I’ll admit it. I’ve used them before. Worksheets.
I have wasted paper and provided everyone the same work on those worksheets. I have taught with them, assessed with them, and used them under the guise of differentiation.
We all make mistakes, right?
Let’s break apart the word worksheet.
Worksheets are designed to give students something to do, work. They are doing work, busy work, seat work, whatever you want to call it. But, it’s not really learning.
It’s work on a sheet. By definition a sheet is standardized, commercially produced.
So we are doing standardized activities on those worksheets. But, many of us balk about standardization. We ask for flexibility and freedom in our classrooms and then we use one of the most standardized tools available in our instruction. Some may even call worksheets the curriculum.
We ask our students to:
Color by the letter.
Underline and circle parts of speech.
Complete math facts.
Fill in the blank.
It all makes me cringe.
But, there’s a better way…
There are more engaging ways to capture our students’ understanding. Strategies that require higher level thinking. Opportunities for creativity and divergent thinking. Methods that help students see the big picture. And, guess what? They don’t take any more work on our part.
Step away from the copy machine and the worksheet.
- Try a reading or writing conference and talk to your students. You can glean far more from a short conversation with a student.
- Introduce interactive notebooks. Give students some freedom in demonstrating mastery and encourage them to write about their learning, their comprehension, questions, and inference.
- Talk. Think-Pair-Share. Bring in group discussions. Talk. Facilitate collaboration. Even students as young as kindergarten can benefit from practice with this vital skill.
- Graphic organizers. Maybe even let your students come up with their own kinds of organizers.
- Sketchnote! Sketchnotes are so popular right now because they appeal to a variety of learning styles. Visual note-taking like this is powerful for young students too and serves as a summarizing tool.
- Allow students to create their own worksheet. Yes, I know it’s still a worksheet. But, students will learn much more from creating a worksheet than completing one. Call it something other than a worksheet, please.
I would love to hear other examples and strategies you use in your classroom instead of worksheets.
Comment below or connect with me at @JCrossEdu