Brettany Livia July 28, 2020 worksheets
So what is the concern? There are three big concerns, actually.Our teacher ”caution light” should start blinking if we are using lower-level-thinking worksheets (Example: ”Check the box next to the correct answer.”), if we are using too many worksheets or if we are using worksheets as classroom busy work.
Pamela Haack is an educational consultant, national presenter and keynote speaker. She is co-founder, along with author/instructor, Mary Peterson, of Teacher Online Classes, an organization that offers e-resources and online seminars and workshops for educators.
2. Know the author’s background. This person needs to have a background in education and, ideally, should be trained in the latest educational methods, like brain-based teaching/learning. I personally would never use any materials with my child that didn’t specifically mention being ”brain-based.” I am not talking about just ”research-based.” I see more and more sites claiming to have research-based materials, but what I find is definitely NOT based on how the brains actually learns. Brain-based learning is relatively new in the educational world, but most worksheet sites and materials are using old science or, more often, no science at all.
In 1986, mimeograph machines were (for the most part) replaced by digital copiers in elementary schools. Those of us teachers who experienced using mimeograph machines will forever remember the distinct smell of the still-damp, purple-ink worksheets that we handed out to our students – by the ream full. (If you’re like me, you can remember that smell right now!)
3. If the materials do not specifically indicate ”brain-based,” determine if they are at least ”brain-friendly.” This would mean that you are looking for lots of color, material interesting to the child, many varied activities-especially involving movement, and using several of the senses. I saw one company whose worksheets included the instruction to ”say the number out loud as you…” This is very good! Speaking out loud is very important for learning to occur. Ideally, all worksheets should include this instruction. If you can’t find any that do, then you need to add that instruction yourself.
4. NEVER use ”skill and drill” worksheets. These are the worksheets just made up of columns of problems. There are better materials out there, so don’t resort to skill and drill. The very worst problem of skill and drill worksheets is the greatly increased chance of a practiced mistake. The same problem will likely appear several times on the same sheet. A wrong answer once means a wrong answer several times; and a practiced mistake takes hundreds of correct repetitions to fix. This danger alone is important enough to never use any worksheet. I am quite serious about how difficult it is to repair a practiced mistake. Learning is hard enough. Re-learning is much more difficult.
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