Celine Enora February 20, 2021 worksheets
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. Teaching needs to be more than passing out worksheets. Whether you are the classroom teacher, instructional specialist, or parent, the methods you use greatly impact the level of understanding achieved by your students.
The most important thing about these math worksheets is that they are used for tutoring and not for the main course studies. That is why they are used by tutors to offer remedial tuition and by parents at home so that they can offer their kids extra tuition to sharpen their skills. Math is known to be difficult and is often a headache for the young and so the math worksheets come in handy in helping resolve this problem. Thanks to the sites over the internet that offer free printable math worksheets, you do not need to worry about the cost of purchasing one, maybe only the ink cost. So don’t go making excuses for not being able to access a math work sheet.
Tip #1 – Age Appropriateness. Multiplication worksheets are easy to find on the internet but before you start printing everything you find, you need to consult your child’s grade level math book or purchase a good scope and sequence book. A scope and sequence book will tell you what your child should be doing in math according to age and grade level. This book is a handy reference to always have on hand so you can be sure your child is staying on track. A good scope and sequence book will break down math into each area and you’ll know what your child needs to accomplish for that school year. Use this book as a guide as to which multiplication worksheets you should print off. If your child is just beginning to multiply multi-digit problems without carrying, don’t make the mistake of giving her worksheets that have carrying. It will most likely throw your child for a loop and she will become upset.
5. Math worksheets don’t provide immediate feedback. Most teachers are familiar with the long delay between when students complete a worksheet, and when they get their correct page. Most don’t get anything back until the next day or the next week. In the meantime, the students continue to practice incorrectly. It’s no surprise that immediate feedback has been shown to increase student performance and diligence. Unfortunately, math worksheets have no mechanism for keeping a student from moving to the next problem until after they demonstrate understanding. Good curriculum software can address this issue by giving students instant responses and strategic feedback. The use of visual cues and auditory feedback helps students quickly recognize their fraction errors and self-correct. This just-in-time feedback system eliminates practicing incorrectly, while promoting self-correction and independence.
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. There are some new materials being developed now based on what we are learning about how the brain learns. These brain-friendly materials should be an improvement over what has existed. I recently bought a book by Marcia L. Tate titled ”Mathematics Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites.” I highly recommend her book. She gives a great deal of information on alternative activities that are better for your child’s brain development and for learning.
2. Math worksheets don’t promote critical thinking. Math worksheets rarely ask students to think critically or creatively. They usually present multiple examples of the same problem type with the hope of reinforcing a skill or procedure. They do not challenge students to use higher order thinking skills such as comparing, analyzing, deducing, and synthesizing. These skills are built through activities in which students discover concepts, explore ideas, test a hypothesis, solve a problem, and discuss their thinking with their peers. Exploring concepts and problems in many different ways builds interest and promotes critical thinking. 3. Math worksheets don’t promote communication and collaboration. Math worksheets are often assigned as an independent activity, however research indicates that communication and discourse are needed to build a deep understanding of math topics. Students need opportunities to explore mathematical ideas in different ways and to build their own connections. This involves communicating their ideas, listening to the ideas of others, arguing a viewpoint, describing, and explaining. Math worksheets are rarely used as a catalyst for conversation. Instead of assigning worksheets, find activities that encourage discourse, such as ”number talks,” or collaborative group work. During the session, be sure to require students to explain their thinking and listen to the strategies and thinking of their peers. If you are fortunate enough to have an interactive whiteboard in your classroom, using it with interactive math software creates many opportunities for group discussion and student participation. Teachers can can begin by posing problems and modeling approaches, and then ask students to work together to find solutions. Then have them come to the board to demonstrate their solutions in front of the class. These days, many examples of how to teach math concepts on an interactive whiteboard can be found online in the various whiteboard community sites, educational sites, YouTube, etc.
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