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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Worksheet Alternatives

The most popular teaching strategy in most classrooms today is still a Worksheet. In fact, I believe that worksheets are a valid means of practicing previously taught material. The only problem with worksheets is getting students to do them in a timely fashion without talking non-stop to others students. Another serious problem with worksheets comes from the student who waits for a friend to finish his/her worksheet and then copy all the answers and turns the worksheet in as his/her own work. I have not solved all the problems associated with worksheets, but I have developed some ways of doing worksheets that make them less disruptive and more productive.
There are a few constants that should always apply when using a worksheet in class. The worksheet:

• Should never be longer than 1 page
• Should be between 5 and 15 questions
• Should be timed and all students should start and stop at the same time
• Should be followed by an assessment that holds students accountable
• Should be associated with a grade
• Should not look like a worksheet whenever possible

In the Strategies of the Week section of this blog, there are many alternative ways to do a worksheet. They all have different names and procedures but are still a worksheet. I like to call it a worksheet with a little flare. Over the next several months, I would like to recommend you use substitute activities for your traditional worksheet. I would like to start with three worksheet alternatives and continue with recommendations every four to six weeks until I run out of ideas. This will give you time to try and perfect the first three before the next assignment. You should never introduce to many new ideas at once in your classroom. It will not only confuse your students but confuse you as well.
The first three strategies I recommend to replace the traditional worksheet are Scavenger Hunt, Old Maid, and Visual Impact. The only difference between a Scavenger Hunt and a regular worksheet is that the students get to walk around the room and read in lieu of using their textbook (See Scavenger Hunt). Old Maid is a review game but can substitute for a worksheet by having the students create their own set of cards (See Old Maid). Depending on the size of the deck of cards you plan to create, this can be done as a pairs or as a group activity. You need enough decks of cards to be able to play Old Maid as an entire class once the cards have been created. The game itself would be your worksheet’s assessment. Lastly, Visual Impact is a worksheet without written questions (See Visual Impact). The teacher holds up a visual and asks the students questions about it. A good assignment for Visual Impact is to have the students draw each visual presented and jot down what they know about it. I usually did this as a pair’s activity. Pair’s activities are great ways to do worksheets; I just gave you another strategy.

Find more Teaching Strategies like this on the Teaching Strategies Page

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