Monday, March 26, 2018

In Defense of Worksheets #EdChat

Another day on the EduTwitter and another blanket comment on a tool that many teachers use. It's not so much that comments like this happen, it is more that they are used to shame teachers that are genuinely trying their best to help students.

It drives me nuts to see that teachers are still shaming and making blanket statements about tools. Worksheets is one of those ones that is an easy punching bag for EduTwitter criticism. Worksheets carry with them plenty of baggage because they are viewed as the tool of the lazy teacher giving busy work to students instead of engaging assignments that should require higher order thinking and, possibly, lots of fancy tech tools. However, there are plenty of reasons that worksheets are the perfect tool for the right situation.

There is a tremendous amount of privilege in statements that tell all teachers to ditch their worksheets. That is super easy to say to if you are in a district that has 100% of students with access to devices and Internet so all things can be digital. What about those teachers who teach in high poverty areas where students do not have access? What about rural communities that do not have internet at home on a regular basis? Worksheets to collect students thoughts and ideas are needed in these instances because a digital option is not feasible.

What about teachers that do have students with full access to digital tools? A 1:1 school perhaps. There are still instances where a teacher might need a students to write things out in pen or pencil on a worksheet. As an English teacher, I would have students handwrite things often. Having students working on the writing in class is an important skill. Taking notes in class on worksheets could be a great way to help students study. There is actual science that supports taking notes by hand with pen and paper and not on a laptop. Science will tell you that a worksheet in this instance that guides a students taking notes is better than a Google Form or Document.

I am sure there are plenty of examples of worksheets being used appropriately and used poorly. To sit on Twitter and make blanket statements about all worksheets is simply lazy. If you don't want to help people or engage with teachers asking about worksheets, just leave it alone. Don't engage. However, if you want to position yourself as a leader in educational technology, then be prepared to help many different teachers in many different points in their educational journey.

Let's stop making blanket statements and try to help those on their journey.