September 01, 2014

How to Stop Spending Valuable Time in front of the Photocopier

Oh that photocopier!  Between waiting in line to copy, paper jams, empty toners, handing out copies in class, limited paper budget, loose papers and time spent looking on the internet or through worksheet books, I realized that that darn photocopier was taking up valuable planning, teaching and learning time. Let's face it, I also had a life beyond school and wanted to make the best use of my time. 

So a few years ago, I vowed to re-think every single photocopy I wanted to make. Making the change from daily photocopying to one or two class sets per week has opened planning time for me and learning for children. It was one of the best changes I made in my teaching practice and I will never go back! 

Here's how and why I did it:

  •   The only binders used in class were to organize homework and for music. Having no binders forced me to cut down on photocopies right away.

  •  Children used notebooks. The odd photocopy was glued into their notebook (map or self-assessment). Notebooks allowed children to keep themselves more easily organized.

  •  I realized that a worksheet being 'cute' was not a priority. There's nothing wrong with 'cute' but, I realized that children were much more proud of their work when they organized a blank page themselves.

  •  I wanted to move children away from spending learning time on coloring the worksheet and on actual learning. Children are amazing to observe as the carefully plan out their own  blank page.

  •  I did not want to take away worksheets to replace it with 'note taking' - yuck - but that 's another blog...

When making my decision to photocopy, I ask myself the following questions:

What EXACTLY do I want children to learn? 

Example:  When teaching inferring, I wanted children to demonstrate they had used evidence from the text to support their inference.

What does the worksheet look like?

Example: A three column graphic organizer with the headings: Background Knowledge/Evidence/Inference.

Which part of this worksheet narrows into this learning?

Example: Evidence and the inference.

Can this part be easily and efficiently be reproduced by children?

Example: Yes, children of this age can quickly draw a two column note chart in their notebook or decide how to organize this themselves.

Is there another way to use this worksheet other than photocopying one for each child?

Example:  Yes, create an anchor chart with examples of inferring graphic organizers.

Can I use this worksheet as a teacher support rather than a student worksheet?

Example:  Yes, I can use it as my guide when drawing this graphic organizer on my anchor chart.

Will this new method improve teaching and learning?

Example: Yes, if I draw a few different inferring graphic organizers on this chart, children will learn to choose the best graphic organizer for their own needs.  If I always hand them the best graphic organizer, they will never learn to choose the best one for themselves.

Types of Worksheets I No Longer Use         What I Replaced the Worksheet With

-grammar and punctuation                          -content based morning message

-spelling                                                    -word wall activities/words from
                                                                  children's writing

-cloze worksheets                                       -shared reading

-graphic organizers                                    -anchor chart displaying types 

-reading comprehension passages               -shared reading and reading
 questions                                                   response

Photocopies I still make:

- letters home to parents
-explanation of homework assignments

It has been a few years since my near elimination of photocopying and I couldn't be happier with my decision.  Now that I have learned how to replace worksheets with more valuable learning opportunities, it  all just became part of my routine.  I no longer had to deal with photocopier and I have much more time to spend observing learning and planning!!!!

For No-Nonsense Teaching ideas:

1 comment:

Teaching Autism said...

This is such a great blog post! I love how you have included what you have swapped your worksheets to as well! :)

Teaching Autism

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