When my class was out of control, I didn’t get much work out of my students. I was wasting so much time on power struggles, warnings, arguments, and waiting for the class to be quiet that there wasn’t much time left for class work.
Once I got my class under control, I started to have another problem – how to keep up with all the work my students were turning in! Maybe you’ve been there, too – you give your students a few assignments, and suddenly, you have a huge pile of papers to sort, grade, and record. It looks like hours and hours worth of work, and your weekend is looking like another boring round of sitting on the couch, watching TV and trying to get through it all.
One way to cut through the clutter and possibly reclaim at least some or your weekend from the Paper Mountain of Doom is to have your students work in spiral notebooks or lab books.
For elementary classrooms, I recommend a different color notebook for each subject, say one for writing, one for math, and one for science or social studies. For secondary, you can have one color of notebook for each period of the day. That way you can tell at a glance what the notebooks are, and you don’t have to spend lots of time sorting all that paperwork out.
Kids can copy assignments off the document camera or board, or out of workbooks. If the students are too young to do that, or if you need worksheets with lots of detail that would take forever to copy, the students can glue the worksheets into the spiral binders.
When you want to check work for completeness (but not for correctness) have the students open their spirals or lab books to the correct page and lay them flat on their desks. You can do this for homework at the beginning of the day, or at the end of the period as a dismissal procedure. The teacher, an instructional assistant, a parent volunteer, or student volunteer can go around and check for completeness while the students are occupied with the next activity, such as a reading assignment, small group discussion, or lab.
To check work for correctness, collect the notebooks from a quarter of your students every day, Monday through Thursday. Have the students stack the notebooks in a pile on your desk, open to the first unchecked assignment. Then between classes, or when you have 5 minutes here or there, check one, make corrections to it, and close it up. You’ll be surprised how many notebooks you can get done if you don’t have to get them out at put them away every time you want to work on them.
Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStrategies.com