There’s a shift happening in the world of print. Our workplaces, social lives and even our homes are becoming ever more digital, each and every day. But what about in our classrooms? With such a technology-led world, does print still have a part to play? Should education professionals be looking for new ways to engage and inspire their students?
To find out, we asked Alison McGreevy, teacher at St. Kentigern's R.C.Primary School in Manchester, Erin Erdelyi, Reception Teacher at St. Lukes C of E Primary School, London and Chris McCormack, Math Secondary School Teacher and Key Stage 3 Coordinator, in City Heights E-ACT Academy, Tulse Hill, about the kind of print they can’t live without as a teacher and the inspiring ways they use it to help students thrive and grow.
What kind of print do you use in the classroom?
We use a mix of print. We have maths books and workbooks that we use daily - but all of our other resources are teacher made or downloaded from resource websites that the school has signed up for. But, because we do not have to "fill the workbooks" or get through every activity in a book, we have more autonomy over what we teach in the classroom. Alongside this, we have a multitude of A4 and A5 copybooks that we use daily for different subjects. We also use print in our displays which we mostly have to make, print and laminate ourselves. This is very time consuming as displays need to change frequently with each topic.
The types of print I use in the classroom are; labelling to indicate to children where to find things and what things are; displays to highlight learning the children have done; letters and newsletters to inform parents what’s going on; policies and planning to show and account for learning accountability; worksheets for children to organise and demonstrate learning; stickers to encourage and reward learning; pamphlets to advertise the school e.g. fundraisers that invite the wider community to support the school
I use A4 and A3 stock white paper. I use A4 yellow card and yellow stickers for feedback. I use larger coloured card for displays and posters.
What’s the most effective print that you use in school?
I think that the displays are the most effective. We use focus words, new vocabulary and things that help the children with their work - for example the times tables. We mostly print these ourselves in schools. The children also have their homework diaries which are functional, but very useful as they keep any notes and their homework in it. We also use these as a form of communication to home.
The most effective print I use in school would be labelling and displays to clearly indicate children’s learning and highlight ownership of the learning journey.
Varying the size of the print provides a variety for the students and is used as a tool to increase output. Using multiple small sheets makes the tasks seem more achievable. Using big sheets with lots of open space gives the students room to do their working out.
What would you say are three print products that no teacher can do without?
Certainly a personal diary, the print we use for displays which we make ourselves and the children's diaries.
Three print products that teachers couldn't do without would be; pictures, letters, and modelled learning.
Posters for displays, white A4 is 95% of all printing, and glossy cardboard/thicker stocks for report cards and letters home.
With the increased usage of technology in the classroom, and less about ‘book learning’, do you think print is still relevant for educating students today?
Absolutely, when it comes to displays and the classroom set up. In University we were always taught that a print rich environment is important for the children's learning – in particular for children who have English as an additional language. It is important for all types of learning to access information and many children need visual cues for their work. These come from the classroom environment.
I personally think that children enjoy the act of picking up a book and finding a page or sitting with a book and reading it. I also find that my class in particular are conscious of having too much screen time! iPads and eBooks are great but I feel at primary level that children need to learn to pick up a book, write in a copy neatly and enjoy a print rich environment.
Print is absolutely still relevant for education as it’s an effective way to showcase and organise learning in a way that’s accessible and visual to children and adults.
Yes print is still relevant and often students prefer to work in books and on paper. The students are used to working on paper and can begin the task immediately. Students take greater pride in working on paper and in their books and their work is more easily reviewed and assessed.
So there we have it. Print is still as important as ever when it comes to teaching and inspiring the next generation, and with so many print resources still relied upon as tools, it shows no sign of stopping.
Whilst iPads, eBooks and smart screens are vital for educational success, in-classroom displays and printed materials still win when it comes to inspiring students.
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Are you a teacher? How are you using print to help inspire in the classroom? Let us know in the comments. And to make sure you never miss a thing, and get up to date advice and tips for making the most of educational print, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and don’t forget to head to our blog for loads more.