There are a few things you can count on for January:  resolutions (made and broken!), the flu season, and ads promising ways to (finally) get you organized.

The organizational promises are the ones that are always so tempting.  Who wouldn’t like their closet/garage/pantry to look like something worthy of Pinterest?!

Classroom organization is no different.  Keeping track of handouts, extra copies, lessons, books, student work…

Today I want to share just one, simple organizational technique I’ve used with great success.  It involves the lowly paper folder with pockets and brads.  Not the plastic ones.  The flimsy, inexpensive, paper ones.Multicolored folders with glasses on white background

I love them for several reasons:

  1. They’re cheap
  2. They’re lightweight
  3. They come in colors
  4. They’re cheap!

How I Use Them

At the start of a writing unit, I copy and three-hole punch the assignment, graphic organizers, word bank, rubric, and anything else I think we might use.  I distribute those packets to the students and instruct them to put them in the brads in the folder.  You can have students add a few sheets of loose-leaf paper at the back or interspersed between pages.

This is our writing folder for the unit.  Students keep all of their work in the folder.  Drafts can be written on the loose-leaf or on paper that’s kept in the pockets.  Any extra handouts or graphic organizers can be put into the brads as we work through the writing process.

Why They Work

Everything is in one place.

Students should not have to rummage through backpacks or random folders looking for papers.  Everything stays in the folder.  Everything.

Now — you will certainly have a student who loses his or her folder.  That’s why I create four or five (some years more!) extra folders.  It is a sad day when students lose their work, but having an extra folder will at least help students recreate much of of the lost writing.

Writing workshop conferences?  Easy peasy.  

You can review student progress on writing projects — and you can record your notes right in the folder.  Students can quickly see what they need to work on next.

Assessments are a snap.

You can collect the folders at any time for formative or summative assessments.  If you include the rubric, you don’t need to stop to make extra copies of it.  The folders are lightweight — so much easier to collect and manage than spiral notebooks or composition books.

Because students have their writing in the center brads, you can go right to the work you want to assess.

Writing SchedulerSlide4

A writing scheduler can be stapled to the inside or put on top of the assignment page.  Having students use a writing schedule is a great way to keep them on track, but also allow them to work at their own pace.  They know the due dates and work toward them.

If you’ve ever had a writing assignment that stretched on and on, try using a writing scheduler.  It’s a great way to keep students moving forward in the writing process.  If you want a sample of a writing schedule, download the free one available on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Paper — it can last!

Challenge your students to see if they can make their folders last for an entire quarter.  Offer bonus points or a special prize to those who can manage to keep their folders in one piece.  I am always amazed at what a little incentive can do for middle school students!

Try this simple, inexpensive way to organize a writing (or other) project.


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2 thoughts on “A Simple Way to Organize Writing Projects

  1. Lyndsey

    I LOVE this idea! It’s a great way to stay organized, as well as keep track of their work throughout the process. This would also be great to use for parent conferences (which we will have in the next couple of months…ugh!). Thanks so much for sharing! I’m seriously going to purchase these tomorrow!

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