Monday, 10 May 2010

No more heavy bags and autonomous homework

Sometime last academic year I got really fed up with carrying around a bag full of surplus paper that I seemed to have accumulated. I thought for a moment about why this was happening. It certainly wasn't doing my back any good.

The bag was full of excess photocopies that had been squirrelled away in the belief that my students would want them. Once requested I would give them the missed classwork and they would happily catch up on what they missed. So something was going wrong - it was never being requested and I wasn't really finding the time to take the process too seriously.

It was at this point that I decided to create a space on the classroom wall where I attached 4 polypockets (stapled into the wall but only on the back part). I stuck a label on each polypocket and wrote the days of the week relevant to that class. At the end of the lesson I now put the excess handouts into the corresponding polypocket. Now my students come in and if they missed the previous class I just casually say to them "The class you missed is in yesterday's pocket" and smile to myself about how lightweight my bag is.

This autonomy became spontaneous after a bit of training but it led me to think of a similar approach for collecting homework as I  used to get upset about how I'd set homework and only a few students would give it back. I put another polypocket on the wall and labelled it 'homework'. I explained that students should place their homework in the pocket and that I would mark it. The number of students returning homework has increased as students become aware that some of their peers are receiving work that has been carefully marked and commented upon. Having the autonomy to choose to do homework helps students to take responsibility in their learning. They also benefit from the feedback of their tutor and this seems to keep them motivated to keep submitting work. Perhaps you have other tricks? Any comments welcome

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea! I have exactly the same problems you mention, Mike, about excess worksheets and students' homework.

    I wonder, with the groups you teach, do you always have the same room each day? Is it your room?

    I'd love to do the same thing, but the classrooms I use are used by different ESOL groups and also by other courses. We've got a number of base rooms, but a lot are shared by different subject areas. I'm thinking now how to go about doing something like what you have mentioned here...

    Cheers,

    Mike

    ReplyDelete

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