Cherie Eline October 30, 2020 Math Worksheet
In my 5th grade classroom, we use a math review series that’s engaging and entertaining at the same time. In essence they are simply halfpage handouts with ten standards based math problems woven into a special picture or exciting scene. Remember, I want to keep the math review time quick, but effective. My students are engaged in the activity because they are always eager to find out what the next scene will be, and how the math problems will be nestled within. They also like how within each handout I inscribe the title in a way that fits with the theme of that particular scene – another attention catching technique. And since this review activity only takes about fifteen minutes of class time, it is quick yet extremely beneficial.
If you have read my article ”Helping Your Child With Basic Arithmetic? Stay Away From Worksheets” then you know that I am not a fan of traditional worksheets. After writing that article, I found another credible teacher who has written many ezine articles expounding on the benefits of worksheets. I decided some clarification of position is in order. The primary problem with most math worksheets is that the problems are already written out and the child need only write the answers. For learning and practicing the basic skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, it is much more beneficial for the child to write out the entire fact and say the entire fact out loud. A child will learn a multiplication fact much faster if they are writing out 6 x 8 = 48 at the same time they are saying ”six times eight is forty-eight” than if they just see 6 x 8 = ___ and only have to supply the 48.
Rather than using worksheets, a better method is to use individual size white boards and have the child writing entire facts many times. Having a child writing 9 x 7 = 7 x 9 = 63 while saying ”nine times seven is the same as seven times nine and is equal to sixty-three” is many times more successful than a worksheet with 9 x 7 = ___ and the student just thinks the answer once and then writes that answer on the duplicate problems. I will admit that there is one type of worksheet that I used in the past and found relatively beneficial, although it had a different kind of flaw. For my Basic Math, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra classes, I had several books of ”self-checking” worksheets. These worksheets had puns or puzzle questions at the top, and as the students worked the problems they were given some kind of code for choosing a letter to match that answer. If they worked the problems correctly, the letters eventually answered the pun or riddle. Students enjoyed these worksheets, but there are a couple problem areas even with these worksheets. Some students would get the answer to the riddle early and then work backward from letter to problem answer, so they weren’t learning or practicing anything.
Pleasant and Attractive, Using current word processing programs and computers allow worksheets to be created using colorful graphics that children will find very enticing. This makes them more comfortable and relaxed the worksheet can look more like a game than a test. Using this colorful format, kids are able to feel eager to learn. The most exciting part is now they are developing online worksheets that have animated graphics. These can be access on a website from anywhere they have computer access which makes it an attractive solution to entertain your child while learning.
However, caution must be taken into account when review is repeatedly covered in your classroom. You do not want your students to become bored or frustrated with the repetition. Another important point I keep in mind is that I never want this regular math review time to take up and hour of class time. I want it to be quick but effective. This is not instructional time, but time for the students to review material they have already learned.
Today we all know that benefits of math are considerable. Math is not a subject one learns by reading the problems and solutions. American children have very little practice with multi-step problems, and very few opportunities to think their way in to and through problems that don’t look like ’all the others’. With a packed curriculum and the increased emphasis on testing, our children are taught tons of procedures – but procedures disconnected from when to use them, and why. Sustained thinking – the key ingredient to math success – is painfully absent in too many math classes.
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