Folders & Pencils in the Elementary Music Class

Some music teachers take roll every time the class comes in. (As an elementary music teacher, I’m not required to take roll.) Some music teachers have the students bring folders and pencils every time they come to music. Nothing wrong with these. But I’m not one of those teachers. I’ll tell you why.

  • Reason #1: Limited time. I don’t want to spend 5 minutes of each 30-minute class taking roll or checking for folders and pencils.
  • Reason #2: If you require that students bring folders and/or pencils, you must have a consequence if they don’t bring them, right? And, then somehow you have to grade them if they are prepared for class or not. I would rather grade on performance, knowledge, and effort. I don’t want to grade their ability to be responsible (unless, of course, you are required to provide a “prepared for class” grade). However, I don’t like averaging together the “ability to bring folder and pencil” with the music grade.

There are a couple of organizational tools I use:

  • I provide the pencils and clipboards. I have 3 pencil cans and 3 bins of clipboards in different places in the room. Students get the pencils and clipboards that are closest to their seats. When we have written assessments, students scatter around the room.
  • I provide plain paper for formative assessments (lately I’ve gotten used to using clean-on-one-side paper that I scrounge from recycle bins).
  • I provide folders for the older kids. But, I don’t have 1 folder per student. What I use is 1 folder per riser (5 to 6 students). One student is the “team leader,” and passes out the papers inside. When we have papers that will be used more than one music day (recorder music or rhythm worksheets), students put their papers in the riser folder. It goes pretty quickly when 1 person per riser passes out and collects the papers. I choose one “folder person” per class to pass out and collect all folders. I do not expect students to bring papers back that have been brought home. (i.e. no homework)

Should I give my reasons for no homework?

  • Reason #1: I work with elementary students, and the majority of our time together is used making music, not learning about music. This needs to happen in the classroom, not at home.
  • Reason #2: Once the students leave my classroom, I cannot tell what the students are working on. Parents help some students, while other students don’t have that benefit. Not to mention, there are many parents who don’t know the musical information we are teaching!
  • Reason #3: You have to worry about whether students bring the homework back or not. The only time I require students to work on something at home is my Invented Instruments unit – and even then I provide time for students to work in class and come in at recess times to work with me. If students don’t get classwork done in time, I ask them to come in at recess to finish.

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2 thoughts on “Folders & Pencils in the Elementary Music Class”

  1. Brittany De Laruelle

    I am like you. I do not give homework and I do not require students to bring a pencil or folder to class. Instead, what I do is I have supplies students bring in the first day of music. (In 3rd grade they bring in a notebook that they use 3rd-5th grade) Some classes bring in tissues or pencils or dry erase markers. I then store ALL the supplies for them to use when we need them. I do this because at my school music has a REALLY tight budget, so there is less to buy, but I am still in charge of it.

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