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Worksheet Dilemma: Teaching Without Worksheets

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Erica Cowan

on 21 July 2014

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Transcript of Worksheet Dilemma: Teaching Without Worksheets

Which Looks More Fun To You?
or THIS?
In public schools across America, the majority of the school day is spent on paper and pencil tasks. While many educators feel that worksheets demonstrate children's learning progress to parents, they typically are not developmentally appropriate in the early childhood setting.
Problem Solving
Problem solving involves an element of risk. If we would like children to solve problems, we must create safe classroom environment in which they feel confident taking risks, making mistakes, learning from them, and trying again.
It was three o'clock and preschool was over for the day. Four-year-old Audrey, her arms full of papers, called out to her mom. Audrey's mother smiled and asked, "What's all this? Your school work?" Audrey nodded and handed the papers to her mother. Audrey 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." Audrey's lines were a bit shaky, and her teacher had written, "You can do better" on the page. Audrey's mother was concerned when she saw the comment and worried that her daughter was not performing well.
Risk Taking
Worksheets are structured to have a "right" or "wrong" answer. Students may learn that supplying an incorrect answer can damage their self esteem. Worksheets may make students feel ignorant and incompetent, which results in children not taking risks by guessing.
Play Based Curriculum
Through a play based curriculum, children are presented with opportunities to learn about reading, writing, and math through real, meaningful situations. Setting the table for snack teaches one-to-one correspondence. Stringing beads can aide in making patterns. Through meaningful situations, children can begin to understand number, quantity, size, and other mathematical concepts.
Worksheet Dilemma: Teaching Without Worksheets
By: Erica Cowan

The activity that we just completed could have easily been assessed through a worksheet, but where is the fun in that? Through observation of students while completing each task, the same grade can be given.
Work samples, observations, checklists, and portfolios are all ways that teachers can demonstrate achievement in students. Appropriate worksheets, such as recording data and scientific experimentation are welcome, but an entire curriculum should not be based solely on pencil/paper tasks.
Tell me, and I forget.
Teach me, and I remember.
Involve me, and I learn.
-Benjamin Franklin
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