Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wall Folders: A grading and missing assignment miracle

Wall Folders for Classroom Management

One thing that I have LOVED using in my classroom is wall folders. Wall folders seriously saved my sanity over and over. They help with classroom organization, collecting student work, grading, entering grades, managing late work, classroom procedures and more!

I really have to give a shout-out to my site teacher when I was student teaching. She is the one who gave me the idea (one of many).

How to make wall folders:
1. First, you take colored folders. I used the thicker ones for durability.

2. Add your students names. This can be done in many different ways. My site teacher laminated her names and used Velcro  to easily change the names from year to year. I had a lot more mobility in my classroom (usually about 40-60% of my students would move in and out) so I used badge holders that I got from Office Max. I just applied these with brads so I could easily slip in the students names

3. Tape the two short sides that are open with packaging tape.

4. Add three paper clips: Two at the top and one at the bottom.

5. Tape or secure to the wall close together.

Here is an zoomed in picture of the folders.
Wall Folders Zoomed In

Now some teachers use the opening in the top for students to turn in work and get it passed back to them. That is an option. However, with how rough my little 3rd graders could be on paper, I didn't want to be changing the folders every single year. The folders in this picture are five years old. You could also have your wall folders hang vertically instead of horizontally.

You want to organize your students alphabetically by last name. My first instinct was to alphabetize by first name because that is aesthetically pleasing and I'm a little type A. But if you alphabetize by last name, when the papers are collected to be graded, they are already to go in alphabetical order! This may only be an issue with me but having a stack of papers placed neatly on my desk by my class president in alphabetical order made entering grades SO MUCH easier! I didn't have to take the extra seconds to search for a name. Now maybe this is just something that bugs me, but seconds are valuable in the classroom and this is one thing that made grading much easier.

The two paper clips are the top are for your students to turn in their work. They slide it up under the paper clips. I had my students always place their papers with their names on the right hand side. That way when they are collected the papers are all facing the same way in alphabetical order. This takes a little practice depending on your class but they usually pick it up pretty fast. I have only had a few students that push their papers up too hard and take the paper clips with them. They can fix that themselves (usually :)) pretty fast.

Wall Folders With Papers

The paper clip at the bottom is for their cards. The cards show who is missing an assignment and what assignment it is. I have many different colored pieces of laminated cardstock. They are about 2 x 4 inches. When a student doesn't turn in an assignment, my class president would write the assignment name next to a colored card. Then she/he would take that colored card and put it in the bottom paper clip to mark which students hadn't turned in the assignment. The president does this BEFORE they collect the other papers. Then the president would collect the papers from left to right across the rows and place the pile on my desk.

Here is a picture of the board with the assignment lists. (And that is 8 year old handwriting so don't judge too harshly!! :))

So, for example, if a student was missing our grammar page 183 and practice page 212 (copied front to back) then they would have a yellow card. If they were also missing practice page 211 and spelling page 183 they would have an orange card. The students and I could look at the wall and see who was missing what immediately! They didn't have to come up to me to ask what they were missing and I didn't have to track them down and keep checking my gradebook to see who was missing what. Seriously fabulous.
Wall Folder Cards

In my room my students couldn't go outside to recess if they had cards. They would need to stay inside and do their work. I also had a basket labeled "Extra Papers" where I made 1-3 extra copies of work that they could check to find what they needed. When they were done with their work, they would take their card off and turn their paper in. (I had them turn their late work in a different box so the wall folders wouldn't be cluttered with random late work pages but you could do it however you wanted.)

The best part is that my class president took care of all of this! If I had a class where I didn't trust a student to do this on their own then I had to be more involved but usually it went smoothly. At the end of the week any students with missing work were given an orange card that said late work. All the other cards were put back and the assignment names erased so we could start over fresh the next week. The student would have to come see me and I would staple all of their work together along with a note for the parents to sign and they would take it home for the weekend to work on it.

Wall folders take up some space but if you can afford to give that up then try it! You won't be sorry!


  1. Just saw this -- love the idea of the color coded assignment list! I really want to figure out how to use that idea in my classroom. (Very little wall space, though. Hmmm... My wheels are spinning!) Thanks for sharing!

    Heather Q
    My Clever Endeavors

  2. This is genius! I am constantly looking for a system the would work for us, I think this is it!

  3. Do you think this would work for 1st graders?

    1. I definitely think it would. You would have to be the one who wrote out the assignment names, but I think you could train a student to put out cards and even collect the pages. If anything, your kids could turn in their assignments that way which still helps for grading and collecting.

  4. Do you ever use the folder itself? Like a student mailbox to send work home? Just curious. I am limited on wall space, but was thinking of using mailboxes this year. This is much more cost effective than purchasing boxes...hmmm

    1. I personally haven't, but have seen a teacher that does. I was just worried about the durability of the folder and making sure it would last more than one year.

    2. So you could just use a colored a4 size cardboard instead of the folders, don't you?

    3. Yes that would work, too!

  5. How do you train your students to use the folders? What are your procedures when it comes to taking turns hanging up theor work? I'm just trying to think of the logistics of it for my first graders, I don't want a traffic jam and I don't want it to take forever either.... hmmmm.

    1. Hi Bright Ideas,
      I went over procedures a lot during the first week. I never had huge traffic jams with my students (but they were older). You could send up 5 students at a time (or ten) until they get used to it. It really doesn't take a long time for them to turn in work. Good luck!

  6. Did you have your class president collect the papers at the end of the day or after each period? I have some that don'the finish their work till they do it at recess, but at that point their assignments could be out of order.

    Also, with placing them on the outside has anyone tried to cheat?

    1. Hi Angela,
      I had the president collect them after the kids had worked on the assignment for a decent amount of time and most/all the kids were done. If someone needed more time, but it was time to get the papers collected and move on, they got a card for that assignment. They could finish it at recess or others times throughout the day, turn it into the homework basket (not their wall folder because other things might be up there), and remove their card. That would occasionally happen, but it was usually just one or two papers that were out of order and were pretty easy to find in the grade book.

      I only ever had a few students try to "cheat the system" by removing their cards. Those years, I had to really pay attention to that student's wall folder and usually the class president would tell me that something was off. They would notice that a child just walked up and took off their card without turning anything in. When the student knew that I was paying really close attention to their folder, they didn't try as often to cheat (although it was usually an ongoing battle depending on the personality of the student.) Most of the time things went really smoothly.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Thank you so much for your help! I'm going to try it with hanging file holders and a paper clip.The kids voted for who they wanted to do that job and are very excited about it.

    3. I'm so glad! I'm sure it will work out great!


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