There is so much debate in the education ‘world’ about the effectiveness (or non-effectiveness) of worksheets. In my opinion, I think that worksheets should be the exception, not the rule. Worksheets should never be your default, your go-to, or your lesson plan.
Does this mean that all worksheets in the classroom are a waste of time? No. Before you give a worksheet, evaluate it’s purpose! Here are some questions you should ask yourself before copying and handing out that worksheet —
Am I providing timely feedback?
If you are going to give a worksheet, students should have the opportunity to read or hear feedback from you. This doesn’t mean that you should have a mini-conference with each student following every worksheet you assign… but it does mean that they deserve to know what they did well and what opportunities they have to improve. Get out your Flair pens, and give a word of encouragement or a question to kickstart their thinking in another direction… and give it back to your students.
Am I grading these worksheets?
I think we all know the teachers out there who hand out a worksheet, let the students complete it… then wait until the end of the day to hide the stack of student work in the recycle bin. If your students spent the time to work on it, they deserve for you to look at it. Period.
What is the purpose of this worksheet?
Fine motor skills? Correct letter and number formation? Checking for understanding on a specific skill? Okay! As long as you are using it as ONE of a few ways that you are determining understanding, go for it.
Am I using this worksheet as a tool to help drive my instruction?
Since you are providing feedback and grading the worksheet, what are you doing with the results? Maybe you are combining the data you get from their performance on a subtraction worksheet PLUS your observations of in-class work with base ten blocks on a subtraction mat to place them into guided math groups. Great!
Am I placing all the weight of grading a standard on this one worksheet?
The worksheet should not be the only measure of a skill that you pay attention to. We all know that our students are unique, and they learn and show what they have learned in unique ways. Provide your students with many different opportunities to show what they know, and you will get the big picture of what they understand and what they don’t!
We all want what’s best for our students… so just make sure that you are asking yourself these questions before you head to that copy machine. I’d love to hear your opinions, so leave a comment below with your thoughts on this hot topic!