I dread the day we set up binders but I also know that on the other end of this seemingly never-ending, chaotic, noisy day, means structure, routine, systems, procedures, and organization that my students and I CRAVE… So, we push through…
Binder day was on Friday… I chose Friday so I could come home to snuggle Baby Loco and drink copious amounts of wine after his bed time (should I need to) and sleep in on Saturday… (I only had half a bottle so I would say it was pretty successful)
Anticipating the chaos, I made it SUPER structured and even started with these questions so we could TALK through EACH one!
- My favorite analogy someone used was “treat it like it is baby Memphis”. In most classes someone said “like a baby” but once I heard this one in my second class I chimed in at the end with this statement in every class… I said, “above everything else, if you’re wondering if it is OK to do something with or TO your binder, ask yourself if you would do it to Maestra’s baby”
- Students came up with lots of great ways to “treat” them but anytime they started going down the track of “we DON’T kick our binder, we DON’T throw our binder” I redirected them to focus on what we DO to care for them… this is a responsive classroom strategy. Focus on the DO not the DO NOT
- This was a trick question for my 6th graders and I answered it for my 5th graders. I told them that every single time I ever hand ANYTHING out, I tell them and SHOW them exactly where it goes. Modeling… I know you guys get tired of me saying it… but modeling for ANY age for ANY student is important. I have a binder that is my “master” binder and it contains everything the student’s binders do. It is a mirror image of a perfect binder so they know how to stay organized
- Students loved answering this part of it. I also told them that I would be labeling their binder spines this year to ensure it was done properly and remained uniform. Yes, I did come in on my weekend for an hour with Paul and Baby Loco to get this done. Yes it was absolutely worth it
- Students NEVER ever ever ever ever take their binders home. Not even the most responsible student because that wouldn’t be equitable… binders LIVE in my class. Not in lockers where they can be crunched, lost and broken. They live on the shelves of my class.
Next I explained a change that I made this year… I learned last year that 5th graders and tab dividers don’t mix…. I mean come on… it is challenging for adults to fold those tiny little papers and squeeze them in the tight little plastic things that DEFINITELY seem smaller than the papers themselves… Not to mention getting the suckers back out again… I usually use scissors or a paperclip.. After a couple of weeks last year I started finding little pieces of paper (the little labels) littered throughout my room because they’d fallen out of the tabs that kids had STRETCHED in order to slam the paper in there. Anywho…I explained that we would NOT work with tabs this year, and they practically cheered and instead I had prepared papers to divide the sections of their binder. I had to work with what the school had. I had ENVISIONED cardstock in 4 different colors. Instead, every student received:
- two blue pieces of paper (3 hole punched)
- one pink piece of paper (3 hole punched)
- one yellow piece of paper (3 hole punched)
- an al entrar (do now) white piece of paper (3 hole punched)
- and a plain white piece of paper (to slide into the plastic pouch cover of the binder)
- a 1″ binder
Most 6th graders reused their binders from last year. I had them keep any chuletas (which means pork chop and also cheat sheet) as well as their Señor Wooly password page from last year everything else they either took home with them in their main binder they keep with them all day or they threw in the recycling.
I had students label each section:
- Al entrar (Do Now) blue
- Recursos (Resources) pink
- Chuleta (Cheat Sheet) yellow
- Trabajo Devuelto (Returned Work) blue
In previous years I’ve also had:
- Cultura (culture) – Now this stuff goes in resources
- Piccionario (pictionary) this is part of their chuleta now (built into the sheet)
- Escritura (writing) Now they have a notebook to keep their writing in for their entire middle school career (thanks Sara Broussard!)
In front of everything, students put their hopes and dreams paper which includes the norms of our class.
Their Do Now section houses do now papers. One paper fits 10 do nows (enough for 2-3 weeks depending on if we are doing FVR or not).
Their resources section is a catch all for everything from Señor Wooly lyrics, song of the month activities, Cultural resources, Current event articles, Story sequencing activities, write and discuss papers, Storyboards and more.
Their Chuleta section houses a cheat sheet of our high frequency vocabulary. As we hit high frequency verbs and transitions, I track these and provide students with a cheat sheet of them (every few weeks) to keep in their binders. On the back is a pictionary section as well as a place for a write and discuss. This is my favorite thing to do with the 5 mintues left of class and we did everything I wanted to and more… “Pull out your chuletas and choose 4 new words from this week add them to the back and illustrate them! Go!”
Their Trabajo Devuelto is where they put rubrics, storyboards, group work, or classwork that I return to them. Every now and then I have them take these assignments and bring them home with them in their main school binder so parents can see but more often than not they just stay in their Spanish binder because at conferences I love being able to pull out a student’s binder and SHOW the parent’s their work, and to be honest I don’t know if parents are ACTUALLY seeing things when they go home in their big binders!
How often do I use their binders?! Every single day. Students get their binders every single day at the beginning of class as part of our entry routine… it is an essential part of my classroom management system as they enter, grab their binder, sit down and start on their do now while I am on the threshold of my class greeting every student. I am really intentional about the use of them and intentional about teaching students to organize them and keep them nice. Organizational skills is one of those “extra” things we HAVE to teach in school in order for kiddos to be successful when they leave us so they’re not a hot mess express like me! Seriously though…
Every student is charged with creating a cover for their binder on the white piece of paper I gave them. This fits in the front plastic pocket and I write their names on the spine. The “cover” can be as fancy and creative as students want, however it absolutely MUST include:
- their name
- their class country name
- something (or multiple things) that they like
Some students draw, some students print pictures and bring them in, some doodle, some change it throughout the year and some literally just have their name, their country name and the word CHOCOLATE… No it isn’t for a grade but I love when students step it up and take pride in their binders! They love showing them off… One kiddo has been asking EVERY day about binders… I found out why, he has his COMPLETELY covered in stickers he has been saving all summer except for a small section where he can put his name and country name.
Tomorrow we are spending at LEAST half of the class just practicing coming into the room and doing the “do now”. That routine is paramount to a strong start to my class period with them and don’t mind taking the time up front to practice it and get it right. Even if it takes all class period long.
There you have it! Binders!
I hope y’all are having a great start to the year!
Until next time,