This is my last week of school… in fact, tomorrow is my last day!  So these last two days have been all about cleaning: cleaning out cubbies, desks and shelves, cleaning up materials, putting things away, boxing up books, Cloroxing surfaces and, for me, the most painful – recycling workbooks!

Let’s talk recycling workbooks for a moment.  Check out the piles of books sitting on my 4th grade classroom’s floor ready for the recycling.  It kind of makes me cringe for, well, a variety of reasons.

Let’s talk budget
These books are so expensive and because they are “consumable” products, they must be purchased every year.  Both our Language Arts and Math programs use more than one consumable workbook per child per year.  I can’t help but wonder if we could all live without one or two of the books, might we save a staff position?

Let’s talk environment
Our math text is a reference book, not a book where students copy down problems to solve.  So each day they complete 1-4 pages in their math books alone.  While at times this is handy (like for geometry), it is not always necessary for students to have, for example, their own copy of a graph when it could be put in a text.

I feel that for some of the work that should be on paper, I could make copies when needed.  And I do miss having pages of practice equations that the students can copy and compute – but that could be on a white board for me to check!

Let’s talk effective learning!

As I look at these books that are purchased for my class (and some workbooks my team and I even requested not to purchase for this past year), I can’t help but regret not using each and every page.  I start to send myself on a guilt trip.  But then I stop myself –

While sometimes students need to use paper, other times their are more effective ways to teach some of the skills they need to learn.  Effective teaching doesn’t mean the kids are busy all the time writing on workbook page after workbook page.  A highlight of my year was teaching my students about fractions, decimals and percents during our paperless day.  And it was a highlight because my students were so engaged in what they were doing!

I am really curious to find out what other teachers think about workbooks – good and bad.  What are your thoughts??