Homework Folder Sign Sheet

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When I first started teaching many moons ago, I learned pretty quickly that if your organizational skills were subpar, you were in for a world of trouble. One of the things I struggled with the most was managing students' finished work. I tinkered with various methods, like mailboxes and file crates and just handing  it back to them when I was done grading with a wish and a prayer that it would actually get home to the parents somehow.

After many years and many methods, what I'm doing now seems to work better than anything else I've tried. Just thought I would share in case any of you struggle with this like I did. Man, where were teacher blogs and Pinterest when I started teaching? Oh, that's right! They didn't exist yet! Seriously, I did not even have a phone in my classroom when I started teaching, let alone internet access. We didn't have to chisel our lessons in stone, but I did have an actual chalkboard. I am making myself sound oooooold, but it's not like we had to hide from dinosaurs at recess or anything. {I'm 41 for the record. How did that happen so fast??}

Anyway, I digress. Back to organization.

Tip #1: Take a number
Assign each student a number and have them put that number on every paper. This makes it easy-breazy to put your students' work in order before you enter grades or get it ready to send home. Seems simple enough, but it took me 3 years before I saw someone else do this and I had one of those V-8 moments. I also number many, many things in the classroom so that I can re-use them next year without making any changes.

Tip #2: Have a strict return policy
Be sure your students know how to return homework and other finished work. My students have 2 folders in their desk. One red, one green. Red means stop. Green means go. The red folder stays at school and any unfinished work or work not yet collected goes in the red folder. Green is the homework folder. Green folders go home every day with notes, homework, handouts, etc. I  never randomly have kids return work to the finished work basket. I have my daily helper collect each assignment and turn them into the basket all together. If someone is missing the assignment, the helper tells me. This eliminates the "I put it in the basket, I swear!" conversation.

Tip #3 Get off the Friday Folder train
So many teachers struggle with Friday Folders. Now,  I like alliteration as much as the next girl, but having everything checked, graded, filed and ready to send home on Friday turned me into a giant stressball. Now I give the kids some Fun Friday time every week and that's when I try to catch up on grading, but I don't have the pressure of having to have it all done before they leave.

Tip #4 Recruit volunteers
I have the same mom who comes in every Monday, affectionately known as my Monday Mom {ha! Got my alliteration in there after all!}. She takes all the graded papers and organizes them into a pile for each kid and tucks them into their weekly work folder.

Tip #5 Invest in your folders
I spend a chunk of change each year on these plastic folders. They will last all year though. I ask for gift cards to office stores at the start of the year and most of the time I get at least a little bit to help defray the cost. Check with Office Depot to see if your school has a savings card plan with them. We have a special card that we can show them at checkout and we get a pretty significant discount on some items.
I'm a dork and make little labels for each folder with clip art that looks like each kid. In all honestly though, the kids end up loving that and they take a bit more pride and ownership in the folder when handling it.

Tip #6 CYA
Include a sign off sheet in the folder for the parents to acknowledge the fact that they saw the work from that week. I also like to have a place for comments so I have additional documentation of parent contact. If they are writing "nice job!" every week, they can't all of a sudden storm in and demand to know why I didn't teach xyz using the blah-blah method if they've been complimentary the entire year. Click on the pictures below to snag a copy of the note I send home with the first folder of the year along with the parent signature page I keep in the weekly folder.

Hope this helps someone out there who may be struggling to find a simple system that works :)

P.S. Be sure to stop by this weekend. 

I'm having a contest that you won't want to miss!

I cannot even begin to express how head of heals, tap dancing around the moon excited I am. I most likely have not come up with this but I did feel oober smart when it hit me.

Let me begin by telling my back story a little. After the first three weeks of school kindergarten begins sending home homework every week. We send it home on Monday and have students return their homework on Friday.

Previously, students would get a blue plastic folder that would have a reading log, three books, and a homework sheet that our team got from some website {closed down now} that provided it based off of Harcourt. *** This was before we moved to Common Core

Then, a fantastic team mate of mine found these amazing clear pockets that we started using. we liked this because we never had to worry about a student dropping everything out. you know that dramatic time when three students go to their mailboxes and pull out their items and as they each take out their folders that hold it upside down and ALL the contents go spilling out on the floor as I desperately try and make a leap *in slow motion* to prevent the horrible disaster from happening. Yeah well. NO MORE FOLKS! However, I wasn't happy still. I would constantly be scrambling for books at the last moment and I would have a huge pile of books that were from last weeks homework that needed to be sorted and accounted for.

It was awful!

I didn't like that I was having to maintain so many different things. I mean... less is more... right!? So last year I decided to make a new system that created only one means of communication with my parents. So back to sweet old Pinterest and I was in absolute awe of all the creative ideas everyone had. I stumbled across this post and knew this was what I needed.

So I made something very similar but using the acronym H.E.R.O. Since my classroom is a superhero theme this just fit so perfect!

I did LOVE this system! I loved that I was able to check my sweeties homework log everyday and their behavior charts all-in-one.

The only thing was... THE BOOKS!

With so many other things happening around me books were the last thing on my mind every week. I was borrowing books from our Reading Lab to hand out as homework, but keeping track of who had which books was crazy! There was absolutely no way that I could remember what books I handed out and to whom. Come Friday morning my little bitties started giving me my books back and there they sat. On my table. In a big pile. Ugh.

So this summer I was bound and determined to find a new system that work for me! Long gone were the days of me running around like a chicken with no head trying to find books at the last minute.

I was sitting on the floor one evening scouring Pinterest for a better way to organize my books I found this cute little picture from the blog What The Teacher Wants.

THEN! It hit me! No really.... like lightning y'all!! The idea of creating a system with these folders was what I needed to come up with. *** Side Note*** I went back afterwards and looked up her post in case you would like to see how she does her system. Precious. Really. 

Okay. So here was my thinking at the time. I needed to have a system of books that were already set up and ready to go. 

So let's say I have 20 kiddos in my class. I would essential need 20 folders to begin with so that every kiddo could take home a beginning folder {until running records are completed}. Then I would simply rotate the folders every week. 

Once students increase in their reading level they are able to go onto the next set of reading folders. 

Here is a breakdown of the total number of books I needed to come up with.

Just remember that the beauty of this system is that you can always add more folders throughout the year! 

So I armed myself with my materials and books from Amazon and I got busy! I was so stinking excited to see these folders come together!! But I was missing a really important key element to this new system. I needed a way to keep track of which students had what folder. 

Thus the checklist was created!

So here is what I was thinking when I made these up. I wanted something that I didn't have to make copies of over and over. I made one sheet for each level. So print and done!

Each sheet has a spot for putting your students name and on top you will see the level and folder number.  

So depending on the day that you give out your homework will determine what you write under the folder name and beside the student's name. That way you will know who has that folder that week.

I am thinking of creating a master spreadsheet with the folder numbers and book list on my computer just in case the folder does not happen to make it back. I can easily refer to the master list and contact that parent.

Once students master that level I can easily cross them off that list and move them to the next level.

My room is in the process of being waxed and painted, and I am crossing my fingers and toes that I will be able to get in next week so that I can get my file cabinet setup and organized with my new homework system. I plan to have the checklist on a clipboard and right in front of all the folders that way I don't misplace anything.

Here is a view of all the folder that are done and laminated.

Y'all I truly feel like this is going to be a fantastic year! I am so stinking excited. So to share my excitement and hopefully get you geared up I am giving you the homework folder cover and back cover and the checklist. Just click on the picture below!

Check me out on YouTube for the video introduction of my homework organization. 

I would LOVE to know what you think! Leave me a comment below and tell me how you organize your homework in your classroom! Bye y'all!!


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