No more worksheets please! A worksheet is a printed page that usually has one correct answer and is used one time then turned in, graded and/or tossed. Often the whole class is required to do the same worksheet, even though it may be too easy for some and too hard for others. We all know that worksheets are not very exciting to complete or to correct, yet I see tons of worksheets in schools everywhere and in products purchased by teachers. Buyer Beware: Just because it is a “cute” worksheet does not make it a more effective learning activity.
There are many more engaging and effective ways to differentiate instruction, provide valuable practice, encourage deeper thinking, improve achievement, inspire creativity, and most importantly keep the joy in learning. I challenge you to give the copy machine a rest, save the trees and empower students with these six great alternatives to worksheets!
- READING: Now there’s a novel idea! The best way to become a better reader and a successful student is to read, read, read! We all know this, so let’s give students lots of time to read. When they come to school in the morning, instead of giving them morning worksheets, let them read a book of their choice. Reading should be the go to activity when finished with other work.
- WRITING: Instead of giving students a worksheet about the story they just read or the science concept they just learned, have them write about it. Instead of the fast finisher worksheet tub, let the students write stories, poems, articles or anything else they choose to write.
- INDIVIDUAL WRITING SLATES: I know this takes us back to pioneer times, but look how much the pioneer children learned without worksheets! Instead of guiding the students through a worksheet, have them do the problems or write the answers on their slates. It’s an easy way to check for understanding, and students love having their own slate!
- GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS: After a lesson, instead of a worksheet, place students in groups with a poster paper to create a graphic organizer about something they just learned. Give students poster paper and markers, and you have happy kids!
- GAMES: Printing games that will be used over and over is the best use of the copy machine! There are also many great games on websites and apps. Instead of giving a worksheet, provide an engaging game which students will want to play over and over. Games can also be differentiated according to the skills the students need to practice.
- PROJECTS: A good project allows students to gain deeper knowledge as they interact with a real world problem or challenge. They can work alone, with a partner or in a small group. The project might be completed in an hour, a week or even a month. Projects are a dynamic way to enhance student learning and motivation.
Now honestly, isn’t this the look we want to see on our students’ faces. Keeping the joy in learning also keeps the joy in teaching!