Assignment books have become a key part of my teaching. I’ve refined my assignment books over the years. I used to simply write the assignment in list format in a small lined notebook. My first version of my own assignment book was a booklet of 8.5×11 pages, folded in half and stapled.
For the past several years, I’ve been designing a custom assignment book with a yearly theme for my students. It is a bit more elaborate with several types of pages (practice assignments, listening assignments, reference pages, staff paper, etc.) and bound with a comb binder. This year’s book even has a handy pocket in the back where we keep sight-reading and scale charts, worksheets and other miscellaneous papers.
As you can tell, I’m a pretty big fan of assignment books, and here is why. The first 2 reasons might seem pretty obvious, but the 3rd is super important!
1.) Assignment books keep track of assignments. This is really obvious, but without writing down assignments, it is easy to forget about parts of it. Both the student and I can easily see what we’re working on, and what we’ve completed.
2.) Assignment books track progress. Like many people, I am a very visual person and an assignment book gives a nice visual representation of a week’s progress. It is helpful to have the whole week laid out and to be able to see what needs to get done and which days it can happen. At the end of the week, it’s nice to have a summary of your work for the week. Is every day checked off? Only a few? None? Did you practice all pieces equally? One more than others? One not at all? It is an easy way to see how you spent your time.
3.) Assignment books serve as a form of communication between parents, the teacher and the student. Sometimes, I think this aspect of the assignment book gets overlooked. I want to be able to quickly glance at the assignment page, and know exactly what the student worked on at home and what I’ll expect to hear. If all 7 days are checked off on all songs, I would expect the student to breeze through their music. If some songs are checked off more than others, I might assume that they either had trouble on some songs, or they didn’t like them. If this is the case, I can help the student with these songs again this week. If I can see this right off the bat, my teaching is more efficient and effective.
Teachers, how do you keep track of your students’ assignments? Anything fancy, or do you keep it simple?
Parents, do you find your student’s assignment book to be a helpful form of communication?
Note – My most recent assignment books are available as PDF files for purchase in the Pianissimo Store. I’m offering a free download of my iPractice Assignment Book and Practice incentive with any purchase! Check it out!