I found myself giving the students a mini-lecture on time management and turning things in on time, for the umpteenth time this year. I stated, “I WILL NOT be hunting you down for missing assignments at the end of this quarter.” A hand shot up. “Mrs. Biggs, you say that every quarter. Maybe you should write it down somewhere so you’ll remember.”
And with that, I knew I had to get more organized with keeping track of late and missing assignments. What this sweet, unassuming student had said, stung. It was the truth, and I knew it.
A note about my organization: If you’ve seen my classroom, you will know I have sticky notes all over my desk; to-do lists, reminders, usernames and passwords (I know, I know, not the smartest idea!) But ever since my daughter was born, my brain has literally turned to mush. And when I lost my calendar/planner last month, I knew things had to change. (I buy the same calendar every year because I like the monthly view.) That thing has every important date, phone number, field trip contact, children’s dentist appointments, and yes, a handful of sticky notes in there, so I was desperate when it was gone. It was time to get organized and maximize efficiency.
One other thing you should know…I love binders. I have a binder for absent students to check with all their missing work inside for when they return. I have a binder for checking out books from my class library. I have a binder for each student neatly organized at the beginning of the year. This has streamlined my procedures. There is no more “Did I miss anything?” obnoxious questions when a student returns to school after an absence. I just point to the binder. There is no “I swear I didn’t check out that book,” when it turns up missing mid-year. The binder doesn’t lie. So, when I thought about all the missing work, I immediately thought, “How can I make a binder?”
I had watched a movie recently about a person getting fired, so I came up with the idea of a pink slip. I mentioned in a previous blog that I use Instagram to follow some amazing teachers to get ideas from them. Ya’ll know I like to borrow and steal. I happened upon Fantastically Fourth Grade‘s Insta post “Teacher Tip Thursday” about her easy way to communicate when you’re sending work home to complete.
Since I told the students and parents at the beginning of the year that I do not actually assign homework, I had heard from parents that their children were refusing to do missing assignments at home because, “Mrs. Biggs said we don’t have homework.” While that is partially true, (I do not send home an arbitrary math or spelling worksheet), I do expect some assignments, especially missing and late assignments to be completed at home.
In comes the Pink Slip Binder. I created my own version of the slip posted by FFG. I wanted a place for the student’s name and assignment to be written down, as well as the check boxes for whether it was a digital or paper and pencil assignment. At the end of each day, I look for missing work on Google Classroom. I hand the student a pink slip, then write their name, the date, and the assignment in the binder log. I told the class, I will put a zero in the grade book and that will only change when they turn in the missing assignment AND the pink slip signed by an adult. We had several snow days last week and only three actual days of school. But by the end of that short week, I only handed out two pink slips (and one was for an absent student.) Previously, I would have had six-ten missing assignments (usually from the same two or three students). PINK SLIP PDF
I am excited to see if I can keep up with this in the long run, but I feel like I will not be making the “missing assignment” speech any time soon. (Here is the background for the pink slip.)