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Organizing Unfinished Work

I know we all have those students who chronically do not finish their work and if you are teaching in a school like me, inevitably there will be students who will not do homework or who will not bring it back. A few years ago I really needed a solution to organizing all of the work that was not done or that had corrections to do.


Every year now I have an unfinished work folder for each of my students. Like the name says, this is where all of students unfinished work goes, along with any work that has corrections to do.

When students have spare time they know their first job is to go check their folder to see if they have any work in there. These folders have been a huge time saver and organizational dream.

No longer do students need to go through one stack of papers looking for anything that might be theirs and I no longer have stacks of random papers lying on my desk.

At the end of a work period anyone who has work that didn’t get done, just puts the work in their folder (that is if I don’t collect them to mark what they have done so far). Also a few times a week we hand out the folders and add any work that needs to be added.

Over the years I have gone through different folder types. I started by folding construction paper and stapling it together; they didn’t last very long. I tried regular duotang folders but they ripped easily. This year, I bought plastic folders that I will be able to use for a few years. 

The labels I put on them at the beginning of the year, had to be fancy and color coordinated to my classroom (of course) but they didn’t stick very well to the plastic so I had to come up with another plan. With my love of duct tape it didn’t take long before I knew what to do. I found some white duct tape and used that. It was perfect… the labels are very secure!!! Oh Yah… I can color coordinate with the color of marker I use for the names 🙂

I hope this will help you with your organization and I would love to hear if you have any other brilliant ideas for organizing paper.


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  1. I love this idea I've used this idea before but I like how you keep them all in one place I would often forget who still owed what or if they had stuff in their folder. I think I could make checking this folder a job for a student. I also started printing out a roster and having a student helper check off who had already turned things in and hadn't. Kids knew that if all their work was not turned in on Friday they did not have fun Friday.

    1. This system works wonders. If students have corrections on work it also goes in the folders. Huge timesaver.

  2. Great idea! So often, students get so behind they don't know what to work on first to catch up. Quick Note: "there" should be spelled "their" in the second and third paragraphs of this post.

    1. Hahaha thanks for the proofreading! I am pretty picky when I see that type of error and what do you know? I did it this time. Ooops!

  3. Where does your finished work go? In a large basket located in your classroom or a basket by each table? Or do your students take home work each day? I'm a K teacher and I have used this system before of keeping unfinished work in a folder but the kids kept it with them but I like the idea of this being their job to check it.
    Kinders on the Block

    1. Finished work goes in their subject duo tangs. Math work in math duo tang, science in science. The duo tangs are cleaned out after each term and the work is sent home.

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