Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Addressing the Worksheet and Packets – @cultofpedagogy

My district made lots and lots of worksheet packets for us to give to the students. Is this what is best for student learning??
what is a worksheet cult of pedagogy jennifer Gonzalez
Addressing the Worksheet and Packets – @cultofpedagogy

Packets. I use to assign a lot of them. BIG FAT THICK ONES. Shockingly, or rather completely expected, this didn’t make students love math. I am not sure why, but at some point I wondered… why do I give these packets? Who told me to do that? What research did I read? Is this actually a good way to learn? 

Because it was done to me and I didn’t question it. 

I really enjoyed reading Jennifer Gonzalez blog post “Frickin’ Packets” where she not only defined a worksheet but accurately identified paper printed activities that are not terrible.

I can not speak for any teacher prep program but the one I was in, but my program never addressed the worksheet or the worksheet packet. We did sample lesson after sample lesson and many of us defaulted to using the worksheet as the independent practice. 

I do not recall once the instructor suggesting that maybe that was not a high-quality learning activity. On top of that my district made lots and lots of worksheet packets for us to give to the students. So clearly we were not discouraged from teaching with worksheet packets. I had never heard of project-based learning (PBL) until I moved to a school that had a PBL focus. I appreciate Jennifer’s thoughtful (and extensive) list of classifications of activities, gives us all something to think about.

What is a Worksheet?

“In my experience, when people criticize worksheets, they are referring to a specific type of worksheet, what I will call a busysheet, the kind where students are either doing work that’s fairly low-level recall stuff–filling in blanks with words, choosing from multiple-choice questions, labeling things–or work that has no educational value at all, like word searches, word scrambles, or coloring stuff in cases where coloring adds no extra layer of understanding.” – Jennifer Gonzalez

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

For me, worksheets are also digital. Simply taking a paper task and putting online does not improve the quality of the question, the depth of knowledge (DOK) critical thinking of the question, or the purpose of the activity. 

I use paper!! Paperless is not a pedagogy! I am not anti graphic organizers and paper tasks. Sometimes paper is absolutely the right task. 

I have multiple times tried to find research around the effectiveness of giving students stapled packets of papers. Why do we think this is good for learning? Perhaps convenient to hand out a whole workbook at once, but what educational goals is this accomplishing? Does it improve student engagement, very unlikely. I have been, so far, unable to find any research to support the practice of creating packets of worksheets. I haven’t really found anything strongly saying not to either. The search continues! 

Share Your Comments

In the comments below, please share your thoughts on Jennifer’s article on “Frickin’ Packets” and the use of packets in general. 

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