Saturday, May 17, 2014

"May" I help you with the paper piles?!

It's May! And time for another Bright Ideas post.

This month's bright idea is one that I have been using for 6 years and helps me with passing back papers. Think about how many papers you collect and/or grade each week. Some schools have mandated times to send these papers home, other teachers choose when to do this. We send home grades and graded papers on Wednesdays.

When I was student teaching, my cooperating teacher sent papers home on Fridays. She stacked all of her graded papers in a basket and on Friday at the end of the day, students would take stacks of papers and pass them back. It was quick... but not exactly something I felt would work for me. I don't like chaos.

In the beginning, I would bring home all my graded papers and sit on the floor making piles. One pile for each student. Staple them together. And stuff student folders. That lasted maybe a month or two. I didn't have time for that. And so was born my "Bright Idea!"

When I grade papers, I immediately put the papers in number order. This makes the big part of this bright idea super easy. The papers then get thrown into a basket next to my filing system.
Next to my basket full of papers, I have a hanging shoe organizer. Each student has their own spot, like mailboxes. So why a shoe organizer? Because I am cheap and when I bought it, it was $20 and I had a gift card. And it has held up for 6 years. Much better than the cardboard mailboxes, and cheaper.
When I have a few minutes throughout the days, I grab a stack of papers and quickly stick them in the mailboxes. This is super easy because the papers are in number order and the "mailboxes" are too. If I don't have time to finish all the papers, they just stay in the basket until the next week. There are ALWAYS papers to be sent home. Even if I am behind on grading (admit it, we all do it), I have SOMETHING to send home because I have plenty in that basket.

When it comes time to send the papers home on Wednesday, I simply grab each child's stack of papers and staple them together. I count the number of grades in their packet and write it in a corner of their top page. (This makes the final step easier since I don't do this all at once.)

Our papers are sent home in a communication folder, which we so creatively call the Wednesday Folder. Inside each child's folder, I place a note that looks like the one below. And this is the final step. I record the date and the number of graded papers (this prevents students from tearing out a page that has a bad grade). Since I already counted and wrote the number of grades on the stapled packs for each student, I can do this quickly. Students must get the paper signed by their parents. There is also a spot for parents to leave comments or concerns if necessary.
This process is so much easier because I can work on it in the spare minutes I have throughout the week and not have to sit sorting papers. The note home gives parents accountability when it comes to signing. They are signing acknowledging that they have seen the papers and if they do not have any questions or concerns, it is saying that they agree with the grades and understand that these are the grades their child received. Because of this, I have never had questions come progress report or report card time.

For more bright ideas from over 130 other bloggers, be sure to check out the link up below.


  1. Awesome system! Would've never thought of a shoe organizer. I have a mailbox but it often is too full or larger items won't fit. Do you have your communication page available? Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. I just uploaded the copy of the letter to my freebies page. :)


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