Does the tedious task of filing finished work and sending it home cause you pain every time you think about? Have you ever nervously watched as those papers continued to grow, but your tight schedule prevented you from "tackling" it at the moment? We teachers have all struggled with the dilemma of finished work piling up, begging to be sent out of the classroom before it overtook every precious square inch of our classrooms. Before I found an effective system, I dreaded (and therefore put off) stuffing my student's folders with their finished work. I didn't know there was a fast and more effective way of sending out their work until one day, it just came to me!
My previous system was a major FAIL simply because it was too tedious and time consuming. Let me explain. Each student has a red folder that I call the "Friday folder" because I send finished work home in them on Fridays (pretty self explanatory, right?). As I checked student work, I would put it in a special tray just for out-going student work (I still do this). Then, whenever I would get a chance during the week (you know, with all that free time I have as a teacher), I would take their work and put it in their folders. I DREADED this task. It took up my time and there were a million other things I needed to work on. One day I wondered to myself if it would be possible to have my students help me with this (they are 5 and 6 years old). I thought about the logistics of how this would look, and finally it hit me! I had myself a new plan.
I started to think about our morning routines. The kids come in, they put their homework folders away, and then they go sit at their carpet square. What if we had just one more step? What if the students put their own papers into their own folders before they went to their carpet squares? So, I decided to try it. The system would still be similar, except they do the work. What would be different is I would pass out their red folders on their desk before school started, then place their papers on top. When they came in, they would be expected to put their finished work inside their folders, then put their folders on a desk where I would store them.
Like everything that is new to our students, I had to first model what I wanted them to do. I demonstrated by walking into the classroom, going to my desk, putting the papers into the red folder, then putting it on the desk next to their homework folders. Then, the next day as they came in, I reminded them what to do and they sucessfully did it! Since we work mostly with manipulatives and not too many worksheets, I only really need to do this every other day. However, it's now very fast and by Friday their folders are ready to take home. Sending out-going work has never been easier or faster. This system has saved me time and stress, and I hope it will do the same for you.