Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Upgrade the Worksheet: Place Value

place value upgrade the worksheet
Upgrade the Worksheet: Place Value

place value upgrade the worksheet

Upgrade the Worksheet: Place Value

I’m always looking for how we can use technology to make learning better, not just paperless. Instead of moving the worksheets online, upgrade them!

place value worksheet

In the above worksheet, the students are given numbers that have no connection to anything. What do these numbers represent? Why would students care about them? What do the numbers mean to the student?

Throw in a C

My favorite starting place for upgrading the worksheet is to make sure it has at least ONE of the 4 C’s.

Critical Thinking: This worksheet has none. It is all DOK 1 tasks.

Creative Thinking: This worksheet has none. All students will submit the same answers.

Clearly Communicate Ideas: This worksheet does not ask students to demonstrate any understanding of concepts. Students are not explaining their thought process or approaching the problems different ways.

Collaboration: This worksheet is not designed for collaboration.

Use Real Data

In modern times it is easy to get real data rather than contrived numbers. Upgrade the worksheet by finding where numbers like this exist and pointing students to this real application.

House Hunters

I saw an example of the above worksheet could be updated. The teacher asked the students to go to realtor.com or another real estate website, like limehouse estate agents, and locate houses for sale in the community. The students chose a few houses from the website and recorded the price and the square footage. Students used these numbers to compare the place values.

What decision does the student make in the assignment?

One thing I try to always include when making an assignment is to have students make a decision, even a small one. This helps me to avoid collecting 30 of the same thing.


I am a fan of spreadsheets to upgrade worksheets because they allow for self-grading. Using formulas or conditional formatting the spreadsheet can check answers. Notice on this math puzzle adapted from Open Middle that when students enter in values the target number highlights green when the math works. Even without the self-grading, spreadsheets are a valuable life skill and we should find excuses to use them.

House Hunters Template


The above template is a spreadsheet upgrade of the house hunters place value activity.
house hunters google sheets spreadsheet

Here is a completed sample of the House Hunters spreadsheet. Notice the tabs along the bottom. A bonus to using spreadsheets is the ability to chunk the task as well as have students “persevere in problem-solving.”

On the “Houses” tab, the students will identify the houses they chose on the website along with their justification of why they chose each house. Try to get students in the habit of always justifying their decisions. Even if their reason is because they liked the color of the house, it is setting the expectation that they explain.

Less Template

When we give students a template we are doing the thinking for them. This does not mean I never give students templates or graphic organizers, I do. However, as often as possible we want students to design the digital documents and students to do the thinking.

The “Place Value” tab asks the students to enter in the place values along the top. ie: “hundreds place.”
fill in place value

Students then enter the individual digits for the square footage into the spreadsheet cells. This worksheet upgrade is not perfect, it does not have all of the 4 C’s. This lacks critical thinking, comprehension, and collaboration.
students record place value

Immediate Feedback

The faster the feedback the more motivating it is. Students should not complete a page of work and not know if they are doing it correctly. Use websites that will grade for you: Quia.com, Quizizz, That quiz, Socrative, Formative, Desmos, and many others. This also frees up teacher time to do more valuable things than mark papers.

On the next tab, “Order Square Footage,” students are asked to order the square footage. The upgrade from the worksheet is that students get instant feedback. A nested IF formula in the spreadsheet checks that the values are in the correct order. What is nifty about using a spreadsheet to check student work is it adaptable to different inputs. Even though each student picked different houses, the formulas are able to check the work.

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