Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Good Teachers Do… Part IV

Good teachers are resourceful.

You have to be in order to use materials that best fit your classroom’s needs.

I worked in a classroom a few weeks ago that showed me a great idea for a simple tool:  file folders.

When the class went to centers, one group at a time was supposed to go to the “folders station.”  I’ve seen younger elementary classes have center activities contained on file folders, so I was interested to see what this one entailed.

This teacher did something really simple.  All she had were basic reading comprehension sheets, the kind from any workbook or teacher resource book, that were laminated on each side of the file folders (including the front and back).  Each folder had a different passage for the students to read and response activities.  But because they were working on laminated folders, they could use dry erase markers on the folder. 

I was intrigued!  I’ve noticed that even when you give students regular work, if you let them do something besides just writing with regular paper and pencil (such as typing, or writing with colored pens on fancy paper), they have a much better attitude about completing the task.

Sure enough, these little 2nd graders were happy to be doing their comprehension sheets because they got to use MARKERS.  And wipe off their responses with TISSUE.  Much more creative than printing the exact same sheets out and making them do them with pencils.  What’s more, the teacher only had to print one copy of each activity because, once students were done, they could just wipe off their answers and put the folder up for the next student to grab.  Saves paper and it’s much easier than having to collect copies from the whole class.  A little creativity comes in handy!

I thought the laminated file folder idea was so good, that I began to think of other potential uses.  Print puzzles and brainteasers on the file folders, laminate them and let students work on them whenever they have the extra time.  Print magazine articles on them so that students can read, write, take the “quizzes,” and doodle on the pages, and then use the same copies again and again since their markings are not permanent.  Math drills, center work, writing practice and a ton of other activities could be done with this method, and it could breathe new life into student motivation.