“Mrs. D, I need another copy of Monday night’s homework,” Johnny said. As soon as the little kiddos head off to recess, I dash to the copy machine. I’m pretty sure this would be Johnny’s fourth copy this week. I have already copied this sheet over and over. What is he doing with his extra copies? Hanging them in picture frames at home? Perhaps eating them for dinner? Maybe making paper airplanes?
Extra Copies, Again?!?
The reality is, we all have one or two (or many!) little sweethearts that manage to misplace their work, and we already have little time to get things done without the extra need to run to the copy machine at every break. In addition, some districts limit how many copies you make, and I just can’t bear to toss many extra unused papers into that recycle bin. So what is a teacher to do? How do we cut back the extra copies for students?
I have tried teaching students organization skills and many have learned them well. But occasionally, I have those classes that just need an extra method! That’s when I created what I call the “Ditto Folder.”
When I make copies for students, I only make one (yes — ONE!) extra copy and no more! I then put this extra copy in a three-ring binder labeled “The Ditto Folder.” Students may borrow the one copy to complete their missing work (they cannot write on it — they must instead use loose-leaf paper) and return it when they are done (or when time is up). This way, there is no need for them to demand extra copies.
Organizing the Ditto Folder for Extra Copies
I have my three-ring binder sectioned off by subjects and sheet protectors within each section. I have a label in the bottom corner of my sheet protectors. For example, I designate each subject with a letter. Reading is section A, math is section B, science is section C, and so on. Then each page is a number, so the first sheet protector in the reading section is labeled 1A, the second 2A, and on and on. (Then math is 1B, 2B, 3B, etc.) This helps students know what sheet they are borrowing and where to return it when they are done.
Inside the Ditto Folder, I have a spreadsheet for students to sign sheets in and out. This helps me keep track of who borrowed the sheet last and where it is.
The Rules of the Ditto Folder
In order for students to be allowed to utilize the Ditto Folder, they must obey the rules I have set forth. I make sure to keep these rules at the very front of the Ditto Folder:
1.) Check all sheets out using the check-out sheet.
2.) Only check out one sheet at a time.
3.) Do NOT write on the sheets inside the Ditto Folder. Grab a piece of paper and write your answers there.
4.) Label your “ditto copy” as the assignment page/sheet that you are missing.
5.) Sheets cannot go home or stay in your desk. If you run out of time when using the sheet, it must be returned to the Ditto Folder & checked out at another time.
6.) Sheets must stay inside their plastic sleeves at all times. Treat the sheets & folder with care.
7.) Sheets must be returned to their exact location in the Ditto Folder. Check the number-letter system.
8.) Sign on the check-in side of the sheet upon returning the assignment.
In the past, I have made students actually copy the entire sheet, not just write answers down. I found that was a HUGE motivator for students to not lose their original copy. However, it’s a bit more time consuming for the child. Since I make my students use the Ditto Folder during their recess time, they are limited on time, and I definitely do not let students take it home.
What methods do you use to keep yourself from constantly making extra copies without wasting unused copies? I would love to hear about them!
Read this post for tips on how to help your students get organized!
The Nitty Gritty:
- Many students misplace their work and need extra copies. This is a problem for teachers due to lack of time, limits on copies, and worry about wasted papers.
- Teaching students organizational skills can help cut down on their need for another copy.
- The Ditto Folder uses only one copy of each sheet of work. The copies are placed in sheet protectors and put in a binder that is organized by subject and page number.
- To use the Ditto Folder, students must obey the folder rules.
- Students may use the Ditto Folder during their recess time. It may not be taken home.