So last week when I mentioned that I FINALLY had a binder system in place that I was loving y'all pretty much demanded to SEE THE BINDERS! So today I'm going to show you what is in all of my binders and why I'm loving this system :)

After my first semester in the classroom I realized that having students complete book work as homework was NOT working for me or them. Homework should be an assessment of how well they are understanding and mastering concepts and a tool for studying as well as lesson prep.

Since math is skill-based some sort of daily practice is necessary. The way I structure my classes is lecture/notes/guided instruction followed by monitored practice and then individual practice which typically takes place at home.

Assigning them a set number of problems from a textbook wasn't serving the purpose of homework which was to give me and them accurate feedback and a means of planning further practice/studying. They were either 1) spending a bulk of their time copying down the problem and THEN working it out or 2) Not copying down the problem and then having no quick way to see how/why they made their mistake once they got their paper back.

I decided then to take the problems that I would normally assign from the book and essentially turn them into worksheets... so they were getting the exact directions and questions I wanted them to work on and would have the problem, their work and my feedback all in one concise place for review and studying. It works beautifully for so many reasons and was an absolute game changer for my classroom.

This is just one example of what a homework assignment may look like in my class...

... it's neat, organized and kids aren't spending time copying down the problems, drawing the cartesian planes, etc. It also makes grading papers SO MUCH EASIER for me which is awesome since I grade every student's paper every day and make it my goal to get them their paper back with a grade and feedback by the next class period. The numbers at the top of the page correspond to 8th grade math, chapter 3, section 4 so if they do need to look in their textbook for additional practice and/or clarification they know exactly where to find it.

It took me a few years to take my textbooks and turn them into homework pages since at the time I was teaching Math 7, PreAlgebra and Algebra 1 and had about 360 total to do but it was so worth the time and effort as now I just tweak them yearly. Some years I'll make them longer or shorter depending on the class, I've added short answer questions to pretty much all of my assignments in recent years and have gotten to the point where I have multiple versions for each section of material.

I've done the same thing for notes handouts as well. I was never a fan of using a textbook for taking notes because again - they're not going to get out their notes page at home, then open their book and see what the original word problem said, etc. And asking them to copy the problems from the board and then write down the steps of the solution made note-taking go SLOW so they get these kinds of notes pages from me every day and we fill them out together as we work through the lesson. They work well because I can make sure kids have the essential information and they can focus on getting down all the necessary steps. Their homework assignments typically mirror the notes as well which is great because when they ask me about a homework problem I can refer them to the exact spot in their notes where that was covered.

As we move along throughout the year my notes handouts may look a little more "sparse" than this as their note taking skills are improving.

I also keep other resources, alternative assessments and activities in the binder by section order so that as I'm lesson planning I can actually remember what resources I have ;)

Also, since math is skill-based and the best way to study math is to DO math I also give students at least two versions of a practice test that directly corresponds to what their actual test will look like. I always tell them that there's never a secret or surprise about what's going to be on their test... what I'm testing them on is if they can perform that skill well. It's one of the many things that I love about math. They'll work on one practice test in class and we'll go over it together, then they'll get one to work on independently at home and I provide an answer key in our Google Classroom.

Okay... so that brings me to the binders ;) I've been using these homework and notes pages for years now and while I keep digital copies of everything on my Google Drive I felt like every year I was recreating answer keys and I like having hard copies of them because it makes grading WAY easier. I also use a document camera ALL THE TIME and like being able to show the kids my keys when we're reviewing and wanted everything in one place. Hence... the binder system...

I finally bit the bullet and ordered

**2 boxes of these binders**and now have one for each chapter of each subject. It's been great because all of my resources are in one spot and the binder is small enough that I can pop it in my bag and take it home with me for the night.
After getting all of this organized I am feeling like I can literally conquer the world :) I just ordered a third set of binders for Semester 1 and Final Exams, my emergency sub plans, Math Olympics and about 8 other things. I'm giddy.

Well - this post ended up turning into WAY MORE than just showing y'all the binders - but I hope that it provided you with a little bit of insight into my classroom and how I handle homework for my students. If you have any questions about my worksheet system, notes, binders, etc. please just leave me a comment and I'll get back to you ASAP.

Happy Tuesday, friends!!!

*PS - this post contained an affiliate link - thank you so much for reading and supporting my blog.*

If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times...your kids are so lucky to have you as a teacher!

ReplyDeleteThank you so much, friend!!!

Deletelove your system! Almost made me want to go back to teaching. LOL 39 years in education was enough, though. Love reading about your teaching experiences!

ReplyDeleteLove it! Also - as a parent - so thankful when teachers take time to organize, plan and adapt to make what can be a difficult subject more accessible! I'm on my third kid through high school - so I can help with Algebra homework pretty well by now, but ugh! Those slope intercepts! Ha! I think I need to attend your class for that unit. :)

ReplyDeleteMath is not my favorite, but anything that's labeled and organized so beautifully makes me smile- Your kids have such a gift in you as their teacher!

ReplyDeleteWhy do I love this stuff so much?! You are so organized and so CREATIVE!!!

ReplyDeleteI MAY have been decent at math if I had had you as my teacher. WOW!

ReplyDeleteI always loved math but I've forgotten algebra and looking at your worksheets started giving me some anxiety. I'll have to refresh myself on this so I can be ready when my son starts algebra (he's in grade 3 now). I've already been working on my proportions/cross multiplying, my favourite ;)

ReplyDeleteThis teacher loves everything about this post!! You are amazing Andrea!!

ReplyDeleteWould it be weird if I moved my whole family from Virginia to Texas just so my kids could have you as a teacher?

ReplyDeleteAs a fellow math teacher, I LOVE it all. Are you on TpT? I would love to see your math 7 and algebra resources!

ReplyDeleteDo you get to choose which textbooks are used for your class? Just wondering how your lesson plans are impacted if your school changes textbook publishers, etc. I'm a community college professor, and feel like every couple of semesters, I'm starting over because the textbook publisher changes, and that has a large impact on the resources I've created (as opposed to using the next edition, which results in smaller changes).

ReplyDeleteI am not a teacher but just reading this, I feel like I need to order a set of those binders, STAT! Your organization and passion is inspiring!

ReplyDeleteI wish my daughter had had you for a math teacher!

ReplyDeleteWow! This is amazing! What book do you guys use there? Love this!

ReplyDeleteI'm loving your Teacher Tuesday posts! I'm a 7th grade math teacher, and I used your decimal shopping activity last week. I need to get on the binder organization train. Just curious - what book do you use? I'm not a textbook teacher, either, but we have a consumable textbook and are expected to use it. I'm not a fan...

ReplyDeleteI wish my son could have you for a teacher. He is struggling with Algebra I in the 8th grade... I am spending hours a week - first taking their worksheet notes done together in class, redoing every problem to re-teach myself, then we do the corresponding problems on the homework page..... No books that we can access. I try to find online problem examples so I can work through them all first, confirm my answer THEN help walk him through each one... It is a battle and SO NOT FUN! I HATED math in school, use a little geometry and algebra each day in my job now, but this is not a good time for either of us.... Any tips for parents trying to help kids????

ReplyDeleteI love that you tell your students there’s no mysteries and no one is trying to trick you. I tell mine to go back to the lesson they first started having a problem and re-watch the lecture . The info they need will be there 👍🏼

ReplyDeleteI love your sister! I’ve promised myself to get more organized this year. Just curious - What textbook series do you use? Have a great night!

ReplyDelete