How to Organize Lesson Plans and Materials: Day 1

Nothing troubles us more than the challenge of organizing our materials so we can find, use, and improve upon them each time we use them. I have tried it all: all on the computer, file folders (color coded!) for each handout, each unit, each class. This year I have arrived, after twenty years–twenty years!–at a system I love and which has improved not only my organization but my teaching, giving me a feeling of pleasure and control. I plan to write a bit each day about the images included here, telling you what each is and how to do it–and why you should.


Step One: Get a binder. I use sturdy binders from Office Depot with plastic slip covers and locking tabs (the red tab ones). I am a bit picky: they are all the same, all white. Some units work fine with a 1-inch binder; others need a 1.5- or even 2-inch binder. Each binder is a unit, in this case the unit for Heart of Darkness. I organize each unit I teach around a big question (see my new book just about to come out: What's the Big Idea?). I take some serious time to craft these, then type them up on stock and slip them in the spine as you see here. Each binder has three dividers, which I will explain below.





ETC_4e_Figure ?_Screenshot AP Folder

4 Responses to “How to Organize Lesson Plans and Materials: Day 1”

  1. I am intrigued. I can’t wait for this to unfold!

  2. I have been using this technique for years and love it. I have a binder for every unit I teach.

  3. Kathryn L. Keene M.Ed. January 28, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I do the same. It’s time consuming at first, but a wonderful resource ultimately. It’s fun coming up with catchy names for each unit…

  4. That looks nifty. You would freak if you saw my desk.

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