Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 13... Stop Passing Out Papers...

Often I feel like there are not enough minutes in the day to accomplish everything I want to do. Consequently, whenever I find a way to save time, I jump at the chance!

Passing out papers for an assignment can take up precious teaching time. Sometimes I think I am sharing the responsibility by asking students to pass out the papers for me... and ten seconds into the process I am usually regretting that request. (Am I the only one who has to struggle to keep smiling when they slowly and methodically place the papers, one a time, on each student's desk or, worse yet, they drop the entire pile... twice? Then they grin with satisfaction and my heart is warmed by their helpfulness.)

teacher graphic from Early Learning Clubhouse HERE on TpT

My students are seated in groups of six at six table groupings, so whenever I can, I prepare six baskets, buckets or pins to pass out materials. And when I copy materials (and I have had enough coffee to be able to think ahead), I paper clip the papers in six groups of six as I stand by the machine.

This past year, I found another strategy that saves time and helps keep me organized.

I admit that I am still "old school" when it comes to keeping track of what my students are reading. I use reading records to determine how long it takes students to complete a book, which authors/genres they are reading, and their general level of understanding--among other things. While I know I have some re-thinking to do regarding my reading records, this post is about the system I use to pass them out.

We have a classroom job system that rotates weekly, and someone is assigned the job of filling the envelopes in the morning and then passing out the reading records at the end of the day. This task is effortlessly accomplished when it looks like this...

Our tables are numbered (one to six) and so are the pouches, so there is little to worry about as the materials are distributed. Our reading cards are "half sheets" of standard paper, but regular sized sheets fit too! The real advantage is that the materials can be readied long in advance. In addition, these take u little space and kids can be in charge of the whole process with very little direction. My BloggyFriends who share my OCD tendencies will recognize that the pouches with yellow numbers hold yellow reading records and the pouches with purple numbers...

In addition, in my classroom, students use behavior reports to reflect on their behavior as I described HERE. Information written on these papers is considered "private," so students write their comments, fold them in half and then place the reports in the pouch. (Their names are written on the outside of the papers so that they can easily be redistributed without opening them). Table leaders drop these off in the designated box at the end of the day. After I have made my comments after school, I return the pouches to the same box, and they are ready to be passed out to tables the next day, simply by matching the number on the pouch to the corresponding table number.

Even if the student drops the pile, it still takes less than a minute to have the pouches passed out to table groups. While I occasionally have to replace one or two because the zipper pull falls off, these envelopes are truly sturdy enough to stand up to daily student handling and last the whole year through. They are one of my favorite finds and have simplified the end-of-the-day procedures that can easily be chaotic in a classroom.

I buy my "envelopes" at Office Depot every August. They come in two sizes, and the only thing that would make them better would be if they came in different colors. I know there are velcro and elastic band varieties of plastic envelopes as well, but the "zipper type" works best in my classroom. I use "whole sheet" Avery labels for my numbers and everything comes together quickly. I just got my new set ready for September!

What other time savers do you use in your classroom? Do you have a secret to passing things out quickly and efficiently?


  1. I am on my way to Office Depot to buy those cool envelopes!

  2. these are really great and a great tool.

    My students come every 50 minutes. I leave the papers they need that day near the door. They pick them up as they enter. I have directions on the board as well. It does take some training though. It becomes routine though once we get through the learning process.

    Hodges Herald

  3. I love this idea and can't wait to give it a try. I also wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog! Your behavior management posts were fantastic. I'm always trying to make it work better!

  4. I really like this idea! I use so many foldables and I seem to lose a lot of time passing out pieces etc. I have a study hall with my students at the end of the day, and I know I could totally get them to help me organize the packets for the next day. I love those envelopes. Great thinking, and thanks for sharing!
    Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans

  5. This is a fantastic idea for organizing all those papers! Thanks for the wonderful tip.

    Polliwog Place


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