Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘worksheets’

Marcia Tate, the brain, and worksheets

As my only daughter, Erin has to put up with my often expressed frustration with the current education process. Too much sit and get. Too many lectures. Too many worksheets. Not enough critical thinking. Not enough problem solving. Not enough authenticity.

As a junior in high school, she often echoes my frustration. It was several years ago, as an 8th grader, that she became a bit more vocal about it. She was heading out the door on her way to middle school and wasn’t too excited about it.

But bless her heart, she attempted a bit of humor to lighten the mood:

I’m off to change the world, one worksheet at a time.

Read more

One worksheet at a time

My 8th grade daughter was heading out the door last week on her way to school. And she was obviously not that excited about it.

But bless her heart, she attempted a bit of humor to lighten the mood:

I’m off to change the world, one worksheet at a time.

I laughed but also felt a twinge. She’s already figured it out:

Just survive four more years. I might learn something but it’s more likely that most of what I’ll do will be busy work.

The solution? Make t-shirts.

My daughter claims any and all intellectual property rights.

Other solutions? Find things for her to do outside of school, encourage her online writing and her art work and calmly push for change in her school.

K-12 solutions? More hands-on instruction, more problem-based learning, more primary sources, more 21st century skills, more authentic assessment. And no, they’re not easy.

But you know what? My daughter’s worth it.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

BetterLesson, social networking and sharing lesson plans

The beta login to BetterLesson showed up in my inbox last week and I’m a bit torn. The concept is a good great one but am concerned that it’ll end up not much different that other lesson plan dumping grounds like this, this or this. was founded by a group of teachers from Atlanta and Boston public schools to help educators organize and share their curricula.

We are committed to saving educators from “reinventing the wheel,” giving them more time to focus on creating innovative content, delivering innovative content, grading, tutoring, analyzing data, communicating with parents, finishing paperwork, and sleeping.

We are also committed to connecting educators within and across diverse instructional and geographic communities. Our first core principle is that meaningful collaboration among educators is the key to creating and delivering the highest quality instruction.

How can you disagree with that? Started by teachers with the intent of saving us the trouble of “reinventing the wheel” by building collaborative communities?

I like the idea of a site that facilitates my interaction with other teachers and encourages a sense of a “one for all, all for one” mentality. I really like the interface – BetterLesson has a clear Facebook look and feel to it that is very inviting with BetterLesson colleagues and networks replacing Facebook friends and groups. Clicking the tab to find other “colleagues” in my content area is nice. The search function works well enough, providing a a way for users to track down lessons by keyword, grade level, content area and file format. And the ability to preview lessons is pretty slick.


There doesn’t seem any way for content to be evaluated by users, no rating system or clear attempt to feature outstanding units. No easy way to find a “good” lesson from the results without a lot of work. Hopefully the BetterLesson people are working on correcting this for the final version.

So I like the idea but . . .

. . . deep down, it’s not the idea or the interface or even the shared content that is the problem. What I’m concerned about is that not enough teachers will use it in the way that I think it was intended – as a place where teachers can actually invent, grow and share ideas, not just busy work. The idea of BetterLesson is such a good one that I don’t want it to become simply a place for harried, overworked teachers to quickly find low-level worksheets and activities.

Head over and sign up for your own beta login. It really is worth your time and I’m convinced that the site will become very useful! And here’s hoping that together, both users and creators, we’ll eventually develop a truly collaborative and growing community!

(Just found an interview with BetterLesson’s CEO by Dan Meyer that gives a bit more insight into BetterLesson’s development.)

Tip of the Week – Editable Graphic Organizers

I’ve never been a huge fan of worksheets but there are definitely times when using paper and pencil kinds of stuff is a good idea. There’s really nothing like a good graphic organizer and I love how we can use those tools to help kids manage large amounts of foundational information.

One of the problems with graphic organizers is finding an easy way to create and edit them quickly and easily. And that’s why I’m so jacked about the resources at WorkSheetWorks.

graphic organizerThe site’s got some basic worksheet kinds of stuff including Math, English Language and Puzzles. But it has a Miscellanea section that contains a link to a page full of 12 different types of graphic organizers. The cool thing is that for each of them, you have the ability to rename, edit, download as a PDF and print out an organizer just right for you.

Pretty slick. And I know that other tools such as Inspiration do similar kinds of things. But they usually come at a price and they’re usually harder to work with. WorkSheetWorks is a site that you AND your kids can use.

The extra bonus?

A separate page of geography goodies. Mostly maps that you also can edit how you want and print out.

For me it’s a no-brainer.

Have fun!