Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Last year, as part of my Classroom Management Series, I blogged a bit about communication folders. I’ve cut and pasted that post below, but felt there was a lot more detail that could be added in regards to what I do in my classroom. 

So I snapped some pictures, made a packet, and as soon as Hubby finishes formatting and uploading the video, I’ll also have a video to share {have you checked out Clutter-Free TV yet?}

Last Year’s Post:
Working as a team with families is key. It’s important to establish a consistent method of communication for keeping everyone organized. If you do a Google search for “Moose Binders,” you’ll have access to lots of information on communication books. I’ve experimented with several ideas and methods and have found that a pronged pocket folder works best for me.

In my experience, the binder was too bulky and I didn’t need that much space. I found them awkward to check, cumbersome for the kids to manage and transport, and I struggled with where to store them during the day. My teaching partner LOVED them. It really is a matter of personal preference in regards to what you use, but I do think it is important to have some form of communication tool. If you opt for the binders (lots of people totally heart them), then I have the following tips:

Decide what type of system will work for you and then figure out where the folders/binders will be stored during the day.

Determine how you will check them for notes from home and distribute them at the end of the day and work that into your daily procedures and routines. I have the students place them in a pile on my teacher table. I quickly check each folder for notes or dismissal changes. My helper of the day places them into the student mailboxes and let’s me know if any are missing. I check in diretly with those friends to see if the folder was forgotten at home or is in the backpack.

The Scoop on My Communication Folders:

I love using the 2 pocket / 3 prong folders because I can easily fit everything I need inside, yet they are super easy to store and manage. Oh, and they are cheap.

I label the front of the folder with each student’s name and number in the top right corner. The reason I do this is because one of my classroom jobs is to put the folders in order. It’s quick and easy because the numbers are there and it saves me oodles of time. It allows me to easily see who is missing a folder and on the days when I am pulling out homework, permission slips, etc everything is already in alphabetical order and I can just zip down my list.

The front inside pocket is for assignments that need to be returned to school (homework, makeup work, incomplete classwork, etc.). The small calendar is part of my behavior management system. It’s not included in the communincation folder printables packet, but you can read the full blog post about how I use it here and access and download the related printables here.

On the right you see a clear, plastic page protector. I leave it empty with the exception of the small slip of paper you see at the bottom. This pocket is used for important forms and money that families send into school (field trip money, book club orders, lunch money, change in dismissal forms, etc). I love this because it is deep enough that things don’t fall out (you could add a velcro dot or a paperclip at the top if you are concerned about it), I can easily see if something as been sent in (vs. small items falling behind the pocket) and best of all I can also see if a parent has written me a note without having to flip through pages. It may not seem like a big deal, but every second in the classroom counts and when you can save time on daily administrative tasks it’s always a bonus.

Which leads me to the communication pages. I use them to write back and forth with the families. When the front gets filled, I pop it out and file it. Again, this is to save time by not needing to flip and check for notes.
Behind those pages is another sheet protector. My school sends out a monthly school calendar/lunch money. I slide that in each month so it’s always handy-dandy for the families to access. On the other side I slide in a data sheet to track student grades so their progress is available to the families at all times.

The back pocket is for items that are to be “left at home.” I highly suggest you come up with a routine for sending specific items home and you may even want to consider putting a label onto this pocket outlining this routine.

As a teacher I found that when I sent things home on a Friday they were never looked at as evidenced by them still being in the folder on Monday. As a parent I confirmed this to be true when I found myself tossing the bags in the corner on Friday afternoons and getting my weekend on. On Mondays we scramble around to find the bags and get out the door.

And so based on that logic, I do the following:

On Monday afternoons I send home all of the graded work (work that I’ve either assigned a grade to OR work that I have used as an informal assessment and written feedback onto). This is the ONLY day it goes home so parents know to look for it. 

If something is time sensitive I put it into this pocket as soon as it comes in, but otherwise I try to wait until Wednesdays to send home things like book order forms, permission slips and important school information.

What about the other stuff? You know the random town fliers, the ads for local karate studios and all that stuff? They never go into this folder. Check back tomorrow to read about how I manage those things.
{click here to access and download this product}

The Daily Communication Folder Printable Packet is part of my Blackline Design Collection which means you can print it once and photocopy it onto any color card stock or scrapbook paper you like to give it color at a substantial cost-savings. It includes over 70 printable pages:
-Daily Folder Titles x 5 patterns
-Blank Title Cards x 5 patterns
-Name and Number Labels for #s 1-40 (5 patterns x 5 pages each)
-1 page of “return to school” tags
-1 page of “leave at home” tags
-1 page of blank labels
-3 page protector inserts (money, calendar, blank) x 5 patterns
-1 communication page x 5 patterns
-photo assembly instructions

My calendar behavior log system is NOT included in this packet of printables, but is available in my store. You can read my blog post about it here and access/download it here.

For more tips and ideas on organizing and managing your classroom please check out my Clutter-Free Guide. This post is part of: 

This item debuted as a Flash Freebie on 8.8.12 & was available from 4:20 p.m.-present {Eastern Standard Time}
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  1. Hey Jodi!! Communication folder was next on my list and here you are again to save me!! I cannot thank you enough!! These are AWESOME!!

  2. Thank you so much for this wonderful resource. I was going back and forth between a binder and a folder for parent communication... and after reading this post I think I will try out the folders this year.

    Precious Kinder Moments

  3. I agree with you about the binders. Way too big. I am using folders with prongs and they work beautifully!
    My Second Sense

  4. I've used a the folder system for years and LOVED it! This year we are trying to get our 5th graders to use accordion file folders to help them stay organized. I'm hoping to use a little of your tips w/ my ideas to make it workable - Thanks for blogging! LOVE your blog!

  5. This is fabulous!! Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. Hi Jodi!!! Thanks so much for posting your fabulous freebies. Since I know everything will look pretty and be practical, downloading your materials instead of recreating my own is a great time-saver. It sounds silly, but I am so proud of you and all of the success you've have with your blog and classroom materials designs. I love what you do!

  7. What are your thoughts on the staying power of a folder? As a first grade teacher I'm nervous that folders going home and back to school daily wouldn't make it past Halloween. Thoughts? Experiences?

    1. My son was a Kinder last year and was on his second folder at the end of the year. Not sure about the rest of the class, though. My second graders are about the same...needing 2 folders to get them through the year. Just FYI. Hope this helps. :)

      Heather :)

  8. Are you serious right now?! I have been looking for something like this because as a first year teacher I had no idea how to go about approaching this whole topic (they don't teach you this type of stuff in school) :] Anyway, thank you SO SO much-you just made my Summer!

    Miss Lord

  9. Love this packet! Thank you soo much!!! I am curious as to how the modge podge works? Usually I make my things for my folders on labels, which is usually 50/50 as to how long it will last... Thanks again! :)

  10. This is FABULOUS! You are quelling so many of my fears and answering so many of my questions as I prepare for my first year teaching! Thank you! :)

  11. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH! I love reading your blog and your creations! I so appreciate you sharing your gifts as a teacher!

  12. I just started making my Communication folders today! I'm glad I'm not the only person who wasn't a fan of the moose books...a whole binder seemed like overkill to me! Thank you for sharing how you set your folders up!

    Lesson plans & Lattes

  13. I always love your ideas! I love the black and white polka dots. So cute!

  14. I love all of your blackline design stuff. I'm getting ready to start my first year teaching and my classroom isn't even done being constructed so I have nothing to work with and very limited funds until that first paycheck. However I do have a ton of old scrapbook paper and all of your black line stuff looks pulled together and chic at a fraction of the cost.

  15. Love the polka dotted file folders. My coteacher is also doing a polka theme and she would love those! K.Scheffer

  16. I never even thought of a GREAT idea like this. this is why I have become a blog stalker.... You have made my day with this practical resource. So easy, yet so complete and organized... :)

  17. I LOVE this!! Awesome as usual. I had the same concerns about the folders lasting with my 2nd graders. I'm thinking I'll use vinyl folders (they have proven to last all year) and clear packing tape to attach the labels. Anybody else have a better idea?

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  19. This is great!! Thank you!

    I do have one question: do you put the Mod Podge on top of the labels (paint it on) or just under them (like you would with Elmer's glue)?

    1. I am also wondering the same thing. I have all my materials ready but haven't started yet b/c I don't know if the Mod Podge should be painted on top.

  20. I love this idea- I am always looking for ways to better communicate with parents! I also saw a cool idea on Pinterest that could be added to this awesome folder for lunch money and small notes, etc. You put duck tape on the sealed side of a ziplock bag and then you can hole punch it! This would leave the other side open to be able to put money, etc. in and not lose it! :)

    Here is the link to the pin if anyone is interested:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful idea and these freebies!

    :) Ashley
    The Real Teachr: Tips, Tricks, Freebies and Everyday Ideas for Real Teachers

  21. Being more organized could be done with the use of the different folders. Your files could be fixed when you file them in the different pocket folders.

  22. Thank you! These are great. I love the idea of mod podge but I use the plastic folders and they wouldn't stay on. So, I'll have to use clear packaging tape. But, I love the idea of using a folder versus and binder and I love the look of the labels. Thank you!!!!

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  24. I'm setting this up for my classroom (yes, I know I'm getting late start, but better late than never!). I have a question - do you Mod Podge (is that a verb? ) :) the labels onto the sheet protectors, or just stick them inside? I wasn't sure if the MP would stick to such a slick surface.

    Thanks for all the awesome ideas! I think I may have purchased everything! :)



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