August 18, 2012

Binder System

After some Aweome PD last year all of the freshman and sophomores are moving to a binder system in math, and chances are pretty good that it will carry through to upper grades.  I'm requiring all students in Geometry and Honors Pre-Calculus to use this system.

Students will need to purchase 3 ring binders and dividers (I will sell binders to kids who don't have them after a week at whatever the cheapest price is that I can find them for this summer).  The second week of school we will set them up as follows:

1.  One page protector (provided by me) so that they can use them as personal dry erase boards! Nice (big, dark) grid paper to put inside permanently.  Other templates (to be determined) will be used throughout the year.  I'm really excited about the dry erase grid for Pre-Calculus since they can carefully plot points on it, then just sketch the graph in their notes.

2.  Table of contents: I don't know how this will be set up yet, but since binders are fluid and we want kids to move papers around, the table of contents will probably just be for the reference section.

3.  Reference: This will include the state test reference sheet in Geometry, along with any other reference materials they create throughout the year.  This section will be all of the important material from past units.

4.  Notes, classwork and homework: A section filled with looseleaf paper where students do all of their work.  The selling point for me on this system was what happens at the end of the unit:  At the end of each unit students clean out this section, determine what's important and file it into the reference section.  This means the binder doesn't get huge, finding old notes isn't impossible and students have to interact with their notes when they decide what is reference and what has been internalized or duplicated.  The other papers could get saved somewhere, but I'm not keeping them in the classroom- I don't like clutter or extraneous materials.  The reference section will suffice.

5.  Graded assignments: The first page will be the standards sheet (more on the nifty bar graph thing I've seen when I write my SBG post).  Following that will be all of the quizzes, tests and projects.  I do quizzes on quarter sheets of scrap paper, so those will need to get taped/stapled onto looseleaf.  This section will  be cleaned out at the end of each quarter.  I imagine tests will remain, quizzes recycled and projects taken home or recycled.

6.  Journal and Classwork Rubric:  I'm undecided what to do about this.  In the past I've had a double sided sheet that I collect every two weeks.  The journal is really the summarizing part of Cornell Notes or the Left Hand Side of Interactive Notebooks.  However, I like reading the journals and have no interest in collecting binders.  My plan for the time being is to continue using the same sheet and then have students put it into the notes section after I read them.  Definitely open to suggestions on that though.

My Fundamentals of Geometry class will be required to leave their binders in the classroom.  I need them to have all of those materials and losing the binder is too much of a risk.  I will have them put their homework in a folder along with that day's notes.  They use the notes to complete the homework, then file everything into the binder at the beginning of class each day.  My CP Geometry and Honors Pre-Calculus students will have the option to leave their binder and use a homework folder or to travel with it.

One of my co-workers showed me an awesome trick today that I'm excited about: If you put one binder into a hanging file folder it stands up perfectly straight and the drawer will still close.  I was planning to give each class a drawer or two until I tried putting binders into the filing cabinet and it was a mess!  Thanks @CpColeman7 for solving that conundrum! Now if only she would use twitter for math :)


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Tina. I am not ready to give up binders and move to composition/interactive notebooks. You have given me some food for thought on integrating the two.

    1. I was really disappointed when everyone started talking about composition notebooks after we had just decided on binders, but I really think that we can do all the same things. Composition notebooks are way cheaper though, good thing there were so many spare binders in my new room when I arrived, they aren't going on sale anywhere! (At least not for a price I was willing to pay.)

  2. The page protector in everyone's binder as a mini white board is one of the most brilliant ideas I have heard in years. I LOVE it!