Unfinished Work Boxes - Classroom Organization & Management

Yesterday I wrote about the evolution of my mailbox system. After going through some trial and error, my husband scored me two literature sorters. This is how I use the second one.

This is an older picture. I recently painted them black.

Over the years I tried a few different approaches to managing the work that students had not finished. Many teachers will have children keep a folder of work in progress activities. The problem with that is that it is "out of site and out of mind."

A few years ago my husband rescued a paper sorter from his office and brought it to my classroom. I already had one that I used as a mailbox, but wasn't about to pass up this treasure. That's when I had a lightbulb moment and my "unfinished work boxes" were born.

Here's how it works:
  • Each student is assigned a box which is labeled with his/her number.
  • If we are working on a whole-class ongoing project, I will collect the student work and hold onto it until the next time we are going to work on it. However, if the children have not completed work during the allotted time I tell them to "put it into your unfinished box."
  • The students will then slide their assignment into their box until a time arises when they can finish it.

I love this system because it allows me to tell at a glance who is falling behind on classwork. I can easily see who has work to complete and who has A LOT of work to complete. I can also tell when children are making "may do" choices when they should be doing their unfinished work from the "must do" board.

I find it beneficial to have everything in one place. My "late finishers" are often my more disorganized students. In the past, I would need to spend time helping them find their missing assignments before they could finish it. Now it's all in one central location.

We empty the boxes at the end of each week. This may mean that I invite the children to come in before school, stay after school or else I'll send it home to be completed on the weekend.

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