Tips of the trade 44. In and out trays

23rd May 2003 at 01:00
The end of each lesson can be a mad frenzy, especially in key stage 1, as children push their chairs under tables, put pencils and rulers away, get back to the carpet for a plenary without tripping over each other and, of course, decide where their work must go.

I have two cat litter trays, slightly bigger than A4 size, which cost only a few pounds. They are placed side by side on a drawer unit in a central location. At the end of each lesson, the children put their work in one of the two, which are labelled "finished work" and "unfinished work".

This solves three problems. The children make the decision about whether their work is completed or not and are responsible for putting it away rather than me. When they finish their work early in the next session, before asking me for another activity, they can find their unfinished work and continue to work on it.

And thirdly, at the end of the day I can just take the finished work tray home for marking. The children adapt easily to the system, and, for those who can't read, the labels have clip art on them.

Keep the trays in the same position - for example, the unfinished work tray on the right - so as not to confuse.

Judith O'Toole is a Years 1 and 2 teacher at Collingtree CE primary school in Northamptonshire. Do you have any useful tips for new teachers?We pay pound;50 for all tips published (about 300 words). Send yours to

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