When I was teaching, I tried to avoid using worksheets as much as I could. Don't get me wrong, they occasionally have their place, but let's face it, worksheets just aren't the most fun thing. Engaging students is one of the best ways to help them learn. If they are motivated to learn, they will learn so much more. So, here are some easy ideas you can use to replace worksheets in your class.
Teacher vs. Students
This was one of my students favorite activities, and it's super simple. Simply post a problem on the board and have the students answer it on individual whiteboards. Then, when you say, "Boards up," students hold their boards above their head and you can easily see who is understanding. Randomly pick a student; I used name sticks to do this. When you check the boards, be sure to check if this student is correct. If they are, the students get a point, if they aren't, the teacher gets a point. I only said the student's name if they were correct. If they were incorrect, I would say "Oh, our secret student wasn't quite right." This keeps students from getting embarrassed.
This activity is also one of my favorites because it allows me to build the confidence of my shy or low students. Some of the time I would disregard which name stick I had drawn if I saw that one of these students had got the question right. Then, the whole class got to celebrate this student, which really helped to give them more self-efficacy.
Plickers is such an awesome technology resource you can use in your class. Plus, it's free! Plickers is a way to allow your students to respond to questions using a QR response card. Write multiple choice or true/false questions on Plickers' website. You can then project this onto a screen. Give each student a QR code that you print out from the website. Each side of the QR code is assigned a different letter (A, B, C, and D). The students respond to the questions by rotating their card to have the side with the corresponding letter at the top of the card. You can then scan the room with your phone and it will read all of the QR codes. The students' responses are displayed on the screen so you can discuss what people thought the answer was and why. All of this data is saved, so you can go back and review it to see how each student performed. It takes some training to get your students used to it, but once they get it down, it can be such a great resource for you.
I love task cards. They are so versatile so you can use them again and again. They can accomplish the same objective as a worksheet, but they can be so much more engaging if you use them in the right way.
Paper Bag Questions
Tape tasks or questions to the front of brown paper bags. Place the paper bags around the class with small slips of paper next to each bag. Have students walk around to each bag and answer the question on a slip of paper and place it in the bag. Once the students have answered the questions, you can go over each question and some of the solutions that students gave.
Many students love art, so a great way to address the multiple intelligences in your class is to let them show what they learned through art. Place large pieces of butcher paper on the walls around your class. On each paper write at the top what you would like your students to draw a picture about. This activity is great for vocabulary, phonics or reading comprehension, but can also be used in other subjects. Once students have drawn pictures on each poster, you will have your own graffiti wall in your class that the students can reference.
I used foldables a lot in my class. The students love to make them, and they actually want to keep their work when they finish. Pick the type of foldable you are going to use, and walk through how to create it with your students. I would switch up the kind of foldables I had them make (flip books, 4 folds, etc.) and this kept them engaged. Then, give your students a problem or task to complete in one of the sections or pages of their foldable. While they work, this is a great opportunity for you to scan and see who is getting it and who isn't. You can have a student then come up to the board and show how they completed the task or problem.
Give each student a piece of white paper. Give them a problem or task to complete. When the class is finished, have the students crumple up their piece of paper. Then, they get to throw their "snowball." Each student goes and finds a piece of paper and opens it up. They look at the answer and see if they agree or disagree. This can make for a great class discussion.
For a more controlled snowball fight, draw a target on the board and have the students aim at it. Then, have the students come up a few at a time to get a "snowball."
Have your students create a comic to explain the concept that you covered in a lesson. Your students will surprise you with how creative they can be. Then, allow some of your students to read their comics, or do a gallery walk around the room so the students can see all of their classmates' work.
Pass the Poster
Write a task, problem, or topic at the top of pieces of butcher or poster paper. Have the students work in groups, or individually to add information to a poster for a given amount of time. When time is up, rotate the posters. Once each group has been able to add to each poster, go over the posters as a class.
Mind maps are a unique way to assess what your students learned during a lesson and they are so fun for the kids. Give each student a piece of paper. I recommend at least 11" x 17" to give your students enough room. Have your students put the topic in the center of the paper. They can write it in bubble letters, or draw a picture of it. Then, they create a web from this topic by drawing pictures that go along with the topic. For younger grades, it can be helpful to have them write notes next to their pictures so you don't have to spend forever deciphering their picture. By the end, their mind map should be a good representation of what was covered in the lesson or unit.
I hope that you found some activities you can use in your classroom. If you have activities that you use in your class that work great, please comment below.
Hi! I'm Mackenzie. Teacher, wife, and Washingtonian. Check out my blog to get ideas and products for your class.
© Mackenzie Allen 2016.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.