How many times have you heard a student say “But I turned that in already; you must have lost it!” (Never? You must be lucky!) By creating a streamlined path from student to you, you eliminate the confusion of missing work, and excuses.
Create a system that works for you. For me, the best thing was three separate folders (although you could just as easily use trays or bins): To grade, graded, and entered. Separate, and then you know exactly where things belong at a given time. Once items are graded and entered, they are ready to be filed away…
Establishing a go-to place for students to pick up their assignments makes life easier for everyone. You save valuable instruction time by allowing them one time per week to grab their papers from their own personal file, and students don’t have to battle each other to get to their papers, or feel embarrassed when comparing grades after a particularly hard test gets handed back.
One great strategy for less paper stress in your classroom is a class blog. It requires training students to go there regularly, and to remember where to find things. But once you make that initial investment, students will know just where to go when they were missing from class, or somehow lost the handout you gave in class. Simply upload any and all handouts you give to students, and they are free to download and print their own. (Obviously this works best with older students–upper elementary or high school; although if parents are aware of this resources, they can help even small students access your class website.)