Worksheets - yes or no?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by Ms.T, Jun 29, 2007.

  1. Ms.T

    Ms.T Comrade

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    Jun 29, 2007

    Hey all,

    I was just reading a very interesting thread in the preschool section and I thought I'd get some insight from my fellow elementary teachers.

    When I was student teaching, my school did not use worksheets very much at all; it was frowned upon. Maybe 5% of the work was worksheets. However, at my current job they seem to LOVE worksheets. Many of the teachers in my school seem to use them as busywork and to keep their classes quiet. I remember not liking them much as a kid. Even as a teacher, I find them boring and don't feel that they teach skills very well. I prefer to do hands-on activities. I'd like to cut down on worksheets majorly this coming year. I will probably send them as homework, for reenforcement.

    How do you feel about worksheets? How often and what kinds of worksheets do you use?
     
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  3. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I think the key word is VALUE. Everything has it's place- even a worksheet here and there. I would much rather create my own than use one already created... at least I can put all the infomration in there that I think is important.
     
  4. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    I use some worksheets, but when I do, most of the time I have made them myself to go with a specific activity. If I make them, I find that they relate to what we are doing, and help organize the students ideas.

    I also prefer hands-on work, but find I need to know what they have done, and make some kind of recording sheet to go along with it.

    I used to have an activity each morning ready for the kids, and it was generally a worksheet, math, writing, spelling, etc. Now I do a problem on the board as a morning message. They either write the answer on the board, or an index card. It really cuts down on my work load, as correcting all the worksheets is a huge time consumer.
     
  5. Touchthefuture

    Touchthefuture Comrade

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    I think they can be overused and I know the kids do not like them. My goal is to do less this year. I have to admit they were very helpful as a new teacher. It allowed me to work on some other teaching methods.
     
  6. wdwteach

    wdwteach Cohort

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    The kids finish them too fast! They don't read the directions. I use them in lit. centers but make the kids cut them and sort them. I agree that they need to kept to a minimum and have value.
     
  7. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Just out of curiosity, do you consider graphic organizers to be the same as worksheets? I just want to clarify this for my own use, because my college professors practically banned worksheets, but loved graphic organizers!
     
  8. MissMcCollum

    MissMcCollum Companion

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    Kids need the visual to start, and for those whose fine motor skills suffer, photo-copied graphic organizers are fabulous. The key with them, though, is to guide them to create their own. I want to introduce a lot of different graphic organizers to my kids so that they have a "toolbox" of ideas to work from. Some kids, though, will not be able to get past drawing the diagram.... Graphic organizers are such a useful tool, regardless of if the kids draw them or you give them the worksheet to use.
     
  9. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I was thinking that they would be a great way to teach kids how to pull the important things from the texts (i.e., studying!). I just wasn't sure if they were different.
     
  10. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    I consider worksheets to be premade, one-size fits all sheets that relate specifically to some kind of exercise. Like, matching homophones, or solving math problems.

    Graphic organizers, sheets for collecting data in science or math, maps, checklists for writing, etc. are noted consider worksheets by me. Worksheets are a stand alone activity. Photocopied papers that go with another activity are tools to use with an activity.

    For example: students reading from a worksheet packet about writing good paragraphs is not best practice. (Take a topic provided and make a paragrapgh about it using the lines provided)

    Students coming up with a paragraph using a photocopied graphic organizer, and writing on a topic of their choice in a journal is better.

    Writing, then conferencing with the teacher and revising the writing to make complete paragraphs is the more constructivist approach. This would perhaps involve cutting apart the story and reordering it to make it more clear.
     
  11. Ms.T

    Ms.T Comrade

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    I agree with what others have said about graphic organizers - they are a tool to use with another activity. I don't consider those worksheets, either. In fact, having kids make their own graphic organizers can be time consuming. I'd rather have a few different ones that they know how to use available for them. That way they are doing writing and thinking as the main activity, not drawing silly pictures and calling it a graphic organizer.

    Littleschool, I like how you changed to writing it on the board. I have been thinking about that. Even if they are done correctly and they follow the directions, I just don't want to correct a bunch of worksheets from bellwork every day!
     
  12. beachteach

    beachteach Rookie

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    I do use worksheets but I use them with Kagan activities (cooperative learning). The kids will mix pair shair, rally coach, rally table, round table, find someone who, or play showdown. So they are not just sitting at their desk working. They are working with another child and doing 50% of the work. It works really well. The kids enjoy it!
     
  13. Miss Kirby

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    When we do practice worksheets for morning work, we just go over it together on the screen, and the kids put "Tog." on the top because we did it "together."
     
  14. corps2005

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    I use worksheets during our math time, but we still do hands-on activities and group work. They also go to math centers. The worksheet is a way for me to get a quick picture of their understanding. They usually finish it too fast anyway :p
     
  15. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I understand and appreciate your definition, littleschool. That's kind of the way I view them, too, but I was not sure of the general consensus on them.

    Regarding "students reading from a worksheet packet about writing good paragraphs is not best practice. (Take a topic provided and make a paragrapgh about it using the lines provided.) Isn't this the way the standardized tests are set up for writing? (My thought is that then it would be good practice for the test.) It's been a long time since I've seen a standardized test (other than the Praxis and GRE), but I think I remember something about (at least the Leap) them having that kind of paragraph requirement for the writing portion. I could be completely off base, though.
     
  16. MrsMikesell

    MrsMikesell Cohort

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    I really hate worksheets. I find them boring and the high kids finish too fast, the slow kids finish too slow... and so on.

    I'd rather have my students do authentic responces to whatever we are studying. Sometimes they write stories, books, word lists, draw pictures, whatever.

    I think this builds more creativity.

    The First Grade team at my school complained that my former students didn't know how to do worksheets. I said, "OK - is that on the expectations now?" I just don't see their value.

    Kelly :)
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I have one great one. It's for HS geometery (which I haven't taught in ages)-- a circle problem with 26 questions. It really gets the kids thinking. I use it as a group activity, so it's cooperative learning-- just an all around great teaching tool.

    I have another great one I use when I'm teaching Juniors (it's been a while there too!) It's on composition of functions. The kids start with 6 (I think) different functions. They have to combine them acccording to the directions and end up with another of the functions on the grid.

    I think the problem with worksheets isn't the concept itself, but the types of sheets. When you find one of those great keepers, you hang onto it!!
     
  18. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    As a parent of the "slow" kid, I know she does much better with an authentic response answer. She's just completed her freshman year in high school & had 2 different teachers for history. 1 teacher had the kids reading out of the textbook & doing worksheets, the other had the kids reading out of the text, doing some worksheets, but also doing projects. She did much better when she had the projects to reinforce what she had read. When it came exam time, she did much better with the teacher that did the projects.
     
  19. Ellensmom

    Ellensmom Companion

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    I like using graphic organizers as well. I do use some worksheets but I ususally make them myself. Our computer teacher showed the kids how to make different graphic organizers on the computer and then tied it in with a lesson I was using in class. It worked very well, the kids learned some good computer skills, and were able to pull info out of stories or lessons as well.
     
  20. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    The only problem I see with never doing worksheets is the kids don't know how to take the assessment tests. Yes, half the battle is knowing how to take the test not just the info inside. I'm not the expert in this area but that's just my off the wall opinion.
     
  21. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Doing worksheets once in awhile is fine. Doing them all day, everyday is not.

    One teacher at my school says, I'm sixty- should I start using a walker now to prepare me for when I'm eighty?

    I think we can prepare kids for tests without doing it all the time. A few weeks before the test, you can talk about test taking techniques and do some practice. MOST of your instruction can be holistic and child-centered without doing worksheets all day in preparation for the test. Hopefully they will be prepared for the test, and LOVE school.
     
  22. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I never suggested we do them all day or everyday just that worksheets do have a place and value.
     
  23. teachingmomof4

    teachingmomof4 Groupie

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    Our curriculum (Houghton Mifflin) has tons of worksheets to go with each day/theme. We use some but certainly not all. The poor kids would only be doing worksheets and we would have bulletin board displays of worksheets only. If there is some other way to have the kids learn/master/assess the concepts, we have them do that instead of the worksheet. A worksheet, to me, is just a quick way to assess whether they have got the skill down or not. However, that being said, sometimes the worksheets give away the answer so you really don't know whether or not they understand anything.

    There are many different ways to assess and provide portfolio opportunities than just using worksheets. I guess it is at your discretion whether you think it will be useful down the road or not.
     

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