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Meet Sra. Wienhold

A Case for Binders

a portion of my own binder collection
This year I have seen many people hopping in the interactive notebook train. While my crafty heart thinks they look like a lot of fun, I have decided to stay firmly in binderland. For those of you who have read for a while, you know I have a slight binder obsession. This is how I personally stay organized with lesson materials, sub plans, and everything else. It is also the method that I have used the three years to try and help students stay (or learn to be) organized. For those of you who are 100% paperless, cheers to you, but I am not there yet.  I actually though of abandoning it all together with 1:1 and not giving a lot of paper materials, but posts like the one below from a former student remind me why we keep on bindering. 

a former student made my day telling me how I taught her to use binders
(notice she is taking Spanish in college:)


Why I use binders:
  • It gives freshman a tool to be successful - My 8th grade Spanish I teacher required a very specific binder that she collected frequently looking for exact notes. While I am not this extreme with my own students, she taught me how to label and sort everything from her class in a manner that made sense. She taught us how to use this organized tool to keep our lives together so we would have everything together to be able to study for cumulative exams. From then on I had a separate organized binder for every high school and college course. A lot of people just expect freshman to have it together and not loose things, but not many actually give them TOOLs to be successful. This is just one option that they can possibly continue with in the future. 
  • It is a life-long organizational skill - Post high school I do not think your office boss or university professor will be too impressed with you cutting out the meeting agenda and gluing in a decorated office composition book. Making a shiny binder with printed dividers on the other hand looks a tad more acceptable in the real world. (Yes, I know that many people have have great results with interactive notebooks, but this is not a skill that I see transfering as well outside of a language class). 

Binder Organization
  • In my syllabus I request the following from each student (and also tell them if they can not get it I have extras).
    • 1in. basic 3 ring binder
    • 8 tab dividers
    • loose paper
  • If you expect students to put items in a 3 ring binder, you should hole punch everything you give them (setting on the copy machine) & also have a 3 hole punch available for students. I have a tray of loose paper as well, so if a student is out, they can just get more without disrupting anything. 
  • Every year I have changed what the labeled binder tabs are. I just know I usually have more than five, so I learned to request the packs with 8 tabs. This year I am planning on having the following (they will be in Spanish):
    • Para Empezar (bell ringers),
    • Handouts (helpful resources such as unit plans, syllabus, useful expressions)
    • Vocab (where they write down target story structures, new words to them or words they are interested in - not given any lists),
    • Notes (for the occasional "write this down" moments, NOT extensive grammar notes)
    • Reading (for choice reading log & activities concerning novels)
    • Listening (materials for movies and El Internado)
    • Writing (to keep free writes to see how they have grown)
    • Paper (extra loose leaf paper)
  • I hand out this mini supply list day 1. 
  • Week 2 we have a set binder day where I show students how to set up a binder including labeling tabs and showing them how items go Behind the tab. At first students will constantly ask which section items go in, but they will get the hang of it. 
  • I also plan on teaching digital organization with Google Drive's folders. 
Some students really embrace having a way to keep everything together since we do not use a textbook. Other will just shove everything in the front folder by the end of the year, but at least they have everything together!

Thank you to @MmeFarab for the request for this post. Is there something you would like me to write about? Please let me know!

How do your students stay organized?

9 comments

  1. I've been using binders for several years. I like accessing them for conferences and it's a fail-safe method to be sure all students get proper credit for their work. It's also handy when the student is absent - another student can insert returned papers in the absent student's binder. Yep, love me an organization tool like the binder. I used them throughout college as well!

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    Replies
    1. Using them for conference is a Great idea!

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  2. I've been using binders for several years. I like accessing them for conferences and it's a fail-safe method to be sure all students get proper credit for their work. It's also handy when the student is absent - another student can insert returned papers in the absent student's binder. Yep, love me an organization tool like the binder. I used them throughout college as well!

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  3. I could not agree more with your points! Students - especially freshmen - need to be taught how to be organized, both hard copy and digital. This is my school's 4th year being 1:1 and I still have my students maintain binders. Every year it seems to become more obvious to me how important it is to teach my students how to be organized; I had students last year who didn't seem to understand the importance of naming their documents, much less using folders or sections in a binder!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I was beginning to feel I was the only teacher NOT doing interactive notebooks and it is nice to feel validated in my choice not to.
      Have a great year!

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  4. I too love myself some binders. I've found making them beautiful, while not an efficient use of time perhaps, makes my soul happy. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Jenshawspanish

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  5. I have used binders with my students for 20 years, for the same reasons you mentioned here. We also are a 1:1 school as of this year, but I have not abandoned my binder system for many reasons, again many of them listed in your blog (it is tool for organization). I also have not gone digital because I am also a CI teacher and I need them focused on me, not their screens. The physical binders have worked well, and our 1:1 coordinator agrees that if this is what keeps kids organized, stick with it.

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  7. My other tip is to write the tab name of the section it belongs to in the left margin of every master photocopy. I also use a different color paper for each of my 5 sections (all in TL). They have really come to rely on and appreciate it. I make it a point to tell them their binder is their textbook and I expect them to save references. I don't like to waste time killing more trees for those paper "losers".
    Other teachers may smirk at my efforts to teach organization, but our freshman and sophomores truly need it!

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