“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?
The reality is, we all have one or two (or many!) little sweethearts that manage to misplace his or her work and already little time to get things done without the extra need to run to the copy machine. 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 my one copy in a three ring binder labeled “The Ditto Folder.” Students then borrow the one copy to complete their missing work (they cannot write on it!) and return it when they are done (or when time is up).
How it’s organized
I have my three ring binder sectioned off by subjects and sheet protectors within each section. I have in the bottom corner of my sheet protectors a label. For example, I designate each subject with a letter. Reading is section A, math is section B, science is section C, so on. Then each page is a number, so the first sheet protector in the reading section is labeled 1A, the second 2A, so 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 in and out sheets. This helps me keep track of who borrowed the sheet last and where it is.
In order for students to be allowed to utilize the Ditto Folder, they must obey the rules I have set forth. They are on the cover of my ditto folder and are:
1.) Check all sheets out using the check-out sheet.
2.) Only check out 1 sheet at a time.
3.) Do NOT write on the sheets inside the Ditto Folder. Grab a piece of paper & write your answers there.
4.) Label your “ditto copy” as the assignment page/sheet.
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 sleeve 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.
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.
If you would like a copy of my Ditto Folder cover and sign out sheet, click on the picture below.
What methods do you use to keep yourself from constantly making extra copies without wasting unused copies? I would love to hear about them!