Worksheet is Not a 4-Letter Word

    I do a lot of activities in my class, depending on what I’m teaching and depending on how the students are doing. And I am always asking my colleagues what they are doing in class–I want to expand my tools and resources. However, when I ask I often get that shrug, the eyes don’t meet mine and they respond: “I’m just doing a worksheet”.

    Worksheets have their place in the classroom and a teacher should never be embarrassed to use whatever instructional resources they may have. Besides, a worksheet is versatile. It can be used in so many ways. Here are just a few ideas:

    Cut It Up

    When I teach Polynomials, I cut up a worksheet, have the students race to collect pieces that represent the vocabulary. They make a poster that represents degree and classification. See that post here.

    Use It to Play

    What about a DIY Bingo game? There are several variations how to set this up. You can provide answers to a worksheet and have the students write them on a blank bingo card. Then pass out the worksheet, start working through the problems by displaying them. If the students have the answer on their card, they cross it out. Continue until you have a bingo winner or multiple bingo winners.

    Or pass out the worksheet as it, and have students work the problems of their choice and place the answers on their blank card. After some time has passed, start calling the answers. If you have students show their work, it could help you see where they are struggling. Either way, the worksheet takes on a new importance.

    Make It a Competition

    When I was in middle school, I came in one morning with the printer down, the internet unavailable and I was stuck for ideas. I did have some review worksheets so I used them as a “Team Competition”. I put the kids in groups, gave each group one worksheet and they selected problems and worked together to complete it. They had to finish the problems and add the answers together and the first team that sprinted to my desk and rang the bell with the correct final answer would win.

    Win what? Well, it turns out kids don’t really care what they win as long as they win. The idea that started out of desperation became a regular activity.

    Speed Dating

    Use a worksheet and have each student pick a problem to work. Then they take turns pairing up to teach each other the problem they picked. This works especially well when you have students of differing abilities because they can pick a problem that works for them.

    Post the Answers

    Post the answers to the worksheet problems around the room. Have students work the problems and then race to find the correct answer. Yes, you sometimes have students who will just follow the leader but sometimes those students will follow the leader to the wrong answer. If you have students who do not agree on the answers, then have them debate it.

    It’s Raining Math

    Chop up the problems and place in a box. Students will need to go to the box, find a problem, work it out. When they have finished, they return the problem to the box and get another. It becomes chaotic in the room but the kids enjoy it.

    An alternative to this is Snowball Fight, where you have students write a problem and show their work on a half sheet. When they are finished, they roll it up and toss it in the floor. When everyone has had time to work a few problems, they retrieve someone else’s problem from the floor and check it.

    Clock Appointments

    Students get a copy of a clock (the old fashioned type with the 12 numbers on the dial), and make appointments for each of the 12 numbers. Once their appointments are set, they start on the worksheet. After 10 minutes, the teacher calls out a time for pairs to meet and discuss the problems they have done.

    This is a great activity for the beginning of the year or semester. Have the students find partners for a variety of activities and keep the clock in their notebook.

    After a few minutes, they return home, get back to work until their next appointment. You can keep these clock appointments in their notebook for re-use instead of creating them each time.

    I am sure you can think of a variety of things to do with a worksheet that engages your students. Make math fun in the classroom and students will want to learn.

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