By Pasclina Masse. Worksheet. Published at Monday, April 22nd, 2019 - 12:47:34 PM.
The Worksheet Dilemma: Benefits of Play-Based Curricula. It was three o’clock and preschool was over for the day. Four-year-old Jamaica, her arms full of papers, called out to her mom. Jamaica’s mother smiled and asked, ”What’s all this? Your school work?” Jamaica nodded and handed the papers to her mother. Jamaica had spent a large part of the afternoon in her seat, pencil in hand, filling out worksheets. On one she had drawn lines from the letter ”A” to the picture of an apple; from the letter ”P” to the pear; and from the letter ”O” to the orange. On another sheet she made her pencil go from the dot on the top line to the dot on the bottom line, thus making the lower-case letter ”l.” Jamaica’s lines were a bit shaky, and her teacher had written, ”You can do better” on the page. Jamaica’s mother was concerned when she saw the comment and worried that her daughter was not performing well. In truth, Jamaica’s work was fine. Her teacher’s expectations were the problem.
These are NOT good reasons to use a steady diet of worksheets: “My kids love worksheets.” Actually, I loved worksheets as a kid. My daughter loves them too. But we shouldn’t give our kids something just because they like it. My kids would love to watch TV all day and eat candy for dinner, too. We might also do well to determine why they like worksheets. Is it because they are easy? Because it means they don’t have to think as hard? Because worksheets let them be passive learners?. I’m just preparing my students for the next grade – because that teacher uses a ton of worksheets and workbooks. Believe me, this was a real concern of mine as a classroom teacher. How would my students be ready for the stacks of workbooks in the next grade if we didn’t do some in my room? Then I read somewhere — “It’s not your job to prepare your students for bad teaching.” That was a great comfort!.
Mathematical understanding is more than recognition of numerals and amounts. Sorting, categorizing, putting items in a series, and problem solving are all important math concepts (Raines & Canady, 1990). The teacher may believe that Jamaica understands the concept of ”four” if she circles four flowers on the worksheet. But until Jamaica can transfer that learning to other situations, such as the number of places at the table for four people, Jamaica does not truly understand what ”four” means. Similarly, Jamaica may be able to print the letters ”R,” ”U,” and ”N” on a worksheet, but be unable to read the word ”run” when she sees it in a book. The mere accomplishment of the worksheet task does not signify the child’s ability to read or comprehend.
Are worksheets good or bad? Ah, worksheets. I hesitate to even write this post because I don’t want to open a giant can of worms. The truth is that “worksheets” is one of those words that stirs up a lot of emotion among educators. Actually, I get pretty worked up about worksheets. I’m not going to claim that today’s post is indisputable fact. It’s my opinion — and while you may or may not agree, I want my readers to know where I stand. Are worksheets good or bad? First of all, what do I mean by “worksheet”? My definition of worksheet: A printed page that a child completes with a writing instrument. No other materials are needed, multiple choice questions, matching exercise, handwriting practice, coloring pages, math problems, fill-in-the-blank book reports, word searches and crossword puzzles, copywork.
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