Margaux Noor August 8, 2020 worksheets
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.
I have said ”Don’t Use Worksheets” about every way there is to say it, and each time I have included solid brain-based, researched reasons for this statement; and yet, I know that many people will ignore the science in favor of the convenience. It is very difficult to fight the tide when there are so many internet sites pushing worksheets at parents, and so many reputable textbook companies doing likewise. It is difficult to remember the reasons to avoid them when one has very little time to devote to working with math. Worksheets just seem so much easier than doing things any other way. Can they really cause harm?
Planning Worksheets for Kids.Before creating the worksheet for children, it is important to understand why the worksheet is being made. Is there a message to be conveyed? Can students record information that can be understood later? Is it being created to just teach a basic concept to little children? A well designed worksheet will make its objective clear. The different aspects that should influence the design of the worksheet are the age, ability and motivation of the students. A young child may not be able to write or read more than a few words. Worksheets should be created keeping these factors in mind. When you buy worksheets for your children, look for how the concept is explained. Is it pictorial or is it just a collection of words? A pictorial worksheet will hold the attention of a child more than just a combination of words.
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.
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.
If you must use worksheets, then be sure you do the following 6 things:1. Know what you are buying. If you can’t see it (there is no sample shown), then do not buy it. There are many people out there trying to make a buck off the current popularity of worksheets. Many, if not most, of these people know nothing about mathematics, teaching, or how the brain learns. Anyone can type columns of addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. problems; but these worksheets will be bad for your child. Don’t trust what you can’t see.
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