Sunday, July 20, 2014

Curriculum Binder: A Teacher's Right Hand Man...

Summer is starting to wind down... and the smell of Back-to-School is filling the air ( It's the smell of new crayons!) So, I'm busy trying to get ready for the new year in between naps and playtime with a toddler...

This was me this during morning nap the other day...


I've decided to update my Curriculum Binder to match my newly updated Student Data Binder. You know they HAVE to match!

(Click here or the pic to check out both of these!)

So what is a Curriculum Binder, you ask?

Well... simply put... it's a place to store all that "stuff" that you, as a teacher, need! I've been using a Curriculum binder in various forms for about 4 years and it's helped me stay much more organized! I've found that getting (and staying) organized is directly linked to having a place for things. If I have a place to keep it, then it stays organized.

No more...

"Where did I put that...?"
"Is it in this stack...?"

Believe me... it's helpful! This is coming from someone who often puts down the stapler only to not be able to find it for at least 3 days... #canyourelate.

Think of this baby as the holding place for all those important papers you can't seem to keep track of. Calendars, schedules, lesson plans, curriculum maps, meeting notes, pacing guides...can all lay to rest in this cute and organized binder.

Before switching to this method, I used to use the "stick on the filing cabinet" system. This seemed to work for about 2 years... but I kept taking things off to use them and then misplacing them...
I also like to keep them in one place so that when I'm planning at home, I can just grab the whole thing and work. No more digging through papers on my desk or on my cabinet. #happyteacher

So here's a peek at what I keep in my Curriculum Binder and how you can assemble one for yourself!

Let's start with what's in it!

First up are my lesson plans. At my school we are required to turn in a plan book at the end of the year. 

I type my lesson plans, so after I finished saving them in my lesson plans folder for the year on my laptop, I print a copy, three hole punch them, and place 'em in here. No more lost lesson plans! Then, when it's time to turn in the lesson plans book, I just take out all the print outs, bind them with a rubber band and 
turn them in.  BAM! Organized teacher saves the day! ;)

Behind that I keep grade print outs. 

I am also required to keep a grade book and turn it in at the end of the year. We use an online grade book, so I just print off the grade reports each quarter and interim and put it behind this tab. I also like to keep print outs of scores from big tests that my kiddos have taken. This is not to be confused with what I keep in my student data binder (as that is constantly being added too) but more as "light posts" through out the school year. Now there is no question as to what grade I put on your report card, I've got it right here. Those get handed in the same way as the lesson plans. Low stress at the end of the year? Yes please!

Behind the grade reports, I keep all my calendars. As a teacher, it seems we have LOTS of calendars... 

School calendars, testing calendars, meeting calendars, planning calendars... I keep them all here. I also like to keep monthly calendars so I can write down everyday things like parent conferences, theme ideas and important dates. 

I've included this simple calendar page in my Curriculum binder set.  They're not date specific, so they can used over and over again from year to year. There's also little notes section so you can include a few extra notes for the month.

In addition to the calendars, like to keep copies of schedules in this tab. We have a "master schedule" we have to follow at my school, so I keep that there along with student schedules, lunch schedules, and Special Area schedules.  If it's all  in one place, whenever need to reference a day or time, I can just cross check it against all those calendars and schedules. 

Behind the calendar tab is the curriculum maps tab. 

This is home to all those large packets of paper that tell me what I am suppose to teach
and when. Perfect to keep them all together so when I'm planning I can reference what concepts are supposed to be covered with in the next few weeks and go. Last year, we had 3 different maps just for our ELA block... so having a safe place to store them is key! Just remember to put them back in here if you pull them out... ;) 

Next up are the pacing guides...

 These are similar to the curriculum maps, but they provide a bigger snapshot for the year. 

I've included this editable planning sheet in my pack so you can see what's coming up and what you're teaching from week to week in each subject. I started using a pacing guide like this about 3 years ago and it made my planning lessons sooooo much easier! It also helped me to construct thematic units by aligning certain science and social studies units with specific reading and math units. Yeah for long term planning! 

At the back of the planner, I like to keep my meeting notes.

I've realized that if I keep them all in one place, I am more likely to go back and reference them... No more of that, "What did they say at that meeting?" because I have it stored behind this tab! 

There's even a notes taking sheet so you can organize the information as it's given. There's a place for the discussion, plan of action, and what you need to bring to the next meeting. Put these in order by date or type and you'll be the one people come to ask "What did they say about..." 

Now of course, this binder is set up to meet the needs of what I need to keep track in my classroom and for my district.

You can make your own using a plain binder with plastic sleeves.

 Like the one I used for the Student Data Binder, but not as big. I used a 1 and a half inch binder.

Then of course you make your tabs, just like I did in this post.

Print and cut out your divider and tab. Place in a laminating sleeve, arranging the tab on the back.

Laminate and trim out the tab...

and three whole punch to insert into your binder.

If you want a more detailed look at this process, head over to this post.

Now, you can always make your own dividers and tabs. they don't have to be as fancy or decorative as mine. Seriously, fun file folders that have been hole punched work just as well!

But, if you like the ones I used, you can check out the file here. I've made the tabs and dividers editable so you can add and change each section to fit your "organizational musts".

Like I mentioned before, this coordinates perfectly with my Student Data Notebook

If you're like me... and have to have everything matching, I went a head and bundled both files for you!
Click here or the pic to check it out!

Now go forth and get organized! I'd love to hear how you stay organized during the year! Comment below with your favorite organizing tips!

Image Map


  1. Great! Thanks for sharing. Curious what laminator you use/have?

    1. Hey Kathy! I use a Scotch Laminator from 3M. :)

  2. Just wondering if you have the curriculum binder to match the "Brights" student data binder?

    1. YES! Here's the link!


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