When does class work become busy work?
Typically, teachers assign more work then the average student will be able to complete when they are going to be out. Why do teachers do this? Your teacher does this to make sure that the students always have something productive to do so that they are engaged in the material for the entire class period. However, there comes a point when these assignments become busy work to the students and they stop trying and just write random facts or items from the material so that the work is completed. This is not beneficial to the students, especially if this is the only exposure to the material they will receive.
My host teacher was on vacation all last week, so the students had a substitute teacher who was tasked with making sure they completed the 2 packets and the 5 white papers on the Early Mesopotamia Civilization. The packets, consisted of a short passage and a series of questions about what they had read and then cite the evidence to support their answer. This was well above the heads of many students, even in the honors class. So these packets essentially became busy work for the students because the students knew it had to be completed but they knew they wouldn’t be able to learn from it.
Essentially, these packets and papers should have been one per day, plus 1 packet, instead of two. Most students in a 45 minute class, wasted about 10 minutes, the first 5 when the were walking into the room and then starting up and logging into their computers and then the last 5 because they were packing up and logging out of their computers. So essentially the students had 5, 35 minute periods, approximately 3 hours of class time to complete 12 pages of work. I don’t think I could have been able to do that when I was in 7th grade.
I would have proposed that the students were to complete 1 of the 5 papers each day in class and if they completed it before the end of the period to start on the next one, so essentially by the end of class on Thursday every student should have been on the final packet, giving them Friday to complete it. This would in theory prevent the students from being overwhelmed with work and make them try harder and learn more.
So the point here is that even though the students need to be engaged and working on something for the entire period, completing paper after paper is just repetitive and pointless, especially when all students have computers. These computers would allow for a greater variety of classwork so it does not become busy work.