Organize Your Notebook Like a Boss

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?


I learned the hard way that most teenagers don’t keep an organizer binder.

Teens need serious nudging from teachers and parents to hold onto papers and keep them in some sort of order.Click To Tweet

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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Organize Those Notebooks

 There are two basic options when setting up notebooks.

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, kids rarely use lose it. It’s hard to miss.
  2. Everything is in one place. Lots of kids 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 school has an AVID program, you have already seen kids with these giant notebooks. AVID uses this model for a reason – IT WORKS. As a study skills teacher, I copied AVID and 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.)

 notebook organization

  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 methods, teens 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. 

notebook organization

  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)


Either way works, just figure out which one works best for you.

Put it all together!

notebook organization

The big notebook from front to back:

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

notebook organization

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

  • Filler paper
  • Dividers
  • 3-hole punched folder

Parent Time

Keeping an organized notebook will require time before it becomes a habit. Parents – you and your kiddo need to sit down together and go through the notebook on a regular basis, nightly at first. Make sure that papers are in the correct places. If they aren’t, have your teen put them in the correct spot. Schedule a weekly clean out and organization time. I used to give students 15 minutes a week to organize and it really helped them stay on track.

Schedule a weekly notebook clean-out and organization time.Click To Tweet


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 he needs to move the papers himself. Additionally, as your child becomes more proficient as using the notebook, check less often. No need to hover if she is doing fine on her own.


Set up your notebook and let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Related Posts: How to Get Your Teen to Use a Planner, 5 Steps to an Organized Backpack

Teen organization | Notebook Organization | Organized Student
If your teen loses papers all the time and never has the supplies she needs, learn how she can organize her notebook right now! | #teenorganization #organizednotebook #schoolsupplies

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