Using worksheets in the classroom is common. It is not always the best learning strategy, teaching strategy or engagement strategy we can use. This is a series where I will discuss what you can do instead of worksheets in your classroom. I will walk through considerable practical ways you can engage your students more effectively and give them meaningful, memorable tasks that are not just ‘busy work’.
I recently went to a school to work in the kindergarten class and was quite surprised to see students completing worksheets on phonics. Is that still a thing? And how far has education come if we are still giving 5 year olds meaningless worksheets? Not only were they poorly designed, there were also 2 Learning and Support Assistants (LSA) in the room who were just wandering around. The learning and support staff could have been better occupied with small group literacy activities such as: (for example)
- Direct instruction, or
- Phonics card games, or
- Reading books with the phonics
The worksheets were collected and handed up, which means there was no immediate feedback for the students, which is what 5 year olds need if tasks are to have any meaning for them.
Three students sitting near me were concerned with ‘cheating’, that is, looking at each others’ work to see if they are on the right track.
I know worksheets are easy and seem to fit into the teaching process, you feel like you need to book end the lesson with kids writing on a worksheet or filling out a page in a text book.
But let’s look at what they really achieve?
…and much of it is just busy work.
1. 10 Teaching Strategies To Replace Worksheets
In this first video, I discuss why worksheets are not an effective teaching tool and 10 teaching strategies to use instead to improve student engagement and learning. Knowing why worksheets are not the best learning activity, will help you understand what else you can do and give you some ideas for how to use pen and paper in more productive ways.
2. 15 Engaging Learning Strategies To Use (that are not worksheets!)
In this video you will learn 15 engaging, effective learning strategies your students can use independently that are not worksheets. These exercises give students scope to present work in a much more engaging and fun way so that learning is more meaningful and memorable. Providing your students with variety will not only engage and motivate them, it will cater to different learning styles and levels of skills covering off on your requirement to differentiate student learning.
Most of the tasks we give kids to do is low grade clerical work and then we ask why they are not engaged.Sir Ken Robinson
3. 10 Teacher Led Activities To Increase Student Engagement
In this video you will learn 10 ways you can use teacher led activities that increase student learning by increasing participation and engagement. This video is about how to effectively support your students in their learning and achieve the best outcomes… all without worksheets.
4. How To Effectively Use Worksheets That Are (even) Poorly Designed
In this video you will learn, I go through 10 ways to use a worksheet, even one that is poorly designed, to teach more effectively. Often the problem with worksheets is that they are used to teach, to replace the teacher. Because students all learn differently and at different rates, a worksheet cannot teach a concept, but it can be used as a support when combined with effective teaching.
Worksheets can be the drill-and-kill tools of boredom, frustration and shallow learning. Sometimes worksheets are ok, and even if they are not great there are teaching strategies you can use to make them more effective.
5. 11 Collaboration Techniques To Increase Student Engagement (and behaviour)!
This is the 5th and final video in this series to provide teaching strategies that are better than worksheets that engage and excite your students. Of course, the ultimate goal is to increase participation and achievement.
In this video you will learn 11 collaboration techniques you can use to increase learning by improving student engagement and behaviour that you can apply to your class with very little effort.