lesson Plans
Posted by: camp823

I am very anal about organization. My lesson plans are color coded. Each subject is in a different color which match my file folders for each subject. The kids also have matching colored folders for each subject. This way everything gets put in the correct spot. All I have to do is say "get out your green Math folder"
I put these plans in page protectors in a binder. M-W is on one page and TH-F are on the other. This way I can leave one week open on my desk at a time.
I guess to each his own. Hope these help!

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Posted by: Hummingbird

My coworkers laugh at me because I am the BINDER QUEEN! :D I have been using binders to organize myself for 7 of my 8 years of teaching.

This is what I do:
I have one binder for each subject I teach (reading, spelling, English grammar, writing, math, science, social studies). Each subject binder is divided into chapters (or stories for reading). I have all of my tests, study guides, worksheets, activities, projects, websites, books, etc. that I need to teach that chapter in the order that I need it. I put my transparencies in page protectors in the binders; I always have trouble punching holes in them. My dad got tired of prying the jammed transparencies out of my hole puncher. :rolleyes:

Then I have a binder for my morning work. It is divided into 5 sections: Monday (Writing Practice), Tuesday (General Math Practice), Wednesday (Editing Practice), Thursday (Word Problem Practice), Friday (Geography Practice).

I have another binder for standardized test practice divided into 7 sections (Reading/Comprehension, Editing, Writing, Information Resources, Math, Science, Social Studies).

Everything else (brain teasers, holiday activities, time fillers/fun pages) is organized into file folders and is stored in my filing cabinet.

If I find interesting information in teacher magazines or websites relating to something I teach, I put it in the appropriate section of the appropriate binder. Every year I clean out my binders to throw away all the "stuff" I didn't use. It was really difficult for me to get in the habit of "weeding" through my "gems" because I'm afflicted with the same disease most teachers have...."what if I need it some day." LOL There's so much stuff on the internet these days, I'm sure I'll find something similiar or even better. That makes it a little bit easier to "let go."

I tried using just file folders: that didn't work for me because I wouldn't "weed" through the folders until my filing cabinet didn't close! The magazine holders didn't work either because they collected too much dust sitting out on a shelf.

I store my binders laying down with the spine out on a bookshelf.

Best wishes!

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binders too
Posted by: Dawn

I use binders too, but I try to keep them 1 1/2" or less, not the big ones. I also use the page protectors. But I have a little different organizing system than the poster above. My binders are organized by unit or theme, and the lesson plans are in there as well. So the binder is set up like this:

First thing in the binder: a rough calendar of what to teach each day.

Then come the lesson plans for day 1, with a tab that says Day 1. Behind that, is the master for whatever worksheets, overheads, etc. that I use with that lesson. Any masters that would go along with that day, I add behind that lesson.

Then comes the lp for day 2, and so on.

Then comes a section with a tab labeled "extensions"--this is where I put any other stuff I've found related to this unit, that I might someday be able to use for independent projects or centers etc.

At the end of the binder, I put any quizzes, tests, project assignment sheets, etc. that I use with that unit. And a tab marks that spot, labeled "assessment."

I also try to save everything that I've created myself on a CD at the end of the year. I change things a little every year, so I try to update all my files and save them...that way I don't have to retype them next year.

This is not something I did in one year, right off the bat. I gradually evolved this system and it works really well for me, bc I never have to duplicate my work, and I can always find what I need without the "file cabinet panic" search.

Posted by: jude

I have everything in binders. I use all sizes of binders. Each novel, math concept, etc. has it's own binder. My pages are in the order that I'll be using them. For a novel I may use dividers to keep different sections organized (vocabulary, questions, activities, etc). In math, for instance we just finished integers and the binder had everything I needed in it. As I find new ideas I add them. If you are really disorganized the job will seem overwhelming, but you have to start somewhere. I suggest you start by sorting out all your "stuff" into piles like math, lang.arts, health, science, etc. Then tackle it pile by pile. If you start now and keep at it you should have it done come the new school year. I can assure you, you will be glad you did and prep time will be cut down. I spend little time preparing as have everything ready. I also use different coloured sticky notes as tabs for bookmarks. And if something doesn't work or you don't like it get rid of it or revise it, etc. Good Luck!

subject binders
Posted by: BirdSong

I started out with files in a file cabinet my first year. Personally, I didn't like that because the papers get curled, bent, torn, etc... A few years ago, I organized everything into subject binders. For example, all my math is in 2 binders and organized by units. Units 1-4 are in one binder, while 5-9 are in another. Within each unit, the ws are organized by when I will use them. It has been very helpful. I pull stuff out when I need to make copies and put them right back into the binders. It took a couple years to get this the way I wanted, but now I am so thankful that I did.

Good luck!

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Posted by: mom2many

I have many years of accumulated things! I tear apart all my teacher resources and file them in binders. All my binders are labels with the contents and numbered. I have everything catalogued on Microsoft Access. I keep the most frequently used binders in a bookshelf behind my desk. Others are in cabinets. I am currently trying to condense my collection by giving away things to new teachers. Since I am planning on looking for an administrator's position next year, I am wanting to clean up.

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I like binders for organizing resources
Posted by: KAN

I have binder that is just for the astronomy unit I teach, another for our weather unit, physics, etc. I like having everything together. I do use files for the misc. stuff that doesnt have an entire unit but I like to include during the year (women in science, black history, careers in science) My filing cabinet locks so I keep files on each student that has a parent contact log, any discipline forms, etc. I also use it to lock up my timer and calculators and the stuff I don't want "walking off" I keep a file for certification stuff--PD forms, evaluations, copy of my certificate.
I am constantly working on becoming more organized. Watch others around you this year. You will pick up great tips and also see the things that just don't work. Try not to get bogged down trying to be perfect. Enjoy this first year and learn everything you can. Best of luck to you.

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