Thursday, June 24, 2010

Project: What to do with all that school work!!

First let me clearly say, I am happy to share this method, but I am not this organized with everything. Don't want anyone to get the wrong idea. I am "forced" to toss & get rid of because we live in a cozy cottage w/o much storage. In a way it makes it required but also, I love order. Enough about that...

Here's the deal.
We all get TONS of trees sent home via backpack every year.

I get triple sometimes quadruple the notes (thankfully they are sending emails now!) & of course I love to display kids art, good grade on a test & sweet notes just like the rest of us. But again, we are tight on space, it gets displayed & then replaced. Mostly.
Some things stay around longer.
This method has a place for report cards.
Star Testing.
not a in a file....somewhere. :)

Here is the best description I can share with how I decide what to keep & what to toss.
Think about what story your trying to tell.
I want to remember significance, struggles, victories, examples of each subject & growth.
I keep a box (magazine holder from Ikea to be exact) with each child's name on it (I'm in need of 2 more, anyone for an Ikea run?)
And that's where their papers go, after I've "seen" them.
THEY know where to put their stuff.
Which helps keep the table less cluttered ;)
YES. They bring home more stuff than fits in these boxes, which again space (lack of) requires I sort through more than once a year...that's ok!

This is the stack when backpacks were emptied at the end of the year. See how it doesn't all fit- it's not neat- so I can't ignore it for long!

NOW. Sort. Make each kid a pile (Mackenzie's is missing because she had to keep most of her work in her binder all year. And I had her do this step herself) At this time I immediately toss anything they didn't write on. That's not significant! But I am not looking at each paper either, its a quick sort-undo staples, put everything "to toss" in a stack to recycle.

Here is Mackenzie's piles. Each pile is a subject (easier to sort this way in middle school, because they have 6 separate classes) All in those nasty looking binders at top of the picture. Crazy amounts, huh? Overwhelmed? Nope, I'm looking for significance.

What else am I looking for? Growth. I want work from the beginning of the year & end of the year. Why? Because the comparison is very cool! They learn and grow so much! This is the story I want to tell. :)
I want to see how their handwriting has changed.
I want to see where they started in math & ended.
I want to read their "All About Me" page.
I do not want
to hand them a bin that I've saved for 16 years.
or overwhelm them with so much stuff that years later doesn't really tell the story of their school years. Think of how much we save to give them "when they are older"...yearbooks, school books, brownie/boy scout books/ sunday school colorings/pictures(love those ;) class memory books, clips of hair, baby clothes, special blankets, christening clothes, first shoes, school class pictures (and all those "extra" wallets), newspaper clippings, uniforms etc etc.
Put a limit.
Sort by subject.
Get examples from beginning & end of year.
Keep descriptive & creative writing.
Keep self portraits.
Keep drawings or art they felt proud of & spent time on.
Keep really sloppy horrible rushed handwriting. (really, it tells story too).
Keep notes they left you on Back to School Night or Open House.
Keep an example of tech lab (computer) work- I know, I said save things with handwriting. But tech made work is part of the story.
I'd LOVE to have a example of the "supplies list" I made on a IBM in Library in 4th grade playing Oregon Trail. ;)
This is the bins after first sorting. Not overwhelming, right!?!
Here's what you need.
I've tried to find lots of options.
These work.
They store only 8 1/2 by 11. Limits are good.
They have no "expansion". Limits are good.
The cover can easily be personalized as well as the spine. Easy to identify.
They have them at Staples. Either 12 or 24 pages. I actually like 12 (makes 24 2-sided pages) vs. 24 (makes 48 2-sided pages) because limits are good. You decide. I ended up with both because I've done this for few years now...more on that later.
Limits are good.
And nothing is stuck down (taped, glued) so they can be removed & looked at.
Your telling a story not storing for life.

Next take each child's stack & make piles of subject, beginning of year, ending of year, art, big reports (example: 4th grade mission report) Book Report, all the above mentioned.
Here are examples of what I mean...

example of both handwriting & struggles. Lots of red. BUT signifigant story too....100 years from now. love it.
Look at different in beginning year handwriting & later. Much improved.
Here too, notice at top I jotted down "First of the Year" on spelling test ;)
I can see clear difference in writing & love having notes from them.
Also include awards. Report card goes in last page & those papers called Star Testing, save a spot in the back next to report cards (ours come in the mail in couple months) isn't it nice to think- "I know where I'll put that" :)
ok. so when we started I said, sort, make a toss pile but don't throw out YET. Here's why...once the books are full, pages & all categories are fulfilled, THEN toss- but just incase you didn't save "spelling" or enough or whatever- you can now go through your toss pile & find it.
(I speak from experience when one year I had a bunch pages short in one kid, felt terrible.)
Just in case you need are some of the covers over the years. Not all the same but similar. No rules, even just a colored piece of paper or photos- that part is up to you!

Here are Abbie's books. All her school work K-3rd grade.

Also, if there is something wonderful that you can save because of size consider either cutting it down (save the best part) or taking a picture of the art. Yes this counts & yes you can throw it's now part of the story. Limits are good.
So- here are this years albums! 3 are the large ones & one is the small one...its what Staples had when I went. I still like the small ones. But then again I've been doing this for a long time. And now when I look back on them I don't think.. OH IF I'D ONLY SAVED MORE! I think, Oh how sweet her handwriting was in 1st grade & she still drew stick legs and spelt -"aminals" because that's how she said it. Significant. Growth. Struggles. Victories.
Story told.

*if you have any other questions, please let me know & I'll try to help. Take a year at a time. I do it!*

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