Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by the zillionth “no name” on a paper. You remind your kids time and time again, but time and time again, students still forget to write their name.
There are plenty of ideas out there for what to do with papers that are missing a name. I’ve seen Pinterest-worthy “No Name” displays with clothespins, for example, where students can go claim nameless papers. But if you’re looking to pro-actively eliminate (or at least dramatically reduce) the number of papers crowding those clothespins to begin with, here are some surefire tricks. These classroom management tactics will greatly cut down all the wasted time spent hunting down the owners (and minimize the number of papers you inevitably end up having to throw away).
1. Rhyme Time
Whenever you pass out an assignment, make it a habit to start out by having the kids chorally recite a quick chant, song, or rhyme. Here are a few examples:
My Personal Go-To:
Teacher: “The first thing you do is always the same.”
Students: “I pick up my pencil and write my name!”
To the tune of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”:
Teacher: “If you like it…”
Students: “Then you better put a name on it!”
To the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know it”
Teacher: The first thing you need to do is write your name.
Kids: Write my name!
Teacher: The first thing you need to do is write your name
Kids: Write my name!
Teacher: Mrs. ______ needs to know whose work this is, and so, please do not forget to write your name.
Kids: Write my name!
If you’re interested in alternative versions of the “If You’re Happy and You Know it” song that include reminders to write their student number and/or date next to their name, they come with my resource on TpT (I will share the link at the end of this post). The resource includes visuals that can be useful for teaching your students the chants. These can be displayed in the classroom to help the kids remember the words.
These catchy little rhymes not only do the trick, but the kids also enjoy saying them. After awhile, if you ever forget to have them do it at the beginning of a task, they will probably remind YOU!
2. “Name Check!”
After doing a chant at the beginning, a second line of defense is to have students check for their name one more time at the end before turning in their work. But how many times have you told students to check, and they still forget?
More accountability is involved if a student has to show it to someone else to prove that they did it. You can have a cue phrase, such as “Name Check!” where students know that they are going to need to show a partner that their name is on their paper. It’s even better if you have a physical movement to go with it. For example, students can hold up their paper off the desk, and point to where their name is to show their partner before they turn it in.
If your students sit in table groups, you could also assign someone at the table (i.e., a table captain) to be the designated “Name Checker” for their group any time work is being collected.
3. Highlight It!
The “Name Check!” system is great for when the whole class is turning something in at the same time, such as a whole group activity that you just finished together. But for those instances where students are turning in work at varying times at their own individual pace (writing assignments, math pages, etc.) it is helpful to have a routine in place that helps them remember to self-check for their name on their paper.
One simple way to do that is to keep a highlighter and a sign next to your “Turn It In Bin” or Finished Work basket. Get your students in the habit of highlighting their name before they turn in their work. It will help them realize if they forgot to write their name, and they’ll need to go back and add it before they can highlight it.
Want to go a step further and have students do a quick self-assessment of their learning? You could have different colors of highlighters next to your finished work bin, and each color can mean something specific.
This way, when you collect their work, you have a quick visual of who’s got it and who still needs additional support.
Do you have any of your own favorite strategies for battling the “No Name” epidemic? Feel free to share below (and don’t forget to include your name)! 😉