Published at Saturday, 04 May 2019. Worksheet. By Lacey Guillet.
Ah, worksheets. I hesitate to even write this post because I don’t want to open a giant can of worms. The truth is that “worksheets” is one of those words that stirs up a lot of emotion among educators. Actually, I get pretty worked up about worksheets. I’m not going to claim that today’s post is indisputable fact. It’s my opinion — and while you may or may not agree, I want my readers to know where I stand. Are worksheets good or bad? First of all, what do I mean by “worksheet”? My definition of worksheet: A printed page that a child completes with a writing instrument. No other materials are needed, multiple choice questions, matching exercises, handwriting practice, coloring pages, math problems, fill-in-the-blank book reports, word searches and crossword puzzles, copy work.
This understanding comes from the interaction between the words that are written and how they trigger knowledge outside the text. Humans are thought to have a set reserve, an established threshold for attention and absorption of information, commonly referred to as processing capacity. This being the case, it is generally believed that proficient reading depends on the ability to recognize words quickly and effortlessly. If word recognition is difficult, students use too much of their processing capacity to read individual words, which interferes with their ability to comprehend what is read. Many educators in the United States believe that students need to learn to analyze text (comprehend it) even before they can read it on their own, and comprehension instruction generally begins in pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten. But other US educators consider this reading approach to be completely backward for very young children, arguing that the children must learn how to decode the words in a story through phonics before they can analyze the story itself. The reason why reading comprehension is such an effective learning tool is that, like art, it teaches students to manipulate particulars in attempt to represent the universal.
In any group of young children asked to do a paper-pencil task, some will succeed and some will be less successful. The successful children may truly comprehend the task or may simply have guessed correctly. The less successful ones often learn to think of themselves as failures, and ultimately may give up on school and on themselves (Katz & Chard, 1989). These children may react to the stress created by fear of giving the wrong answers by acting out their frustrations and becoming behavior problems, or by withdrawing and becoming reclusive (Charlesworth, 1996). Parents may report school phobic behaviors such as stomach aches in the morning or refusal to get into the car to go to preschool. These children have learned, at an early age, that school can be an emotionally painful place. School should be a welcoming, peaceful place for children – an environment to which children come eager to see what challenging, stimulating, and fun activities are in store. Children know they may not succeed at everything they try, but also know they will be valued for who they are. Children’s efforts should be rewarded, so that they will persevere and they will see themselves as learners (Kostelnik, Stein, Whiren, & Soderman, 1993).
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