I make a file organizer out of folders. You can recycle old folders – they don’t need to be nice! To make this you will need:
- A bunch of folders
- A ruler
- Markers or Glue and Numbers
First, turn the folders on the back. I recommend making the flaps a little bit thick. I had thinner ones last year, and making the pieces wider is a bit sturdier. I use a ruler to measure every 3.5” (about 9 cm) on the horizontal (hot dog) side of the folder. Make marks about every 3.5”, then do it again somewhere else on the folder. Then use the ruler to draw the dividing lines where you will cut. I was able to cut three strips from each folder.
Now, cut along the lines. I also cut the “tab” off the top of the ruler in order to help make the pieces more even. I was able to get 3 strips out of each folder. If you are just using manila folders, divided the number of students by 3 and that is the number of folders you will need to cut. (You may want to add a few extras……)
Also, and this is optional, you may want to splurge and get colored folders. I had a few students last year that would regularly stick their paper in the number before them. With colors, the students can see if they are in the correct area because the students before and after them have different colors;)
Once you have cut all of your strips, organize them the way you want them. For example, I organized mine in the color pattern I wanted. (Again, if your strips are all one color you can just put them in one pile.) In these pictures, I printed the numbers from my décor pack and glued them on. However, if you are pressed for time, you can simply use a marker and number them.
Now, to hook them together, you want to lay the strips down so they are staggered. I laid mine out in strips of 4. If you look at the photo, I start with the bottom strip and lay that to the right. Then I staggered the other strips on top going left. Once you do that, you are ready to staple them together.
*Trust me, having smaller sections is much, much better. Long strips do not fit in a cupboard, and you cannot separate the students as easily. I will sometimes have #1-8 turn in at this section of the counter, then put #9 - 16 farther down, etc.
The stapling is where some people have trouble. Look at the picture above. Start by stapling the top two strips. You are stapling the back fold of the top strip to the front fold of the next strip. I staple one on each side toward the top of the strips, then one in the middle above the fold. (The fold is higher on the bottom strip.)
Stapling the third and fourth strips on is a bit trickier. I do it by holding the back of the bottom strip and matching the top flap of the next strip to that. Staple again.
Once you have four numbers connected, begin stapling a new strip of four:D
So, how exactly does this magical tool work? Easy! Lay it out anywhere you have in your room. It needs to be fairly accessible, as students will walk over and turn in their paper. (A location far from other students is always nice if you have one.) Again, you can split the numbers up so that the students are not clumping together. If you are like me and use this as your regular independent work turn in area, it is better to leave it in the same location. Students get in the habit of turning work in, but if you move it a lot they will get confused.
Now, here is an example of a section with papers “turned in.” Can you tell which “student” didn’t turn in a paper?
If you said #3, you are correct! You can easily see that a paper is missing. If you are trying to wrap up independent work time or go to recess, you can go by your organizer and see at a glance who is missing work. (I use students’ numbers for everything. The kids learn their numbers – and everyone else’s – pretty quickly.)
I am thinking about putting contact paper on mine, but honestly, I recycled old files last year and that one is still in good condition. These are fairly sturdy and can last a few years even without extra support.
My coworker uses this same system, but instead of turning in papers, she has a student sort the papers to pass back in the numbers. Then all she has to do is hand one pile of papers to each student.
This method was a lifesaver for me last year! What is your top time saving classroom tip?