Monday, October 22, 2012

Lesson Plan Binders

A couple weeks ago I mentioned these binders that I use to organize all my lesson plans and master copies.  There were a couple requests to see what's inside these guys so here goes...

First let me mention that I don't think there's anything groundbreaking or creative about this idea, it's just all about keeping track of papers.  I have a binder for each special reason other than that's just what seemed to fit.  So for each course I have two different 2" binders.  When I taught CMP2 I did one 1" binder for each book.

Inside it's just split into sections using these dividers.  Random, but I'm pretty partial to those dividers in particular because they are extra wide which means that the tabs will stick out past sheet protectors.  I've found that regular dividers don't stick out far enough which defeats the point..and also I'm really picky.
So inside each section is first the pacing guide from my school.  Then in each section I print every lesson plan on a separate, colored piece of paper.  After the lesson plan is any and all materials I may need to go with the lesson.  Worksheets and tests and such get hole punched.  Things like foldables or station activities go inside sheet protectors.  For everything that goes in, I also try to include an answer copy or rubric right behind it.  When I'm grading assignments or need to make an extra copy of something I know exactly where to look.

So for example, here is a plan for the math key words activity I did.  I don't get too technical as far as standards and things like that go here because the goal of this plan is really for my own reference.

Behind the colored sheet is all the stuff that goes with that day.  So for this day, first I did a pre-test and then did the activity.

algebra pre-assessment

sheet protector with the foldable materials

back view of the sheet protector

Inside that sheet protector is:
  • the blank foldable
  • a filled in copy of the foldable
  • the page of key words that the kids sorted
  • the sheet that went on the left side page

Some days there's a lot less.  Here's one for a quiz.  Even though there's not much to the plan, it helps me to see exactly what each day looked like.

Behind the plan is the quiz and behind the quiz is the answer key.

This system also makes it easy for me to figure exactly how I taught something the last time. Over the years I've tried a bunch of different systems but so far this one is my favorite.  When I'm creating a new one of these (as I am now) I always print the plans after I've already taught the lesson.  Very rarely do my plans for the week actually end up happening as I had planned so this way I can be sure that the binders reflect what actually did happen.  They also help me to reflect on my teaching.  If something needs to be fixed I'll try to fix it before I put it into the binder.  This way it's good to go for next time around.

In addition to all of this I usually have digital copies of most of the things that are in here, but I like having the hard copies as well.  There have been many many times where the network is down or my printer stops working or something like that where I've been grateful to have the hard copies to rely on.


  1. I love it! Your lesson plan format is really clean and easy to follow too, I am still using the template from my grad program and it is cluttered. I am inspired to update things now.

    How do you use your pre-assessment?

    1. Thanks! The one that I actually submit (which is using an online program) has a bit more to it, like standards and things like that, but these are just for my own use so I try to keep it simple to make life easy.

      I don't do anything too crazy with the pre-assessments, they have a few of the topics from upcoming chapters so I'll look over them before teaching things to know how much I need to go over. For example, based on their answers I could tell that almost all the kids had seen distributive property before. So instead of really teaching it I was able to just review it using a few do nows. But on other topics it was clear they had no idea so I knew I needed to really teach those things.

    2. OK, thanks. Preassessment is one of the areas I am trying to improve this year so I love hearing about what others are doing.

      We, fortunately, don't have to submit lesson plans but I like to put them together just to make sure I'm really aligning instruction, etc.

      I appreciate that you always take time to answer questions!

  2. Hi Sarah -

    BIG fan of your blog!! As I was reading your post above, I discovered that you taught CMP2. This is my first year teaching it in 7th grade math and have struggled a little bit with it thus far; especially using it with the SPED kiddos. Besides the resources provided by CMP, do you have any that you used while teaching CMP2 that you found helpful (powerpoints, activities, strategies etc.)? Currently, we are working in the book "Stretching and Shrinking" and have started on ratios and proportions. Thanks in advance for your response.


    Mark (

    1. Thanks! Yes I can totally understand that they could be having trouble. I actually ended up creating all of my own stuff, down to even typing up the Investigations and rewording things to make them easier to follow. In addition to that I did a whole bunch of stuff in addition to the book lessons, it ended up being a VERY modified curriculum that I was doing. I really ended up liking it though, I enjoyed the mix. I taught 8th grade so unfortunately I don't have anything that goes with your books but I could certainly e-mail you an example of what I did if you're interested.

    2. That would be awesome! My email is
      Thank you so much for taking your time to send me an example.


  3. @Anonymous: A few years back, I was working in a math department that also used CMP. I found a website that a teacher created with quite a few worksheets that I used: I also spent a good deal of time creating my own things. I hope this site is of some use to you!

    1. Unbelievable! That is AWESOME! Thank you Shaunna for sharing that website address; No doubt I will get good use out of it!!


      Mark (@n2mathematix)

  4. Sarah, just wanted to let you know that I found your blog via my teacher daughter ( and I love it. I linked to it today on my education blog: Thanks so much!


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