Alyson Maïssa October 17, 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.

Granted, that will always be a tough uphill battle for math to win out over most video games, but the point is, students today are much more immersed in technology than ever before. So even if you need to pass out a math worksheet to review concepts and formulas, it will greatly benefit your cause if you design the worksheet to be as stimulating as possible.

There are some new materials being developed now based on what we are learning about how the brain learns. These brain-friendly materials should be an improvement over what has existed. I recently bought a book by Marcia L. Tate titled ”Mathematics Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites.” I highly recommend her book. She gives a great deal of information on alternative activities that are better for your child’s brain development and for learning.

I remember that with my Mom everything was somehow connected to math. She made me count the buttons in my shirt as she dressed me up, asked questions that demanded answers that are related to sums, like how many pair of shoes do you have? How many buttons are there on your Daddy’s shirt? Count all the furniture in the living room and several math games. All my toys were one way or the other math related. I had puzzles, and tons of things Mom had me do as games on daily basis at home to get me ready for kindergarten! In fact, she continued guiding me towards being math friendly throughout kindergarten and first grade during which time 1st grade math worksheets was my constant companion.

Another problem with almost all worksheets is that they don’t prevent incorrect answers. Self-checking worksheets just let the student know they did something wrong–after the fact. I am a firm believer in the concept that, if at all possible, learning should be structured in small chunks in such a way that there is very little possibility for error. Worksheets often allow for mistakes to be made and then to be repeated many times. A mistake that gets practiced is extremely difficult to correct. This especially happens when worksheets are used as time fillers or baby sitters and the work isn’t really being supervised.

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