Cherie Sakina February 24, 2021 worksheets
To summarize: math worksheets don’t teach, teachers teach. Of course, there is a place for math worksheets. After some instruction has occurred, math worksheets can provide extended practice and support development in fluency, provided the teacher is engaged with students as they work. Teachers who are effective at grouping students can use math worksheets as a springboard for discussions, discovery, and communication. So the next time you do a search for curriculum materials, skip the worksheets. Instead, consider resources that provide interactive experiences or consider sites that provide students with challenging problems. These sites will more likely engage students, foster discussion, and build a true understanding of the purpose and joy of learning math. Lauri Susi has over 20 years experience as a classroom teacher in grades pre-k through high school. Throughout most of those years, she taught at the university level as well, and she continues to hold a university post today. Lauri has a masters degree in special education and educational technology. She is an expert in matters involving students with special needs, students who struggle, and the strategic use of technology within school districts. She has co-directed a research project on fractions software for upper-elementary students, and has co-directed the implementation of a large-scale research project on technology to teach math to second grade students. Lauri is an excellent teacher-trainer and consultant to district administrators. She lives in Orlando, Florida.
Here are five reasons why math worksheets don’t work if you want students to understand math, enjoy math, and think mathematically. 1. Math worksheets are not engaging. 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.
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.
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.
No matter what materials you choose, it is most important that you supervise your child constantly so that mistakes get caught rather than practiced. I learned this particular lesson the hard way. When my daughter was young, she did something that needed ”attention.” I no longer remember what it was that she did, but I told her to write the sentence ”I will not disobey my parents again” 50 times. I should have known better, but I didn’t check on her at the beginning and then I got busy. So, sometime later, she brought me 50 sentences of ”I will not disobey my parents agen.” She had just practiced misspelling ”again” as ”agen” — 50 times! I’m not certain that we ever really got that fixed. This issue of NOT practicing mistakes is extremely important. Parents shouldn’t give worksheets as busy work and teachers should only use them if you are going to have a non-math teacher substitute. White boards with supervision are always a better way to practice skills. If you need some time to do chores, your child will get much more benefit by helping you with the chores. And maybe you can work in a little discussion of numbers or counting while you do chores together.
If you are looking for printable worksheets for your preschool child, the array of choices can be a little intimidating. You may just be looking for a few pages to keep your child occupied with something more constructive than yet another half hour in front of the TV, or you may feel it’s time you started helping your child learn the basic skills she or he will need for school. Whatever your motivation for looking for worksheets for preschool, there are a few points to consider before you decide which ones you want. 1. Education vs Time Filler. If your goal is to provide learning opportunities for your child, you will want more than a few pictures to color in, although this is an important skill to practice. Between the ages of 3 and 7, the so-called formative years, your child is ready and willing to learn. This is a great time to start introducing the basic skills that your child will use for the rest of their lives such as counting, reading and writing. With your help and supervision, your child can do math worksheets, alphabet worksheets and much more. If education is your goal, you may want a set of worksheets designed to teach your child all of the basic skills they will need for school.
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