14 August 2016

Exercise Books

They came this weekend. A job-lot of exercise books.

This year I will (as per usual) be teaching the linked units Anatomy and Physiology and Physiology of Fitness to the first year Level 3 BTEC students. These units are very content-heavy, which means I tend to teach in a fairly direct way. There'll be plenty of writing, drawing and labelling of diagrams. There will be lots of factual information to absorb in order to make use of it later (for example, during the Sports Injuries or Fitness Training units).

I've been teaching in FE for some time and one trend that seems to be evident is the inability of students to structure their own note taking or simply keep hold of work that has been done in previous lessons. This has a fundamental impact on their retention of knowledge. I wonder if anyone else has noticed that this is the case with 16 year olds, or if it's peculiar to my particular locale.

In an attempt to counteract these failings I intend to furnish each student with an exercise book, which will be kept in the classroom. While I'm aware this is what happens at the vast majority of schools, it is pretty atypical in FE colleges, as far as I can tell. Will the perennial FE student (and staff) excuse of 'it's not school' mean that exercise books, being so associated, are doomed to failure? This year, I'll find out.

I am hoping that using exercise books will enable a few specific functions:

1. Inform a conversation between me and the student about their work.
2. Keep the 'big picture' and flow of the unit in clear focus for the student.
3. Prevent students from stuffing scraps of paper into their bags and ultimately losing them.
4. A place to record student progress in increased numbers of tests and quizzes (see my previous post)
5. Enable better retention and recall of the unit even after all the assignments are marked and completed.

With all this in mind, I'm after some pointers from teachers (particularly from FE but also from schools) who already use exercise books. If you have any wisdom to share on how to make the most of exercise books in Further Education, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks so much!

(And yes, I bought them with my own money. Don't ask.)

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