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Organizing Writing: How I Use Binders to Simplify Our Writing Block

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Organize Writing

Organization is an important part of writing instruction – both organizing ideas and papers. I run my writing classroom as if my students were authors. It’s important to me that they have the skills to organize their work in a way that makes it easy for them to find the resources and notes they’ve taken during the writing process.

As an author myself, I’ve struggled to keep my research and writing organized. Much of my writing was stored online, but I had notes on pieces of paper and sticky notes all over the place. It was a struggle. As a writing teacher, I’ve struggled daily with students who have lost some piece of their writing or notes.

Organizing Notes and Process

After years of playing with different options, we ended up using 1” writing binders, with tabs for each writing type, and one for grammar. It was still difficult for students to find things, especially towards the end of a unit, or with more than one essay of the writing type. This is where the table of contents for each section began.

This is a photograph of a table of contents in a binder to organize writing.


Binders take up a lot of space. In the beginning, I was worried about storage. However, I was able to fit all of the binders for my 34 students on two shelves. I customize the spines so that students can easily find their binder.

This is a photograph of binders, paper, and pencils on a shelf.

Using the Binders

We use the binders every. single. day. There is no exception! They bring their binders to our mini-lessons, conferences, and any writing opportunity. They don’t take them home, but they’re a staple in our classroom.

This is a photograph of a girl writing on top of a binder.


This is a photograph of students using binders to organize writing.

Watch this video to find out more about how I use the writing binders, and fill in the form at the top of the post to get the free binder printables!

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Written by
April Smith