Are you someone that uses worksheets in your teaching? I am, despite the fact that I’ve read different blog posts and articles from educators that eschew the practice for more “hands-on” and “real” learning experiences. Don’t get me wrong – I believe that much of the learning should be a real-world experience for an authentic audience. However, I also know that my students need deliberate activities for putting their thoughts down and then organizing them. Which brings us to using paper….and sometimes worksheets.
My school district has a 1:1 iPad model for all middle school students, while the majority of the high school students have Microsoft Surface Notebooks. One may then assume that I would be paperless in this digital age. I mean, think of the trees you’re killing! People won’t be writing on papers in X number of years, so why would anyone still continue the practice if they have 1:1 technology?!?!?!
I was once one of those people who insisted on being paperless in my classroom. I was having students write blog posts, analyze and annotate texts in Notability, create public service announcements about tap versus bottled water, write scripts for promotional videos, etc. And while all of that still applies to my teaching, I quickly realized a couple of things.
Realization #1: My students still like paper and pen(cil)!
I was absolutely shocked when they admitted this to me, especially since I thought the iPad was such an essential learning tool. We were doing just about EVERYTHING on the iPad, but I noticed a sense of excitement when I would use a worksheet or have them write something down on paper. The eventually fessed up that they missed writing on paper since so many teachers had completely switched to iPads only. They said that many times it was easier for them than typing on the iPad.
Realization #2: Many of my student need to write on paper
Several of my classes have a high percentage of students with ADD and ADHD, and I’ve learned that there needs to be a balance of iPad and paper. Technology is quite the distractor, and despite my district attempting to lock down the App Store to prevent the download of games and social media, students get around it. While I keep a tight pace in my classroom during our 2-hour block, there will always be students that are tempted to waste time on their iPad.
Realization #3: There’s something pure about writing on paper
This is true whether it be a worksheet or notebook paper. It’s minimal, ideally devoid of distractions, and takes their eyes away from the glare of a screen. When my students come to class, they know that they’re going to answer a writing prompt in their composition book. I could have them do this on in a shared Google Doc on their iPad, which would honestly be easier for me to grade. But I want them to get their English brains revved up without the temptation of checking messages, email, their grades, etc.
Therefore, if you find yourself puzzled about the abundance of worksheet-type activities on my TpT store, now you know why.