Our last discussion of Best Practices was a partial article from ASCD, Mark Barnes. Let's continue this discussion...
"Perhaps you think that the in-class activities you assign are not worksheets. The challenge now is to decide if what you select is a worksheet. The following questions make up my worksheet litmus test:
- Does the activity come from a source with the word workbook or lesson on it?
- Was the activity copied from a textbook?
- Does the activity look like a multiple-choice quiz?
- Does the activity require students to fill in a blank space by copying information found in a textbook?
- Do you currently or have you ever called the activity a worksheet?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you have a worksheet on your hands, and you need to take serious action. I'm attempting to inject a little levity here, but the message is a serious one. Students do, in fact, hate worksheets. Worksheets, workbooks, practice tests, or any other canned assignments—pretending to be something other than worksheets—bore students and make them hate learning. These assignments turn average teachers into weak ones and undermine the efforts of potentially brilliant teachers. Worksheets are crutches, used primarily as tools to teach to a test, and this creates a vicious cycle of bad education.
A typical bell curve shows that 20 percent receive A's (because they know the system), 20 percent fail (because they didn't complete the worksheets or review for the test), and 60 percent land somewhere in the middle (because they know how to do just enough to get by). What hasn't happened here is real learning." Mark Barnes
In summary, worksheets can be replaced with hands-on activities and small group instruction. Real learning takes place here. Something to keep in mind....If a child can do a worksheet, then why do it? (What are they learning? That's the bell curve of 20% who receive A's.) If a child can NOT do a worksheet, then why do it? (What are they learning? That's the 20% who fail.) Sooooooo...why do a worksheet?