Tips for Returning Work and Distributing Classroom Materials

After checking student independent practice (see previous post, “Tips for Checking Student Work“), you’re ready to return graded papers, assignments, and/or distribute additional learning materials. But how do you do so in the most efficient and least cumbersome way?

Returning Work
There are several ways that work can be returned to students without making it a time of turmoil in the classroom. One way is to use student mailboxes. Corrected work, notes to parents, and other kinds of communications are sorted into the student mailboxes much the same as the post office does to post boxes. Student helpers can distribute the papers. Organizing the mailboxes in a way that makes it simple to find a particular student is the key to success here.

If you prefer, student work can be returned during sharing time. If the class meets on a rug for sharing, the students returning work can then easily put the work out on the desks. This reduces a lot of the confusion that might otherwise occur during the time when work is returned. After sharing, students simply go to their desks to put their returned papers into their notebooks or backpacks to take home.

An added bonus for having students pass out corrected work is that students have a reason to learn how to read each other’s names. At the beginning of a new class, it becomes an honor to be the first to be able to read all the names in the class. The students who need help merely show the paper to someone who reads it for them.

Stor-it file folders help keep loose materials secure.

Distributing Materials
One thing that helps the class run more smoothly is to have a plan for passing out papers, books, or other materials that are needed to complete assignments. Without a plan in mind, passing out learning materials can take up precious learning and teaching time. A lesson can really be sidetracked as the students become restless while waiting to get started between instruction and guided practice. Save yourself the hassel and have a plan or set-up prepared.

Here are several ways to get materials to students quickly, efficiently, and with the least amount of disruption:

  • If students sit in teams, rows, or table groups, one student can be the paper or supply monitor and be responsible for getting the materials and then distributing them to the others at his or her assigned area.
  • Teachers can have materials ready in folders for each row, table etc. The folders can be distributed before the lesson or as they are needed. (Parent volunteers or a classroom aide can prepare the folders.)
  • Paint pails with handles (supply tubs) are especially useful when there are materials or supplies that students need in addition to paper. Before the lesson, the teacher or student helper can put the necessary equipment inside a pail for students in a row, table, or team. Then, the teacher can locate the supply tub for easy access when needed. This method is especially helpful when using manipulative materials. For example, supply tubs will work well for a science lesson in which hand lenses, rocks, and recording sheets are needed. When it is time to use the manipulatives, it will only take seconds to distribute them.

Got a method you use to distribute materials that wasn’t mentioned? Share it in our comment roll!

2 thoughts on “Tips for Returning Work and Distributing Classroom Materials”

  1. Dorit Sasson

    there are so many useful practical tips that I have used as a new and seasoned teacher – this is just wonderful to be reminded by all the good stuff.

    For passing worksheets, I simply have the mantra “take one, pass it back” to the head of each row. The students get used to this system and some even repeat it.

    As for returning papers, it depends on what work I’m returning. My students need the reassurance that others won’t look at their stuff so I use the more traditional method of “calling out their names and hand out” system, which works well for me. If it works for me, I stick to it.

    Thanks for the tips. I would love to add your resource in my next mini resource section “Tips on the Go” Is it okay if I do?


    Dorit Sasson
    “Helping You Become a Successful and Confident Classroom Teacher”
    The New Teacher Resource Center

  2. TC Bear Post Author

    Great tips, Dorit.

    Yes, feel free to add us as a resource for your “Tips on the Go” section. Sounds like a great idea; we’ll keep posted on it. 😀

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