When I first started teaching, all of my files were paper and I organized them in hanging file folders. Eventually, I graduated to beautiful binders filled with page-protected worksheets separated with colorful dividers for each unit. As I began to gather more and more materials from the Internet (blog posts, videos, lesson plans, images, etc.), I developed a system for organizing all of my digital files.
HOW I ORGANIZE FILES ON MY COMPUTER:
As you see here, I have folders for days. Folders, sub-folders, sub-sub-folders, and subbitty-sub-sub folders.
The folders on the far left (activities, administrative, etc.) are broad categories, and many of them contain files that (1) I don’t use anymore, (2) don’t fit into a specific place in my curriculum, or (3) that I haven’t don’t know yet exactly where/when I will use them.
The Spanish 1 units and Spanish II units folders contain everything that I teach in those levels. I number all of the units (make sure to use ‘0’ in front of single digits so that everything ends up in the correct numerical order). As I find or create additional materials that match up with the core units, I number those materials with the same unit number followed by a letter, so it ends up looking like an outline that you would type in a word document. For example, Unit 09 in my Spanish 1 curriculum is entitled “El Cucuy“. I teach the mini-lesson “la hora” right after it, so I numbered that folder “09b”, and then I teach a mini-unit on El Silbón, which I numbered “09c”. All of those materials work with the same target structures, so that is why I grouped them together.
In the unit folders, I include EVERYTHING that I use with that unit. For example, take a look at the folder for Unit 11, which is about sports in Spanish speaking countries:
In this folder, I have Mp3s of songs that I use, videos that I have downloaded from YouTube (usually using www.keepvid.com), infographs, lesson plans, slideshows, class stories, and more. If I use it in the unit–or if I think I might use it–it’s in the folder!! (I typically use Pinterest to gather resources before I have a chance to consider critically how I might use them in any given unit. Once I decide to use a resource, I download it and add it to the folder on my computer.)
HOW I ORGANIZE PAPER FILES:
When I was teaching, I maintained binders with print versions of all of the files that I used. I had a binder for each level that I taught, dividers for each unit, and all handouts in page protectors. Now, I don’t organize paper files–I digitize them! If you have a paper system and are trying to get digital versions of all of your files, check out this post. Scannable and Evernote have been hugely helpful to me in easily storing digital versions of all of the papers that I have gathered over the year. My husband runs his entire business out of Evernote, and all of his files are really well organized. I prefer to store my files on my hard drive and in “The Cloud”, so Evernote has really become a catch-all for the scanned copies of things that I thought I might use again or adapt someday but really I will never use them and so they are just in one big messy Evernote notebook 😉
HOW I ORGANIZE FILES SHARED ON GOOGLE DRIVE OR DROPBOX
I don’t. I download anything that I want to use and store it on my hard drive/The Cloud. It’s too confusing for me to have files in multiple locations. If there is a google doc or slideshow or something that I want to use digitally, I save the link to the Pinterest board that corresponds to the unit or topic that I would want to use it with until I have time to add it to my written out lesson plans.
(As you can tell, a lot of my organization is dependent on having at least a basic plan for what I am going to teach in the year.)
HOW I ORGANIZE MY PINTEREST BOARDS
Pinterest is AMAZING! I don’t spend a lot of time on it anymore–just because I don’t have time to spend on it–but it has helped me immensely with finding and organizing ideas. Here are two screenshots of my Pinterest boards:
I have boards for novels (whether or not I have taught them), boards for cultural celebrations or topics, boards for each of my Spanish 1 and 2 units, and boards for ideas pertaining to syllabi, reading, course structure, assessment, and more. If I read a blog post, find a video, see an article, or hear a song that fits into one of my boards, I pin it! If it doesn’t fit into anything specific, I save it to a more general board called “Lesson plan ideas” or “General teacher ideas”. Occasionally I go back and look at those general boards to see if I have a use for anything that I have saved in the past!
HOW I ORGANIZE IDEAS ON FACEBOOK
I don’t…but I do use the “save link” feature quite liberally!
To save a post, an article, a video, anything on Facebook, just click the little arrow in the upper right hand corner of the post. Then, select “save link”. Then, I can access and search through all of my saved links by visiting the “Saved” category (under ‘Explore’) in the Facebook sidebar:
Would love to know how YOU organize everything!