Color Coded Classes


This post is a response to a comment to explain my system of using color to keep classes organized.

I have had my classes color coded for about 10 years.  I used to have 5 straight periods of Algebra 1 and I was forever getting them confused.  I know it sounds silly, but for some reason a color associated with the period number works for my brain to keep each class separate.

You can see that I don’t have a complete color set here at home, so orange sometimes becomes black or white, but at school, I have collected complete sets to use.  I always clip 1st class with a red, 2nd orange, 3rd yellow, 4th green, 5th blue.  With 6th classes, you could easily extend with purple.  When I grab a set of papers, I know immediately which class is in hand.


On my desk, I have a file for each class that I can quickly add items to, whether they need to be filed, taken to office, they are placed in the class folder to-do later.


If you can see the color dots on left sides of the black trays.  Students are asked either to place work on top shelf and I move to their class tray when the next class arrives OR they are asked to turn-in to their class tray.  If they have something late to turn in, they learn quickly it goes in the tray, not in my hand OR on my desk because it could get lost.


In the hanging filetastics, I have a “While You Were Out” Folder. Anything I passed back or handed out when a student is absent, I place it in the corresponding folder.  They know this is the first place they are to look when returning to class the next day.  It keeps their items off my desk.


This year, I will have clear wall file pockets, again, color-coded for my while you were out.


I use index cards with student names to ‘randomly’ call on students.  Again, each class has their own color.  If I use white cards, names are written in the class color.  I have each group clipped, hanging in an easy access spot in the front of my room.  I like the cards, as opposed to popsicle sticks, personally, because I can jot notes down if needed for follow up with the students.


I like using highlighters, color pens to mark papers/offer feedback as well.  Obviously yellow isn’t a great choice, but the others work well.

Hope this explains my system.  Any other ideas you can offer will be greatly appreciated.

Pam Wilson, NBCT
Currently Reading
5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions, Smith & Stein
Teach Like  a Pirate, Dave Burgess
From Ashes to Honor, Loree Lough

7 responses »

  1. I love the coloring coding. It totally feeds the inner organizer in me! I’ve always done color coded folders, but maybe I need to expand that coordination!

    • Not sure if it was algebrainiac or msrubinteach but one of them places color tape on spine of INB, so they know which class it belongs to, thinking i may just use color dot stickers to do this too

  2. I also color code everything! I have folders for turning work in (and work I’m grading, and work I still need to enter, and work to pass back), grades are mounted on that color paper. I use sticks as well, and those are multicolor (because I reuse duplicate names from year to year), but the cups they go in match the class.

    I haven’t used colored clips though–an Office Depot visit is in my future now!

  3. Our adminstration placed our freshman team on a rotating schedule two years ago, meeting with students 3 out of every 4 days. It looks horrifying on paper and we were all trying to figure out how to talk about “2nd block, 3rd, 4th, etc.” when the order of our day was going to change daily. I made the suggestion to our team to have red, orange, yellow and blue (we already have green and white days at our school, alternating block schedule). It has worked so well having the classes color coded – no one else in the school knows what the 8 of us are talking about when we talk about our Red period, but it’s been a lifesaver for us! I color coded my in/out folders last year and it worked so well for me. I could see at a glance what went with each class and didn’t have to read any labels.

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