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Instructional Practice

Foldables! How to Fold Your Way to Student Achievement

Written by Jaclyn McCormick, Teaching Excellence Instructional Coach

Confession: I used to hate foldables. I thought they were cute art projects and a waste of instructional time. I am embarrassed to admit it now, but I was definitely the teacher who just pulled a few kids with good hand writing and told them to make a foldable so I had something to hang on my bulletin board.

Now I am a foldables addict! Thanks to a Dinah Zike ( and some very knowledgeable TE instructional coaches, I now see an opportunity for foldables in just about every lesson I observe. I am truly a foldables fanatic. What I have learned since joining Teaching Excellence is a few key facts that have helped me see the instructional use of foldables in a classroom:

  1. Purpose not perfection: The purpose of foldables is NOT to create a bulletin board worthy art project. The purpose of foldables is to help students organize and process the information in your lesson. Therefore, foldables do not need to be perfect. They don’t have to be made by only students who can fold and cut neatly and write in nice, straight lines. They help all students process information regardless of how the end product looks.
  2. Foldables are for Friends: Part of my former hatred towards foldables sprang from the fact that I always had one or two student who simply just did not get it or “accidently” cut their foldable in half ruining it. Then I realized, the point of the lesson isn’t to make the foldable it is to learn the information we are going to put in the foldable. I realized I needed to encourage students to help each other. If someone was taking a little too long or didn’t understand the folding and cutting directions, its ok! I can just help or another student can help and make it for them.
  3. Foldables are Fixable: Miss, I have 6 boxes instead of 8! Miss I folded it hamburger style instead of hotdog style. Foldable mishaps used to drive me crazy in the classroom. Light bulb! Since these are not art projects and instead are instructional tools- foldables are fixable! We can refold it, if there are a few extra creases or its going a different direction, it is ok!

These are a few mantras I recommend teaching your class to ease the foldables making process. Teach students to say these to each other so when somebody is on the verge of a breakdown because they cut their foldable in the wrong spot, their classmate can just say “foldables are fixable” and help them to make it work.

Below are 3 of my favorite foldables and some ways I have seen them used effectively in the classrooms I observe:

What is your favorite foldable? Share below and tell us how you use foldables in your classroom or school.


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