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Workbooks/Kits/Centers

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Workbooks have often been criticized for being a mish-mash of lessons. A spelling workbook, for example, which is probably the most popular type of workbook, is often a mixture of spelling words, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization. It is no doubt true that not every student needs every exercise in a spelling workbook; however, individualization of instruction has not gotten (anywhere near) to the point where a student is working only on work that he or she needs. Many or most of the exercises in a student's workbook are probably useful. Workbooks are a marvelous invention and should not be readily dismissed. When students are properly placed in a good workbook, the workbook can keep them purposefully learning hour after hour. When students are working in a workbook, the teacher is free to work with other students.

Many of the learning materials referred to in the subject-matter lists (accessed from Section III of the homepage) are on blackline masters, that is, they are reproducible by the page. They can be copied in quantity and stored in folders, or they can be laminated as single copies. In any case, these kits must be organized and clearly labeled. One-time use of a kit is probably counterproductive because of management problems; a student who uses a kit should use the pages sequentially over a period of weeks or months. Records of a student's use of a kit must be kept, both by the teacher and by the student. The student manager of a kit must keep it orderly and stocked.

Because setting up a kit is time consuming, and keeping them stocked and in order is a problem, teachers should add kits slowly. They are wonderful only when well organized and purposefully used. A few kits in a classroom are often as many as a teacher can handle.

The kits to choose first are those that many students can use, such as creative writing kits, research project kits, or language skills kits. The kits for slow learners can come later. Also, it is best to choose kits that students can stick with for a period of weeks or months. The kits that students complete in a few days only add to the teacher's management problem.


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