(Originally posted 8/5/11)
Ay….the debate over notebooks and binders is about as long-winded as the debate over grading participation!!
In the last (almost) 30 years, I have tried it all..from detailed checks, grades and checklists, to nothing. My observation is this:
1. Think of your instruction first. What do students need to have their hands on IN CLASS and how do they get access to it?
Truth is…in most TPRS classrooms, there is very little need to refer to a notebook for most of the class.
2. Think of homework next. What do students need to have their hands on in order to do the homework and how do they get access to it?
That will depend on how you approach homework.
Other than those two questions, the binder has nothing to do with language acquisition.
Now….if you believe that is a teacher’s responsibility to help them with organization etc…then you have the professional freedom to incorporate that into your program!
What I am learning is this: It’s easy to be out of touch with how kids organize these days if you are not of the techie generation. (You are!! I’m not!!) Students keep track of things on Iphones and Blackberries, not the little books schools have been handing out for decades. Students and parents are always checking online to find out what assignments are and looking for papers that the kids didn’t bring home.
It might be a better use of teacher time (depending on your students) to post papers and assignments on line than to check and grade binders.
Truth be told…very little is kept in a “hard copy” anywhere these days so it’s possible that the keeping and grading of binders will soon be (if it isn’t already) ridiculously obsolete.
As teachers (and former star students) we LOVE binders and notebooks and collecting lists and stories and keeping them for years and years. Because we love that, we mistakenly believe that that helped us to be language learners.
So in my long-winded way….here is my suggestion:
Before school really kicks off, ask yourself how important is it FOR ACQUISITION for your students to keep a beautiful (or not) binder? And follow that answer to it’s logical conclusion.
If you believe that it is important, but the kids rarely seem to pull it off…then maybe some out-of-the-box solutions are required:
*smaller composition books for “Do Nows”, Vocab, Freewrites etc. kept in plastic dishpans from the dollar store in the back of the room.
*a shelf set aside for binder storage for students who would be better off with a copy at home and at school.
* Buddy binders where students share. (I have kids every year who ask someone else to carry the important things for them)
Whew…ok…that got long but there it is! Enjoy the days you have left and I wish you a great beginning of the year!!!
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