Friday, August 8, 2014

Organizing the Paper Clutter To and From School

The other day I posted a picture on Instagram of my G.A.T.O.R. Binders being put together thanks to my mama's help and some people were asking what was inside. I decided to do a blog post about these babies. 

G.A.T.O.R. stands for Getting All Things Organized and Ready and the gator is our school mascot. The binders are a way to keep all of the paper clutter that goes to and from school organized. 

Each year my second graders are given their G.A.T.O.R. Binders on the first day of school after a lengthy talk about what's inside and how to take care of them.  The students and families take great care of them for the most part and I've had nothing but positive feedback from parents.

 The inside cover is where the students put their homework each week. This binder is ready for the first day of school with their only homework being a Student Information Sheet. I make a big deal out of the fact that really, this homework is for their parents. The students think it's funny that their parents have homework. 

 The first thing in the binder is this pouch. In the past I've used it for money that's brought to school for field trips, book orders, or lunches. This year I'm going to be putting a deck of cards and math games on a metal ring for their homework inside. 

Behind the pouch is a description of the different parts of the binder. This stays in all year and is a great introduction for parents and students. I can also easily refer back to this page if a little one needs a reminder to not color or tear out any pages. 

Next I have a Spelling Menu in a plastic sleeve that will be used throughout the trimester for homework. I have a couple different plastic sleeves behind this housing a monthly calendar of events, a writing calendar for homework, and directions for how to login at home to a computer program our school uses.

I bought these poly folders from Walmart for their Friday Folders. Friday Folders are where they put their weekly papers that come out of their cubbies. Parents look through the papers and clean it out each week. I initially thought I'd have trouble with families never cleaning out their binders, but the parents have been really great about keeping the binders in tip top shape. 

Behind the Friday Folder is a Room 23 News spiral notebook. We use this spiral notebook as a communication tool between the parents, students, and myself. Each morning when the students first come in the room, they copy down a letter to their parents that is written on the board. We talk a lot about the five parts of a friendly letter, handwriting, spacing, etc. at the beginning of the year. The letter usually consists of something that they did at school or an event that's coming up. In the evenings they take their binders home and their parents read the letters and sign them. As the students are writing their letters in the mornings, I walk around and stamp for parent signatures from the night before. What I love most about Room 23 News is that if a parent has a quick note to tell me, they write it underneath their student's letter and I see it first thing in the morning and we have an ongoing collection of our communication. 

After the students have written their news in the morning they put their binders on this corner shelf. Throughout the day if I have a paper that needs to be sent home to a particular student, I can easily go grab their binder and slip it inside. 

This year I'm going to have the students personalize the very back of the binder however they'd like. They can include photographs, drawings, etc. 

I let the families know at Back to School Night that if a student or family happens to lose the binder or it's damaged beyond repair, I will supply an extra one for $5.00 for materials. I've only had to replace one in the last seven years!

That's the G.A.T.O.R. Binder in a nutshell! I've seen a lot of acronyms used for these binders- B.E.E. Binders, M.O.O.S.E. Binders, etc. I'm pretty sure there's an acronym for any type of binder you want to create if you search the Internet. 

Questions or comments? Leave them below!

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