Saturday, May 17, 2014

Organize Notebooks With File Folder Bookmarks

I can't wait to check out all the amazing ideas posted today for the May Bright Ideas Link-up!  Here is an organization tool that I use with my interactive science journals.

This is one of my "go to" organization strategies for starting the school year off right.  I pre cut the folders in June and they are ready to go as soon as I get my class list during the summer.  I seriously could not run my science class without these gems!

What you need:
File folders (1 folder for every 3 students)
Paper cutter or a steady hand with scissors
Bold and Bright Permanent markers

Cut each folder into thirds.  (When cut perfectly students can use them as a straight edge too.)

Write student first names in large bold letters on the front.  Add student last names (smaller) near the folding part.
Above: Here is the bookmark displayed on a student desk (used as a name tag).
Below:  The front of the bookmark rests on the front cover of the journal, while the back tab of the bookmark reserves the current page.  

Student last names are visible when the notebooks are stored in our classroom crate.  This makes it easy to grab journals!

Students hang their bookmark on the side of the bin to signal the teacher. 

There are a variety of glue-in items that you can create for the inside of the bookmarks.  Pretty much anything that will be handy to reference works.  Here are a few suggestions:

These bookmarks serve SO many purposes in my room.  Here are a few tips on using them:

- Display the bookmarks/name tags on student desks the first day of school.  They make it much easier to learn names because you can see them so easily from the front of the room.  For the first few weeks of school my students come in, grab their journal and put up their bookmark so that I can see their name.  I have 130 students to learn and seeing their names clearly is super helpful.

- Teach your students to put them up on their desks whenever there is a substitute teacher or a new student.  (Subs love this!)

- Use the inside and back for recording/displaying important information.  I like to change this up year to year, but here are a few things that have worked well:
  • A list of commonly misspelled words for your grade level
  • Classroom procedures/rules
  • An exemplar of a science drawing/observation (This one is very helpful since students are asked to record a lot of drawings in their journal throughout the year.)
  • Directions/tips on how to keep an organized notebook
  • Behavior management "punch cards
  • Lav pass tickets (This one is helpful for secondary teachers who deal with the revolving door!)
  • Allow students to record goals for each marking period or keep a personalized list of spelling words to reference.
  • Student interest survey (This can be helpful in getting to know your students and helping students make social connections with each other.  My 6th graders are coming from 4 different elementary schools so having them share their interests can help break the ice.)
  • Leave at least one side blank for kids to doodle.  Yup...I said doodle!  I don't allow my students to doodle IN their notebooks, but having a special spot for doodling seems to help some of my fidgety kids.  Also, you can tell a lot about a student by what they doodle :) 
- Use bookmarks for random drawings.  Have all students drop their bookmark in a bucket at the start of class and pull names from the bucket as needed.

- These bookmarks are great for test taking too.  Students use them to keep track of which question they are on and/or as a mini-blinder to stop wandering eyes.  

- Have students place their book mark in a special location to signal the need for extra help from the teacher.  I have a spot on my desk that students can drop their bookmark at the end of class to let me know that the are feeling confused about the topic we are studying.  Students also know to place their bookmark hanging on the side of the storage bin if they are taking their journal home.  I also use them as a "take a number" system.   Students drop their bookmark off when they are waiting for me to meet with them.   I keep them in the order received and call students up one by one.  This has alleviated the line at my desk!

I could go on and on folks, but I won't because I have papers to grade and lunches to it summer vacation yet?  Thank you for taking the time to stop by Kate's Classroom Cafe and I hope you are leaving with some inspiration that you can apply to your own classroom.  If you enjoyed this practical classroom tip, consider joining me on Facebook for more bright ideas!

For bright ideas from more than 130 other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic that interests you.  Thanks for visiting :)


  1. Love this! I use journals for math and science, and this would be a great tool. I like the idea of using it as a straight edge too! Perfect!



    1. So glad you can use the idea. I seriously love these things!

  2. Hi, I thought that this new teacher-seller website might interest you. They are based in Canada and offer features that are not found on similar sites. They also have a lot of new features coming. Here is a link: Created by Teachers, Exclusively for Teachers

  3. Oh, my goodness!!! This is such a terrific idea! Thanks for sharing all the other ideas you can do with the bookmarks. Gonna try it this next school year.

  4. I LOVE this idea!! I waste so much time digging for a student's entry in their notebook. This is perfect for my ELA classes and I will definitely be using it next year in my room. Thank you for sharing!

    Sara :)
    The Colorful Apple

  5. I teach fourth grade, but we have large classes (I've had up to 39 for a long period of time; 43 once for five weeks) and certain ideas I see are just not practical for me. This seems like something I could tweak for a contained classroom. Our trapezoid-shaped desks do not have enough storage for all their books and we keep certain things in another location. I could see this for math journals, perhaps!

  6. Do you sell or have the link for the scientific drawing checklist? I've been looking for something like this!

  7. I love this, I am definitively going to use this for their Science Journals. I always struggle with keeping 4 classes straight.

  8. I made these this year. They worked great, especially for subs! I made each class's bookmark with a different color folder so it was easy to differentiate which class the student was in when he/she left the bookmark without the notebook. (Block A - pink, Block B - blue, etc.)



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