in the field

First Year Teacher Prep: Document Sorter

Paint Swatches

Good morning! Today I am sharing with you another tool I will be using to organize and manage my classroom that I DIY’d using paint swatches.

While shadowing my soon-to-be co-workers during the last few weeks of student teaching, this lady introduced me to the organizational tool that is going to change my life. It’s a document sorter!

One thing that all teachers deal with is PAPER. From Kindergarten teachers to college professors–paper, paper, paper. Even in classrooms that take care to reduce, reuse, and recycle–and even those that utilize 1:1 technology–you’ll still find paper turned into a tray somewhere.

Having students turn papers into a tray automatically creates a jumbled mess of papers. But what if those papers could be alphabetized (and thus, coordinated with the structure of your grade book) as they’re turned in? The document sorter is the tool just for that. And here is my DIY version made with paint swatches, brads, and labels.

DIY Document Organizer

You’ll also need a hole punch, and I added masking tape to the back to keep the swatches from pivoting around the brads. It’s really just a matter of hole punching each swatch in two spots (except for the first one) and attaching it to the swatch that comes before and after.

Adding the labels extended the length of the swatch so that an 8.5×11 piece of paper could fit in between swatches without covering up the next label.  I used a Sharpie to label my swatches 1 through 24. If I gain a few students, I just have to snag a few more swatches and attach them to the back!

Find a piece of scrap cardboard (like from a tissue box) to attach behind the last swatch so there’s a landing place for the last piece of paper.

Can you think of other ways to use this document sorter to fulfill a professional/creative organizational need?


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