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Worksheet-free school

Discussion in 'Primary' started by choca_holic, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. Hi,
    A school near me is advertising for a teacher, and they say they are a worksheet-free school. This sounds great in theory, but does anyone have any experience of this in practise? Does it make planning more difficult, as you can rarely use things downloaded from websites such as TES and primaryresources.co.uk?
    Don't get me wrong, I by no means teach in a death-by-worksheet fashion, but sometimes they are a good way of practising a skill or assessing understanding. Do such schools have a similarly negative approach to textbooks? Often there is little difference between working through a couple of pages in a textbook and working though a worksheet, but a worksheet is more customisable/easily differentiated.
    The job seems great, but I would love to hear some people's experiences of planning and teaching in a completely worksheet-free zone.
    Thanks in advance for any replies!
     
  2. Hi,
    A school near me is advertising for a teacher, and they say they are a worksheet-free school. This sounds great in theory, but does anyone have any experience of this in practise? Does it make planning more difficult, as you can rarely use things downloaded from websites such as TES and primaryresources.co.uk?
    Don't get me wrong, I by no means teach in a death-by-worksheet fashion, but sometimes they are a good way of practising a skill or assessing understanding. Do such schools have a similarly negative approach to textbooks? Often there is little difference between working through a couple of pages in a textbook and working though a worksheet, but a worksheet is more customisable/easily differentiated.
    The job seems great, but I would love to hear some people's experiences of planning and teaching in a completely worksheet-free zone.
    Thanks in advance for any replies!
     
  3. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    Personally I would avoid it like the plague. Saying you are 'work-sheet free' is a huge generalisation and can lead to very poor teaching standards in my opinion. By all means, ban 'photocopied out of a book, 1 sheet does all' type things but a worksheet made by the teacher specifically for a child or a group of children can be a great teaching tool.
    I am a huge fan of practical, hands on teaching and would say that the majority of my teaching is this way - however, there are times when worksheets are appropriate. No one teaching method should ever be banned completley imo - everything in moderation.
     
  4. Thanks RJR, an interesting response similar to what I was thinking.
    My other concern is evidence. It seems everyone is obsessed with keeping 'evidence' of the learning that has taken place in case OFSTED turn up. In subjects such as maths you can be as practical and creative as you like, but surely some things need to be written down to prove they have been covered, and answering questions from the board, textbook or worksheet is all much of a muchness.
    Would be really interested in other people's thoughts...
     
  5. Sounds like a head with a bee in their bonnet. Any explanation as to why? Is there an educational rationale behind this?
    Or is is simply to save on photocopying costs..?.
     
  6. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I'd suggest going to visit and having a look around at displays and books. See what is there. If you see massive piles of dull textbooks in every classroom, then you might want to worry. If not then I'd be applying ASAP.

    Sounds like my kind of place. Although I do use worksheets sometimes, I'd love to find a way to never do so. I've never seen the real benefit of a sheet over a textbook / questions on the board / dictated work / any other written bits. I use them mainly when I can't think of something else.
     
  7. I find it very worrying that there is an apparent rising anti-worksheet culture.
    Like anything else in education, teachers should be able to evaluate any medium through which we teach pupils and through which pupils learn.
    Thus, a 'worksheet' needs to be evaluated for its role - and into this consideration is whether any other medium is more fit for purpose, more value for money - or whatever.
    I think a 'worksheet' which is a simple piece of paper (and can be readily photocopied or printed) can be an ideal medium to give individual children (including the same sheet for the whole class where this is appropriate) when it includes information and/or includes appropriate activities to support teaching and learning.
    Further, the pupil can keep ownership of it, can take it home, can build up his or her own work, and can refer to it for revision - or even pride if it tracks/monitors progress or supports a programme of work.
    I could go on - but certainly with not much thought, suddenly the advantages can start to become clear.
    The trouble is, how much thought do teachers give to the 'worksheet' approach over and above just dismissing because it seems to be the current trend for some teachers/schools.
     
  8. I tried to edit the above post but my edit went into the ether!
    Much of what pupils do nowadays seems so temporary. The game or activity comes to an end, the machine is switched off or another programme takes over, the whiteboard is wiped clean - and so on.
     
  9. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    But all the advantages of ownership and longevity can easily be achieved with work in an exercise book. Questions on a board or from a textbook give all the same possibilities.

    I totally agree that some work needs to be written and that a sense of pride in one's work is definitely a good thing, but this does not make a worksheet necessary.
     
  10. I think exercise books are great too and have advantages - but they are 'empty' and cannot supply content or direct activities for the learners to do.
    It is too much of a generalisation to use the term 'worksheet' which has become a derogatory term for many teachers.
    Perhaps teachers need to think of 'fit-for-purpose' methods and materials and not be so quick to dismiss 'worksheets' which can be a very convenient and effective method and medium for both teaching and learning purposes -and for informing parents where this might be an advantage.
     
  11. RaggyBull

    RaggyBull New commenter

    I think it's fair enough to avoid worksheets as much as possible, but for some maths topics they are useful. Reading different scales and times, fractions of shapes or reflection/symmetry questions are good examples of where worksheets of differentiated examples are very useful. I think most teachers will adapt resources (like those found on this website) to suit their class.
    When all said and done, we assess children by using what essentially are worksheets stapled together in the form of a test.
     
  12. modgepodge

    modgepodge Occasional commenter

    If you are teaching word problems, what are the options for supplying questions for the kids to work through independently?
    1. Write them on the WB.
    2. Use a textbook.
    3. Use a worksheet.
    I lean towards using a worksheet because it is easily differentiated and there are no issues with kids who struggle to read what's on the WB etc. I can set exactly what questions I like, individualising it for each child if I so wish, unlike the other 2 options.
    Of those 3 options, which do kids prefer? I detested working through textbooks or sums on the board as a child.....being allowed to write on the worksheet was like hitting the jackpot! (I don't know why....but usually we weren't allowed to, to save on photocopying costs I suppose.)
    I teach year 1, and differentiate 4 ways. When I don't have an adult with the lowest ability group, it's extremely hard to set them any kind of game or fun activity to do together in maths, as they either won't understand the instructions, or will mess around the whole time and I won't know because no written outcome is expected. Unfortunately in this situation, a simple worksheet can be the best way to keep them learning when they are working independently.
    A school that bans worksheets strikes me as one which probably has heard that worksheets are out of favour, and wants to appear "in touch" with educational trends.They may also be "reading scheme free" and have some radical view on phonics.
     
  13. I think this mainly depends on the ability/age of your children. I have very relectant recorders who would never manage a dictation and don't have the reading or processing skills to transferr information from a textbook. They do sometimes work in their exercise books but a worksheet means I can put an explanation of what we're doing at the top- with pictures, L.O., date etc- which would take them a whole lesson to write- decorate it with pictures and give them scaffolding- word banks/planning structures etc. I don't know how teachers of young children get by without at least an occassional worksheet, especially for independent work.

    I thought this was the best advice so far for the OP's actual question! Although, like others I'd be wary of a school that makes sweeping statements of that nature
     
  14. Whats the difference!?
    The children certainly dont care if they are writing in their book or doing a worksheet.
    From a teachers point of view, a worksheet is more productive because they do not have to waste (and yes, it is a waste) time writing the learning objective, date and title in or copying questions out before they answer them. They can get on with the maths.
    I dont understand why we have such a problem with them - obviously a mixture of activity types is key and where possible active learning is great, but we also need to remember those children who DONT enjoy singing and dancing every lesson and DO enjoy learning through more formal, sedate activities.
     
  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    If you really want the learning objective recorded in their book can you not print a sheet of objectives on sticky labels and the child sticks it into their book?
     
  16. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I'm not sure I have given exactly the right impression here. I don't have a problem with worksheets in the sense I do use them sometimes. But I would be really interested to see a school which doesn't.

    If instead the school has a zillion workbooks that children work in every single lesson, then I can't see the point in proclaiming you don't use worksheets. If instead the school has 'activity sheets' or 'print outs' then it is just a difference of wording and utterly stupid.

    BUT it could be a really good idea and a really great place to work with children actively engaged in excellent learning activities and I would certainly want to be going to have a look. Actually now you mention the school, I'd quite like to go and have a nosy at how they do it anyway...could learn something.
     
  17. I already do pre-print LOs and dates which are stuck in, but if its maths and they are working from questions they still have to record the question before they can answer it - otherwise it is just a page of random numbers as answers.
    Im just not at all sure why worksheets are so hated by so many. I use them rarely and sparingly, preferring to have activities where children generate their own numbers using dice/spinners etc and complete active activities where possible, but sometimes it is just quicker and lets children get straight on with the maths in hand if they are given a worksheet.
    I dont see the difference between them recording answers on a worksheet, and recording answers in a book. Apart from saving paper, which is nothing to do with learning.
     
  18. I wish you were here!!!What can I say other than how much I admire you professionally. I have read all there is about your methodology to teach reading and spelling and I am currently working on a new project the school I work at in the UAE. I name you and use you as an example continuously during my training sessions and meetings.
    The "fit-for-purpose" approach is one of the theories I am trying to PUSH for over here so when I read your post I just thought: "Oh my word! I wish you could be here to share this with me"
    I would love to meet you, you would love to see what I am doing and how I am adapting the Sounds and Letters document using the Oxford Reading Tree Scheme. So many people thought I was mad when I made this proposal but it is proving to be SO beneficial for the children, you just would love to see the benefits.
    The majority of our pupils are non native speakers but the method is sooooo wonderful IT IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE in so many areas (reading, creative writing, comprehension skills, speaking and listening...)
    Anyway, I won't go on... I saw your post and needed to shout out loud how successful our programme has been so far....

    Kind regards,

    Alicia....
     
  19. The school I am currently working at is in debt and is therefore encouraging staff to minimize the use of worksheets due to the cost of their production. To meet the needs of learners in mostly challenging groups in Maths I am now printing off a lot of sheets at home and consuming the cost! Worksheets are great for presenting students with differentiated bite size achievable tasks. Working from a whiteboard is 'ideal' to reduce the cost of materials and to embrace new technology but as I often have to run to different classes to teach lessons worksheets enable me to introduce great starter tasks 'out of a bag' whist I log-on and take the register etc, they also fully allow for differentiation rather than having fixed questions on the board.
     
  20. Sorry I got carried away and didn't type the name of the person I was referring to.... Debbie Hepplewhite....
     

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