Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I am struggling with some logic here today. Once a student takes the final assessment (i.e. chapter test) is there a reason for that student to complete the work associated with that assessment? For example, in social studies, once the chapter test is completed, why on EARTH would you have a student take notes, write vocab words, answer section questions, or complete worksheets on that material?

It seems to me, in education, too often we focus on the quantity of work given, not the quality of the work. If an assignment has merit, by all means assign it, require it, assess it, grade it, talk about it, share it,whatever it takes to get that knowledge bouncing around in the students' heads and stick there for the long term, as well as on the assessment.

On the other hand, if the assignment is busy work, or just practice for the assessment, why force them to do it if they can prove mastery in another way?

We had a speaker recently who wanted to completely banish worksheets, likening them to the devil himself. In some instances I agree. Worksheets promote very little in the way of higher order thinking skills, for the most part. They tend to be predictable and rote.

However, in math, I do use worksheets for practice. I believe students need to practice math skills in order to become proficient.

In social studies, I also use worksheets, though more sparingly. For some students, these provide a safe, consistent, predictability they do not experience in the more creative assignments. I find them a valuable tool for basic things, like vocabulary words, or understanding the nitty gritty parts of what we are learning.

Do worksheets take the place of deep thinking writing assignments, class discussions, open ended projects? No! Absolutely not! But that does not mean they are without merit or purpose.

But backing up to the initial concern, if whatever final purpose those worksheets were preparing students to be proficient at has come and gone, why have them complete them after the fact?? That DOES seem like busy work to me, with no purpose or relevance.

1 comment:

Ariel Sacks said...

interesting. Just to add one more thing I use worksheets for is to help formalize a process for students. For example, if I want students to peer edit another students' work I might create a worksheet to help them do that. Eventually they should be able to do it without the worksheet.