Writing Folders in My Secondary Classroom

I decided to try something new in my ELA classes last year and I was so thrilled with how it worked out that I'm going to do it again this year!  After years of trying to organize students with binders that explode with paper and lost assignments I knew I had to try something different.  

So... I gave each student in my 9th grade ELA classes a legal (long) sized manila folder for the year.  As part of the "getting to know you" activities I do with students at the start of the year I asked them to design a personal logo and personal motto.  They cut out and glued their logo and motto to the front of their folders - this made their folders easy to spot and gave them some ownership over their folders very early on. The logo activity is available as part of my Back To School Pack for Teens & Tweens.

I stored and kept their folders in my classroom - I didn't let them take them home or shove them in their backpacks.  This served two purposes: 1) The folders didn't get lost / destroyed 2) Students who were working in a support / resource room knew that they could come down to my room, grab their folder, work on things for a period and the resource teachers would ensure the folders were returned.  And... at the end of the year... not. a. single. folder had been lost!! #success

The folders were also fantastic resources at Parent-Teacher Night!  Students were excited to show their parents what they had been working on in class, parents were thrilled to see samples of their child's work and it gave us all an easy starting point for the discussion.

So... what did I put in the folders you ask?? Students kept a variety of reference tools in their folders throughout the year.  As we worked on different units they also kept their daily work in the folders.  At the end of the unit, we took out their notes / assignments and they transfered them to their binders.  By that point, I'd had a chance to easily assess their work and if got lost in their binders, it didn't really matter.   

Here are some things we kept in their folders ALL YEAR.  Some of things we glued in and others just sat in the folders.


The English Student's Guide Book to Writing, Research and Analysis from Room 213 was INVALUABLE and my students refered to it throughout the year.  The tips, examples and instructions for things like using quotations, in-text citations and paragraphing were so helpful.  Most of my students had a goal to keep this over the summer and try to remember to use it next year in 10th grade.

I had my students cut out and glue in their folders, a wonderful reference sheet for using Evidence Based Terminology which is FREE from Darlene Anne..  Another INVALUABLE resource - I saw my students refer to this list often when writing and responding to text.  I really noticed an improvement in their writing!

I also included a few other things throughout the year.  My students used and kept their Short Story Terms Dictionary throughout the year to reference literary terms.

They also used my FREE Figurative Language Reference Sheet throughout the year.

I can't wait to get started on them again this year.  I loved how organized the students were, how infrequently something was lost, the ownership my students took over them, and the fact that the kids actually used the resources I had provided them. 

Hope you have a great year!

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