EDUCATION: More than job-training

Choosing a Notebook for Classwork

The variety of notebooks available to children these days is bewildering. Some are better suited to schoolwork than others. In the interest of good study habits, the choice should probably not be left entirely to the preference of the student.

Spiral notebooks


Although probably the most common choice of students, the spiral notebook is the least suited to serious study.

The metal spiral often untwists at the ends to create dangerously sharp points. The bits of paper that fall away when a sheet is pulled out create litter. Pages often become detached by themselves, making the spiral a poor choice for daily class notes that will be needed for review.

Composition books

The sewn composition book with cardboard covers is a good sturdy choice for dated class notes and assignments. Once rare, they are now to be found everywhere. Some covers are more suitable for classroom use than others.

Exercise books

For some reason the exercise book does not seem to be much used in US schools. The exercise book differs from the composition book in that it is stapled, not sewn; it has soft covers, and it does not contain as many pages. The type I’m referring to is similar to the college Blue Book used for exams, but with more pages: 20 sheets/40 pages. Used with a corrections policy, the exercise book is the ideal choice for routine homework.

Conscientious teachers of every subject mark their students’ work, correcting misspelled words, noting inaccuracies, and generally providing feedback intended to benefit the student. Unfortunately, much of this careful work is wasted. Too often students receive marked work only to crumple it and throw it away with barely a glance at the notations.

The use of exercise books is a way to ensure that the teacher’s efforts are translated into learning for the student. When the homework is kept together in this way, the teacher is able to implement a simple corrections policy that requires the student to correct previous errors before going on to new work.

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