Day 103 (of 184) Stupid Worksheets (wurkt fer me?)
Today I got caught in a quandary….normally I am very opposed to worksheets – and was loving reading some tweets via @cwejr and @sjunkins – especially a great image where ‘Friends don’t let friends hand out worksheets’.
Of course, as I was looking at the picture http://twicsy.com/i/AHRree I happened to be creating a math worksheet for my Teacher-On-Call coming in tomorrow….awkward.
I do have to remind myself of the time that I questioned a teacher for her (prepare yourself for this horror) worksheets on handwriting. Fortunately she was patient with me and showed how the worksheets were a calming mechanism for the class – and indeed for a disenfranchised group of grade 3 learners, it did just that: the repeated motion of hand to paper, almost as a ‘drawing’, did indeed help the students transition after lunch break.
And my students always said they liked the ‘special occasion’ of worksheets when I was/am away for ‘co-curricular projects’ – but in large part because they were not ‘the norm of the day’.
Yet I need to balance the ‘worksheet as a tool’ discussions with the arguments I raise that ‘just because you scan a worksheet, it doesn’t make it digital learning’.
I think it goes back to my regular discussions around ‘tools vs toys’ with technology (tools benefit learning, toys distract) where worksheets can be likewise linked – a tool when it benefits learning, a paper-airplane-waiting-to-happen’ when it is just ‘more of the same’ or ‘something to kill some time’.
So, I guess I have to retreat to my usual reflection piece: if it enhances learning it is good – if it is a distraction…..less good. In other words, my usual ‘question’ – what is the ‘intention’. And ‘more work/practice/etc’ may not impress me as a way to ‘help the day go by’. When the intention is to enhance learning and augment education, then there is a clear mission: learning.
And if worksheets need to be involved, the worksheet should be ‘part of the process’, not a replacement to the teacher – as I like to say, if a worksheet can mimic what I do in class, then I need to work on my skills. So now I need to hope that the worksheet I created does its task: start the learning/thinking/collaborating process, but not be ‘the’ activity. I guess sometimes worksheets can work for me.
But not always!