By Colette Frechette at July 13 2019 04:49:09
Then along came digital copiers and the purple_ink mimeograph machine disappeared. But the teaching tool that the mimeograph machine spawned _ the worksheet _ has lived on... and on... and on. For decades _ literally decades _ teachers have been enamored with worksheets. So what is the bottom line? Are worksheets a serious teaching tool or an over_used form of busy work? The answer, of course, is both.
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.