In my "dash 2" classes I always have a folder that students leave in the classroom with their handouts and unfinished work in. I also put work in these folders if the students are absent, and they check these folders as soon as they return to school. One of the first activities I do with my students to begin the new semester is use these "blank canvases" to get to know a little bit more about my students! I ask them to draw a caricature on it, and decorate it with symbols that relate to them. I then ask them to write a sentence or two explaining each symbol.
I get to know a bit about my students, see a small sample of writing, and they now have a personalized item in my class!