Too much paperwork

Do you ever feel like you're drowning in paperwork?  Do you have stacks of papers as far as the eye can see?  Is it a rare occurrence when 100% of your class turns in an assignment?  I've been in your shoes and there is a way to tame the paper tiger.  Have you ever read the book "The Tipping Point"?

The author, Malcolm Gladwell, gives examples of how small things can make big differences.  My tipping point with paperwork was when I came up with this form:

The form above is a microsoft doc. For some reason when I upload it to google docs it changes the format so it no longer looks like the picture above. If you want to use this form, you will have to do some editing.  After you click on the picture above, click on "file", and then click on "download as", you will download as a microsoft doc.  After that you can edit the doc. to fit your needs.


I print off several copies of this form, cut them apart, and keep a stack near my "turn in" spot for work.

I've done this differently depending on the age of my students.

When I taught 3rd grade, after I taught the lesson, handed out the assignment, I filled out the top of this form, and TAPED a strip to the counter by the "turn in" spot.  When students finished their assignment, they highlighted their name on the strip with a yellow marker, highlighted their name on their assignment, and turned in their assignment to the correct tub/slot/file or whatever the "turn in" spot is.  Having them highlight their name on the strip and their assignment solves 2 BIG problems.  You will rarely have students who forget to write their names on their assignments and when work time is over it is very easy to see who hasn't turned in their work because their name isn't highlighted.  With older students I have a "O" helper which stands for organizer helper.  My "o' helper collects the assignments from the "turn in" spot, puts them in number order (which makes it easier when you record grades), puts the strip with highlighted  names on top, and clips them together.  I have a special spot to put these collected assignments in.  If you noticed, there is a column on the strip for reason why the assignment isn't done.  The reasons are: #1 - absent, #2 - pull-outs (reading specialist, speech therapist, etc.), #3 - left school early, #4 -worked too slow, and the other column is for grades.  This is helpful if you have an electronic grade book.  I keep all of these clipped together assignments in a tub.  In the morning, I lay out the previous day's work on my reading table.  It's very easy to call on students whose names aren't highlighted to see if they completed their work at home.  If they did complete their work, I highlight their name with a blue highlighter which tells me they completed it the next day.  If they turn it in 2 days late I highlight it in pink, 3 days is green, and 4 days is purple.  On Friday, any unfinished work is finished during Friday Fun Day.  I don't input grades until that time so assignments - with the exception of students who have been absent - should be finished.

When I taught kindergarten and 1st grade, I still used these strips, put the papers in number order, had students finish their work during Friday Fun Day, but it took a lot longer to train them in the highlight your name on the strip and assignment procedure.  Once I got to know my students, I was able to train a student or two who could put the assignments in number order, but I didn't have an "O" helper as a job.

These strips are great documentation because they are color coded.  If your have a staffing for a student, look through your strips to see how many non-yellow marks he/she has.  You can also see if there is a reason why his/her work isn't getting finished.  Maybe getting pulled for support is interfering with work time so his/her schedule needs to be tweaked.  In this day and age of RTI, pressure for test scores, being held accountable to very high standards, is there really such a thing as too much documentation?      With this system, you're making your life easier, so the documentation is an added side benefit. Good luck if you decide to try it!

This system is a part of my packet which is sold at TPT.

Lorraine @ Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies is having Classroom Organization Tip Linky Party and I'm joining the fun.  Thank you Lorraine for hosting the party!

Becca @ Teaching First is hosting an organization linky party.  I love parties so I'm joining the fun.

I'm also linking up with Debbie Clement's linky party.

14 comments said...

A VERY useful suggestion. I'm looking at a week and a half of paperwork right now and this would have made my life much easier. I'll get back to you on how it works.

Michelle said...

I can't wait to hear how it works for you!

Lisa said...

Your system will improve the simular system I use. Thanks for the great idea! I am so using this!

Michelle said...

You're welcome! I hope it helps.

JJ said...

Wow! I just found this and think it is marvelous!!! Thank you for sharing!


Sarah said...

Thank you!!!! This is exactly what I need as I'm going crazy with no-namers and kids who aren't turning in their work! I was the one doing the checking if assignments were being turned it and never thought of having my students do it themselves.

I was able to open it in Word, but it expanded each sheet so there was only one on each page. I was able to easily modify it by clicking on the column setting and changing it to three columns.

Michelle said...

Thank you for letting me know about the word document. I will try to add some more word documents to my blog now that I know it's possible with a little tweaking for you-all in cyber world to use the stuff I make.

I'm glad this idea will help you. It certainly made a difference with my students once I figured it out. With time, I was even able to train one or two of my kindergarteners who finish early to do this job.

Have a great week!

Primary Junction said...

Thanks for suggesting The Tipping Point. I love his other book, Outliers! Such a fascinating book!

By the way, I tagged you in a Blog Tag. Visit my post about it: You've Been Tagged!

Primary Junction

Anonymous said...

It worked out perfect. I did try to share it with my team mates and they didn't understand or pick up on it as well as I thought. Not sure why. I've made a couple colored copies with the kids names on them. All I do is whip out a slip of paper when I'm walking around doing spot checking and grades. Very easy. Again thank you!

Michelle said...

I'm glad it worked with your students. Maybe in time and your modeling, your teammates will pick up a few tips to help them, too. Thanks for the update!

RainbowsWithinReach said...

What a specific, helpful and insightful post. I can see by your comments how excited teachers are to use your system. Thanks so much for contributing your idea to my blog hop on all things 'organizational.'

I hope that others hop over to learn from your example!

Debbie Clement

Colleen A. said...

Love this idea! A must for next year.
Totally Terrific in Texas

Ta said...

Thanks for the tip!
If it's too dificult to edit, you can do it in a spreadsheet. =)

Jennibell said...

Thank you for this. I'm excited to try it in my classroom. . .I appreciate you sharing.