Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tried It Tuesday - NEON Binders

As I stalked read blogs last summer, I saw many ideas for organizational binders for students, including many cute acronyms.  I posted some thoughts about it last summer here.  And then, I TRIED IT!  (however, as you clearly know from my lack of posts over the past months, I was a bad blogger this year.  I don't have pictures of my kiddos' binders.  I hope you'll forgive me!)

(and am therefore linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper's Tried It Tuesday)

I decided on N.E.O.N as my acronym (as my classroom color scheme is black with neon colors).  It stands for Navigating Everyday with Organization and Neatness.  I got this particular acronym from Ginger at Ginger Snaps, though my binder was very different.  One major difference is that these binders never left the classroom.

Here's the cover, which each student colored.  32 identical binders?  They definitely needed names and a bit of personality! Most of them were into the neon idea and used highlighters.  They turned out cute! (Bad Blogger, Bad Blogger)
Click the picture to go to the Google Doc.

Inside, we put three folders, all labeled (with cute labels that I cannot seem to find an electronic copy of right now).  
  • Each student had a red folder.  One side was labeled "Ready to Turn In" (see my post linked above for why) and the other said "Miscellaneous."  (New vocab word for some students on the very first day of school!)
  • Each student had a blue folder for Language Arts.
  • Each student had a black or yellow (their choice - because I couldn't find enough black ones) for social studies and science. (I alternate teaching these two, so students never need both)

What students kept in them:

  • Front Pocket of Binder: Bathroom Pass, Daily Behavior Log
  • Red Folder: Work ready to be turned in and work that didn't "fit" anywhere else
  • Blue Folder: Any work in progress for Language Arts, especially Writing Workshop and Reading Workshop papers
  • Black/Yellow Folder: Any work in progress for Social Studies or Science
  • Back Pocket of Binder:  Any work that involved construction paper (you know how it's too big to fit in folders?  Well, it fits here!)

What I liked:

  • Students' desks were more organized than last year, when they just had folders in their desk.
  • Many kiddos felt like they were organizational super stars.  They bragged to other classes about them.

Needs to Be Improved:

  • Wow, did some kiddos accumulate work/papers in there!  I tried having a whole class clean out every other week, but the kiddos who needed it the most didn't really pay attention.
  • Some kiddos (those same ones) jammed paper in, so it wasn't organized, papers were crinkled, and it was just a MESS!
  • The holes on almost every students' folders ripped during the year.  Major pain to deal with. (Cute story side note:  I had a about six students who at the beginning of the year were an academic mess - no organization, no effort, nada.  I worked with them and their parents very closely to get them on track.  All but one made huge progress.  When students were cleaning out their desks at the end of the year, I commented to one of the successful ones that I was amazed at the great condition of his NEON binder.  His response:  "Well, you know how at the beginning of the year ... well, I wasn't as good at being a good student and I never used my binder.  So really, it's only half a year used."  It made me smile to be reminded of how far he had come and that he knew it!)

The Verdict:

Better than the folders from the year before, but not everything I'm looking for.

Will I Do It Again?

Not the same way.  My teammates and I have already talked about having school-to-home binders this year, so NEON binders may still exist in my room, but their purpose will be different.  I blog about it more once the idea is more settled in our minds.

What have you tried?  Go link up with Fourth Grade Flipper and share!


  1. I use binders with my kids. They have a folder that is in the front of the folder that any important mail goes in-so that parents empty it each night, but other than that all other papers go in their binder. I normally do a "binder clean-out" once a quarter.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

    1. Thank you for stopping by! I really like the idea of a folder that parents empty every night. I have a question for you about it, though. With the binders going home, have you ever had the problem of things being taken out and left at home that shouldn't be? That's one of my concerns. Thanks!

  2. I use an acronym folder/binder with my kiddos for their take home work. I never though about to use it at school to keep them organized-I like that idea! Thanks for all the specifics on what you loved and what you will improve for next year that is great help! Glad I found your blog-I am your newest follower!

    Learning to the Core

    1. I'm glad you liked all the details (I naturally write very detailed, and I sometimes worry that it makes my posts too long, so it's good to hear it's helpful)! I'm off to check out your blog!

  3. I love how organized you are with your folders! I really would like a system like this but we send home a supply list as a grade and it just lists how many folders to bring in. I can SO relate to your first bullet under what needs to be improved. So true!! Thanks for linking up:)
    Fourth Grade Flipper