Thursday, September 19, 2013

G.R.O.W. Binders!

 I have tried a lot of new things this year, but something that has really gone well so far is the G.R.O.W. Binder.  G.R.O.W. stands for "Getting Ready and Organized Weekly, and it goes perfectly with my classroom theme of the garden and growth and what not. :-)  Each of my students has a binder that they take home with them each night, and they are expected to bring it back with them each day.  We have been in school for 20 days now, and not one single student has forgotten their binder.  Not one.  How awesome is that?  I always have one or two students who habitually forget their folders, but the binders always come back.  They LOVE them.


They love them so much that, when I told one of my students that I was going to replace her binder with a folder if she didn't take better care of it, she said "No!  Folders are weak!  Binders are cool!"  Woot!

I did send home a letter at the beginning of the year explaining what the binder is and why we were using it.  The parent and student had to sign saying they would take care of the binders, and while I can't outright tell them it is their responsibility to replace lost or destroyed binders, I let them know that I wouldn't be.  If they didn't sign the letter, they didn't get a binder.  Some of my students didn't get a binder for a few days after the first group of students, because they didn't turn in their paper.  Seeing their friends get binders definitely helped them remember to get this paper signed!

I purchased the majority of my binders at Office Depot when they were $1 each.  I also purchased the dividers and the binder pockets.  The dividers were 25 cents each at Staples (I used 2 per student) and the binder pockets were $1 at Walmart, though you may be able to find more on clearance right now or ask the parents to send them in!

So, I know what you are wondering: what goes inside a binder?

Well, I took some ideas from other bloggers and created a binder that meets the needs of me and my students.  On the outside, they have a cover page that they were allowed to color and make their own.  Their name is on the front of their binder.


Behind that is the 3 hole punch pocket.  Some of my students keep pencils for their homework in there, which is fine with me, though it's real purpose is to hold money (lunch money, etc... and small notes.)  As I mentioned before, these were $1 at Walmart.  They have 3 colors, so I let the students chose the color they wanted.  The colors are pink, blue, and black.  And I believe they have them year round, because they are in the office supplies section.
Then, right inside the binder are directions on how to use the G.R.O.W. Binder.  This is on the front, and there are rules on the back about how to take care of their binder.

  

Then behind the rules for the binder are "Homework Helpers"- these are different "helpers" that the students can keep in their binder to help them with homework, practice at home, etc...  These are behind one of the two tabs that are in the binder.

So far, I have a 120 chart, a list of word wall words they should already know (pre-primer and primer Dolch words), a paper about why they can't skip their reading, and a copy of the alphabet Phonics Dance.  The "Why Can't I Skip My 20 Minutes of Reading Tonight" and the Phonics Dance are not mine, so I cannot send them to you.  I don't remember where the reading sheet came from, but the Phonics Dance is an AWESOME program.  You can check it out here.  I made the sheet to go home with the students so that they could practice the dance at home.  There is also a Hunk and Chunk dance that I will send home later in the year once we finish blends and word families.  Other things I intend to put in this area include:
  • List of sight words we've already learned (I update this every 2 months or so)
  • Blends chart
  • Hunk and Chunk Phonics Dance 
  • Maybe something with addition or subtraction facts (I haven't decided yet!)

 


Behind that is the student's folder.  I don't have a picture of this, because I'm sure you know what a folder looks like. :-)  Inside the folder, I keep their weekly behavior sheet and their reading log.  This is where papers go home as well.  The students are expected to read every night, and I add Saturday/Sunday just in case they read over the weekend as well.  I expect that they only write down one of the books they read.  Then they need to choose one of the books they read that week and write a small book report about it.  I collect these on Monday, as their weekly behavior sheet is on the back of this reading log.  

Behind the folder is the Homework Tab.  This is where their homework packet and word wall homework notebook is kept.  

I use a homework packet each week.  I love the packet because it allows the students to be flexible about when they do their work, and it allows me to keep their work together and collect it at once.  I KNOW I can't collect homework every day- I'd go crazy with all those papers everywhere!  So the students turn in their homework on Fridays.  Period.

The packet has a cover page that explains what their homework is each night.  It also has their word wall words to practice for that week.  We give our students 10 words (I've always given only 5 in the past, but this was a compromise).  5 of the words are new words- words that are from the First Grade Dolch List or other words they don't know yet.  5 of the words are review words- these are words they learned in Kindergarten (right now) and will later evolve into a review of words they are struggling with.  

I also started something new, inspired by a post Erica Bohrer made a few months back about spelling homework in a notebook.  Each student has a 1 subject notebook behind their homework packet.  It lives in their binder.  Instead of copying pages to staple into their homework packet, which is a horrible waste of paper, the students have a notebook that they use for practicing their words.  It saves me 4 pages a week per student, which makes this teacher VERY happy.  That's 80 pages per week!

We have a schedule for our word wall homework.  The students have 1 activity to do each night.  On the first night (Monday), the students write their word wall words 5 times each.  On the second night (Tuesday, usually), the students write each of their words in a sentence.  Then the other two nights a week (on a normal week), they get to choose an activity to compete.
I created a page to add to their Homework Helpers section of their binder.  The front explains how to write their words 5 times each and do their sentences.  The back shows the students how to do each of the activities they can choose from.  I wish it were a little less busy, but this is actually better than my first attempt (which I fixed before sending home!)  I was trying to keep this to one page, front and back.  And the students seem to understand what to do now.  This page shows the students how each activity should look.  I also went through their notebooks the first few weeks and wrote notes about what they were doing right and what they still needed to work on. :-)

I keep forgetting to get the ribbon I bought this weekend to school with me, but I have every intention of placing a piece of ribbon in their notebook so they can keep track of where they are.  Or I'll use binder clips to close the part they've already completed.  Then they will be able to flip to the next page and complete their homework.  And I will be able to find it easier.  We all know how important that is with our jam packed days and limited free time!  


 I have combined some of the resources for setting up your own G.R.O.W. Binder into a PDF file and uploaded it to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  There are 10 pages in the file.  It includes the cover sheet, a spine cover page, the "How to Care for your G.R.O.W. Binder sheet, "How to Use Your G.R.O.W. Binder" sheet, a letter for parents to sign and return that explains the binder, a copy of my Weekly Homework sheet, a copy of my Word Wall Homework page (that goes on the back of the Weekly Homework sheet), the Weekly Reading Log, and the 2 pages that explain how homework in the Word Wall Notebook works.  I hope that somebody is able to use at least some of these resources!

Did I mention it is FREE? :-)

If you download, please leave feedback!  It is greatly appreciated!

Also, a reminder that all of my Visual "I Can" Statements are on sale through Friday!  I wrote a post about them here.  

We're finally over the hump of this full moon week!  I can't wait until Friday!  Have a wonderful week!




2 comments:

  1. That is a great tool. I started using a B.E.E binder last year and the parents love it. I love how you incorporate the Math etc. in yours.

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  2. Love it!! I tried to leave comment but the send button would never let me click on it :(

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