Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Premier Paper Passer

One of the things I hate to waste time doing is passing out papers to my students. With only a 45 minute class period, I try to eliminate as much "fluff" as I can from my day. Passing out papers just didn't seem to me to be really productive, although it is necessary.

To solve the problem of returning work to the kids, I set up a mailbox system. I have a big plastic file box, and there's a folder in there for each kid, organized alphabetically by class period. I give the kids four minutes at the beginning of each period to fill out their agenda, turn in work, and check their mailboxes. Actually, I tell them that they have four minutes, but they really have three. That's pretty much all they need. That saves me the hassle of calling out a kid's name, and waiting for him or her to get out of his or her seat, walk to me, and then return...or me having to scamper all over the room handing out work. I've tried having students return work, but that's just a big fat mess because half of them can't read the writing on the paper, they don't know everyone's name, and then there's the issue of confidentiality. Honestly, they all know who the goobers are who don't do well, but they don't need to have it validated.

Okay, so that solved the returned work problem. Now there's the problem with passing stuff out that we need to use during class.

Back when I had desks in rows, and not tables, I could easily walk across the front of the room and hand papers to the first kid in the row and they'd pass it back to the students behind them. Easy. However, I now have seven tables, plus the isolation island seats, and it's definitely not as easy to do.

And I believe that having a kid pass out papers is ideal because it gets the squirmy ones up and moving. It's no secret that I tend to have the hyper kids pass out papers. They're also usually the first to practically leap out of their seats when I ask for a volunteer. In any case, I go through a big deal every year teaching them how to do pass out papers. They are not to hand each individual person a paper (this can take freaking forever), but instead, count out four papers, and put it in the middle of the table, and then the kids at the table grab what they need. It works great if you have a kid who can do this without taking forever to count out the four pieces of paper.

So, last week we had the kids return to afternoon homeroom, the fifteen minute period at the end of the day when our homeroom kids return and we're supposed to check and sign agendas, send them to their lockers and - you guessed it - pass out the Very Important Papers that need to go home. I had a ton of papers to pass out - team newsletter, principal newsletter, and three pieces of paper having to do with our fundraiser.

I started off with two volunteers, Pinball Boy and Sweetheart Girl, and off they went. Pinball boy was back at my desk within thirty seconds.

"Next!" he barked, his hand out. I handed him the next stack.

Thirty seconds later he was back again.

"Next!" he barked, his hand out again. I handed him the next stack.

By this time I looked up and watched what was going on. Sweetheart Girl was doing a wonderful job of going to table to table and passing out the papers, but Pinball Boy had her beat in the speed department. He was flying. I don't think he actually stopped at the tables, he simply tossed the papers at them as he flew by. Papers were everywhere. Kids' hands were in the air grabbing at the papers as they fluttered down like multicolored leaves. They'd catch the papers, and staple them in their agendas, and then he was back with the next batch. It was a sight to behold.

He covered the entire room four times by the time Sweetheart Girl was finished...and she went pretty fast herself.

I have never, in my life, seen such a fantastic job of paper passing. This kid is a marvel. If there was a way I could bottle up his energy and sell it, I'd make a fortune.


Welcome... said...

How do you have the entire class check their folders if they are in one small area? Passing papers back is time consuming and I need a way like you are describing.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

Actually, it seems to work pretty good - I don't have mail in there every day, so if a kid checks the folder maybe twice a week, they're good. Plus, they can always come in during homeroom or during afternoon homeroom to do so. Another teacher, with a lot more counter space than I have, has a crate for each class, spread out on a counter. I'd do that if I had the space, but alas, I don't.

HappyChyck said...

I need a master paper passer! I'm awful at passing papers back to students, and now with my crowded room filled with tables, I am not sure how it will go...

nbosch said...

I'm still laughing--you are going to end up liking having Pinball in your class with skills like that. N.

Crystal Watford said...

But does that mean you place each paper in each student's folder? That would take me forever!

Mrs. Bluebird said...

It takes me - tops - maybe 5 minutes to file an entire classes papers in their folders. I grade a stack, get up, file, then grade the next stack. It's pretty fast. And I have 146 kids this year!

Welcome... said...

Would love to see photos of any organizational/management techniques you have.

Melissa B. said...

Sounds like Pinball Boy has a future ahead of him! I have a similar system for my high school journalistas. They need to keep a portfolio of their work. They turn in work to me, I file it in the milk crate, and they put it in their portfolios. It's such a time-saver!

loonyhiker said...

I put my class into teams and each team had one member who was responsible for getting the papers for their team. This saved me from passing papers out and only involved 5 people getting out of their seats to get the forms.