March 11, 2014

Color Coding for Binder Organization

I LOVE to organize. Whenever I'm feeling stressed or procrastinating, you can probably find me re-organizing something... it gives me a sense of peace and tranquility to know that everything has a place and everything is in its place.

Because this is my nature, I've never really understood the students whose binders/lockers are a complete disaster zone. I mean... how hard is it to put the paper IN a folder instead of jamming it into a book only to have it fall on the floor or the bottom of the black hole that is your locker? Apparently it's extremely hard for many students because ninety bajillion missing assignments later, they're still cramming things where they don't belong.

In an effort to combat the headache I get when my students whine, "I can't find my worksheet!" I knew that my only solution was to force them to organize.

Yes... I said force them.

On the school supply list each year, I ask students to bring a 1/2 inch binder and a pack of 5-tab dividers. Here's the key: You have to ask each student to use the SAME tabs.

And here's why: I color coordinate all of my handouts to match that section of the binder.

It's such a simple thing (since my copy room is full of multi-colored paper at all times) that makes such a difference. When I handout a new assignment, I always make students put it in correct location in their binders immediately so I know it's in the right spot.

It also helps if you don't staple packets because the pages will lay flat. (Or you can ask students to remove staples once they're safely tucked away.)

When we transition from one activity to the next, the colored papers allow me to see that they're in the right place and ready to move on. If I see a green page during vocabulary instruction, I know something is wrong.

My last tip is that if you place to use a binder for Interactive Notes, you can certainly do that. My preference would be to glue the final products on to a coordinating piece of copy paper rather than into a notebook. I would also advise that this be your first section. Partially because you will use it most frequently, but also since most writing takes place on the right side of the binder, this helps keep a flat surface for the other tabs.


  1. I heart organizing too. Yep, definitely separated at birth. I wish I had an unlimited supply of colored paper. Oh how wonderous life would be. Super great tip!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. Day 4 of spring break and I have reorganized the office closet twice, I tend to organize and clean when I am stressed too. I love this tip, our school tried a binder initiative this year and I think it lasted about two weeks before the kids 'lost' their binders and teachers gave up.


  3. In my dream world people would pay me to organize their classrooms...sigh...