Creating Your Own Teacher Organization Binder {Lesson Plan, Grade Book, Attendance, Calendars, Birthday and More}



{Click to access and download: Day at a Glance-Daily Lesson Planning Overview}
Before reading through the rest of this, it is important to know that this system works only if you are not required to write one of those super-detailed lesson plans for each and every lesson of the day. You know the ones you had to write in college? The ones that listed every. single. step. in an almost script-like manner. I’m talking about those.

I do see the value of writing such comprehensive plans when student teaching or even as a beginning teacher. When you are in the learning process it is easy to overlook important aspects of a lesson. However, when you are an experienced teacher and you are planning 5-7 lessons a day and differentiating for 3-4 levels within each lesson and then you multiply that times five days a week...well, you get the idea.

Some districts do require them. And if that is the case you’ll want to design a personalized template that saves you time while meeting your specific requirements. However, if you are not mandated to write extremely detailed plans for each lesson then I have found the best way to write them is by using a Daily Summary format
 While I do write much more in depth plans outlining my goals and activities for  Math Workshop and Reader’s Workshop (more on that coming soon), I am able to include the necessary components in a Day at a Glance format.

That format includes everything I need to remember for the day on one sheet of paper. Although the plans are not written sequentially following our daily schedule, the times are listed and a substitute could easily follow the blueprint to execute the plans quite easily.


That format includes everything I need to remember for the day on one sheet of paper. Although the plans are not written sequentially following our daily schedule, the times are listed and a substitute could easily follow the blueprint to execute the plans quite easily.



Below is a list of things commonly included in lesson plans. Select the ones you’ll need to include. 



Consider Adding to Your Day at a Glance:


  • time frame during which the lesson will be taught
  • lesson title
  • lesson objectives/learning goals
  • aligned standards
  • related resources and page numbers
  • procedures for delivering instruction
  • student groupings
  • evidence of learning
  • follow up assignments
  • students who will be pulled out of the classroom
  • support staff that will be in your classroom
  • materials needed



I have found it very helpful to include the lesson essentials within the Daily Summary page and list the materials and copies needed on the back. This makes it much more visually appealing to me and enables volunteers, aides and student teachers to easily assist in preparing materials.



The packet includes the following printables:
  • 5 Daily Overview / Day at a Glance Sheets in blue chevron
  • 1 Daily materials and prep organizer in blue chevron
  • 5 Daily Overview / Day at a Glance Sheets in ink-saving black and white
  • 1 Daily materials and prep organizer in ink-saving black and white


Each of those versions comes bundled as a PDF which preserves the look of the product and can be written on by hand. The packet also comes with  an editable Powerpoint version.

{Click to access and download: Day at a Glance-Daily Lesson Planning Overview}

To use the editable version of this product you’ll need Powerpoint 2007 or higher. Further instructions are included in the packet.

{Click to access and download: Weekly Lesson Planners

 When planning my lessons I always start with the “big picture” and then work backwards to fill in the nitty gritty details. During the summer I create a Curriculum Planning Map for the entire year. I use that to determine when major concepts will be taught and when I will focus on specific themes or topic in my classroom. You can view my blog post, Curriculum Mapping for the Year, for tips on long-range planning



Next, I plan out thematic units. Doing so enables me to get an idea of which skills I can integrate and how much time will need to be allowed for each topic. Both are a "blueprint" for the year. I try to complete them before the new school year begins, but tweak it as needed based on the interests and abilities of my specific group of students that year. I keep the Curriculum Planner in my teacher binder so I can access it regularly when drafting my lesson plans.


When it comes down to the day to day planning, I again start with the bigger picture. I find that using a Week at a Glance template is an extremely helpful step. I use it when meeting with the other 3rd grade teacher for common planning time. The format enables me to plug in general descriptions of specific lessons to see how the week will flow. It's helpful to add in assemblies, days off, or other special events and be able to see how much time we really have to work with.  It provides a visual organizer for writing a more detailed daily plan.






  • Begin by customizing the template to meet your needs. List out the subject areas you will need to plan for. You may also find helpful to include a row for things like homework, read aloud books, daily journal prompts, etc. 

  • If your allotted times per subject vary daily, it will be beneficial to also add the length of the academic block onto the organizer. This is helpful in determining which lessons to teach on which days.

  • Print or copy a year-long set of the organizers so they are always at the ready. Alternatively, you could just keep the file on your computer and type in the information each week. This would enable you to either print out your completed template or simply access it on the computer when drafting your daily plans. Either way is fine. It comes down to personal preference.
  • Another environmentally-friendly option would be to print one copy and slide it into a sheet protector. You could then use dry-erase markers to "write and wipe" weekly.

  • Begin by plugging in anything that will alter your typical schedule: holidays, inservice days, etc. You can usually do this right away for the entire year as those types of events should be set in stone.

  • I don't recommend getting too far ahead filling in the template for each week with variable events. Snow days, your unplanned absences, the rate students are acquiring skills, etc will alter your plans. About a week in advance is ideal.

  • If you have students who are pulled from your classroom for services during an academic block, you may want to develop a system for making note of this on your organizer. I number my students and simply write their number in the top corner of the boxes of the times they'll be out of the room. This is important because you may want to schedule certain lessons when they will be present.

  • On a related note, it is helpful to make note of the times you'll have additional academic support in the classroom. You can develop a simple code or just write the adult's initials in the box.  This will let you know when you can plan activities that require extra hands.

  • Use your district's pacing guide (if you have one), the scope and sequence from your teacher texts, your curriculum maps, etc to insert a brief (but easy to understand) description of what you'll be teaching. Example: If it is a lesson from a teacher text you may just write: Investigation 2.1 (pages 165-168) Finding Equivalent Fractions. 

  • If you are adding in lessons or activities that you have created be sure to write a brief description that you'll later understand when looking at the organizer.
  • Consider sharing a copy of the completed organizer with colleagues who work with your students so they are aware of what you'll be doing in the classroom.




I have created an editable Week-At-A-Glance Lesson Planning Packet that may be helpful.



The packet comes in four different options and all are included. There is a colored version (featuring aqua chevron) and an ink-saving black and white version (which looks fantastic when printed onto colored paper). Each of those versions comes bundled as a PDF which preserves the look of the product and can be written on by hand. The packet also comes with  an editable Powerpoint version.



To use the editable version of this product you’ll need Powerpoint 2007 or higher. Further instructions are included in the packet.




As a teacher, it is important to stay organized in recording important dates. Having a central location to note meetings, parent teacher conferences, holidays, student birthdays, special events and so much more. While there are so many cute datebook options as well as online tools, it is helpful to have a calendar that fits perfectly into your teacher binder.  I created these monthly calendars to coordinate with my other teacher binder products, but they can obviously be used on their own. 

Tips for Setting Up A School Calendar:

Start by entering all of the holidays and school closings for the year.

Input important school dates
  • staff meetings 
  • professional development days 
  • open house 
  • early release
Transfer in district mandates. 
Add personal dates of importance. 
Include major themes and topics from your Curriculum Maps. You may find it helpful to use the 7 day calendar and include this info in the column for Sunday.

As new events are scheduled (such as parent teacher conferences) add them to the calendar. If you are using the editable version you can reprint them at the start of each month so they are current.

OTHER USES FOR CALENDARS IN THE CLASSROOM:
Consider using these templates to keep parents up to date on school and classroom happenings by sending home an updated copy in your communication folder/binder at the start of each month.

Use the editable version to create homework calendars.

Keep a calendar to track helper of the day or Find It / Fix It Winners.

Communicate classroom behaviors with families.

Use as student reading logs.

    
The packet comes in several different options. I created a 7 day calendar and a 5 day calendar (showing the schooldays). There is a colored version (featuring aqua chevron) and an ink-saving black and white version (which looks fantastic when printed onto colored paper) for both. Each of those versions comes bundled as a PDF which preserves the look of the product and can be written on by hand. The packet also comes with  an editable Powerpoint version.




{Click to access and download: Teacher Binder Supplemental Printables}

This packet
includes a collection of printables for you to create your own customized teacher binder. Included you’ll find. . .
  • Binder Cover insert
  • 8 Section Header inserts
  • Attendance Sheet
  • Birthdays
  • Long-Range Plans
  • Medical Info
  • Dismissal Information
  • Login Information
  • Contact Information
  • Meeting Notes
  • To Do List
  • Note Page


Each of those versions comes bundled as a PDF which preserves the look of the product and can be written on by hand. The packet also comes with  an editable Powerpoint version. To use the editable version of this product you’ll need Powerpoint 2007 or higher. Further instructions are included in the packet.
{Click to access and download the 6 Product Bundle}

{Click to Access and Download}

I know teachers who purchase one of those big yellow plan books each year. They fill it in weekly. It works for them. And that's great. 

Those never worked well for me though and once I started making my own I never turned back. If you've never tried making your own plan book I highly recommend giving it a try.

Although I have toyed with the idea of creating something and then having it spiral bound, I love the flexibility of a binder. I enjoy being able to mix and match pages and move things around as needed.
{Click to access and download}


For today's Flash Freebie, I've created a collection of 25 Lesson Plan Binder Covers for the new school year. I used a variety of colors and patterns so there would be something for everyone. 


Back in my earliest of blogging days I did a mini-series on setting up your very own Teacher Binder. I'm going to repost it below as it is still one of my best sellers and there is a lot of useful info in the post.













{Originally posted in Summer 2010}. . .

I am going to focus on helping you set up THE ULTIMATE TEACHER ORGANIZATION TOOL from scratch.








Come on folks, you know you want to play along at home.



What if I promise you that this tool is going to rock your teaching world? Because I'll not only promise that, but I'll pinky promise.



And a pinky promise is serious business around here.



So here's your homework: Obtain a 3-ring binder in a color that makes you happy. It must have a clear outer layer that will allow you to slide papers and whatnot into the front and back. I wouldn't go smaller than a 1", but 2 inches just feels big. I would probably buy a 1". You can always upgrade.



DAY 2:




I heart binders. The main reason is that they are so flexible and forgiving. You can add to them. You can subtract from them.


It's OK if you didn't. You can still play along. This week we are going to be building (insert announcer voice) THE ULTIMATE TEACHER ORGANIZATION TOOL.

There are several components to it. Today we are going to focus on the PLAN BOOK part.


{You may also be interested in my ink-saving Planbook that is part of my Blackline Design collection.}

I've tried keeping lesson plans in one of those traditional books. I've tried doing them on the computer. Both had pros and cons. What I have found to be best is to customize and create my very own binder that houses lots and lots of information and tools to keep me on top of things.

You can access and all of the printables shown below by clicking here



Whichever option you decide to go with, you will probably want to include the following components or some form of a variation of them. I like to start with the big picture and work toward the details from there. I start with...




LONG RANGE PLANS:
This is a snapshot of the year, but with less details. It's great for recording special projects, themes, author studies, etc.


YEAR-LONG PLANS:

Create a row for each week of the year (should be 40) and columns for the different subject areas. I made one sheet that I can print several times so I can use specific categories for language arts like spelling, word study, comprehension skill, writing, etc.








WEEKLY PLANS:

This takes on the look of a traditional plan book. The left column has the days of the week with space to write the date and the number that corresponds to the day of school. This feature comes in especially handy in the spring when you start your countdown to the next summer vacation. C'mon, you know you do!



All you need is one template. You can then copy/print as many as you need for the year. Hint: add in the recurring items like specialists, lunch, snack, etc. before copying to save yourself time.


Now that we have the plan book foundations down, let's move on to the "extras." These are items that are normally found in a commercially-made plan book so I keep them in this section of my binder as well.



CALENDAR:
It's important to have a calendar that is separate from your planning calendar to record meetings, conferences, assemblies, holidays, and those sorts of things. The one I designed has empty boxes to fill in the dates so that I can just print new ones for the next year. If you are going to take the time to make one I suggest doing that to save the hassle of recreating it next summer.



STUDENT INFO:

I number my students so I like to have a column for numbers next to the name. I also include parent names, home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and cell phone numbers.

MEDICAL INFO:

I use this section to house specific medical concerns about students as well as general school info regarding policies and the nurse.

STUDENT TRANSPORTATION:
I designed two versions of this. I plan to leave one in my plan book and hang the other by the door for easy reference.
BIRTHDAY CHART:
It's nice to have all the birthdays at a glance. I do have a chart in my classroom for this purpose, but I also include coworkers on the one in my plan book.


ATTENDANCE:
We actually do our attendance online, but I found I missed having my own records in writing so I keep this as well. It's helpful to reference in a conference or student meeting.
GRADES:
I also have a grade book on my computer, but again prefer to have the original on paper. This allows me to correct papers anywhere and record the grades.


COVER:


You need a cute cover. There are the three I designed to include in the teacher plan book set. I used the middle one for myself. I am making a collage of personal photos for the back sleeve.



Be sure to include your name and contact info in the book so that it can easily be returned to you if it is misplaced.



When I sent you off to get your binder yesterday, I probably should have told you to get page protectors and tabbed dividers as well. You might want to think about getting those.



It's time to get cracking on the first section of your binder. Decide which of the components you feel you need to include and design away.



...or have I mentioned that you can click here to purchase ALL of the items pictured for only $10.00 at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store?

Pick and click any or all of the options below.


By the way, if you are not already subscribed to The Clutter-Free Classroom newsletter I encourage you sign up. Subscribers receive weekly tips for organizing and managing a classroom as well as exclusive free printables. You can sign up here.