I recently cleaned out my 5th grade daughter’s backpack to find a plethora of crumpled up worksheets. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I was shocked. In fact, earlier in the week, I reviewed my first grade daughter’s gifted homework that consisted of a packet of worksheets related to a fifth grade level book she is reading. The questions were all lower level Bloom’s questions that were focused on who, what, why, where, and how comprehension. Both of the discoveries prompted immediate tweets of disdain.
“My dream is that my children will attend a school that no longer gives out worksheets – especially ones from 1992.”
The reality is that far too many teachers across the country, across all grade levels, and across all content areas, are handing out worksheets on a daily basis. While it is certainly necessary to scaffold a student’s learning through the use of Bloom’s, when the majority of class and homework time is spent on the lowest two levels, students aren’t being challenged enough. As we come to the close of 2014, we must reflect, as parents and educators, on why precious time is being wasted on worksheets and comprehension questions. Ask your students, your children, what is it that they are truly learning from the era of worksheets.
If you haven’t already, perhaps you should take the time to watch the very powerful 2010 TedTalk by Adora Svitak. I could certainly write volumes on why the practice of worksheet education and low level Bloom’s is doing nothing but perpetuating a nation of students who are being taught not to think for themselves. However, Adora does an amazing job articulating this point through the words of a child. “What Adults Can Learn From Kids” reviews the lack of trust from which teachers operate in their classrooms. The lack of trust that causes teachers to place restrictions on their students, rather than letting them flourish. Near the end of her talk, Adora challenges teachers and adults, “not to turn kids into adults like you, but to turn kids into adults better than you.” In order to do this, we must move beyond the era of worksheets.
“Empowering teachers to empower students” has been my mission and mantra over the past several years. I have discovered wonderful examples of teachers becoming co-learners with their students, as their students work to potentially effect change in their communities. However, these examples have yet to permeate our education system to the fullest potential. And, I am in the market to hear about great ideas that have started with students just like Adora. Do you have a fabulous example that you would like to share in which the students have become the designers of their own learning experiences? Leave me a comment and let’s connect!