Category: Back-to-School

How to Organize Your Computer Files for School

How to Organize Your Computer Files for School

Do you have too many files on your computer? I do.

With movies, pictures, and music becoming totally digital these days, there isn’t enough space to go around.

When I started teaching, my needs for computer storage increased exponentially. Before I even started selling on TeachersPayTeachers, I was totally out of space. It got so bad that I had I had to upgrade to an annual Dropbox subscription so I could store “archived” files on the cloud, rather than my hard drive. (Dropbox provides you with 1 terabyte of cloud storage with guaranteed backup, access, and security for a fee.)

Having all of that space has been awesome, but it would be really easy to lose files without an intentional organization system. As my storage needs grew, I knew that I needed to keep on top of maintaining all of those files.

These are the main categories that I sort everything into, and some of their sub-categories:

  1. Personal
    • Home
    • Sunday School
    • Jobs/Resumes
  2. School (will discuss more later)
  3. Tpt
    • Blog
    • Business
    • Products
  4. Music (I just rely on iTunes to organize my music)
  5. Movies
    • Personal
    • School
  6. Pictures
    • Always sort by year, then “Number of Month (ex. “09” for September) & Event”
  7. Graphics
    • Clipart (that I have purchased)
    • Creations (that I have made)

Whenever I create a file, no matter what it is, it goes into one of these categories.

Now as teachers, we would all agree that probably the most beastly of them all is “School.” Throughout the year, school can take on a life of its own – when it comes to the  classroom, the desk, and the computer. (I am not the only one, right?)

So I divide all my files into folders, sub-folders and more sub-folders. This might be overkill, but it makes everything SO much easier to locate quickly. In a pinch, it helps me to know exactly where to put or find things.

To start, I divide all of my files into the subjects or courses that I teach. The folders are always labelled with the grade level, name of the subject, and edition of the book I am using. For example – “7 History of the World 5th ed.” I taught 7 History of the World 4th ed., but we don’t use that book anymore so I archived the files to the cloud. Right now I am keeping the files in case, I want to reference a test, quiz, or whatever. You will see in the image below that for my 8th grade history class, I have not yet archived the old edition files. This is because I regularly reference the old files. This summer I will archive the old edition.

After I have my courses folders set up, I sub-divide into quarters. Each course gets four sub-folders. “1st Quarter,” “2nd Quarter,” “3rd Quarter,” “4th Quarter.” Does that make sense? Before I organized my files this way, I only sorted by chapter and that was a mess.

Ok, that’s the hard part. My final sub-division is by testing unit. The curriculum that my school uses tests approximately every three chapters. I label the folders as “Unit x Chapters y-z.” Then whatever file I make related to Unit x or Chapter y-z goes into that folder. There is never a question of where something is or where it should be. All school-related files are in their appropriate  folders.

It all sounds complicated, but honestly the hardest part was deciding to organize this way. Set up was easy and keeping organized has been easy ever since.

Now every classroom has certain files that are used over and over and over again. Think – Absence Forms, Memos to Parents, Reward Cards, etc. So I also have two additional folders that sit at the same level as the Courses – “Master Documents” and the school year (Ex. 2016-2017).

That is a lot of info, so here is an outline view within my folder “School” so you can see what I am referring to. Also there is a screenshot below that.

  • 7 History of the World 5th ed.
    • 1st Marking Period
      • 1st Day of School (where I store ice-breaker games, my rules & procedures, syllabus, Back-to-School info)
      • Unit 1 Chap 1-3
        • All the files related to Chap. 1-3
      • Unit 2 Chap 2-6
    • 2nd Marking Period, etc.


Organizing Your Computer Files for School

If you are looking for help organizing, give this system a try. I always recommend trying a new system for a full month or longer. This would actually be most effective if tried for an entire marking period. Let me know how it goes!

How do you organize your computer files?


Cover Image: <a href=””>Designed by Freepik</a>


Back-to-School Teacher Essentials

2016-09-16-bts-teacher-essentialsSo it is definitely that time of year. My school has been in session for a few weeks now, and we are all still getting into the swing of things. The teacher in the room next to me is shared by two brand new teachers. They have come by my room a number of times looking for suggestions on what they need for their classroom.

The reality is that all teachers new or experienced know the basics. We all know that you need bulletin board borders, punch out letters, sticky tack, post-it notes, a pencil sharpener, red pens, file folders, and on and on the list goes.

As my new neighbors were asking a few questions, it reminded me of those first few days of school when you realize you are still missing a few items.

Here are sixteen totally random items that you absolutely need for back-to-school. This is for new and experienced teachers.

  1. Scotch Titanium Scissors – Every teacher is going to spend a substantial amount of time cutting things. Don’t ask me why, but we all do it. I teach high school history and I still manage to spend a substantial amount of time cutting things. Do yourself a favor and buy yourself some great scissors! These babies can slice through hundreds of pages without going dull. They also work really well for thicker types of paper, like laminated posters, labels, cardstock, and more.
  2. Adhesive Dot Magnets – This was one of those items that I totally splurged on because I was trying to reach a spending goal for a decent discount. (That makes it a savings, right?) I don’t use the magnets all the time, but they are so handy. I love putting these on the back of posters to stick on my chalkboard. I have put magnets on bulletin board borders to outline a door frame or my desk or the chalkboard. There are a million unexpected applications for the magnet dots.
  3. Good Pens – Teachers write a lot. Whether notes to our students or parents (or administration), or grading and rubrics, a pen is likely going to spend a lot of time in your hand. I am personally a fan of the cheap medium Bic Round Stick pens, but I know teachers who prefer to use only G2 Gel Pens. Whatever you like to write with, stock up on those pens and have them handy.
  4. X-acto Knife – This is one of those items that I didn’t expect to need, but once I started using it, I was so glad I had it. These knives are necessary for the ultimate teacher art-project: our ever-changing classroom decor. I build my own bulletin boards because of financial restrictions and I like them to look sharp. As a result, I put a lot of time and effort into them. An x-acto knife has been a lifesaver on multiple occasions.
  5. Water Bottles – No, I do not mean the refillable kind. I mean the cheap plastic water bottles that you buy in a 32 pack at the grocery store. I know they aren’t very environmentally friendly, but when your refillable water bottle is empty and class isn’t over for another twenty minutes and you have a meeting immediately after, you NEED water and you NEED that water now. I always have a stash of two or three bottles in my desk. Not only I am prepared for my own emergency, but if something outrageous happens with a student, I have water in my desk. It makes me feel more prepared.
  6. Spare Cell Phone Charger – It’s gotten to the point where I had to label mine because my fellow teachers kept borrowing my iPhone charger. This is a lifesaver. I do attendance on my phone, check emails, take notes on student behavior, manage my to-do list, and scan multiple documents daily. There have been days when I thought my phone was fully charged and it very much was not. That could be a disaster! An additional benefit – my cell phone charger also charges my iPad. 🙂
  7. A Spare Tote Bag – Every once in a while, I need to take an unusually massive load of books and papers home. I have my regular day-to-day bag for my laptop, grade book, and a few other items, but this bag won’t hold multiple textbooks, dozens of papers, or a desk-full of Christmas presents from my students. A spare tote bag has helped with those rare occasions and made it a little easier to carry all the extra stuff.
  8. Snacks – Along the same vein as the water bottles, sometimes lunch time cannot come soon enough. A few nutritious snacks are just an encouragement. But the reality is I just need something to get me through until lunch or dinner so I don’t get all hangry on my students. I have a problem… I know. 🙂
  9. Hand Sanitizer – No need to expound on this one. We all have that one student.
  10. Clorox Wipes – Just like the hand sanitizer, we all have that one student.
  11. Sharpies – Things need labeled. Pens don’t cut it.
  12. Cords to Hardwire Technology – every school is a little different with their technology requirements or expectations. My school provides TVs, Apple TVs, and iPads and expects the teachers to use these items regularly. The only small problem is that they want us to connect the iPad to the Apple TV using the school’s wifi. But with multiple teachers using the same router to access the internet, results in terribly slow internet. Not to mention all of the student’s devices that are pinging the same router, even if they aren’t connecting. I can’t rely on the wifi to stream a video in class or even play through a presentation. So no matter your situation, I strongly recommend you have any necessary cords and adapters to hardwire your devices. Trust me, you do not want to plan on using the device for an entire class period only to find out it isn’t working.
  13. Blank Cards for Birthdays, Thank yous, etc. – Sometimes I just forget that it was a co-workers birthday or that I still haven’t written that thank you card. Sometimes my fellow teachers are having a really bad day and need a note of encouragement. Having a little stack of cards stashed in my desk is just useful.

Well, that’s all I can think of for now. Hope you are enjoying your school year and now you feel a little more prepared.


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Encouraging Success

Today I started back in my classroom decorating and sorting papers, tests, etc. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! (Not really…)

As much as I love going back to school, I have a severe love/hate relationship with decorating my classroom. Because I teach Middle School through early High School, my students are at a really odd age where they love the super-decorated classrooms, but they don’t want them to be childish. Last I checked teacher supply stores don’t carry said classroom decor – you know what I mean. Woodland animals, insects, even the hippest chalkboard themed decor can really be a turn off for a 12-17 year old.

As a result, I have started making *most* (not all) of my own classroom decor. It was out of necessity. I will give you a tour of my classroom when it is finished, but as of right now, it is not.

One of the items that I was forced into making was a fun system to reward the students for Encouraging Success1_edited-1doing well and encourage them to keep pushing forward. As long as it is not overdone, every single teenager loves getting a sticker. Trust me, they do not love getting a sticker on every single assignment. That borders on embarrassing! But my 12-17 year old students absolutely love being acknowledged for a job well done. They like letting their friends know in a passive-aggressive sort of silent way. Something else I have noticed about 12-17 year olds is they love any excuse to get out of their seats.

Alright, MS & HS teachers, remember those old sticker charts that you used in elementary school for good behavior? Well, I have revamped them for high school!

Introducing… drum roll, please… the Success Chart!! These babies are great!

Every time a student gets a certain percentage on a test, quiz, or project grade, they are awarded a sticker of their choice to add to their success chart – which is of course, located in the front of the room. At the end of the year, those who make it to the final row of their charts receive a small reward – like a lollipop. Those who complete the charts by the end of the year – get a candy bar of their choice! It’s a big deal. 🙂

And the stickers… There is delightful mayhem when it is comes to these stickers. I have boys in my class who regularly request that I shop for certain types of stickers. (The 16 year old crowd is particularly fond of the bees and penguins.) My students make patterns with their stickers. They try to make all of the stickers on their chart blue. They try to get all of the stickers to be the exact same turkey for all 42 slots. And competition is fierce to see who has the most stickers.

Encouraging Success3

Adding a sticker to their chart is seriously something they look forward to! It is a bad day for me if I forget to announce the recipients of the stickers or run out of the current favorite sticker.

Encouraging Success2Yes, I know the students enjoy getting out of their seats. I know they enjoy maybe “wasting” a few minutes of class and getting some candy. But I also know that my students study just a little harder because they want that sticker. I know that my students are a little more disappointed with their lack of studying when they miss a sticker, and it encourages them to work a little harder next time.

I have also seen this inspire students to encourage those who don’t get stickers as frequently. Some of the students have studied with those who don’t do as well, so they can get a sticker next time. There are cheers and high-fives for those who do well, and the thrill of finishing a chart at the end of the year.

Overall, the Success Charts have been successful in my classroom. 🙂


If you really love the Success Chart idea, check them out at TeachersPayTeachers: