How to Manage Incomplete Work


 
Let's talk incomplete work! No matter what grade or class you teach, or the age of your students, there will always be incomplete work to manage. Over the course of many years of teaching, I gathered and tried quite a few different things. I will share them with you but please comment and let me know what else you'd suggest for managing unfinished work!
Where to put the incomplete work
This tip was first shared in another blog post. I will give you the short version here, but if you want more details, please click here to read it! It was successful for me when I had desks in the classroom . All you need is gallon size plastic bags, packing tape, and a sharpie! Just take a large plastic bag and tape it with packing tape to the side of your students' desks. I wrote on the side "Incomplete Work" with a sharpie. Then you can see exactly what students need to complete.

A tip  - at first,  I tried taping it horizontally along the top of the gallon size plastic bag , but they sometimes fell so I added the less attractive vertical pieces of tape. It worked, though! It is also a cinch to just reach in, pull the papers out and right there at the desk, and review them with the student. If you don't want to tape, one of my colleagues does the same, but uses super strong magnets to attach the papers, without the plastic bag or the tape!
In my classroom, I use work bins to hold and manage student work. Mine  were labeled "Finished Work'', "Work that Needs to be Fixed"  and "Work that Has Been Fixed" If you use a system like this too, you could add an incomplete work bin or work that needs to be finished bin for students!
A first grade teacher that I work with uses a mailbox center for students' incomplete work! She puts them by the window and tells students "Put that in your window box". I actually use a similar system to this plastic mailbox center for classroom mail, but this is what you could use for incomplete work, too!

Last spring, I bought a resource called "Unfinished Work Parking Lot" from Teachers Pay Teachers. I didn't use it but it sure seemed like it would be helpful! You just need a hanging file holder (along with the hanging folders) . Check out the Unfinished Work Parking Lot resource here from Creatively Teaching First. 

Track Complete and Incomplete Work
As a teacher, how do you track complete and incomplete work? I have a few ideas that worked for myself and my second graders. First, I LOVE Laura Candler's Paper Drop System. I implemented it as is this first year but then I modified it for my second graders. She uses laminated manila envelopes, but my students had trouble sliding papers into folders, especially once a few were already in there. I started using two pocket folders like the one below. I also switched from her paper covers and began  just writing the assignment on a sticky note. I simply attached the checklists on the right with a stapler and would stack a few checklists so that once the top one was used, another would be ready to go.
                                              
Also, many teachers have used the clothespin strategy. I found a great explanation on 2nd Grade Stuff. Basically you keep clothespins with student names or numbers next to the work bin and when students turn in their work, they move their clothespins. Clothespins that haven't been moved means those kids haven't turned in their work. Check it out here!

I also downloaded and used the Ketchup and Pickles digital slide (free) from Pocketful of Primary on Teachers Pay Teachers and it was helpful last year. Ketchup is work that is unfinished so kids need to "catch up" and Pickles means "pick one" and it's a list of kids who are done with work. It's a great teacher management tool.  Here is how it might look like in action:
What is your favorite storage, organization, or management strategy for incomplete work? Let me know!

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