Using student work folders in speech therapy has been a huge time saver and keeps my therapy more organized and on track. Below I’ll share tons of tips, tricks, organization ideas, and storage tips.
I’ve been using student work folders consistently for the past few years and finally thought I’d share what’s worked well for me!
There’s so many options when it comes to student work folders. Below is what has worked for me but feel free to mix and match ideas to make it work best for you and your caseload!
Without further adieu, here are my top tips for student work folders for SLPs:
1) Use color-coded labels.
Two years ago, I started labeling the folders by what the student was working on (pink = artic, blue = language, purple = social).
This has helped SO much because I can easily fill the folders up with activities by just referencing the sticker on the outside of the folder.
2) Organize by grade or IEP due date.
Organizing your folders is so important! It will help your students find them easily AND will help you stay organized. Two ways that I store my folders (depending on the year/my site) are by grade and by IEP due date.
By Grade – If you want to organize them by grade, label each box/bin with a grade number. This way makes it super easy for your students to find their folder.
By IEP Due Date – The other way I’ve used is organizing folders by IEP due date. This comes in handy if you have a larger caseload and need an extra reminder of IEP due dates. When I organize my folders this way, each box/bin is a month of the school year. The folders are kept in the box/bin according to when the student’s IEP is. This reeeeally helps if you’re worried about missing deadlines! Each month, you grab the bin for the following month and get started looking at student’s work samples, data, etc… and create the IEP. When you’re done with the bins, swap it for the following month!
3) In addition to activities, consider including data sheets, attendance forms, rubrics, parent/student info, and the student’s IEP at a glance.
While I definitely use these folders to store activities, they also store my student’s most important forms including data sheets and parent contact information. If I use a rubric or my cycles data collection sheet, I try to put them in a separate pocket or in the middle using a fastener. Read on to the question section below for a few links to my favorite forms!
4) Empty at least once a quarter.
I’ll talk more about homework in future posts but I don’t do homework for 90% of my caseload. Instead, I collect worksheets and work samples. Each quarter, my students go through their folders and remove old, completed work. I staple them together (sometimes I add a quick note), and send them home! Parents appreciate seeing what their students are doing and it barely adds any work for me! Win-win!
Emptying the folders frequently also prevents them from growing and growing until they burst. I learned this lesson the hard way my first year using student work folders! Oops!
5) Hand over ownership to your students.
If you use student work folders, have your students help set them up! I let my students write their name on them and draw a picture.
They are also responsible for getting their folders at the beginning of each session and putting it away before they leave. I’ve found that this is a predictable, structured way to start and end sessions.
6) Incorporate behavior management.
I don’t have a prize box anymore, but when working with younger students, I still hand out stickers for extraordinary effort 🙂 My students can pick from a variety of stickers and they use their folder to store them. I like to tell them that their families will be so proud to see how full their folder is at the end of the year!
7) Send home at the end of the year!
Get rid of them every year! If you do summer homework, fill them up and send them home. If not, send a quick note saying how much you enjoyed working with their child, take out any data/attendance forms, and send home!
8) Staple in plastic baggies to store cards.
Many of my students use cards for drill. I was struggling with how to store them until I realized that stapling in a plastic bag to the front of the folder works super well. Try it out if you’re struggling with card storage too! I send them home frequently so it doesn’t get too bulky or heavy.
What folders should I get? – Over the years, I’ve used a variety of folders for student work folders. I tend to like laminated (shiny) folders with fasteners on the inside. I use the fasteners to separate an attendance form and a data sheet for each student. Other options are plain paper folders and manilla file folders.
Manilla file folders are nice because you can fit a ton in a small space and you can label the tab with the student’s name. When I’ve used these for student folders, I am the only one who touches them (instead of handing over ownership to the student) because things fall out the sides and my students tend to make a big mess of them. I like stapling important forms to the front and back of the file folder for easy access (as shown in a picture earlier in the post).
What attendance and data sheets do you use? – This depends on the student. I like to keep things flexible! I almost always use the fabulous and free attendance forms from Natalie Snyders (shown above). I also like these simple data sheets from my store. In some of the pictures above, I showed data sheets from my cycles toolkit.
What if they get too full? – Because I plan pretty far in advance, I also like to combine this system with expandable file folders. I use the folders to store overflow papers and informal assessments for each student. I have one expandable file folder per grade. Not all of my students need this extra space but many do! If your folders are filling quickly, you could also try sending work home monthly!
What if I hate taking data in four different folders? – Seeing large groups can make data collection in folders pretty tricky. If this sounds like you, I’d recommend taking data on sticky address labels. Then, when you’re done, you can just stick them on the data sheet in each student’s folder. Voila – no flipping pages!
What folders and boxes do you use? – I purchased the white cardboard boxes shown above on Amazon. They are amazing! I purchase folders on sale during back to school sales, usually at Staples. I’ve also gotten these folders from Amazon. I got the stickers at Staples (you can see them online here) but or get them on Amazon. The clip labels (on the white boxes) were a gem found in the Target dollar section.
Note: The Amazon links above are affiliate links. If you decide to purchase through them, I may get a small referral fee, however I only ever share products that I’ve purchased and used! Promise!
Student work folders have been a lifesaver for me organization wise! I hope this post was helpful in giving you lots of ideas on how to use them effectively!
I’d LOVE to hear your ideas and how you use student folders! Share your thoughts below!
Thanks for reading and as always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions! <3
Do you love all things SLP?
Enter your email below to get the Speechy Musings newsletter. Once you sign up, you'll get instant access to an exclusive freebie library.