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Fractured Fractured is offline
 
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How to make a worksheet work
Old 02-28-2018, 11:46 AM
 
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So, all I get these days are really boring worksheets or videos to show the classes I sub for. High school students just don't want to do it or finish it really quickly and became a problem with nothing to focus on. This is actually something I am dealing with today. One kid said this is the epitome of busy work. I want to honor the plans of the teacher, but do you guys have any tips to get kids motivated?


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what doesn't work
Old 02-28-2018, 02:13 PM
 
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You know the answer to this question but they could be any or all these reasons:
1) There's no accountability. No one takes them seriously because there's no deadline or perhaps point value to impact some grade.
2) It's not connected with the current material they're learning.
3) Students know that it's busy work FOR the supply teacher and not really for them. It gives the adult a false sense of busyness and then this translates to a problem in management.

Here's what worked for me:
1) Give the instructions and a sense of urgency. If the work is easy enough then they should be able to get it done within a few minutes. This is even faster if you lead them to getting them completed.
2) Tell them that the deadline is by the period's end and they will be awarded points for completion which you need to relay to the regular teach.
3) Offer them the incentive that if they can accomplish these goals and if they finish early then you can allow them "free" time. Really, you don't want this as a pass for lack of productivity. And this is where as a supply, you gotta have a bag of tricks.

In general keeping the activity structured with appropriate pacing in urgency is going to keep them in check on a regular basis.
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Old 02-28-2018, 02:21 PM
 
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I tell the students I am collecting at the end of class. Which I do and leave for the teacher. We know it's busy work, the kids know it's busy work, it's a cop-out are the part of the teacher not to have better lesson plans. Of course we suffer and get a reputation for poor classroom management with this.
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Do you have any leeway with
Old 02-28-2018, 06:45 PM
 
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their phones or music or anything to bribe them with? I usually would make deals-- "Get it done and turned in then you can work on stuff from other classes or talk together quietly..."

Or play music or whatever... The District I subbed in had a Bring-your-own-device policy so phone use was at Teacher Discretion and not a school wide policy.
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Old 02-28-2018, 11:43 PM
 
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I am not sure if this would work.for high school, but you could tell them if everyone has finished in time, you will lead the class in a game.


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What I do varies, but...
Old 03-01-2018, 08:23 AM
 
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I tend to follow one of two paths, but as noted, honoring the plan of the teacher is important. I think the reason teachers leave busy work is a combination of keeping it "easy" for the sub and perhaps a lack of confidence in the sub's ability to teach (nothing personal). I take it as a challenge and to some extent, appreciate the freedom.

Regardless of which path I take, I don't try to "sell" the kids on the importance of the busywork... we just need to get it done. Then we can:

Path One: Do something fun as a group. Depending on my reading of the class I may or may not let them decide. One of my favorite things is to set up a debate--if it can relate to the busy work, yay! Obviously, this can require some caution and discretion. One twist on this is to make students debate the opposite of their opinion as a way of teaching research and debating skills. I have occasionally done a "round" where we sit in a circle to discuss a certain topic.

Path Two: Make it a "Student's Choice" (subject to approval). This can range from creating a study hall to writing, drawing, etc. small groups, project work, etc. (As others have mentioned, abide by phone use policy.) Productivity isn't as important as accountability in this case--is learning taking place?

I had this happen once in music... there wasn't much in the way of structure and the kids were getting restless, so I did a version of Plan B. One of the kids decided to play on the xylophone. I'm no music teacher, but I was able to point out some similarities to the piano (which she plays reasonably well) and she became quite smitten by this new instrument.
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Old 03-04-2018, 09:38 PM
 
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Thanks for the tips everyone. I guess Hs is the more challenging group with worksheets as they tend to finish them way before the period ends. I usually do give them free time or study hall, but if they finish everything and there is an hour left in the period I am usually struggling to keep them occupied at that point. On the other hand,that's on the teacher for not leaving me with something to fill the time with.
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:48 AM
 
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High school students should have plenty of other things to keep them busy once they finish the worksheet. They could work on other homework or read. I would not play into the complaining.
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Old 03-05-2018, 02:28 PM
 
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I've never met a high school kid who would choose reading or doing homework over using their cell phone. At one district I teach in, they have study hall for over 90 minutes a day every other day, so most of them seem to be caught up by the time they end up with me.
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