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Using Booklets as a Teaching and Learning Tool

Updated: Aug 4

2020 has been a year of uncertainty and change and has definitely meant that many of us have had to adapt to new styles of teaching and ways of delivering lessons. Apart from the obvious new platforms I have learned to use (Zoom/MS Teams etc), one of the most useful additions to my repertoire has been booklets.

I am sorry to admit that after 14 years of teaching, this is the first time I have used them, but I will never look back! I have now created and used several different kinds of booklets and have found them useful for both online and face to face teaching. I thought I would share the way in which I create and use booklets for any of you out there who would like to incorporate these into your lessons or would just like to see examples of how others have used them.

Types and Uses

I don’t always use the same type of booklet and what I do use depends on the age group, the type of scheme of work and also how much preparation time I have. At the moment I use two different types of booklet: full and partial.


o Full Booklet: the aim of this type of booklet is to fully replace exercise books. This means preparing the full booklet before teaching so requires quite a lot of time and planning on the part of the teacher. I used this with a KS4 SoW for ‘The Crucible’, however it actually wasn’t my original plan. I was deliberating how to teach context, as this play in particular requires that pupils have knowledge of context from different periods in history. I was worried about both overwhelming pupils with too much information and underpreparing them. In addition, I was having a slight meltdown as I flipped from using independent pupil research; teacher talk, YouTube and various websites as a means of delivering contextual information. In the end, I brainstormed all of the contextual areas I needed to cover and then proceeded to stare at this for several minutes! I decided to collate the information myself and then deliver this as a notetaking and summary activity. However, by the time I was finished I had quite a lot of pages that would need printing and I was worried about them getting lost. Thus, the booklet idea was sown…and grew. This booklet covers EVERYTHING and actually made me feel much more confident in my planning and much happier about what I would be delivering to pupils. I was also able to see what I had missed out or what was unnecessary as I was going along. Therefore, the final product was much tidier and concise than if I were to plan week by week as I teach. This booklet includes course information; marking criteria; assessment objectives; information needed to engage with the play; starters and plenaries; in class tasks; homework tasks; assessment style activities; assessment guidance and success criteria; essay writing guidance and self-reflection and progress tracking tasks.


o Partial booklet: this version of the booklet is one that I have used for KS3, KS4 and KS5 and at the moment most of my SoW have some form of partial booklet attached. Again, this is so I can organise the information pupils require into a neat and accessible format but also because I always have next year’s revision in mind so am constantly trying to ensure that certain tasks/information do not get lost. The partial booklets differ depending on the needs of the pupils and the type of unit I am teaching. For example, the KS4 IGCSE language booklet consists of skills that scaffold and support the writing skills needed and work through various areas such as using vocabulary or structuring writing. Whereas the KS5 ‘A Doll’s House’ booklet focuses on how to analyse symbols, themes and character and is used as an end of unit task to consolidate learning. When planning the partial booklets, I like to think ahead to any work that either requires pupils to take in and engage with information, practise skills or retrieve information.


o With or without a PPT: you may choose to use the booklet as a standalone resource or pair it with a PPT. I have used both of these and at the moment my full booklet is the only one that is fully paired with my PPT. This is because I am a fan of PPTs, even if it is just a reminder for pupils of the task details or timing. However, I don’t think it is a requirement and this is all down to the preference of the teacher. I could definitely teach my full booklet without a PPT but my preference is to still have my PPT alongside : )


Pairing the booklet with a PPT

o I use my booklets in two different ways: some are used alongside teaching and some are used a post-reading task. The post-reading booklets are used as a way of consolidating and re-visiting information or as revision.


How to plan for using a booklet with your classes.

This is extremely important and planning for using either a full or partial booklet does take a lot of time. I don’t think it takes considerably longer than planning tasks throughout a SoW, however the time is all upfront which means a different way of working for some of us.


o The needs of your class:

§ Some classes will require more structure and organisation which is where booklets are particularly useful.

§ Pace – booklets can help with pace and ensure all pupils are progressing steadily. However please remember to add extension tasks so pupils have options if they finish a task or want to push themselves further.

§ Booklets also give pupils the opportunity to revisit previous work or even catch up if they have missed any lessons. If a booklet is clear and the instructions are detailed, pupils should be able to catch up at home if they have missed a lesson for any reason.

§ Cover! Booklets can make setting cover so much easier if, as mentioned above, instructions are clear and tasks are easy to follow.


o The requirements of the unit of work:

§ Will you be printing a lot of paper? If so, it might be easier to create a booklet. For example, after printing a class set of short stories for my KS3 class…and re-printing as they predictably ‘misplaced them’, I decided to print all of the short stories up front with accompanying tasks and assessment opportunities (partial booklet).

§ Will your class need this for revision later on? After 14 years I am yet to solve the problem of my Y11s losing everything we did in Year 10…until now. My Year 10s work in their booklet which is closely guarded and placed in my filing cabinet for safe keeping over the summer.

§ Do you want pupils to be able to set targets and make improvements? Booklets are a great way of being able to see progress as pupils advance through a unit of work and can be used throughout the year regardless of whether or not you have moved onto the next unit.


o Timing:

§ This does take a lot of planning, but I can definitely say it is worth it. As mentioned previously, this requires more pre-planning. I found that I needed at least 3 weeks to fully plan the booklet before I taught the unit but once the teaching started, I was freed up from the time spent planning and could use this time for marking.

§ You should spend time thinking ahead and looking at your school calendar. You need to consider: how long you want the unit to last; how many assessments need to be built in; any data drops and how you will use the booklets to generate your own data; the different types of task you want to incorporate.

§ If you choose to pair the booklet with a PPT then you will be doing slightly more planning. I wouldn’t say the planning is double though and I feel that I spent less time planning the PPT if I used a booklet alongside it.


Advantages

o Everything is in one place and pupils can easily see how they are progressing through the unit.

o Once you begin teaching, your time is freed up to attend to other tasks.

o Great for revision!

o Information and tasks are organised and structured.

o It is easy to cross reference and refer back to previous notes/tasks.

o Using the booklet means you can strip everything else back.

o It can be used year after year so only needs to be planned once (and maybe tweaked in between).

o It is less likely to be ‘misplaced’.

o It can be used electronically as well as in paper format.

o It can aid online learning.

o It is an easy way to ensure pupils who have missed lessons do not miss out on learning.

o Less work for you when setting cover or catch up work.

o It can be used for any age range and any subject.


Disadvantages

o The main disadvantage for me was having to think of everything ahead of time. I obviously do this anyway but am used to being able to work with a skeleton plan and flesh it out as I teach. Using a booklet required a lot of pre-planning and thinking on my part. However, I actually think this made my unit much better to teach. By forcing myself to map out the unit; skills; assessment objectives; types of task and deadlines, I felt more prepared and am confident that my booklet aided unit is the most detailed and thorough of all of my other SoW.

o It is difficult to add extra activities in if you are using a full booklet as you will already have printed this off at the start of the unit. However, I countered this by adding supplementary pages at the back and then used the PPT as a way of delivering additional activity information.

o Paper use. If you are using a full booklet try not to then waste paper by also using an exercise book.


Advice

o Work as a team. Share the planning with others in your Department and work together to create a list of everything that should be included in each booklet. If you can standardise this process, it makes it much easier for teachers to plan but also enables pupils to engage with them on more than one unit.

o Give yourself time to plan.

o Map out every aspect of the unit before you begin.

o Start small if you are unsure and incorporate a partial booklet.


Happy booklet making!

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