Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Teaching Tuesday: Classroom Organization Binder + Lesson Plan Template for Block Scheduling

Welcome back to the second installment of 'Teaching Tuesday.'  Thanks so much to all of you who commented and/or emailed about the Yellow Sheet in my last post.  I especially LOVED hearing that so many of you are using that idea and having success with it.  Seriously, I think collaborating and sharing ideas with each other is SO important in the teaching profession... I am happy to contribute any way I can!

On that note, this week, I'm talking about my Classroom Organization Binder and sharing the template I use for lesson planning.

You might recall that about a year ago Home Organization Binders were all the rage in the blog world.  And, I admit, I was quick to jump on that wagon.  (I've got a beautifully organized home organization notebook with very little actual home organization right now - ha!)  Anyway, when I ran across the idea for a similar binder to keep up with school-related information at Eat.Write.Teach last summer, I fell in LOVE.   It was an 'Aha!' moment in my teaching career! (Thanks Stephanie!)

I immediately made my own Classroom Organization Binder; and, unlike my home binder, this one I actually used every.single.day last school year. The concept is so simple, really - just put everything you use on a given day both at home and at school (related to work, that is) in one neat and tidy place.  Seriously, it is one of the best things I've done for my sanity as a teacher, and I will definitely make one every year from here on out - in fact, I'm finishing up this year's version today!

The initial set-up/organization takes about an hour (depending on how OCD you want to get)& will help you restore some peace and purpose to the mass of paperwork, etc. that (unfortunately) surrounds the classroom these days.  Plus, it totally gives you a great excuse to go "school supply" shopping! ;)

I'm a big proponent of NOT re-inventing the wheel, so this is when I'm going to kindly direct you back to Stephanie's blog where she wonderfully outlines exactly how she uses her notebook/ "Sanity Saver" AND provides FREE templates for everything right here.

But, just in case you are interested, here's how I set up mine (in a nutshell):

My binder has eight sections (which is nice because the tabs come in packs of 8) and each section has a different color divider/folder and a "cover sheet" if you will.  My sections are as follows:

1. Weekly To Do & Lesson Plans with my complete 'To Do' list, my checklist from administration, and copies of the week's plans for each of my three classes (see below for a lesson plan template)

2. Calendars & Schedules with the school calendar, a bell schedule, and a blank monthly calendar to keep track of 'A' and 'B' days, important deadlines, etc.  (Although, I'll be honest, I'm mostly just going to use my Plum Planner for all that this year.)

3. Rosters, Attendance, & Emergency for my class lists, attendance records, and fire-drill/safety plans etc.  (P.S. I've gotten a lot of questions about how I manage attendance and make-up work... Look for that topic on a Tuesday SOON.)

4. Missing Work Logs & Parent Contact where I keep used Yellow Sheets and a list of all parent communication.  NOTE: Some teachers may need to use a whole binder for this; but, generally, I don't have a ton of missing work.

5. Syllabi & Course Outlines for... you guessed it... syllabi & course outlines. ;)

6. Testing & Standards with printouts of the state standards for each grade (which I use when lesson planning), test blueprints, and prognosis results, and scores.

7. SPED for student IEPs and other special education resources.  (Generally, I don't have many of these anymore; but, in my old position, I always made an easy 'at a glance' checklist for each class so I didn't miss important accommodations etc. too.)

8. Other for everything else.

And that's it!  This goes home with me every evening and is a "one stop shop" for pretty much anything I might need when I am away from my classroom.  It keeps me from lugging home three big binders every day and helps me keep my head above water in the sea of constant paperwork.  *This would also be super helpful for a teacher who travels between schools and/or classrooms.

So, what do you think?  Do you have something like this?  Please share your ideas!

As a bonus, I thought I'd share my lesson plan template and technique today since I've gotten a couple of questions about that lately too -- 
I have always used a simple table/chart in a Word document to write up my plans each week.  Although sometimes the formatting gets a little wonky, for the most part, I find that it is easy to just copy and paste that table for each week into Blackboard where I post weekly plans for students and parents every Monday.

This year, I am doing something a little different and attempting to plan for two-week spans (that's five 90 min. class periods on a standard A/B block schedule) to help make life a little easier if there is a snow day or some other interruption that changes the course of things.  

Here's a look at my blank template (which will be customized every two weeks with specific dates, standards, activities, homework, and reminders)

and a sample lesson plan so you can see what it looks like "in action."

Download the blank Word document/template here.

*A quick note about size: I have tried to make this template a size that will easy tranfer (copy/paste) under Announcements on Blackboard; however, I think this is different on every computer etc.I recommend trying out the blank template on your BB and then adjusting the size to one that works best for you.

I am, by NO MEANS, an expert at this.  I've been changing up my form a little each year trying to find something that works well for my specific class needs... I'm really hoping this will be a good fit this year; but, if you have any suggestions or a link to a great lesson-plan template, please feel free to share below!

Hope this was helpful!

P.S. If you haven't already, be sure to enter my August Sponsor Giveaway here.  It ends tomorrow night and, so far, odds are only 25:1.


  1. I love seeing new ideas for lesson plans. I'm an organization freak and like to see other ways that might work better for me. Your blog has become one of my daily reads!! Check out my blog and if there are any helpful remarks it would be greatly appreciated!!


    Great job!!

  2. Love your creative ideas!! Thanks for the templates :)

  3. I'm using the Sanity Saver this year, too! Great minds think alike!

  4. Love this. I also keep my "Old Calender" in my binder so I quickly reference which lessons I taught when.

    Also when I had an intern or co-teacher in my room I would make them a binder as "welcome gift" to the classroom.

    This year I will be on maternity leave (You can all imagine the OCD binders I created for this occasion)... so I also made my leave replacement a "LifeLine" binder of her own.

  5. I couldn't have lived without my classroom binder last year - a few sections I included were "Meetings" (all agendas & minutes from faculty/dept/hall meetings), "Professional Development" (hours log/resources) & "Technology" (any how-to docs for entering grades, etc and all my log-ins and passwords). This was a life-saver when I went on maternity leave because everything was organized in one place!

  6. I lost my mind for 2 days trying to find this post again (the one thing I neglected to Pin). Can't wait to try it with my HS SPED class this year! I'll let you know how it goes.

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