When it comes to worksheets, opinions run the gamut.
Some teachers love them and use them in class and for homework every day. Other teachers are not so keen on copies, and they prefer to use more organic strategies for teaching. But like everything in teaching (and in the world) there is a time and a place for worksheets. In particular, these ideas are for how to use worksheets in class. Some are for filling a few minutes. Others are part of a larger teaching lesson. Still others are just plain fun. Whatever your need, there is a worksheet that will work right for you. Check out these ideas for how to make copies work for you.
10 Ways to Make Your Lesson Planning Easier by Using Worksheets in Class
Worksheets are great as time fillers in class. No matter how carefully you plan, there are always days when your lesson takes less time than you thought it would, or it takes so much time you can’t possibly fit in the next item on your agenda. It’s these times that worksheets can really come to your rescue. Keep a few on hand, copies already made and in their own file folders, and you’ll be ready to hand them out to fill those empty moments when they come.
Sometimes it’s not you who finishes up class a little too quickly. Sometimes your students are the ones who blaze through the work you assign. In such cases, keep a folder of worksheets handy for them. You can keep extra copies of worksheets you have used in other classes, or just make a few copies of items targeted toward your class. You can even include worksheets your students have already used to serve as review activities. If you like, put the folder out in your classroom where students can pull a worksheet anytime they have a few moments to fill.
Warm Up Exercises
Not every student will be in the right mindset when you start class. Worksheets are a great way to get your students thinking along the right lines before you start the really important stuff. You can choose a worksheet that ties into whatever topic you will be discussing in class, or keep some general assignments on hand. By starting with a worksheet, your students will get thinking in English before they have to start speaking or listening in it.
Show Student Improvement
Learning a language can be a slow process, and your students may feel discouraged at the rate of their progress. You can use worksheets to show your students that they are moving forward in their language studies. Try giving your students a really challenging worksheet at the beginning of the year. Grade it and keep it to yourself, letting your students know they will see it again later in the year. Then at the end of the year, give your students the same worksheet. By this time, they will have learned much of the language that worksheet tested, and they are sure to score higher on it this time. At your end of the year assessment, show each student his first worksheet and his last one, pointing out how much better he did on the second. You’ll have indisputable proof that your students have improved under your tutelage.
Use Worksheets as Benchmarks
If you want to keep tabs on how well your students are learning and make sure they are meeting the goals you have set for the, use worksheets as benchmarks in class. Have your students complete a worksheet once a month on the material you have covered, and make sure they are remembering what they learned for last week’s test. Don’t count these worksheets for grades, but use them as a measure of how well you are getting through to your students and how much they are retaining.
Independent Learning Centers
I am a big proponent of independent learning centers in the ESL classroom. Sometimes students need some time alone to study English, the opportunity to work at their own pace, and focus on areas of particular struggle for them. You can set up an area of your classroom with various worksheets and allow students to choose a worksheet to work on during open study periods. Have them turn it in to you at the end of the period and let them know how well they did.
In Class Writing Assignments
If you want to see how well your students really write, without outside influence, use a worksheet as an in class writing assignments. They don’t have to be complicated. Simply put your writing prompt at the top of the page and then use a simple picture as a border to make it fun. Grade the writing assignment or not as you choose, but either way you will have a better read on what your students can really write rather than what they can do with help at home.
If your students keep journals, and I hope they do, use worksheets as inspiration for journal entries. Don’t grade the content of their journals. You want them to be free and uninhibited with their journal writing. The more students write even if it’s not graded the better they will be at writing. But when they need to journal and are out of ideas, invite them to use a writing worksheet. They can staple it into their journal when they are finished.
So homework isn’t exactly in class work, but this idea is worth mentioning none the less. If you want to challenge your students to work even harder on a particular topic but don’t have class time to devote to it, send a worksheet home for completion. You can encourage your students to work independently on whatever topic the worksheet covers, and you can allow them to turn it in for extra credit. This is great for challenging advanced students or supplying content when grammar takes up most of your day’s class.
There is no easier worksheet to make for your students than this one in which you simply copy a full page picture. Give your students the copies and see what words they can come up with related to the picture. You might just have them brainstorm a list of words. You might want them to label items in the picture. Or you might challenge them to come up with a word associated with the picture for every letter of the alphabet. If you allow your students to use their dictionaries during this activity, they will most certainly have a list of new or unfamiliar vocabulary words you can then use with a new unit or for extra credit.
These are just some of the ways you can use worksheets in class.
What are your go to strategies for putting the copy papers to work?