Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tape vs. Glue vs. Staples

Attaching pages to the notebook was a daily occurrence in my class. I have read on other blogs that claim it's best to have students attach as many pages as possible at one time, but my planning was never far enough in advance to have students attach pages for multiple lessons at one time. (I read about one rockstar teacher who has students attach all the pages for a semester during the first day of school. Fabulous! I hope to get to that point soon.)

The entrance procedure for my class was:
  1. Read the sign outside my door, which communicates the number of handouts and supplies needing to be picked up from the supply table (located inside the door as you walk in)
  2. Pick up the handouts and supplies and sit in assigned seat
  3. Update table of contents (my example was projected on the screen using a document camera)
  4. Attach handouts to appropriate pages using the glue picked up from the supply table
Step 4 is where the flow broke down for me during the first few weeks of class. Glue sticks were a source of anxiety: will I have enough glue sticks?; will the glue last long enough?; how will I afford to buy more if it isn't on sale?.

I also learned quickly that students needed to be taught how to glue. Yes, I taught 10th grade and yes, they have experience gluing but no, that gluing was not uniform and was causing me stress! The lack of uniformity in gluing caused a number of challenges:
  1. Some students took forever to glue because they methodically (slowly) covered the entire page in glue.
  2. Some students glued extremely quickly. This posed two problems: they wasted time waiting for other students to finish and their pages started to fall out due to lack of appropriate adhesive.
  3. Some students refused to use glue (they claimed aversion to stickiness) and spent precious moments in search of a stapler or waiting for a student to finish using the stapler.
  4. Some students preferred tape, and like the staple-preference students, spent time looking/waiting for the tape dispenser. If tape dispenser was empty, chaos ensued.
So I taught a short lesson on gluing. I taught my students to use their glue properly: a rectangle around the border of the page and a giant X in the middle. I demonstrated and modeled this, then enforced it with an iron fist.

I still had tape and staple hold-outs. I purchased more staplers and more tape dispensers, and put these on the supply table. I had a deal with a small group of glue stick protesters: if you pick up your page-attaching tool of choice from the supply table as you walk into class, and if you can attach pages quickly and efficiently using your preferred method, then I won't force you to use glue.

Most anxiety was alleviated by these solutions. But I'm still hoping to get to a point where we attach all handouts for an entire unit in one sitting.

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