Make it Meaningful
It is important to assign work that promotes learning of the specific concept being worked on. You should be able to assess the level of understanding by the seatwork assigned. The student should feel that the work being assigned is manageable and meaningful.
Define your Seatwork Procedures
You need very specific procedures about how seatwork is done. How does the student obtain help
during seatwork? Are there opportunities for peer tutoring during seatwork, this can be very effective. Is the seatwork done in isolation or in groups? Who are you working with during seatwork assignments? This is an excellent time to support the learners who need additional support and clarification.
Completion of Seatwork
What do the students do that finish their assigned seatwork first? What does completion of seatwork mean to the students, and is it clearly known by all students? Is there a ‘finished work’ tub and a well known routine for submitting finished work and moving on to something else? A word of caution, if there is centre time, computer time or free time after seatwork, you’ll have a number of students rushing to finish and not always doing their best.
Make it Motivating
Is your seatwork enjoyable? Are the students motivated by it? Have you taken into account their strengths and interests and provided some form of choice to the seatwork? See differentiated learning
What Are YOU Doing?
Do you have a clipboard at hand ready to assess and take anecdotal notes on the students? Are you monitoring all students and some more closely? When students are off task, what are your reminders? Are there cues around the room that remind students of the acceptable behaviors for doing seatwork?
When They Just Don’t Get It
Typically, you should have a system in place that lets you know approximately when the students should be approaching half-way completion and full completion. This should be monitored carefully. As you walk around the room, take note of where students are in your expected pace for completion. As you see the same students lagging behind, what is your method for working with them? This provides you with an opportunity to pull a few of your weaker students together to assist them.
Before assigning seatwork, always model what it looks like and run few a few problems first. Go through your expectations and generate a few questions about acceptable completion and let the students respond. By working through acceptable examples first, your students are much more ready to delve in. Your expectations must be clearly known and understood by all. Students learn much more effectively when they are well prepared.
Logical Follow Up
Seatwork should always be logically assigned. It should be an immediate follow up to something just taught.
Seatwork should never be too long. Longer periods of seatwork often leads to more off task behavior. Many students don’t see the benefit of ‘busy work’, so you’ll always want to make sure the seatwork is relevant and the time frame for completion is appropriate.
If you learn these few steps and structure your seatwork effectively, it can’t help but lead to student success.