Joyann Iris November 22, 2020 Worksheet
The primary problem with most math worksheets is that the problems are already written out and the child need only write the answers. For learning and practicing the basic skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, it is much more beneficial for the child to write out the entire fact and say the entire fact out loud. A child will learn a multiplication fact much faster if they are writing out 6 x 8 = 48 at the same time they are saying ”six times eight is forty-eight” than if they just see 6 x 8 = ___ and only have to supply the 48.
Therefore creativity is a must for worksheets to be successful. Regardless if you are trying to review math, science, reading, writing, health, or social studies, your goal should always be to try and create something that will generate desire in the students to actually want to do it. If you can do this, the battle is practically over already. For example, since I want to make sure my students get accustomed to reviewing the various math concepts and standards we’ve learned all year, I have them practice regularly. I want them to get to a point where they are so familiar with grade level math content, that solving these types of problems becomes automatic. However, caution must be taken into account when review is repeatedly covered in your classroom. You do not want your students to become bored or frustrated with the repetition.
Another problem with almost all worksheets is that they don’t prevent incorrect answers. Self-checking worksheets just let the student know they did something wrong–after the fact. I am a firm believer in the concept that, if at all possible, learning should be structured in small chunks in such a way that there is very little possibility for error. Worksheets often allow for mistakes to be made and then to be repeated many times. A mistake that gets practiced is extremely difficult to correct. This especially happens when worksheets are used as time fillers or baby sitters and the work isn’t really being supervised.
Numerous research studies have found that when students are actively engaged with the content, they have a much better chance of understanding and remembering what they have learned. Unfortunately, math worksheets tend to bore most students, especially those who need the most help in math. Engagement entails much more than rote repetition of a procedure. Math worksheets tend to present very similar problem types over and over, leading to mundane practice of disassociated skills. For students who understand the material and successfully complete an assignment, another worksheet becomes meaningless. On the other hand, for the students who don’t understand the material, an alternative method of instruction is what’s needed. Another worksheet simply adds to the student’s frustration, or worse, contributes to a belief that ”I’ll never understand math.” A cute image or a ”fill-in-the-blanks” riddle does nothing to increase engagement or learning (and let’s face it, those riddles are not funny!). Instead, teachers need to increase engagement by providing students with exercises in which they discover patterns and relationships, solve problems, or think creatively about math relationships.
Have you ever noticed how many K-12 math content websites are devoted to math worksheets? There seems to be an increase in websites that cater to desperate teachers and parents by offering fast, free ”worksheet generation”, ”10 free fractions worksheets,” etc. Now, as a former teacher I am not saying that one should never use math worksheets; however, I do believe that many teachers are using a very superficial method of instruction that relies too much on low-level math worksheets and hands-off instructional approaches. Worksheet lessons move from reading the directions aloud, to doing sample problems as a group, to completing the worksheet independently (or at home with parents), day in and day out.
It’s easy to see how free worksheets can save you money. If you want, you can skip buying math books and just use worksheets that you get for free on the internet. All you need to do is use a ”scope and sequence” book that tells you what your child needs to be doing in math by age and grade. This book is essential when you homeschool. I recommend getting one of these books when you first begin homeschooling and use it as a reference throughout your homeschool journey. Regardless of how long you homeschool, you’ll always have doubts and questions about how your child is performing.A scope and sequence book can put your mind at ease.
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