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    My system--hope this helps
    By sj

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    I've got my files organized like this--it evolved after changing grade levels several times....We basically have these things to organize: books, unit (science/ss)files, bulletin boards, math, language arts, reading, and business. Since the unit files, bulletin boards, and boods can be grouped under the same headings, I have numbered those files. Many people try to do alphabetical, but I've found that the files grow better and I can remember better where they are if they are numberical. Mine go something like this 1. Orientation 2. School 3. Me, Self, Family 4. Pets 5. Fire, Police, Safety 6. Food 7-8 Halloween, 9 Fall & Weather 10. Indians 11. Pilgrims. 12. Thanksgiving.....etc. My books have these numbers on them, as do my bulletin board items. Every sheet in the file has its file number on it, so that I always know where to return it. By grouping some into one number (as me, self, and family) I don't get too many numbers but have a general place to look in. In fact, my general folder for each number is blue, and subheadings are green folders, with worksheets in manilla folders. Yes, each folder is numbered. Manilla folders often have the pages I would run off, so they are glued directly to the back of the folder and left-overs are stored in the folder until the next year. I have by now accumulated so much Christmas stuff that I pulled it out into its own carry-case, and Halloween now has its own 3-ring binder that fits into the file under section 7-8. Why did that get two numbers? Because when I started the files, they were set up based on what week of the year they were taught. As I changed grade levels, I kept the numbers and simply added subheading folders within each category. My subject-area files (english, math, reading) are separate unto themselves, and are broken down into components of the subject. For example, Math has a section for operations, functions, measurement, geometry, etc. Addition would be a sub-folder under operations. I find this much more usable than trying to decide exactly what word I chose to name the file and where it would be in an alphabetical wonderland of files. As for the things and not the files, I use 4 different sizes of Sterlite clear/opaque plastic stackable drawers. You gain the look of neatness but are able to see through to the contents. The real plus of the draw as opposed to the boxes is that it is so easy to slide a draw open a teeny bit to put away that one little piece that got left behind. As for refiling unit files---I usually pull as I need them and stack them in a box after use to refile at the end of the semester or year. Since most of it is once-per year or seasonal, I find few times that I rummage through the box to find what I've already used. I wish I had the time and organization to put them right back where they go when I finish with them, but don't. In the two years that I did have a TA, though, she found it extrememly easly to put my files back in order for me, since every piece was numbered with where it belonged. That is a time-consuming thing to do the first time you do it, but well worth it. Over the years you begin to remember where you've put something, but if you file the cat back to pets one year and halloween one year and then to animals another year you have a heck of a time finding it when you need it. The number puts it back in exactly the same place every time---which helps in the hunting process as (as I know too well) the Alzheimer's begins to set it! This isn't really as complicated a system as it sounds, and I've even been paid to set it up for other teachers through the years. Most have reported that they loved it.


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