Why use booklets?
Consistency and excellence– the codification of the curriculum into booklets can provide a strong tool for delivering an ambitious, knowledge-rich curriculum. By creating booklets, the intended curriculum, as outlined in medium term plans, is more likely to be consistently enacted in lessons. The content is no longer left to individual teachers to plan in isolation.
Supporting workload in the long term– booklets also support the workload of individual teachers. Once they are designed the need to photocopy individual resources for individual lessons is greatly reduced. This frees up much needed time for teachers. Clearly, what we do not want out teachers having to do is trawl TES, or other such resource sites, to find generic resources that do not necessarily deliver the curriculum well.
Promoting pupil thinking– a well planned booklet can assure excellence in the substance of what is being taught. Furthermore, if memory is the residue of thought, then booklets can be used to ensure that all pupils are exposed to well thought out questions that make them think hard. Booklets ensure that these are guaranteed, rather than left to chance.
Developing reading skills– a well planned booklet can also promote pupil reading. Development of pupil reading is a central goal of us at PHS. There has never been more clear evidence that reading plays a vital role in not just the attainment of pupils, but in their ability to play an active role in society upon leaving school. This also supports reversal of the gap in reading skills, and consequently attainment, of our disadvantaged students and their non- disadvantaged peers. Booklets can ensure that pupils are exposed to good quality texts in each lesson that have been carefully selected by teachers.
A valuable tool for professional development– both, in and after production the booklet can provide a powerful vehicle for subject specialists to the curriculum taught to our pupils. The booklet can help bring to life all the work teachers put into engaging with subject communities, subject associations, accredited qualifications, informal reading and all their years developing subject specific knowledge. Furthermore, once completed, to be able to point to a page in a booklet and discuss it with a colleague, as well as to discuss how best to deliver a lesson in the booklet, is powerful professional development that can be hugely beneficial in translating the intended curriculum to that enacted out in the classroom in terms of planning.
‘Scaffolding’ for pupils– In each lesson work should be challenging but achievable. When structured well booklets can provide a strong tool to support ‘scaffolding’ of work for pupils. It may be that a class of high prior attaining pupils move quickly through a task, or leave it out altogether, in order to linger longer on a concept that promotes harder thinking. Conversely, it might be that you have identified a misconception with a class and decide to dwell on one particular concept for longer prior moving on. It is important that booklets are not reductive, in that all tasks are seen as being linear and have to be worked through at the same time & in the same way by all pupils.
Activating prior knowledge & reducing extraneous load– Booklets can provide a powerful vehicle to enable pupils to make connections between what has gone before and what is being presently learned. This is one of the factors Ebbinghaus attributes to supporting the retention and recall of what has been previously learned. Booklets are much better than exercise books in getting pupils to meaningfully revisit work previously undertaken in order to provide links that help make connections to new learning. This also ensures that learning episodes are sequenced well to ensure learning takes place in manageable chunks with lots of opportunities to revisit prior learning and strengthen cognitive architecture.
The main principles of booklet design
Start with the end in mind– think carefully about what you want students to know at the end of the unit/ topic and work back from there. This should be captured in the medium term planning. If the MTP is done well this starting point is already done and the critical role of ensuring that careful sequencing ensures maximum learning, has already taken place.
Think about the
Practice makes perfect– time needs to be spent considering the questions & activities that will be most beneficial in getting students to think carefully about the content they are learning. Are you using comprehension questions? Application questions? Etc. Once these have been established build in time for Shed Loads of Practice (SLOP) so that pupils can be more proficient in undertaking these well.