Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
August 31, 2015 Super Student Take-Home Binders By Amanda Nehring
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    As all teachers and parents know, the home-school connection is of paramount importance, no matter the grade level. Early elementary students need help and guidance to get organized, complete homework, and stay on task. While older students are more independent, they still require support from both parents and teachers as they develop their autonomy. Fostering close home-school connections can be difficult, but I have found it to be so much easier ever since I implemented daily take-home binders.

    Over the summer (or whenever I find a great sale!) I go out and purchase the materials to prepare students’ take-home binders in anticipation of the first day of school. When I know which students will be in my class, I send home a letter explaining the function of the binder and requesting that parents send their students with $5 to cover the cost. I know that schools ask a lot of parents at the beginning of the year when they send them to buy a myriad of school supplies, but I have found that parents actually appreciate that I do the shopping and the prepping for them instead of asking them to send all of the materials to make the binders themselves. By buying and preparing the binders yourself you can make sure that they have all the necessary components as well as ensure that there is consistency across your classroom.

     

    Making Your Binders

    To create each student take-home binder you will need:

    • A one-inch binder with front and back clear sleeves

    • 2 two-pocket folders without brass fasteners (just the plain two-pockets)

    • 3 clear sheet protectors

    • A three-hole punched transparent zipper pocket

    In order to create back-to-back pockets from the two-pocket folders, begin by turning the folder inside out along the center seam to make the outer edges touch. This will create a double-sided folder with a pocket on each side. To keep the folder from opening back up and to attach it to the binder, use a three hole punch to create holes on the outer edges of the folder. Now you can insert your folder into the binder and it won’t come open. Check out the step-by-step photos below for a closer look at the process.

    Once I have inserted the two folders into the binder, I then go back and add my three sheet protectors. I have one sheet protector right at the beginning of the binder, one between the two folders, and one at the end. Consider what pages you would want to include in your binder and then adjust your setup accordingly.

     

    Cover

    Now that your binder is prepped it is ready to fill with all the important information to keep parents and students up-to-date and organized. My binders begin with a cute cover that matches the owl theme of our classroom. I even created a catchy slogan to explain the binder’s function that fits with the woodland design. Other teachers in my school have different names for their binders depending on their classroom themes. Here are a few examples:

    • B.I.R.D. (Being Independent and Reading Daily)

    • B.E.E. (Bring Everything Everyday)

    • D.O.G.S. (Daily Organizational Guide for Students)

    • S.P.O.R.T.S. (Super Productive, Organized, Responsible and Trustworthy Student)

    • F.R.O.G. (For Really Organized Gear)

    Looking for a simple binder cover that works with any theme? Try either this full-color schoolhouse cover or this black and white school supplies cover that your students can color themselves. 

     

    Inside the Binder

    • The front inside pocket holds “important notes/notas importantes.” This is where I send home notes to parents or include flyers from the office. It is also the section where parents know to place any notes they have for me. This saves me from searching 25 backpacks every morning looking for picture day forms.

    • The zipper pocket is for money coming to school. Whether it be lunch money, field trip funds, or a check for spirit wear, I always know where to find dinero headed to school.

    • The first sheet protector displays an explanation of the take-home binder for parents as well as a table of contents. This would also be a great spot for older students to store their class schedules.

    • Behind the sheet protector you’ll find one of the pocket folders. The pocket on the first side is titled “tarea” and houses homework pages the students may have for that day. My students know that anything in the homework folder needs to be completed that night and returned, still in the homework folder, by the next morning. I cannot tell you enough how much easier life is now that I only have one spot to check for any homework due back to school!

    • On the opposite side of the homework folder is the “completed work/trabajo completo” folder. Anything that I have already graded or that students have completed in class goes into this folder. I explain to parents that they should take the papers out from this section each night to look over with their students. Any papers in the completed work folder do not need to return to school — they can stay at home or make their way on the refrigerator door.

    • Behind the completed work is the second sheet protector. I use this section to store our special classes schedule. Now parents always know what day to send gym shoes and return library books. On the backside of the sheet protector is a detailed explanation of my classroom expectations and behavior system. I keep this description on the back of the sheet protector because it opens right next to the behavior calendar in the following folder. This allows parents to match their child’s behavior to class expectations easily and clearly.

    • The second folder holds both important calendars used in our classroom. The first calendar is our school’s PBIS behavior calendar used to communicate daily with parents. No matter what behavior management system your school uses, it is always a great idea to have a consistent means for sharing the struggles and successes of students with parents each day. If that is not something your classroom uses, consider storing a long-term assignments calendar or homework log. The backside of the second folder is home to students’ reading logs.

    • In the last sheet protector I include helpful homework tips for math and reading. Especially with new Common Core math standards I find it useful to give parents a cheat sheet where they can find and review the strategies we teach in our classes. Consider including these helpful math and reading homework tip sheets in your binders.

    • Last but not least, we come to the back cover of the binder. I slide a list of expectations for caring for the take-home binder in this section. It includes rules such as “Avoid eating or drinking while using your binder,” or “Remember to show your binder to your parents every night. They’ll be so proud of all you have learned!” My students have developed an amazing sense of responsibility for their own learning just by using these binders.

    While it might take a bit of prep work to get binders ready for your new students, I guarantee it is worth your time. My students are more responsible, parents are more informed, and I am more organized all thanks to a consistent and all-inclusive method of fostering the home-school connection. Do you use something like this at your school? Can you think of something you think I should add to my binders? Leave a comment below. Also, for a great way to keep track of all your teacher plans, grades, and papers, check out Genia Connell's All-in-One Teacher Organizer. Good luck this year and happy organizing!

    As all teachers and parents know, the home-school connection is of paramount importance, no matter the grade level. Early elementary students need help and guidance to get organized, complete homework, and stay on task. While older students are more independent, they still require support from both parents and teachers as they develop their autonomy. Fostering close home-school connections can be difficult, but I have found it to be so much easier ever since I implemented daily take-home binders.

    Over the summer (or whenever I find a great sale!) I go out and purchase the materials to prepare students’ take-home binders in anticipation of the first day of school. When I know which students will be in my class, I send home a letter explaining the function of the binder and requesting that parents send their students with $5 to cover the cost. I know that schools ask a lot of parents at the beginning of the year when they send them to buy a myriad of school supplies, but I have found that parents actually appreciate that I do the shopping and the prepping for them instead of asking them to send all of the materials to make the binders themselves. By buying and preparing the binders yourself you can make sure that they have all the necessary components as well as ensure that there is consistency across your classroom.

     

    Making Your Binders

    To create each student take-home binder you will need:

    • A one-inch binder with front and back clear sleeves

    • 2 two-pocket folders without brass fasteners (just the plain two-pockets)

    • 3 clear sheet protectors

    • A three-hole punched transparent zipper pocket

    In order to create back-to-back pockets from the two-pocket folders, begin by turning the folder inside out along the center seam to make the outer edges touch. This will create a double-sided folder with a pocket on each side. To keep the folder from opening back up and to attach it to the binder, use a three hole punch to create holes on the outer edges of the folder. Now you can insert your folder into the binder and it won’t come open. Check out the step-by-step photos below for a closer look at the process.

    Once I have inserted the two folders into the binder, I then go back and add my three sheet protectors. I have one sheet protector right at the beginning of the binder, one between the two folders, and one at the end. Consider what pages you would want to include in your binder and then adjust your setup accordingly.

     

    Cover

    Now that your binder is prepped it is ready to fill with all the important information to keep parents and students up-to-date and organized. My binders begin with a cute cover that matches the owl theme of our classroom. I even created a catchy slogan to explain the binder’s function that fits with the woodland design. Other teachers in my school have different names for their binders depending on their classroom themes. Here are a few examples:

    • B.I.R.D. (Being Independent and Reading Daily)

    • B.E.E. (Bring Everything Everyday)

    • D.O.G.S. (Daily Organizational Guide for Students)

    • S.P.O.R.T.S. (Super Productive, Organized, Responsible and Trustworthy Student)

    • F.R.O.G. (For Really Organized Gear)

    Looking for a simple binder cover that works with any theme? Try either this full-color schoolhouse cover or this black and white school supplies cover that your students can color themselves. 

     

    Inside the Binder

    • The front inside pocket holds “important notes/notas importantes.” This is where I send home notes to parents or include flyers from the office. It is also the section where parents know to place any notes they have for me. This saves me from searching 25 backpacks every morning looking for picture day forms.

    • The zipper pocket is for money coming to school. Whether it be lunch money, field trip funds, or a check for spirit wear, I always know where to find dinero headed to school.

    • The first sheet protector displays an explanation of the take-home binder for parents as well as a table of contents. This would also be a great spot for older students to store their class schedules.

    • Behind the sheet protector you’ll find one of the pocket folders. The pocket on the first side is titled “tarea” and houses homework pages the students may have for that day. My students know that anything in the homework folder needs to be completed that night and returned, still in the homework folder, by the next morning. I cannot tell you enough how much easier life is now that I only have one spot to check for any homework due back to school!

    • On the opposite side of the homework folder is the “completed work/trabajo completo” folder. Anything that I have already graded or that students have completed in class goes into this folder. I explain to parents that they should take the papers out from this section each night to look over with their students. Any papers in the completed work folder do not need to return to school — they can stay at home or make their way on the refrigerator door.

    • Behind the completed work is the second sheet protector. I use this section to store our special classes schedule. Now parents always know what day to send gym shoes and return library books. On the backside of the sheet protector is a detailed explanation of my classroom expectations and behavior system. I keep this description on the back of the sheet protector because it opens right next to the behavior calendar in the following folder. This allows parents to match their child’s behavior to class expectations easily and clearly.

    • The second folder holds both important calendars used in our classroom. The first calendar is our school’s PBIS behavior calendar used to communicate daily with parents. No matter what behavior management system your school uses, it is always a great idea to have a consistent means for sharing the struggles and successes of students with parents each day. If that is not something your classroom uses, consider storing a long-term assignments calendar or homework log. The backside of the second folder is home to students’ reading logs.

    • In the last sheet protector I include helpful homework tips for math and reading. Especially with new Common Core math standards I find it useful to give parents a cheat sheet where they can find and review the strategies we teach in our classes. Consider including these helpful math and reading homework tip sheets in your binders.

    • Last but not least, we come to the back cover of the binder. I slide a list of expectations for caring for the take-home binder in this section. It includes rules such as “Avoid eating or drinking while using your binder,” or “Remember to show your binder to your parents every night. They’ll be so proud of all you have learned!” My students have developed an amazing sense of responsibility for their own learning just by using these binders.

    While it might take a bit of prep work to get binders ready for your new students, I guarantee it is worth your time. My students are more responsible, parents are more informed, and I am more organized all thanks to a consistent and all-inclusive method of fostering the home-school connection. Do you use something like this at your school? Can you think of something you think I should add to my binders? Leave a comment below. Also, for a great way to keep track of all your teacher plans, grades, and papers, check out Genia Connell's All-in-One Teacher Organizer. Good luck this year and happy organizing!

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

My Scholastic

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us