LISA: The way I found easiest to return papers to my first and second grade students was to have class jobs that changed each week. One of the class jobs was "Mail Deliverers" and there were two students that did this job so they could help each other for better accuracy. Each year the students got a class number based on their first name in alphabetical order. I had "mailboxes" that were plastic paper organizers (similar to these). The compartments were numbered so I didn't need to change the labels each year. I had the class list with their numbers posted near the mail boxes for easy view for the mail deliverers and tried to train the kids to write their name and number on their papers so the mail deliverers could easily do their job. At the end of the day we had time for class clean-up and that is when the mail deliverers delivered the papers that I left in a basket for them. There were times that papers were put in the wrong box but I valued the time saved more than accuracy. It also helped the kids practice ABC order and learning that kind of organization.
JONATHAN: What about me? What was my experience in your middle school classroom? It took me years to figure this out. So many failed attempts. I tried:
- Walking around the classroom to each student, which was great exercise and helped with proximity classroom management, but took way too much time.
- Sorting their papers into a file folder where each student had their own slot. Wouldn’t work at all now with me having 250+ students each day and takes way too much time.
- Having my T.A. sort the papers into the file folder, which was pretty efficient for me. But I haven’t had the luxury of a T.A. in a long long time.
- Passing the giant stack of papers around the room and having students find their papers in the stack. I’m glad I tried it, but that was just a bad idea.
My classroom has 6 rows, so instead of walking around the room, I sort them into 6 piles on my desk.
When I'm done sorting one class period's papers, I stack them together, with each row rotated 90 degrees to make it easy to hand out later.
I stuff them into the right class period cubby in my paper organizer.
Then when one class period leaves, I quickly plop the paper stacks onto the desks for the next class period. The student at the front of each row, finds his/her paper, then passes the rest of the stack behind him. Viola! Every paper handed back.
LISA: Sometimes I would ask the students after they got their mail and before they left if anyone had not received their [whatever title] paper. I would hang papers on the whiteboard with magnets for students to check. If it wasn't a paper used for grades, I would put it in the circular file.
JONATHAN: I had a section of my white board for them. I just magnet clip them to the white board under this sign “If you wanted credit, then you shoulda put your name on it.” Playing off the Beyonce song which gets students laughing with themselves about forgetting their name. This printable is available in our store. Just click the link down in the description.
So no matter what grade level you’re at, we encourage you to find a method that requires the least amount of time to hand back papers. Because we HAVE to hand back papers, but we don’t have to take a long time on it. We’ve got other stuff to do. So let’s keep trimming minutes off our day so we can get it all done at work so we can NEVER take papers home again.
Conversation of the Day: How do you hand back papers? How can you do it faster to save time?
Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.