Help me give my students a professional organization system that allows them to order and review their work cumulatively--one tab per day, one day at a time--while I save valuable time on hole-punching copies before they are distributed.
In my integrated English and Science class, our students are designers: they build Rube Goldberg Machines and model houses to analyze character motivation, they write narratives to explore our relationships with nature; they create plans to manage wildfires in California and interact with professionals who grapple with real-world problems like these.
They have chosen science: they want to be veterinarians, psychologists, engineers, nurses and doctors, therapists, video game designers, and architects.
However, science continues to be the least accessible content area for students of color, and particularly for students from low-income backgrounds and stressful environments. This is partly due to how essential it is in science to combine analytical skills with access to prior knowledge. When my students are absent or struggle with a learning disability that interferes with their memory or organization, it's more difficult for them to see how the day-to-day, cumulative progression of a science classroom is leading to their dreams. They know they have to do the work, but they don't know how it fits in with the big picture.
By keeping a binder that synchronizes with the calendar of our marking period, students will have a powerful tool that keeps track not only of work but of its progression, even if students are absent and will also help prevent missing work. Our daily tab system will match our set of wall pockets for extra copies, and the binders the students provide will stay in our classroom. The rainbow tabs make organization fun and accessible to our most challenged learners; at the same time, the multi-tab system will more closely reflect professional organization systems the students will encounter in the real world. Throughout the marking period, students will be able to easily reference their annotations, handouts, and notes on binder paper that are all kept beneath the tab of the day the lesson occurred, and we will have a uniform table of contents with each lesson title clearly displayed.
At the end of each marking period, students will be able to review their work and feedback over time and follow a true portfolio process in which they can perceive their progress and provide evidence of their mastery levels.
I will issue a new table of contents at the beginning of the new marking period and teach students to selectively archive their work so that they can re-use the tabs, but also prepare for a final reflection at the end of the semester.
While the tab organization system will benefit my classroom directly, the high-capacity hole punch will be kept in the faculty copy room, transforming our entire school's potential to keep our students organized. It's these little supports that communicate high expectations, bolster both students' and teachers' aspirations, and give everyone the gifts of time and peace of mind when everything has its place.
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