Wednesday, June 12

Managing Student Papers

Hiii!!! I have missed you lovely followers! I appreciate your sweet emails and I promise I haven't forgotten you! Even if I haven't emailed you back. You guys are just the sweetest!!!!

I am FINALLY able to breathe! Yaaaaayyyy, summer break! Didn't think I'd make it...

There are all kinds of fun things I have planned for this little blog this summer so I sure hope you stay connected.

Today's all about managing student paperwork. I've handled student papers in a variety of ways over the years and have finally come up with a system that has been working for me. Ish.

Let's just say that collecting student papers = a pile. 

I will avoid, avoid, avoid said pile like the plague. 

(Except when it's a math test. I only semi-avoid those piles.)

For a while I tried having kids put those papers in folders and those folders in seat sacks. Not. Pretty. 

With this system I may or may not have discovered student papers several MONTHS after they were relevant.

Out of sight, out of mind.

My style, according to Julie Morgenstern, is to be Visually Organized. (Love her book Organizing from the Inside Out.) If I can't see it, I won't be organized with it. Soooo true, as evidenced by my various piles around the house, and much to my super tidy husband's dismay.

Papers sitting out at kids table spots make me soooooo ITCHY. I've known this for years. The clutter just looks horrid in my eyes, cuz that's where my eyes are often looking.

My eyes avoid sweeping over my teacher areas cuz they are often filled with piles.

Those piles don't bother me so much. Just minor itch some days.

Over the past two years I've tried to use my own discomfort to help me get student papers looked at and sent home on a near daily basis.

How does it work?

Students and parents are trained to know that papers do not go home unless they have a teacher star/smiley face or have been self-corrected by the student.

I also train them that they may not recycle or dispose of any paper unless I give it the okay. 

I actually encourage them to narc each other out on this...I'll do my "not, not, notty, not, not" chant with these two important points...

When students complete their work they place it under their pencil box at their table spot. (The student in the picture had been absent for two days so that's why she has so many papers.)

Since I really don't like the clutter out at table spots, it's an incentive for me to scoot my patootie around the class to look each kiddo's paper(s) over.

Once the paper's been checked and okayed, I give some specific verbal feedback and put a smiley or a star somewhere on the page and then students are to put them right away in their Daily Folder (Left At Home side).

If there are errors that need to be fixed I circle the errors and give clarifying directions to the student and then s/he is supposed to fix them asap and leave the paper out for me to re-check. 

For some errors or with few errors, I'll circle the mistakes AND add the star/smiley, which means I don't need to recheck, but the kids are still supposed to fix their mistakes and put it right away in their Left At Home side of their Daily Folder. This is especially so with reversals or when lower case letters are supposed to be upper case or vice versa. 

I collect all assessments as well as collect some paperwork to record...aiming for at least 3 evidence pieces per standard. 

When it comes to evidence pieces, sometimes I collect early on in our learning and then after we've worked on it for a while in order to show growth. 

Other times, I'll collect towards the middle of our focus, in order to see how to build my strategy groups for re-teaching or enrichment.

When growth is shown, the evidence demonstrating the most current understanding overrides the earlier pieces...and I often try to collect another piece to support that learning.

Overall, this system works for me and my families because students get feedback within the same day(ish) of working on that page AND their work goes home frequently.

I'd love to know how YOU deal with the avalanche of papers in your world. Share away!



  1. Isn't the never ending pile just enough to push you over the edge? I like your system though. I might have to try that next year. I've been stuffing the pile in my take home bag. Then I take it and a bin of markers to the dance studio (where my daughter dances). While she is dancing, I hand out a marker and a stack of papers to each of the middle school girls that are waiting in the lobby. They love to make smiley faces! :)
    Funky First Grade Fun

    1. LOVE that idea to hand off to the middle schoolers! I would have loved doing that when I was their age!!!

  2. Ugh. I tried those "To grade/to file" drawers on my desk. It kept the clutter away for awhile, but soon the drawers could no longer open... Will be thinking of something new for next year!!

    Mr. First Grade

  3. HAHA. I have to agree too. My 'To File" and "To Grade" drawers got so full and stuffed I couldn't add anything else in them. My current summer to do is to actually go through that entire "To File" bin. I like your system..just a few questions about it. How do you keep track of which students finished each assignment?? I'm not sure about first graders but I definitely have some students in third who will try and pretend they finished when they actually didn't...or they will put it away to finish later and conveniently forget about it.
    Teaching in Paradise

    1. Courtney - Pardon my SUPER delayed response!!!!! Here are my answers, finally...I try my very best to make my rounds every day and I go table group by table group...since I would have just assigned the papers that day, I remember what I should be expecting. When I go one table group at a time, I make sure I get to everyone at that table. When someone doesn't have the paper in front of them, I ask where it is....if the paper has disappeared into a folder, I remind them to keep it out until it's been checked. If it's a frequent folder-hider friend, I'll store the folder with my teaching items and if they need to put something inside of it, they need to show it to me first. If the paper has disappeared completely, I provide them with a new one to re-do...if it's a first-ish offense, they don't need to stay in from recess to complete it. Sometimes I'll send it home with a note to the parent at the top saying "Finish & Return. Please ask him/her what happened with it in class today."

      I hope that helps and makes sense!!! Sorry for the delay!!!!

  4. Ohh I hate paper messes too! My students know as soon as I pass something out, or give it a star that it goes in their take-home folder. We used to have mailboxes in class, but I hated the papers that would get "shoved" back in the back--no more mailboxes now. I pass things that I get from the office at the end of the day to avoid those messes! ;)

    First Grade and Fabulous

  5. Two questions - when do you go around and check the papers? What are the kids doing while you do that? I like this idea but I worry that it would drive me crazy to have the papers on their desks. Mailboxes are so annoying, though.

    1. Hello!!! Thanks for stopping by!!! Since it makes me itchy and nutso to have the papers sitting out I am always motivated to git-r-dun! Whenever there's a spare moment I zoom around...I try to avoid doing it during prep periods at all costs. :) Often I try to catch a tables worth of papers (4-6 kids per table) during a transition (from tables to line up, from tables to meeting area), other times it's when they've just begun writing after the mini-lesson before I start conferring, other times it's between small groups...I just squeeze it in whenever I can so I don't have to look at the papers. Also, occasionally I'll let it wait until the next day...

      I'd love to hear what ends up working for you! :) Lisa


© Growing Firsties. All rights reserved.
Design by Laugh Eat Learn // Theme by Pipdig