Here’s the 8 minute video…
Seth’s Student Success Toolkit mini-course (SSST)
Summary (if you prefer to read it)
Today is essentially about systems for managing papers, and frankly, binders stink for 90% of my students. Put simply, they require too many steps to manage papers that are often of little value to students.
Ironically, many schools send a message that binders are the key. The thinking seems to go like this,
“Many highly organized, left-brained students effectively use binders to manage papers, so if disorganized students would just adopt this method, they’d become organized.”
Well, it doesn’t work that way at all and this comes from a world of misunderstanding. These kids process differently and need to develop their own tailored systems.
Some teachers even give grades for “binder checks” which is not appropriate as far as I’m concerned, unless the class is designed to teach using binders how the teacher tells you to. It’s like saying,
“Hey, I know this has nothing to do with the actual learning of the topic in this class, but I decided to judge and grade you based on your ability to conform to my rules on how to manage pieces of paper that mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of your life. And, left brain kids who conform will be rewarded, because it will be easier for them to appear successful, they will get better grades on it and they will be better at conforming to other depersonalized systems when they grow up.”
Can you sense my sarcasm? It’s not right and it angers me because I see a lot of these kids suffer needlessly AND they aren’t empowered to make their own personalized system. Year after year they get messages that they are unsuccessful, and too often their strengths are overshadowed by stuff like this.
Anyhow, back to the program. These kids do need an effective system to manage papers that is tailored to their brains. So how do we empower students to manage papers they need to manage?
I generally help them build a simple, color coded folder system. For a few of my students, we find it’s better to build out a simple accordion folder. Also, we sometimes have separate a.m. and p.m. systems.
How long it takes
1 hour to set up the system initially, then maintain during the weekly backpack overhaul.
This is generally more important for high school and up, but I certainly use this with many of my upper elementary and middle school kids.
If the student likes the binder AND is able to use it, leave well-enough alone.
If a teacher “makes” students keep binders AND they provide real support in helping them maintain it, THEN I don’t have a problem with it. I still have a problem with “Binder Checks” and giving a grade essentially for compliance. Grades should be about the content (actually, I don’t believe in letter grades at all, but that’s a whole other can of worms.)
How to create a simple system
Here’s the system that typically works best for my students, tailor it to meet your needs.
- Get 1 cheap paper folder for each class. Do not get slick ones bc the labels/sharpie doesn’t adhere well. Get various colors. You might get duplicates because they only last a few months.
- Get matching composition notebooks for classes that require notebooks.
- Think about what color you want for each class. If your math book is red, use the red folder and composition book for math. If blue reminds you of L.A., use blue for that class. Etc..
- Label everything clearly. Put your full name on the upper right hand corner of the front and back. Write the subject in huge letters across the front.
- Intentionally reorganize all of your papers. Don’t rush it.
When to maintain it
Just update your folders weekly during the overhaul (see the Backpack Overhaul video).
- Find someone who “gets” you and ask them to help you with organization and revamping your system.
- Print your missing assignments so you can reference them as you go through everything.
- Thoughtfully go through every single paper you have. Recycle those you don’t need, archive the ones you may need or that are sentimental, reorganize the ones you do need.
- Put your system back together. Make sure to label everything clearly.
- Start using it!
ps- you may want to watch my video on the “queue” because it has a great system for students who misplace papers a lot. Just click “search” on my site and type in “queue.”
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Hello and welcome back at me Seth Perler and I’m here with today’s tool which is called binders think now if your student who likes binders, that’s totally fine. Do what works for you, but I’m going to talk about what my beef is with binders. Okay, so the students that I work with are very creative right brain thinkers. That tends not be good with details and finders require a lot of details. So let me get into this year first of all. Let me start with some misconceptions. So these students that I work with tends to be disorganized. So left brain organized people who are trying to help these right brain disorganized people think that if you do would have left brain organized linear sequential structured person. Does Domino’s naturally organized you do what they do, then you’ll become an organized person. It doesn’t work. That way you need different system systems that are tailored to your brain in your thinking and you tend to be an abstract thinker and you tend to be a very big picture Global thinker and they tend to be very detail-oriented neither is better or worse. That’s not the point that school tends to be geared towards people who are very linear and structured in detail oriented and people who were right brain and disorganized and more a lot times more of the creative types that don’t fit in the boxes off and have trouble with this system that tends to be very geared towards linear structure thinkers. So there’s this misconception that if you do what they do, then you’ll be organized in one of the things that highly organized people do. Well as they maintain binders well and they like the feeling of structure and control that a binder give them and I see so many teachers that require students to have binders with different sections for homework for Note 4 test study guide. Sometimes I’ll see in one class a teacher requires a student to have five or six different sections for one class. Now again, for people who are very organized and structured that feels good and organized and in control, but for somebody who is very right-brained and he struggles with organization. It’s a nightmare and it makes them feel like they can’t be successful and it makes them feel more disorganized. So you need a system that feels good. I’ve also seen teachers do Find her checks where they’ll literally give upgrade for binders in to me. This is very unfair because it favors people who are naturally organized and left-brained and these kids have an advantage naturally, which I don’t think it’s fair because it doesn’t examine how the people are learning the content of the class what’s going on with the learning in the class. So I’m not a fan of these binders and now a lot of my students to do like binders my right brain kids to do like binders actually don’t use the binders in the way. They’re designed to be used. They really use them just as a storage place off and they don’t click the papers even into the binder itself. It’s more Storehouse for things. So there’s a lot of misconception here again. So let me let me move on with the next one here. There are three main systems that I see people using while really for one is complete chaos. They will start with that one, too. Is using the binder 3-ring binder a way that a binder is intended to be used putting course work on to the the Rings themselves. I3 is to use accordion folders. Those are full of folders that lifts up like this and then there’s an accordion and they’re different slots for each class in those can be really effective or my students to in for my most preferred method is to use sheep. Paper holder this 50 Cent folders that that you can get it any office store and have one folder for each class, which is color coded. So, let’s see if I’m ready for the oh, yes. So what makes a good system for managing papers, whether it’s a binder or an accordion or a folder system. What makes a good system. Well here is some of the things that work for my students. A good system is clearly labeled. So if you’re using for example, the folder system, perhaps read his math on the front of the folder that says math. The name is in the upper right hand corner of the folder flip it over. It might say math in the name on the back of the folder. All that folders for is meth. I don’t even care if my students get it into the pocket of the folder. I just care that mask. It’s in the math folder. Perhaps yellow is social studies maybe green is science movie Blue is language arts. Maybe purple is French or whatever the case may be about a good system is clearly labeled and usually is color-coded because my students are usually are very Visual and they start looking for where is my orange folder rather than where is my engineering folder? So there’s a lot of times that color coding really helps the brain to find what you’re looking for a good system also often has a corresponding or matching. Composition notebook. I typically prefer the composition composition notebooks over the spiral notebooks because of spiral notebooks get been off in the papers Fallout 4 kids that are not organized for kids that are organized by rows work fine, but usually composition notebooks or better. So perhaps you have a red composition notebook and a red folder for math label very clearly and that’s part of a good system a good system for organizing the papers. Also again has the name and has the name on each paper to my students notoriously forget to put their names on things. So getting the name on every single thing possible is part of a good system a good system is very simple and easy to use a good system is one that you can actually articulate to somebody or this is how I setup my system. I use this older sister that’s accordion and this is where this goes A good system has a place for work that still needs to be done or work that still needs to be turned in. That is what I call a q I like to get students in a separate folder called The Q that is a storehouse for anything important things that need to be done or things that are done in need to be turned in things that are basically you can think of them as living organisms in the folder system. The ones that need to be addressed are in the queue so good system has that and a good system has another visual aspect which I use lot which is wax or sticky notes that you put on things that need to be turned in that are sticking out of the folder little bit so you can see it that’s for a lot of my students out of sight out of mind. There can be a paper that was due two months ago that they have a zero on that finished inside the backpack because they never see it cuz it’s just a white piece of paper mixed into a mess of papers. So using a sticky note in your system. 2 flag things and label where needs to go is very powerful for a lot of my students. So so pretty quick video that these are the three main systems and what I want you to try is to revamp your system really ask yourself if your system is working and ask yourself. What kind of a paper management system would work best for me? I want you to try revamping the system will take you about an hour unless you need to go to the office door and pick some stuff up to really think out label everything really clearly and really get a home for each subject. Now. I’m going to leave you with one rule that I tell my students that I’ll shout not put papers in a folder. That is not the right folder. I don’t care if you put your math paper in just in the backpack or in the queue or somewhere to deal with later. Just don’t get in the habit of putting it in the science folder my students who put things in all different folders that’s really difficult to recover from so try to really honor at least if you don’t get it in the right folder at least just have a loose in the backpack until you’re ready to deal with that. So I know that it’s hard sometimes when classes are changing and stuff to get everything in it. With that I’m going to end this video. I’ll see you soon. Good luck. Take care.