How to Organize Your Curriculum Documents in One Place

Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of paper you have to keep track of? Organizing your big picture curriculum documents, daily lesson plans and posters, not to mention things like phone trees and lists of building committee members can feel like a full-time job!

As if keeping track of all those things wasn’t crazy enough, my principal also asked us to keep our daily lesson plans open on our desks at all times. I couldn’t afford to have a messy desk in that situation. Organization was key! I know many of you are in the same boat, or are even being asked to submit lesson plans ahead of time, which just adds another level of pressure.
 

Today I want to share my own system for keeping all of my paper curriculum documents organized.

 
I realize some of you go completely digital, but as a traveling teacher, I found that my “hard-copy” system worked quite well for me. The best part was, every single thing I needed each week was in one spot!
 
Organize Curriculum Documents

 

I started with a binder that had an elastic closure. The elastic made it easy for me to quickly gather and secure everything on my way to meetings, the curriculum office or my other school.

 

Curriculum Binder with Elastic

 

I included the following 5 sections in my binder.

(Labeled tabs helped me flip to each section quickly and easily.)

 

Binder Collage
 
Section 1: Weekly Lessons at a Glance

Section 2: Monthly and Yearly Curriculum Matrixes at a glance

Section 3: Monthly Calendar – meetings, deadlines, conferences, etc…

Section 4: Schedules, Teams, Committees, Duties, Deadlines

Section 5: Emergency Phone Numbers and Office Referral Forms
 
Of course, this is all about finding a system that works well for you. In fact, participants in the latest “Designing Your Art Curriculum” online class were just talking about organizing curriculum documents. Once you create the curriculum of your dreams, it will be much easier to implement if the resources are organized!

 

Here are some of the class participants’ tips for keeping curriculum documents organized and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

 

“I create binders for each of my courses that include not only the planning matrices but every lesson plan, lesson tool, resource notes, printouts of slideshows and pretty much everything, in order.”
 
“I asked my tech department for all of the laptop boxes we received and organized both supplies and curriculum documents into these similar boxes! They even fit on my book shelves!”

mac boxes to organize curriculum
 
“I organize my curriculum on a weekly basis. I outline the objectives for the week on my calendar. This is just for me to have a quick glance of what I am going to work on that week.”
 
“I have a large whiteboard in the back of class with spots designated for kindergarten through 5th grade. Under each I write with a dry erase marker, using several different colors, of course, the project and key vocabulary words.”
 
“I am required to send in weekly lesson plans on Fridays. This year I created a spreadsheet that shows my lesson objectives, state standards, ‘I can’ statements, vocabulary, literacy/technology/cross curricular links, assessments and procedures for each day. My plan always looks good on paper and then I usually have to adjust as the week goes on, so I end up with post it notes reminding for the daily organization.”
 
“I use Planbook by Hellmansoft for my lesson planning. This allows me to upload my plans to their Planbook Connect website. I give my administrators the web address and then they can access the plans anytime they wish.”
 
As you can see, there are so many ways to go about this. Most teachers do use a combination of both digital and physical methods to organize curriculum. The ultimate goal is to find something that works for you and that you’ll actually stick to!
 
 

So tell us, how do you keep your curriculum documents and resources organized?

What simple materials have you found to help your organization process? 

 
 
 

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

Related

  • Sarah Shumaker

    I have a giant binder that has most everything in it – it travels from school to school with me. One of my former principals called it “intense!” With planning and curriculum documents, I’ve started to use Google Docs more so that I can be at either school or at home and still find what I want quickly. Similar to above, I use pizza/calzone boxes to organize individual units — both of my schools do a yearly fundraiser sale and the staff/PTO know I always want the boxes for storage or for projects. :)

  • Chris

    At the high school, our 3 person department keeps course and unit organizers, written lessons, ppts, and assessments, as well as many other curricular resources on an art folder on the school server. Each course taught has its own folder. We each back that up on a device individually. I use a flash drive.
    When we add something we often identify the file with our name or initials so we know who put it on the server.

    At the elementary, I keep a binder with standards, assessment rubrics, lessons by cycle and month similar to those described in the article. On Google Drive, there is a shared folder so that all the elementary teachers in the district can easily share lessons and ideas. When I write a lesson, I save it to my own server folder, and then drop a copy into the shared Google Drive folder.

  • HipWaldorf

    Thanks for sharing Jessica. You have lots of great organizing and document ideas in this article!

  • Ms. P

    Google Drive is my savior! I use it for EVERYTHING. Since there is an app I can have on my phone as well as my iPad and my school computer, I can work and edit anything at any time and have it saved to my drive for reference later.

    The amazing thing about it is that I have shared folders with my district teachers as well as one for teachers outside my district that we share lessons and resources with. It’s super awesome to be able to instantly have access to a perfect copy of something instead of borrowing a wrinkly faded xerox of a lesson plan from twenty years ago.

    I’m so over wasting paper and having binders I don’t need! My principal has been wonderful enough to let me share my lesson plans ahead of time, and then when she is observing me to just have them pulled up on my work computer for her to peruse. No need to print anything.

    • This is a perfect example of how going paperless can be so liberating!

  • Jorena

    At my school we use planbookedu.com and I love it. I can access plans from years ago and just transfer them to the current week. If something happens (ie we are let out early for snow etc.) I can just bump my plans forward. After reading an article on this website 1-2 years ago, I too began using google folders for everything else. It is wonderful to be able to access everything from anywhere.

    • Way to go – It’s all about finding a method that works for you!

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