Why worksheets and English class don’t mix

Seriously, how lazy can you possibly get? I may be a little bias because I really do love English, but there’s something about filling in a sheet that asks painfully specific questions with a limited amount of lines to fill in the answer, that kind of pees on that spirit. English composition and English comprehension, particularly after the age of 12, is something that needs to give a student space to form ideas and try to connect with the page. Here are a few reasons why you can’t do that on a worksheet.

A limited number of lines
Are you kidding me? You can’t hand someone Orwell’s 1984 and then give them 12 lines to write about what they thought! It’s barbaric! It’s like telling Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel and then giving him a 15 minute timer. It’s limiting for the gifted in your class and just imbeds a sense of laziness in the less so. Do you know how I do this? Because, anyone who has been educated in the first world in the last 23 years can tell you that when they see a worksheet, they immediately know they’ve been given a task. Not an experiment, not a discussion, not the ability to expand their minds and really put forward their opinion; it’s a task to be done promptly and if possible, in silence. If you want your students to have no individual thoughts or opinions and associate reading with pain, give them worksheets with a question and a dozen lines.

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Multiple choice

Parents, if your child is over 12-years-old and comes home and tells you they have a multiple choice worksheet on a book they are studying, throw their bag pack out of the window! Even in terms of trying to get the students familiar with the plot, this is still a bad idea. I honestly don’t know what chapter of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ contains Scout beating up that kid, but I know Atticus’ talk with her afterwards was an essential part of her growth in the novel. That’s what your child should be focusing on. What the characters learn or what they think the characters gain from the novel. The problem with multiple choice tests is that there is a right or wrong answer, but a novel is never written with the intention of all the readers having a strict interpretation. Literature should never be mediated to the extent that it stops being a personal experience between the reader and what is written on the page. Now, what were we saying? Oh yes, throw that bag pack out, damn it!

The beginning of the end

To me, using worksheets in an English lesson that is directed at people who no longer dribble on their own shirt, is the beginning of the end of education. What I mean is, it is a sign that education is becoming less about passing our knowledge onto the next generation, and more about pacifying the teenaged masses. In lesson like Maths and Science, I understand how it might be helpful, because those things have strict questions and answers. But when it comes to something as delicate and malleable as the study or composition of literature, it worksheets have no proactive place.


5 Top Rated Sites for Worksheet Downloads

If you are a teacher, a homeschooling parent, or you work with a child that is having academic challenges which you want to help overcome, you know the importance of well produced, high quality teaching aids and resources. For decades, the humble worksheet has been a mainstay of teachers, tutors and educators of all sorts.

And for good reason. Many aspects of the learning process can benefit from structured practice, drills and guided reading. While many, if not most curriculum provide a certain amount of resources including worksheets, practice tests and quick look-up charts, sometimes what they have is just not enough. You may have students with specific issues who require additional worksheets or resources with a different approach to the subject matter. Some students may need diagrams and illustrations which may not be a part of the general issue. Others may need worksheets in languages that are not covered in the material purchased.

Here are some sites which offer a variety of worksheets and other resources that you can download and use:

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  • Super Teacher Worksheets: Super Teacher Worksheets has a number of worksheets covering the basics of elementary and high school subject matter, including Math, English Social Studies, Grammar, Spelling and Science. There is even a section on holidays that can help you create seasonal lesson plans.
    This is a membership based site with a variety of subscription plans, some as low $20. While there are some free resources available from this site, the majority of the content requires a current membership.
  • This site is dedicated to providing graded worksheets for mathematics problem solving and practice. Few academic disciplines benefit more from practice and drills than mathematics. These sheets cover a variety of math skills and disciplines, including basic arithmetic, financial calculations, time, distance and volume problems and even holiday themed lessons. This site is accessed millions of times each months and provides free sheets, graph paper and templates to teachers, parents and study groups.
  • In addition to nearly 20,000 free worksheets that can be downloaded, this site provides a broad range of supplemental resources for a variety of learning needs, including on line math drills, educational games and activities, quizzes and custom made worksheets and drills. While some of the content requires a paid membership to access, many of the resources are available for free.

  • Lesson Planet: Another subscription service, Lesson Planet features lesson plans, worksheets and other resource materials prepared and checked by educators experienced in various grade levels. The site features a simple to use search facility which finds resources based on grade, resource type and subject matter. By refining your search criteria, you can target the materials that you are looking for. In addition to downloadable worksheets, this site features 150,000+ lesson plans for nearly any subject you can name.
  • This site focuses on basic English language skills with more than 16,000 worksheets to choose from covering grammar, reading, writing, vocabulary and speaking. IT even features lessons on effective listening skills.

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4 Places to Get Your Hands on Worksheets

We’re going to break some news to you that should be self-evident, but we don’t want to leave anything to chance. Your child does not enjoy school. If you’re a teacher, then your students do not enjoy school. It’s difficult and boring and doesn’t include a single animated character. Nothing you do will make sitting in a room doing math with a bunch of people you don’t like, enjoyable. But, by putting all of their work in front of them, they can at least get it over with as quickly as possible. So, here are a few places to get your hands on some worksheets

The people at this lovely site, try everything they can to make learning fun! It’s not going to work but we give them points for trying. Here, you can get your hands on worksheets that are appropriate to every age and subject. It’s at the top of the page when you google that sort of thing, so you know it’s a site you can trust. It has a really smooth, sleek user interface and is partnered with well-known names, like PBS parents, Harvard Family Research Project and the Autism Society of America. We think you’ll really enjoy the service these nice folks have to offer.

Blackboard with mathematics sketches - vector illustration

This site isn’t quite as professional, but what it lacks in interface, it makes up for in the sheer size of its inventory. boasts that it has over 17,000 free worksheets on offer and even presents you with the opportunity to create your own. In addition to its masses of worksheets, the sites also offer games and activities that are educational in nature, in hopes of lulling your child or class into a false sense of fun before teaching them something. It’s ingenious really, and a site you’re going to want to check out on your quest for resources.

It’s a good name, it gets to the point; I like it. is yet another place where you can get your hands on quality goods! If you ignore the slightly painful slogan ‘Teachnology’s Gold Membership’ then it’s a pretty good place. It apparently has thousands of worksheetsfor each individual grade that are downloadable, Printable and both Mac and Windows friendly. Its inventory puts our previous sight to shame, clocking in an impressive 50,000+ worksheets and, while it’s no, the interface doesn’t scream “help me”. Like all of the sites, they have a membership option, where you pay a fee and you get access to their premium material, however, they give the option to sample some of the material before-hand. From the looks of it, while we’re not bashing the free resources, the premium membership (costing 8c a day!!) is worth it!

Ugh. We know. We’re sorry. This site has chosen to name their brand after a bad pun and we’re not sure whether to salute them or give them the finger. None of that seems to matter though because it’s a good site! Good user interface and a great sense of professionalism. It even provides a teacher forum where you guys can get together and discuss how you probably chose the wrong career path. But what of the worksheets? Well,go see for yourself!