What's your definition of "busy work"?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Caesar753, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 14, 2012

    I see this phrase used a lot around here. It sometimes seems like different posters have different definitions of it. To some people, it means any work out of the textbook. To others, it's stuff like crossword puzzles. To others, it's something different. How do you define it?
     
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  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    To me busy work is something that is either not relevant to the lesson, and / or there is no justifiable reason for it, other than filling time. Or if it's relevant to the lesson somehow, it takes way more time to do it, and could be altered to make it more efficient.
     
  4. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Something to keep the students busy, i.e. it has no relevance to the standards or curriculum. You can give a crossword puzzle, worksheet, textbook work, etc. and not have it be busy work. I would count things like brain teasers, movie days (where the movie doesn't relate to the curriculum), puzzles (not related to the curriculum), etc.

    As long as it has a purpose beyond "making them sit down and be quiet", I don't see it as pointless.
     
  5. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    :yeahthat:
     
  6. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Busy work is anything that is not helping the student learn. Some things are busy work for some students, but not all. For each unit, I give my students a variety of assignments, some of which are busy work if the student is quick to catch on. I post answer keys online and leave it up to the students to do or not do as they see fit.
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Emergency things. I have some handouts copied in the event I need to leave work immediately or otherwise be out of the room. They are refresher handouts over skills already taught.
     
  8. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Maybe some of you have advice:

    Vocabulary. In Earth Science, some students drown in vocabulary. I am making them do weekly word root quizzes.

    Last year, I didn't assign vocab except expect them to know the terms that were used in our notes and activities. This works for many kids.

    However, the lower kids, or ELL kids (these are kids who have graduated from needing services) benefit a LOT from a focus on vocab.

    The higher kids resent doing the vocab. I have them define each term in their own words or via images, stressing that that they find the method that best helps them learn the term.

    Since everybody hates doing vocab, nobody will do it voluntarily. If I assign it, 60% of the class sees it as busy work.

    Ideas?
     
  9. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    For those higher level kids, could you have them do something like write a story using the vocab words or make a skit/play that include the words that they can act out in a group to the class? Those higher kids can be working on those tasks while you work with the ELL and lower kids on vocab acquisition.

    Maybe peer tutoring could work, as well. Depending on how many on grade level and how many struggling students you have.
     
  10. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I'm not spending class time on vocab. We use the terms and concepts in class, during activities. These are high school seniors, so I expect them to take some responsibility for monitoring their own learning.

    Another issue is that vocab like: asthenosphere, GIS, contour interval, or breccia don't necessarily lend themselves to creative activities!
     
  11. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Oh yes, having to do it outside of class kind of kills the whole peer tutoring idea lol.

    Could you just randomly say for the next vocab test, "If you have your vocab done, you can use it during the last ten minutes of the test"? Vary the weeks when you allow them to do this and when you don't, so that they never know when using the vocab on the test is an option, and in theory, they will always have it prepared and ready to go.
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    What do your quizzes look like and how long do they take?
     
  13. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I don't give vocab quizzes except for the word roots. But, Im talking about unit vocabulary. They need to understand these terms when used in context.
     
  14. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    In grade 1 "busy work" is coloring pages and worksheets with no relation to content.
     
  15. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    to me, any work that is designed just to keep the kids busy, is busy work.

    Assigning vocab at the end of the class period because you have extra time left over is busy work. UNLESS, like I do, you already have that built into the unit and you are just moving it from one day to another.

    Some schools require a certain amount of time to be spent on homework each night. If the students wouldn't normally have homework but I assign it due to the mandate, that would be busy work.

    Assigning "all the problems at the end of the chapter" is busy work. Choosing the problems according to what you want students to review, isn't.

    I just realized that I lied in another post. I *do* assign busy work for students that have been suspended. I'm required to send home work that should equate to the amount of time they spend in my classroom. So 90 minutes worth for one day out. I'm not going to develop some awesome independent study that students who may or may not have any resources at home can learn the material on their own. Especially when I have less than a day's notice. In those cases, the students get busy work. They get exposure to the material at least.
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    So are these matching, multiple choice, fill-in, or supply-the-definition? And how many questions?
     
  17. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    But what if your district requires you to give every student a test that can only be done one on one, takes about 10 minutes per student, must be done only by the classroom teacher, requires a quiet environment. Oh, and they provide no support, and this test comes up every quarter.

    20 kids x 10 minutes x 4 = 800 minutes of class time where the kids have to be quietly working while their teacher does something besides teach them.
     
  18. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    These are short answer and/or performance based assessments. For example, to do well on the topographic map portion of the unit test, students need to understand what they are being asked to do using the real quadrangle maps. If they don't know what an index contour is, they can't do this. In theory, they learn these terms during class activities and labs after they have been introduced through notes and readings. In practice, some kids just won't get the lingo.

    I don't test specifically vocab.
     
  19. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    I would make them do something worthwhile, such as read a story at their grade level and answer questions about the story. Some people see that as busy work, but as a special education teacher, my students could ALWAYS use extra practice with reading comprehension.

    Or, I would plan a library day, make sure everyone gets a book they enjoy, and then have them silent read. Again, my students struggle with reading, so SSR isn't "busy" work.

    However, I can understand the dilemma that might occur in that situation.
     
  20. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Depends. Sometimes I give assignments thinking ''this is awesome!'' then later can assign something very similar and realize ''this is busy work''. I think it depends on how involved I am with the kids while they work. If I can just sit and do nothing, busy work. If they need to ask questions and I have to move around, good work
     
  21. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Maybe package it in a cool way? I give them each a book binding ring for their flashcards and hole punch them each week. They assign a cool factor to the binding rings for some reason although they're extremely cheap. You can buy hundreds for a few dollars.

    I then try to find ways to use the cards for review games.

    You might also try allowing your higher kids to pick words they want to learn rather than the words you assign. I.e. they may know the word you assigned well already, but they might be interested in another word, so maybe allow them the option to pick their own words from the chapter.
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Or have them assemble and defend words based on roots (Caesar will hate me for "asthenissimocatenary", but couldn't it be about the most (-issimo-) weak (astheno-) link (catenary)?), or find unlikely places in which analogues of the word exist ("Which ice cream is most like breccia, and why?")
     
  23. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Wat.

    :dizzy:

    And to think some people complain about science terminology... But yes, roots are AWESOME, and useful in most any subject.
     
  24. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aw, Peregrin: it's fun to make up new words! I once had a class figure out how to say "one-eyed one-horned purple people eater" in both Latin and Greek, once I'd given them the roots with which to do so, and they thought it was the best fun ever. My older daughter, who was in middle school at the time, was around for this and still chortles at the memory.

    Here are the roots: try it for yourself.

    Greek: mono 'one', ops/opt- 'eye or face', cerato- 'horn', porphyry 'purple' (Caesar will probably have a better word), demo- 'people', phage 'eater'

    Latin: un(i)- 'one', oculus 'eye', corn- 'horn', as in cornucopia, purpuro 'purple', populus 'people', -vore 'eater'
     
  25. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I have a dinosaur activity where the kids invent their own Dino using a list of the word roots commonly used in naming them. It's a lot of fun.

    Sadly, most of the roots aren't very applicable elsewhere, so it's mostly a fun activity to squeeze in when we need a bit of break.
     
  26. treefrogs

    treefrogs Rookie

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    If a student can pass my vocab assessment with 100% proficiency, then they don't have to complete the supplemental vocabulary assignments.

    I also tie-in my vocabulary instruction to the CCSS speaking and listening standards. Students are encouraged to demonstrate higher levels of vocabulary knowledge; which is great for students who catch onto the basic definitions quickly.

    I also tie-in my vocabulary instruction to other standards, so the initial instruction is relevant for all students.
     
  27. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    Oct 18, 2012

    I have a number of students who struggle with learning and they benefit a great deal from those little content extras, eg. crossword puzzles. A fun movie on the last day before a vacation, would, in, my opinion, be busy work. I think the term itself can just very so much from one student population to the next.
     
  28. Federal Funding

    Federal Funding Rookie

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    Oct 20, 2012

    This has probably been said. I haven't read all replies.
    Busy Work is what a lot of teachers have to do in schools that are very disorganized for some reason. Teachers are doing all they can to keep up with the constant changes, the many absences, pull-outs, school activities, parent failures, etc., etc., etc.
     

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