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Too many worksheets and too much printing!

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by SumayyaI, Sep 5, 2016.

  1. SumayyaI

    SumayyaI New commenter

    Hi all,

    I am a Secondary English NQT, I've just finished my first day and I'm in need of some advice about designing lessons efficiently.

    I tend to use too many worksheets during my lessons! In turn, this means a lot of time designing the handouts and then printing. All students have exercise books, but I never seem to have activity ideas which do not require some sort of print-out. I'm sure I am missing a trick here though, because I have seen a lot of teachers teach FAB lessons without a single print-out. Moreover, I don't think students appreciate the fuss of having so many handouts falling out of their books either.

    What tips and tricks can you give me?

    Thank you!
  2. g2016

    g2016 New commenter

    With regard to the sheets falling out, can you not trim them, so they can stick them in on one page and then complete the task on the next page? You could do something with Powerpoint, think of a task that can go up on the board so you don't have to print. Those are the only two that come to mind right now, but I'm sure there'll be more experienced teachers with much better advice :)
  3. SumayyaI

    SumayyaI New commenter

    I do use PowerPoint but then I still use worksheets because I fear it's too much time spent 'copying' off the board and some wouldn't be able to even get onto the real task if that is what they were asked to do. I do trim and stick, but even then... It's just a lot of printing to be organised beforehand. A colleague did say that this is a typical NQT habit!
    Teaching_Tricks likes this.
  4. Teaching_Tricks

    Teaching_Tricks Occasional commenter

    That it is... you have used a lot as a trainee as well I would guess...
  5. Teaching_Tricks

    Teaching_Tricks Occasional commenter

    OK... Planning lessons....
    1. What do you want the students to leave knowing that they didn't know when they came in?
    2. How can you most effectively teach them this?
    3. What are your worksheets for?
      • Can this be done another way?
      • Are they short closed tasks?
      • How will they be marked?
      • What is the point of them?
      • Is it a worksheet you can write instructions on, the students do the task and you use the sheet again
      • Have a look in the TES resources for things that are similar...
    4. Can you put a task on the board for them to do, make it open ended?
    5. What is the "hook" that you are engaging the students with?
    Start with your outcomes and work backwards.... this is what I want them to know... this is how I am going to do it.

    It might be worth popping a post in the English section of the forum to ask for subject specific advice. I'm a scientist... but after 20+yrs, I do still use some worksheets... but I take them from the scheme or TES... I rarely create my own - as to be honest someone else has probably already invented the wheel I am after. If not I find something close and adapt it.
    snail_friendly and pepper5 like this.
  6. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    I don't get why there is lots of copying off the board before they get to the "real" task. Just skip to the real task.

    Have you considered using textbooks?

    I'm an English teacher. I rarely print "worksheets" for pupils to write on - happy to help if you give more information.
  7. SumayyaI

    SumayyaI New commenter

    We don't use textbooks at all at school - the students hate it! Well, let's say that the task is to find the subject and verb in a sentence - I would want them to have the sentence in front of them on a worksheet so that they don't spend ages writing the sentence out (copying from the board) before actually getting to identifying the subject and verb. Also, this way, they are able to have notes to refer back to.

    How do you usually set up the main activities then?

    Thank you.
  8. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    After the initial example, why do they need the sentence in their book. Can they not just pick out the required answer and write that down.
    Regarding notes to refer back to, hardly any young people do that. Approaching an exam the school will flog them all revision guides anyhow.
    Its odd how we now despise text books written by experts in the field, often replacing them with a google search or whatever we can cobble together in limited time.
  9. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    On my PGCE we were encouraged to come up with our own materials...all very well when one has plenty of time, but not always possible in the real world. One of the teachers on my main placement was very keen on text books as a fall back option, especially for a topic about which we were less secure.

    Text books are there to help. Like the internet, they are a tool that can be used to supplement what we can come up with.
    guinnesspuss and stupot101 like this.
  10. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    that's a very reasonable position, sounds pretty much like where i was when i finished my B.Ed. The biggest source of advice will be the other teachers in your presumably large department, lean on their support and knowledge of the resources in your department.
  11. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Students should not be expected ' to copy ' - low level task and time wasting. It's not good practice . Not at all useful for those who struggle with hand / eye coordination / SpLD. Pre printed sheets / homework tasks make sense in this instance BUT this does not mean death by worksheet.
  12. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Have the sentences up on the wall. Pupils just write down the verbs in one list and the subjects in another. (Don't think "Oh it would be lovely yo get them to use colour, one for each. It really wouldn't be worth the faff!)

    They will never, ever refer back to notes. It is a waste of time you making them.

    Also I imagine you spend hours adding pictures and lovely bits and bobs to the sheets. You probably have the best looking sheets in the dept. The pupils don't care...skip all the art and primping and just cut to the chase.
  13. Thejumpingjew

    Thejumpingjew New commenter

    We are under an immense printing embargo too .. I am a 13 year experienced Science teacher and I unashamedly will say that I do make pupils write down facts and definitions (They do refer back to their books regularly and better my notes that make sense than internet garbage) .... However the mainstay of my teaching methodology is questioning .... getting them thinking and coming up with their own ideas first ... then they do record how it really is and compare their thoughts to reality ... obviously a couple of 4 marker exam style questions thrown in each lesson.

    But ......

    In the end it is all about finding the best method for the pupils in front of you .... do not get het up on what others in school or on here say .... try different things and find what works for you and them .... nothing else matters ... it takes time to find your method ... use the next few years as opportunities to explore different teaching methods and find what works best for you...
    laltorbay likes this.
  14. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    For the activity you describe, I would use a passage from a novel we're reading and ask them merely to write the subject and verb in their jotter. I would probably get them to write out one whole sentence first as an example but the practice/consolidation doesn't need the whole sentence each time. Or I would model the concept on the IWB, get them to look at a piece of their own writing and give them two highlighters, one for subject, one for verb.

    To be honest, I don't do a lot of stand alone grammar work which might require a worksheet. If I want to teach a specific concept, I will pull examples from the texts they are studying or their own work and display them on the IWB and discuss and annotate as a class why they are good/inaccurate/could be improved by...

    I do print out model exemplars of writing - one example for a pair or three so it's not a whole class set - and then get them to annotate the exemplar with the success criteria we've set. The targets might be effective word choice, effective linking between paragraphs, use of emotive language etc. and they have to highlight examples and explain why they are effective.

    Having said all that, unless a class has lots of pupils who struggle with writing for specific reasons, a bit of copying off the board doesn't hurt. In some ways it's a low level task but it helps embed the basics of capital letters, full stops, thinking where punctuation goes.
    DYNAMO67 and guinnesspuss like this.
  15. SumayyaI

    SumayyaI New commenter

    Hmm... I guess it's just me being optimistic that they WILL refer back to them at some point.

    Your point about textbooks made me laugh. That is very true. You've made me rethink the idea of textbooks now - I might just spend some time flicking through some of them rather than dismiss them completely.

    Thank you!
  16. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    Why should they prefer worksheets to textbooks?
    I get they might prefer 'active' learning to sitting and writing out what the verb was in q3...
    For a long time, text books were preferred. Correct facts, one organised book, no printing, easy revision-trouble is, a few teachers used to effectively let the books teach.
    Then came worksheets-fine if specially designed for a group, but often became a poor man's text book.
    And then VLEs with ppts-great if used with good teachers who constantly updated and differentiated, used along with active learning-but they often weren't.
    guinnesspuss and Flere-Imsaho like this.
  17. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    I think it depends. The dept goes crazy about using worksheets for KS3 - it's a must! High ability sets at KS4 don't use that many worksheets to that of low ability KS4 because the former can take the vast amount of information that's on the ppt and make it their own in their exercise books. Whereas low ability, they need guidance from worksheets.

    I never used to use worksheets at KS5 but since the new A-levels, year 12 books have been filled with them!

    Ask your HoD to get a bigger budget for paper and worksheets. I requested this to my LM and got it without a doubt.
  18. eleanorms

    eleanorms Occasional commenter

    Admittedly I'm speaking from a primary perspective and don't want to lecture on subjects for which I have little experience. But in Year 6 the last thing we want to do is base grammar on written teacher examples, we want pupils to constantly generate their own language. I would get them to write a sentence then underline the subject and verb which they have written. And I usually have lower ability. Worksheets tend to make my children sloppy and scruffy!
    guinnesspuss likes this.
  19. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Oh dear.
  20. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Consider highlighters ( and avoiding split infinitives - ha ! )

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