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Monday, June 28, 2010

Worksheet Variations

Worksheets are standard operating procedures in most classrooms. In this article I would like to give you three ideas to jazz up those worksheets. A worksheet is a set of questions typed on a piece of paper and handed to a student to answer in a set amount of time. Many people make the mistake of not setting a time limit for completing worksheets, which eliminates any chance of success from the very beginning. A worksheet should never have more than 20 questions, and I also recommend a variety of question types. I put fill-in-the-blank, true and false, matching, and anything else I can think of on a worksheet. Remember variety is the spice of life. How can you encourage students to do basic worksheet; check out the ideas below.


The teacher divides the classes into groups of four. The first group to finish a worksheet correctly for every group member wins bonus points on their grade. I usually rewarded the first five groups to finish. 1st place receives 5 points, 2nd place receives 4 points, 3rd place receives 3 points, 4th place receives 2 points, and 5th place receives 1 point. Groups pick up numbers as they finish so you can keep track of who finished in what order. Having two groups finish in 1st place or any other place is not an issue; the issue is getting the worksheet completed in a short amount of time. Also, remember that the worksheet has to be devised so it can be graded quickly; otherwise, you will lose control of the class. Make the students responsible for making sure that all worksheets are identical so that you only have to grade one sheet. The first place groups can then become graders for groups that finish later. To keep your classes honest, collect all worksheets at the end and scan to be sure that all are the same. Any attempt to turn in work that has not been completed by all group members should results in the loss of points received. Of course all rules and procedures regarding any assignment must be conveyed to the students in advance as this will eliminate complaining and whining from your students.


The worksheets are still completed correctly by all group members, but now the group members take on the responsibility of teaching each other the content represented on the worksheet. Before a winner is declared, the teacher can ask any group member five questions to assure learning has taken place. If a question is missed the teacher moves on to the next group. This process continues in the classroom until a winner can be declared. I recommend giving each group a number for organizational reasons.


The teacher divides the class into partners. They complete and learn the content on their worksheet. When they believe that they know the material, they bring the worksheet to the teacher for checking. If all material on the worksheet is correct the teacher will ask each partner two questions. If they both answer correctly, the game is over. If not, the teacher continues to search for a winner. Again I usually have five winners.

NOTE: Worksheet Race and Buddy Sheets are really the same activity but often you have classes that have behavior problems and cannot work in groups of four so pair activities work better. When introducing worksheets in groups, I always start as a pair and then move to threes and then fours; this helps students learn proper work habits.


The teacher divides the class into groups giving them material to review with each other. This is usually a worksheet. A time limit to end the study session should be set.


1. During the study session each group selects a group spokesperson. The spokesperson will give all answers for the group during the questioning session.2. The spokesperson for each group stands, and the teacher asks the first group a question. Note: Group members are to give spokesperson the answer to give to the teacher. If the group answers the question correctly, the teacher moves to the next group. If the group answers incorrectly, that group is out of play.3. The group with a spokesperson still standing at the end of questioning wins.

Helpful Hint:

The first groups to finish can help you quiz the other finishers to save time and to keep them on task. All you need is questions with the correct answers written down.

For more see Worksheet Alternative Part #2 or Worksheet Variations

Find more Teaching Strategies like this on the Teaching Strategies Page


abdul March 7, 2011 at 3:21 AM  

iam a mathematics teacher, teaching for grade 10. these ideas are very helpful and practical and i'm sure the students will be benefited and the class control can be improved. thanks a lot.

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