Monday, September 12, 2011

Homework Folders (a.k.a. GOLD Folders)

Heidi and I started using these homework folders several years ago. We certainly didn't invent the idea, although I believe we've made it our own and came up with our own acronym. It's been revamped many times since we started but meet the G.O.L.D. homework folder, as Heidi is using it this year. G.O.L.D. stands for Getting Organized, Learning Daily. We used to have one called FROG which stood for Fully Responsible Organized and Growing. The original idea for these called for using 3-ring binders, but we just couldn't afford that. So our folder is the flexible, plastic, 3-pronged kind.

Folder Contents

(Click on the photos to see them larger)

The front inside pocket is for Important Papers from School such as school newsletters, fliers, etc.

The first item in the folder is a fabric zipper pocket for Money and Permission Slips, the important stuff such as lunch money, book orders and permission slips.

The very first page is an introduction to the G.O.L.D folder and Do's and Dont's for using the folder.

The next page explains what's in the folder and where everything should go. After that is the classroom newsletter/calendar.
The next pages are the lunch calendar, classroom schedule, homework tips and handwriting guide. In general, we wanted the page protector portion of the folder to be items that don't need to be changed often, if at all.

The last page is information about sight words and the 100 2nd Grade Sight Words. Next is a plastic folder sheet (with tab cut off.) The front pocket holds regular homework and the back holds the monthly reading calendar. When we first started these, we had a separate pocket for each type of homework (spelling, review, fluency, reading calendar, etc.) Those extra pockets made it difficult to close the brads on the folder and one two-sided pocket works just fine.

Last comes a few sheets of paper for writing notes between the teacher and home. I tried to check these quickly every day for any notes. I also tried to write at least a quick note every couple of months, just for a personal check in with parents.

The last pocket for Super Duper Work to Keep at Home holds student's finished work.

Storing the Folders in the Classroom

Heidi and I both keep our student's desks turned around so they don't use the insides. Instead we use a plastic drawer system to hold workbooks, notebooks, etc. (See photo below.) Each table stacked their GOLD folders on top of their table's drawers. That way I could see who was bringing them each day and I could quickly flip through them for lunch money, notes from home etc. But I did also set the expectation that if there was something in their folder I needed to see that they were supposed to put it on my table in the morning. I still tried to check them daily because not all students were aware when a parent had written a note in the back.

Here is an old photo of the drawers in my classroom. The folders would be stacked where the table names are, on top of the drawers.

Supplies for Making the Folders

- flexible, plastic 3-pronged folders (1 per student)
- zipper pouch, 3-holed (1 per student)
- plastic page protectors (4 per student)
- plastic pocket dividers like these (1 per student)
- notebook paper (3-5 sheets per student)
- shipping style labels, 10 per sheet (1 sheet per student, but you won't need a whole sheet)

We're sharing for free download some of the papers for the folders. Click on the links to download.

GOLD Folder Labels
GOLD Folder Rules and Introduction
GOLD Folder Explanation and Table of Contents
GOLD Folder Handwriting Guide
GOLD Folder High Frequency Words

One of the earliest incarnations of this type of organizations systems was as a M.O.O.S.E. binder. There are all sorts of resources on this blog. If you scroll down on this post, you can read how other teachers use theirs. Plus there are nearly 300 acronyms to fit any theme! And Mrs. Mecham's blog explains her classroom BEE books.

Hopefully you can find some tips if you plan to make homework folders for your own class!

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