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.