How to Organize Your Notebook Like a Boss

How to Organize Your Notebook Like a Boss

It was just a few weeks before the state exam when I realized that my students had a problem. And that problem was totally my fault. It was my first year teaching and I did not require my 9th graders to keep a notebook for class. Why? Because I was a first-year teacher.

Now it was May. There were 4 girls who had everything I had ever given them, many who had most of the papers from the last few months, and a sizable number who had nothing. Nothing. They had lost every piece of paper I had handed out all.year.long. How were they going to study for the state exam? How were they going to pass the state exam?

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Students must be taught or learn how to keep an organized notebook!” quote=”Students must be taught or learn how to keep an organized notebook!”]

I learned the hard way that most teenagers don’t keep an organized notebook. But that’s not permanent. All students, no matter their age, can learn how to organize their notebooks! Let’s dive into how to organize your notebook!

Before we jump in, be sure to download the FREE checklist I created. Be sure you have all the necessary supplies!

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How to Organize Your Notebook Like a Boss

organized notebook

 There are two basic options when setting up notebooks – a big notebook or one for each class. Picking an organization method is partly personal preference. However, just a gentle reminder that you are reading this blog post for a reason. Your current method for organization is NOT working. So, think about trying a different method.

The BIG Notebook

In the big notebook, you have a section for every class. You also keep a pencil pouch and your planner in the notebook. I prefer this notebook set up for a few reasons:

  1. Since its so dang big, you will rarely use lose it. It’s hard to miss.
  2. Everything is in one place. Lots of students forget to bring the correct binder to class. Or so I’ve been told by students. When it’s all in one binder, you are more likely to have the papers you need.
  3. Having your supplies and planner in your notebook = ALWAYS PREPARED.

If your middle or high school has an AVID program, you’ve already seen kids with these giant notebooks. AVID uses this model for a reason – IT WORKS. As a study skills teacher, I required my students to use the big notebook as well.  I found that this was especially useful for students who struggled with organization.

There are some downsides, of course. It’s so dang big, that some kids hate carrying it around. It can also turn into a junk pile if not regularly organized. (But that is true for any binder.)

  1. 3-inch binder
  2. Filler paper – taking notes, yo
  3. Student planner – record assignments
  4. Dividers with pockets – keep papers organized by class; place non-hole punched handouts in the class pocket.
  5. Pencil pouch – keep all your supplies in one place

Notebook for Each Class

In this method, you have a notebook for each class. If you have a rotating schedule (ex – your schedule switches every other day), you don’t need to take as many binders to school. However, you need to make sure you have the correct binders for that day and you must hang onto your supplies and planner separately. 

  1. One 1-inch binder for each class
  2. Filler paper – taking notes, yo
  3. 3-hole punched folder for each class – to place any non-hole punched handouts
  4. Dividers (1 set for each class) – keep papers organized (Notes, Homework, Projects, etc)

Notebook Setup

The big notebook from front to back:

  • Pencil pouch
  • Planner
  • Filler paper
  • Divider for each class with a pocket

The single notebook from front to back: (remember that you need one for EACH class!)

  • Filler paper
  • Dividers
  • 3-hole punched folder

Make It a Habit

Keeping an organized notebook will note become a habit overnight. In the beginning, go through your notebook on a regular basis, nightly at first. Make sure that papers are in the correct places. If they aren’t, put them in the correct spot.

Schedule a weekly notebook cleanout and organization time. I used to give students 15 minutes a week to organize and it really helped them stay on track.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Schedule a weekly notebook clean-out and organization time.” quote=”Schedule a weekly notebook clean-out and organization time.”]

Parent Corner

Some gentle reminders – if the notebook is unorganized, your child needs to organize it, not you. You can certainly sit with him to help, but they need to move the papers themselves. Additionally, as your child becomes more proficient at using the notebook, check less often. No need to hover if they are doing fine on their own.

How do you prefer to organize your notebook? Let me know in the comments below!

Related Posts: 5 Steps to an Organized Backpack, How to Set Up Your Academic Planner for Success, 5 School Supplies That Will Get (and Keep) Teens Organized

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