It's been quite a time since students put their studies aside to energize themselves in preparation for the more challenging days ahead of them next school year. On May 16, the first day of school they will be receiving their books, notebooks, bags, and school materials. This is a special day for my English classes for this is the time I collect their English notebooks to label, to stack in place, and be ready to use when needed. Do you know why I do this? Well, you might have experienced in your own school that many Thai students seem to pay little importance to their notebooks. They either mutilate, vandalize, forget, and worst of all lose them.
You see, previously in my school it was an uncommon event. When I asked students to draw, copy, or write something, a number of them would have nothing to write on. If I asked, "Where's your notebook?" They would answer," I left it at home, teacher. I lost it, Teacher, or would say" Lom", would run back to their classroom to get them or would go to the bookstore to buy one. Not only that, when copying, they would borrow liquid erasers from classmates. They wanted accuracy in their writing but they couldn't come up with the right thing. As a result pages were torn until only half of it or even a third of it was left.
Well, every time students entered my English room, they would bring their notebooks, pencil cases, pens, pencils, and colored pencils . Unfortunately, after class, many would leave their notebooks in the English room and never bother to look for them. So, whenever they left them, I would put them on top of the shelves and wait for them to be retrieved. Somehow, only a few would remember and come back, but most of them never bothered. In fact I was able to collect a huge number of notebooks.
Because the notebooks were labeled in Thai, I would not know who owned them, what grade they were, or who the teachers were. Was it because notebooks were given free of charge so students couldn't care less? How come they could run to the store and buy a new one when they forgot their notebooks or lost them?
To rectify these student habits, during the first meeting of the term , I would collect their notebooks in English. I would write their names and grades on them for my easy reference. I would do this so that everyone had something to write on. Then I would start training them how to write properly in their notebooks.
I would guide them by writing permanent lines on the board as if the board looked like the lined pages of their notebooks. When they copied, I would point out to them that the beginning of sentences were written in big letters and the following letters in small letters occupying only half of the space except when writing proper names, when first letters were written big. Oh, from the time I had the notebooks left in the classroom, I didn't have problems anymore.
Maximizing the use of notebooks includes using it as a spelling notebook, as a note to copy structures, vocabulary, writing descriptions, as a diary or journal, or to answer exercises. It is also used to encourage responsibility in distributing, collecting and taking care of one's school material.
Friends of mind said that they give importance to notebooks of students by grading them, giving stickers to those who have complete notes , stamping them with positive comments, and giving points to those who have complete, neat, and beautiful notebooks as part of their grade.
So, to lessen your headache about notebooks, let students leave them in the classroom. Chances of losing, forgetting, and messing them up is indeed very remote.