As any teacher or home schooling parent knows, educational materials are expensive. One of the most expensive educational materials is the consumable workbook. Since all students get their own workbooks and they can never be reused (as traditional textbooks can), they can be an expensive component of your curriculum.
In addition to the expense associated with buying consumable workbooks annually, there is also the issue of relevance. While some workbooks are superior products that truly do enhance learning, most experienced teachers know that the best educational approaches do not all come from a single source. Most educators like to use certain worksheets from certain books when teaching a particular lesson. Oftentimes, they will use different materials from different sources for other lessons. They also like to use worksheets and activities they have created themselves.
With all of the administrative responsibilities that teachers have on top of their teaching assignments, time can be scarce. Making copies can be time-consuming, especially for those who choose to make a few copies everyday so that loose papers do not accumulate in the classroom. Wouldn’t it be great to have your own consumable workbooks designed by you especially for each class and customized for each student?
This educational fantasy can be turned into reality. Even better, that reality can be less expensive and less time-consuming than the other approaches covered so far in this article. With the right equipment, you can assemble customized workbooks for your classes. If you assemble your workbooks during the summer, you will save even more frustration. You can even create variations for different reading groups or project assignments within a single class. Another way you can personalize workbooks is to allow students to design their own covers. (This will add a little more time to the project, but it will likely increase student buy-in for the work you will be assigning them. That buy-in can be invaluable.)
At this point, you are probably pretty curious about how you can make your own custom workbooks and exactly what equipment is needed. All you need is access to a copy machine, cardstock to use for the covers of your workbook, and a binding machine. As an educator, you are probably already very familiar with copy machines and cardstock. As for the binding machine, you will find that many different varieties are available. Before spending time researching machines, you should check to see if your school or district office already has a binding machine they will let you use. Binding machines are affordable and easy to use. If your school doesn’t have one, give your administration the information you find through your research and ask that they purchase one.
One you have your equipment and paper ordered or available, the final step is to assemble the contents of your workbook. Make two-sided copies if you can and prepare enough copies to fill the workbooks you need. Gather your covers and assemble books one a time, making sure the contents and covers are appropriately aligned. Punch the papers according to the specifications included with your binding machine, and then bind the documents.
With a little planning and some help from the right office supplies, you can make workbooks that are a perfect fit for your class. Not only do they provide exactly the content you need, they do so simply and economically.