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Paranoid about amount of work in students books..

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by furious_h, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. Hi,

    I've been feeling kind of worried today because I've noticed that other class-teachers seem to get greater quantity of written work out of the students than I do. Since September it seems that some other teachers have got students with books that are about full! I wondered if this is generally seen as a poor reflection on the teacher?
  2. Subject? Age group? Primary or Secondary? Context pls., if you want feedback.
  3. Does the mere fact there's lots of work in their books actually prove they've learnt anything.
  4. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    No, it doesn't but at least they have something recorded if they want to learn it later, perhaps for a test.
    If little or nothing is recorded, you are relying on the learning that you established during and at the end of lesson being memorised long-term. It's not as if many pupils get a copy of a textbook to keep for reference and homework purposes all year, as we did in the 1960s and 1970s. I had a bilging schoolbag every day and kept a shelf of school textbooks at home, selecting (the night before) the ones I'd need for lessons.
    Writing information down is also a strategy for learning it hence why we (I) often write shopping lists but never need to look at them when in store!
  5. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Bulging, not bilging schoolbag!
  6. I think it stands to reason that experienced teachers will get more out of the children- it would be a bit weird if we were performing exactly the same as people who have done the job for years, had loads of INSET and observations and training etc.
  7. y9840125

    y9840125 Occasional commenter

    I don't think the amount of work in an exercise book determines the quality. Think carefully about what you want in the exercise book and why. Ask to see colleagues' exercise books to get a flavour of what their kids put in their books and then adapt what you do as a result if you think it is of benefit to the students.
  8. Ah context, sorry. I'm a Secondary English teacher. I'm referring to my GCSE Lit class with whom I'm studying An Inspector Calls. Its a fairly low ability class so I've been doing a lot of interactive things, presentations, kinaesthetic games, card sorts etc.

    Other teachers have probably had duller lessons (answering pageloads of questions) however they are more primed for the exam now than mine! Gah.
  9. I'm secondary maths so can't comment for English, but I don't think the quantity of work in a book reflects the quality/quantity of learning that took place.
    I often teach lessons where students don't write anything down because they're doing interactive tasks, using mini-whiteboards to answer questions, doing puzzles on worksheets etc. I let kids choose whether they want to keep their sheets and stick them in or throw them away - they are not going to get any practical use out of looking at a crossnumber they've completed, but the process they went through is what has caused them to learn the skill I intended. Some students like to keep everything they've written on, which is fair enough, but others don't care.
    To be honest if I observed a lesson and the book was full of work every lesson, I'd question whether there was a variety of activities taking place, so I wouldn't worry about your situation!
    Also - don't assume the other classes are better primed for the exam. The reason you're doing interactive tasks is because you think they have educational value, and so there's no reason why yours aren't just as well prepared. Yours may not have had as much practice writing, but they may have had more development in their thinking skills, and how to form a good argument or use particular words after they have had discussions rather than done lots of writing.
  10. Speaking from an early years point of view, process of learning could be argued to be more important than an end product. I don't understand the need for everything to be recorded, as long as your students are learning and progressing that is the most important thing in my eyes. You could use ICT to record discussions, debates etc providing it doesn't put them off of course.
  11. Different subject (Science), but same thoughts.

    I use group work a lot ('talk for learning' ) and there is a lot of practical work. I deliberately keep the amount of writing to a minimum in class - they show they can express their ideas and what they have learnt in homework tasks.

    So far (NQT completed last year) every time I have been observed (including OFSTED and a scrutiny of my books) there have been no complaints - good/good with outstanding features. The students are learning and their end of unit/year tests and exams have been good.

    Writing things down and practising expressing ideas in writing is of great value, but is is not the only way to learn.

    As long as you can see your students progressing you are doing the right thing for them. Don't compare to another classes - different children with different needs.
  12. Thankyou, this is encouraging advice. You're all kind on here
  13. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    Hi furious,
    I can understand entirely where you are coming from. Having marked my Y8 books this week it looks as if we have done nothing in 6 weeks. However, they have been doing group work, independant research and are now working on an assessed piece that is a booklet they have made so couldn't be in their books.

    As long as you can recognise the progress your class are making through activities by questioning them, even if it is just verbally, then you shouldn't worry. Though it is important to get them used to the format of exam questions and answers at some point.
  14. I completed my NQT year last year (primary), and work in a school which is driven by "evidence" of learning. My headteacher commented on lack of work in books once. I explained that we had done lots of practical work, group work, discussion, get-up-and-go activitiies.... but he insisted that every lesson needs written evidence in books - we even need to provide written evidence of mental/oral starters in maths and speaking and listening across the curriculum.
    I still plan the same sorts of lessons, because I know they work, and my Y6 SATS results lat year showed that they work. However, I type a little slip with the learning objective and sometimes a sentence or two about what we did. The children then self-assess against the objective by drawing a smiley face or colouring in a traffic light. It's not ideal, and it does mean we have to stop 5 minutes before the end of the lesson to stick things in, but it means I can teach in the way I know works for my pupils and keep the headteacher happy with his constant quest for recorded evidence of every breath taken.

  15. How ridiculous! Surely the planning and the progress the children make is evidence enough? What a total waste of time having to provide written evidence of practical activities, how does it benefit the children?
  16. I completely agree, and yes it is a waste of time, but it's quicker than getting to the children to write a couple of sentences about what they have done. My headteacher insists on it so I have no choice in the matter really.


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