When I first arrived at this school, piled up in the bookcase were huge piles of student workbooks from the previous year’s teacher – most of which had been barely been used. I then repeated this pattern myself for the next few years!! I always felt uncomfortable at the end of each year sending the books home. If the books were not full of book work, did parents assume students had not done anything? Would I and/or my program be judged if student work was untidy or unmarked or if there were incomplete tasks? After a few years of this dilemma, I trialed ordering students a folder each instead of a lined book. At the end of that first year, instead of sending student work home, students took out all their work sheets, and put them together in the back sleeve of their folder with a back sheet stating their year level and the calendar year on one side and their front cover in the other. We discovered early the following year, that it was best to staple this together to prevent pages falling out mid lesson and also so that work doesn’t get mixed up from year to year. I have been doing this for nearly 10 years now, and over the last few years, it has been lovely handing the folders to my graduating year 7’s as it contained work from each and every year they have been here at PEPS.
Each year, we begin the program with a front cover for their folder. This front cover has many uses but the main one is to ensure quick and smooth distribution during lessons, therefore their names must be bold and eye catching! When I taught thematically, there would be 4 boxes on the front cover, each one representing the 4 terms in our school year. In each box there would be either an illustration for each term’s theme or it would be blank for the student to draw their own picture inside it. At the end of the year, this front cover is stapled strategically facing the back cover, so that reorganising the folders at the start of each year is made slightly easier.
Since beginning with TCI/TPRS, our front covers has changed significantly and the main reason for this is that week one of each term is the best week!! It is the week when students are most settled, most cooperative and most are absolutely delighted to be back at school so it seems absolutely crazy to spend that week colouring in!! Now, the front cover is only done in the first week of the year and it helps me to gain greater insight into my students likes and dislikes which hopefully strengthens our student/teacher relationships.
My first cover in 2015, was based on the expectations of students in the Indonesian classroom and was a great way to introduce Teaching Proficiency Through Storytelling to students. Last year, after discussions with Sharon & Annie, We all used the front covers to collect information about students that could be used in class stories. Unfortunately my design was too ambitious and was only completed fully by a few classes. As the week progressed, each class’s front cover was tweaked more and more so that for those classes that only had that one Indonesian lesson that week, the cover could be completed in a single lesson and didn’t run into week 2!
This year, I plan to have another go with a basic interview styled front cover, but with the option for slower students to write their information instead of only being able to illustrate it!! Hopefully that will reduce the amount of time needed for completion! Here are the front cover drafts I’ve created so far: