Teachers can struggle to ‘switch off’ from the day job. This was certainly true when I was shopping in Asda one night and purchased three traffic light coloured tubs to use in my classroom!
The traffic light colours are often associated with AfL. This is because it is a very simple method to self assess and reflect. Red often meaning that the pupil struggled, found the work or lesson too difficult, needs more help etc. The yellow or amber colour is associated with the student being able to grasp most elements but not all and almost there. The green is the go ahead, showing confidence and understanding. However, different Schools and classes that use the Traffic Light/ RAG colours do so in different ways. There are lots of interesting ways I have used the traffic light colours in my classroom and the collection tubs are one idea that I found worked very well!
I have often found that simple ideas can be the most effective in the classroom, this is a classic example. At the end of the lesson pupils will put their books in the colour tub of their choice, depending on how well they think they got on in the lesson. This idea and what each colour represents needs to be explained very clearly before pupils start using the collection tubs, to result in an effective, honest self reflection. In my experience pupils do tend to be very honest when doing this, not everybody opting for the green just to look good! There were pupils who to me, appeared to have worked well in the lesson and seemed to be coping well. However, they surprised me by putting their book in the yellow or even red tubs. This then addressed an issue to me and prompted further discussions with those specific pupils. This illustrated that although the pupils didn’t inform me in the lesson that they were struggling, they actually were and need more support next lesson. Occassionally I have kept a record of which colour tub the pupil placed their book in or made a note of the students with their books in the red box. This idea gave me further insight and help with my future planning. At the start of the following lesson, students with their books in the green tub could collect them and carry on as they felt confident they knew what to do next. Then I would target the students who had shown they needed extra support, help or explanation.
I shared this idea with my colleagues and a teacher at my school suggested they could also be used to return the books to the students too, once they have been marked and assessed. So for example, if the teacher is happy with the quality of work or effort the books will be in the green tub. Books in the yellow tub will require improvements or corrections to be made or perhaps more effort is needed. The red tub is for books where there are areas of concern and those students need to individually speak to the teacher. I shared this idea at #TMLiverpool, to which it was very well received. The Head teacher at Holly Lodge College praised the idea and later purchased collection tubs for all staff, as shown below and the feedback was that it worked successfully and with older students too. Other teachers have told me they simply have pieces of coloured card on the desk and students put their books in a pile by the colour of their choice, with the exact same principle.
I don’t use this with every class and every lesson, at Secondary that would be too difficult to do. I do often have students asking if they can put their books away in the collection tubs…I found it funny that my Year 7 class found packing books away to be fun!
I have recently relocated to the UAE and left my collection tubs behind! However, in my new College I found a trolley of three trays that were being used for storage…they were also red, yellow and green! I have seen many teachers on Pinterest and Twitter use Traffic Light coloured collection trays, in a similar way to my collection tubs where books, worksheets or even assessments can be placed in the colour according to the pupil self assessment and reflection. Other teachers have used the trays for complete, almost finished and incomplete work which can help with future planning knowing which pupils are ready to move on and others that need more time.
Thanks for taking the time to read my post. If you’ve been inspired by the traffic light collection tubs then I would love to hear from you to find out how you’ve taken them / adapted or remixed them and used them in your classroom. Please feel free to follow my blog and leave comments below or why not just drop me a message on Twitter .