Back To School: 3rd Grade Paper Organization


Ahhh… the joys of summer.  I was doing my Target run and guess what? You’ve probably already seen it- The Back to School section!  I know all of you out there are enjoying your summer to recharge for the new school year, but I know, in the back of your mind, it’s time to start prepping!  For me, I’m getting excited in figuring out how to keep my third graders’ papers organized.  In second grade, they got homework packets on Mondays and were due on Fridays.  In my class, I give daily homework that they have to copy from the board.  So, you can see how difficult it will be for my students to transition.

Third grade is the crucial year when students become more independent and are reading to learn.  Besides curriculum and character education, one of my top priorities is to teach my students how to be organized and responsible for their own learning.  Yup, my fellow teachers, you said it, “folders!”  In the past, I’ve given my students two pocket poly folders where one pocket is labeled “Keep at Home or School” and the other pocket is “Return to School”.  I trained them on how to organize their folders as well as make sure papers don’t pile up.  But, inevitably, the folders were busting at the seams and they can’t seem to find their work.  Parents were confused and frustrated with my system as well.  So, it’s time to change it up!  Organization makeover!

For the past week, I’ve been obsessively thinking about the many different ways that I can improve my system and I think I have the answer: 3-ring binders!  I know some of you already do this, so please share your experiences by leaving a comment below! I have already bought those write-on tabs (dividers-see pic below) so students can write on them and erase when they have reorganized.  You know I don’t have time to print out those labels and insert them into 22 binders!  This way, they will take ownership of their binder and get into organizing if they already aren’t.  To make it even more special, kids will decorate the covers (appropriately, of course!).  These dividers that have pockets so that students can store spelling word cut outs, math card games, or frequently-referenced sheets (times tables, maps, conversion charts, instructions for a project, etc.).  I also need more 3-hole punches so students can punch their own holes at their desks.


Here are my 8 tab ideas:

  • “Return” (homework, papers that require parent signatures, etc.)
  • “Calendar”- students will get a month view calendar to keep track of project deadlines, field trips, events, etc.
  • “HW”-  Homework (copy HW assignments and insert HW assignments, too)
    • see my HW template that I use for the 1st week to ease the transition.
  • “LA”- Language Arts
  • “Word Work” (vocabulary work- see my template on TPT-
  • “Math”
  • “Soc. St.”- Social Studies
  • “Misc.”- odds and ends, other papers that can’t be categorized such as reference sheets, etc.

Hope this helps! Stay tuned for pics of the actual binders once school begins!

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Sharon Jaravata

Sharon is a 3rd grade public school teacher.

2 thoughts on “Back To School: 3rd Grade Paper Organization

  • March 12, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    Curious to know how your binders are working!

    • March 12, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      Hi Minika- thanks for your question! I am LOVING the binders since it’s easy to organize papers either with OR without holes. It’s everything in one and I am happy with my 8 categories. I notice that my students are more organized and can find things faster. The thing to keep in mind is that I found that their binders were busting at the seams after awhile, so we have done some “deep cleaning” a few times. From now on, we’ll make it a monthly task. Another tip is to get good quality binders as some of my students’ binders, by now, are breaking apart and some of the rings are splitting up. It’s been fun seeing how they personalize them with photos and drawings slipped into the clear front cover!


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