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Harbor High School in Santa Cruz, CA develops "Student-ness" by Implementing Organized Binder

Posted by 
Mitch Weathers
March 13, 2014



School: Harbor High School
 Santa Cruz City School District | California


Harbor High School is a public school located in Santa Cruz, CA that serves approximately 1000 students. Harbor first opening in 1967 and in recent years has experienced  significant changes resulting in a more diverse student body. Harbor's student demographic is largely White and Latino, both comprising approximately 50% of the overall student population.

In recent years Harbor has struggled to meet their API goals and piloted Organized Binder the 2013-2014 school year to develop in their students what the staff calls "Student-ness." March 12, 2014 Organized Binder trainers met with the staff to review the 2013-2014 implementation. We were overwhelmed by the progress Harbor has made! The teachers who took part in this pilot shared the following with us.

The school plans for a wider implementation for the 2014-2015 school year and we are excited to collaborate with them on this effort and are eager to see more amazing gains! Way to go Harbor High School and keep up the great work!


It has helped my struggling students to learn how to organize their binders and papers in each unit of study.  They are learning deadlines and taking responsibility for their work and grades.

I love Organized Binder! It helps me and my students stay organized. I find it efficient and effective.

The Organized Binder has been helpful in my classroom in making the structure of my class predictable and consistent for students.

It helps students understand there is a place for each paper we create in class. If they take time to actually put the papers in these sections of the binder, they are delighted to find them easily when they need to them!

The binder has allowed me and my class to follow a routine that is organized and neat.  Students can look back and see all their efforts, I can use the binder for quick collection of IEP goals, and in general, the students are learning what it is like to be very organized.

By now, my students know, if I give them a paper, it's important. When I mark my grade book, I reference the page number in their binder. It's easy for parents to find and easy for me to help explain to kids or show them in master binder. Loving the sections. Loving that students just know what we do and make sure I'm on it!

 I have really enjoyed and benefited from the Organized Binder. I honestly see nothing revolutionary about it, yet it has seemed amazingly powerful. Taking my students through final exams was seamless (so easy to assemble study packets without creating new paperwork BECAUSE THE STUDENTS HAD EVERYTHING). I love how we can clean out our binders as we start new units. Everything has a place! It gives not only importance to my work, but it validates the homework and assignments that my students complete. All for it!

Organized Binder has helped to structure my lesson planning.  It is a simple framework that ensures that I have all of the major elements as well as many of the minor details of each lesson in place.  For example, everything from the essential question to the classwork problems to the type of paper (lined or graph) students will need for their homework is contained in my master binder.  In preparing my master binder, I clarify what information and materials I will present to students—but more importantly—by maintaining a binder myself, I am better able to consider how information and materials are received by my students.  For instance, if I am clear about the order in which I will address several handouts (because they are numbered), I feel confident that my students will be, as well.

Organized Binder has kept me systematic and consistent and has implemented well-defined routines and systems that my students and I follow with little confusion.  My students have commented that they appreciate the predictability of the daily practices associated with Organized Binder.

Additionally, my master binder keeps a complete and detailed record of past activities and written work, which has been beneficial for many reasons.  I can easily look up what we did and when we did it, and students have access to this information in their own binders, as well. One of the best outcomes of Organized Binder is that when students are tardy, absent, or missing work, they are motivated to come in outside of class to update their binders.  Students are able to answer many of their own questions and are also held accountable for class work they have missed.

Also, students have given me feedback that—regardless of their opinion of Organized Binder—they are more organized in my class than in others and/or in previous years.  I believe this is because students are aware of the expectations and I make an effort to allow students the time and information necessary to be successful in maintaining their binders to meet those expectations.

Organized Binder has added value to the activities and materials of class.  It makes transparent that every handout, homework assignment, kick-off and learning log is intentional, and has a place in a larger context.  As a result, students are more conscientious about the quality and preservation of their work—which, I can imagine from their perspective, gives importance to their learning.

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