Friday, August 3, 2018

You Teach Without Worksheets?

We hired a brand new teacher for our team this year and she contacted me with some questions  as she begins to plan. One of her questions was "where do you get your worksheets-do you buy them or make them". My answer was neither. I do not use worksheets in my classroom.Everything my students do is authentic. They write every day-on paper and in journals. Their work is based on their creativity and vision. Her question then was-how do you know they are learning? This is how.

When they work in workstations-I believe as Debbie Diller promotes, that it's a time to practice skills. How do you hold them accountable? Two ways-one is I use Seesaw, the kids take pictures of their activities whether they are sorting letters or matching letters and sounds. I go through and look at the pics they take to see if they have mastered that skill. The other way is I am vigilant. Even though I'm working with my small groups, I am monitoring the stations to make sure the students are doing what they have been tasked to do. I have worked for administrators who require some kind of written accountability. When that happens I do menus.

I do not send home packets over breaks and subs have complained because my sub plans look very much like my regular lesson plans. I don't want my kids sitting in their seats doing worksheet after worksheet even if I'm not there.

Even our homework is authentic. I do a menu that gives the families options of what to complete in reading and math. It may be to make a pattern using pasta or to count the letters in the names of family members and see whose is longest. I used to send home worksheets every day because that's what the parents were used to, but I think it's just a waste of paper. If they already know how to do it, then why do they need to practice. If they don't know how to do it, then it shouldn't be expected to be completed independently.

So what does authentic work look like?

The more opportunities you give your students for channeling their creativity the more growth you will see in them! And believe me, their parents will still hang the work on the refrigerator. :) 

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