Schools seem to be cracking down more and more every year on how much they allow teachers to photocopy. So here are some tips from the person with one of the lowest photocopy tally in their school.
Before photocopying anything ask yourself these questions:
- What do my students get out of this sheet?
- Could I do it another way?
- Does the sheet have to be this size?
What do my students get out of this sheet?
Not every lesson needs a worksheet. Ask yourself what purpose does this sheet serve? Is it just proof that a lesson was done? Is it just work to keep your students busy? You might not need a worksheet at all. Here are some alternatives:
- Whenever possible activities should be hands on- its how students learn best. See if there is a way you can turn the activity into something they can get up and do.
- Another meaningful activity is when people cooperate and collaborate. Try doing the activity as a discussion.
Could you do it another way?
Do the students need the worksheet or could they make their own version/template?
- Instead of just photocopying a page you could get students to rule/draw/fold in their exercise book. If you take the time to teach your students how to fold pages, rule lines etc. each time they draw up a template they will get quicker and quicker. For the really slow ones I usually use their book as the demo for the rest of the class.
- If you don't need a physical record of the activity try getting them to do it on mini whiteboards, blackboards or scrap paper.
- If it is a template you use often or even every year why not laminate the page? Students can write over the top with whiteboard marker. You can get very thin whiteboard markers and I highly recommend magic sponges for the wiping them clean. They last ages, are (practically) mess free and work quicker than spray and wipe and less elbow grease then any cloth. You can get them from the cleaning section of most stores but they are so cheap on Ebay
- IPads can be used like a whiteboard or you can import pictures of the worksheet into programs like Show Me and have students work on them. They can even submit their completed sheet for marking.
- Maybe there is a website or app that has an activity along the lines of you worksheet that you could use instead. Students can easily access websites by scanning a QR code for the website you've found.
- Could students share a sheet or even just look at a sheet displayed on a board for certain activities?
- Sometimes I have put sheets in plastic sleeves- works just as good as laminating but cheaper!
Does the sheet have to be this size?
- The more pages a books has the more a publisher can charge and so it pays for them to spread out their work over multiple pages with (sometimes) excessive line spacing. Get to know your photocopying (or printer) settings and try reducing the page to half the size.
- You can then have two to a page and cut in half or have two different pages on one. You can train students to use smaller pages and remember their eyesight is better than ours...they can handle the smaller font!
- You can also cut and paste sheets to make them more to your liking. Don't like the bottom activity on this sheet? Cut it off and put something more meaningful there. It might take you a little more time but you can always keep the original for photocopying in years to come.
- You can also print page toppers or just instructions and have student glue them to the top of their exercise book or similar.
A few final tips:
- Don't photocopy stuff to be sent home that are unlikely to be used/seen by parents. Do parents really read the newsletter you send home? Could you email it instead? Is that student really going to do all that work their parent asked for the vacation they are taking their child out on?
- Don't copy busywork for students- have education games for early finishes.