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Friday, January 22, 2016

Organization 101: Tips to Avoid Stacks of Papers to Check

Hey friends!  I'm home today with a snow, well more like ice, day today, so I wanted to pop over to the blog and post a new Organization 101 post today.
Today I'm sharing a few quick tips on how to manage all the papers that you have to check.  You know, just as well as I do, that your students have to do show their understanding on paper, sometimes through independent activities.  BUT, all those papers stack up and leave you with stacks of papers to check, sometimes on the weekends - no good!
However, I don't ever (well, very very rarely) check student papers at home and I would love for you to be able to do that too!  

My first tips for getting your students papers checked is all about how your kiddos turn in their papers.  I have lots of these Sterilite drawers all over my classroom - but one bookshelf is full of drawers for students to turn in their work - by the type of assignment that it is.
No - these labels are not currently in my TPT store, but they are on the To-Do List.
How does this help me?  Well, when I go to check papers during my planning time, I pull out all the papers from the drawer and know that they should all be the same assignment.  This makes it SO much faster to check papers because once I get the answers in my head, I can breeze through checking papers so much faster than if I'm checking a math center paper one minute and then a spelling paper the next minute.
Another tip - if you are doing a whole class activity, especially where you are doing a lot of guidance and are monitoring student work during the activity, why check each students' paper?  I don't check ALL papers that my students do during the day.  Some of our Letterland (phonics program) activities we do whole class and check as we go.  Since the activity is set up the way it is and students are checking their assignments as we go, I just have them file their papers in their mailboxes, rather than me check it.
Some assignments that I check, I do input grades for on PowerSchool, so while I'm checking papers, I either grade all the papers and then input grades quickly, or I input grades as I go - but usually the first way.  
Another tip for checking multi-page activities such as math tests.  Our math test are usually 2 pages front and back including a bonus, so to help me check papers faster, I grade them page by page.  So, I check the front page of ALL students' tests.  Then I move to the 2nd page and so on.  I learned this trick from my former high-school math teacher mom - she would always check papers like this.
Once student papers have been checked, I put in this Mail to File Basket that is sitting on top of the same bookshelf where students turn in papers.  I have 2 students who have the class job of Postal Service.  These students, when they have time (after finishing work, at the end of lunch, after morning work, etc) file student papers in to the mailboxes.  
Student Mailboxes
Then on Friday, when we clean out our mailboxes, all of their work is ready for them to take home.  I do have a conversation with my Postal Service children each time we change jobs about how they are just filing papers, not focusing on others' grades and talking about them with friends.  So far, I have not had an issue with this over the course of 2 school years.  Plus, I try to pick kiddos that I don't think will break this "rule".  I do however, usually file spelling and math tests myself.
Last tip - I am lucky to have 2 planning periods twice a day (one is 30 minutes, the other is 50 minutes).  Each morning during one of my planning periods, I will pull the morning (Daily 5 & ELA) papers from the drawers to check.  Some days this takes me 10 minutes or less, some days I'm pushing 20 minutes.  But then, by lunch, all the morning papers are checked and my Postal Service kiddos can file them.  After school, I check math center papers and I'm done.  I leave and all of the papers have been checked and the drawers are empty and ready to go for the next day.
I hope these tips can help you get all those papers that need to be checked under control!


  1. Two planning periods a day? I only get one a week for 45 minutes :(

  2. Hi :)
    I love your inspiring blog and your totally organized classroom. Even though I'm from Germany and some things are different to our school system, I'm inspired to steal some ideas from you :)