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Tips for creating an effective lesson worksheet

Just as children don’t fully appreciate their parents until they have children themselves, students don’t understand how important their education is until it is almost too late. School is a necessary evil, something they have to commit too but will constantly moan about to their friends. The best you can do as a teacher is try to engage with them as much as possible, and hope they enjoy your subject.

Creating lesson plans and activities can be very time-consuming, and requires a lot of creative thinking. You need to get into the mind of the student and find a way to make the learning enjoyable, whilst still teaching enough core content. Not asking for much, hey?

We have put together a list of the tops tips on how to make a lesson plan that is effective and as enjoyable as possible.

Create a formula

Once you have a winning formula for a lesson plan, you can use it again and again, just insert a different activity with different content. The chances are, students won’t even notice that they format of the lesson is the same as long as they are learning something new. One of the most popular formulas is:

  • Brief introduction
  • Open question to the class to provoke discussion
  • Brief teacher-led learning (e.g. lecture style)
  • Interactive activity (quiz, game etc.)
  • Recap

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Each teacher is different, and better at different methods of learning, so find what works for you and use this knowledge!

Be innovative

Innovation is a buzzword in today’s society; it feels like it is used everywhere! It is particularly useful in education though, as you want to entice students and get them interested in learning in a way that they haven’t been before. Put yourself in their shoes – when you were a student, what did you like and dislike about school? And even your teachers? How can you use this knowledge and apply it to make a worksheet different and more appealing? Don’t be afraid to search online for inspiration.

Network

Another buzzword that you will hear a lot in the business world. Communicate with fellow teachers, support staff, friends, parents and wider school staff to find out their views of what is happening in education. You might be surprised at some of their insights and can use what they have learnt to relate to your students. This will also benefit you in the long run, as you will be seen as passionate and committed (this will be remembered when a promotion is up for grabs).

Show enjoyment

Students won’t enjoy your lesson if you deliver it in a way that makes it clear that you are not having fun yourself. So you’re delivering this lesson for the fifth time, and know it back to front? Make it different this time. Use your students’ individual personalities to connect to the subject. Enthusiasm is infectious and this is really key in a lesson environment.

Some of these tips might seem obvious, but have a good think about how often you actually apply them to your planning. It is harder than you think! Teachers have so many resources available to them now for inspiration, which is great, but we also need to consider what we can do individually too. We hope this helps!

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Who should be Looking for Downloadable Worksheets?

If you are a teacher, parent, mentor, or just a person who works with kids, there are times when a well produced worksheet can be a tremendous help. Fortunately, there are a number of great sites on line where you can legally download and reproduce worksheets for children of any age or grade level.

Not just a Coloring Page: Downloadable worksheets are not just time consuming busy work to keep the kids quiet and give you a chance to catch your breath. Although they can accomplish that, a good worksheet is so much more. Well designed worksheets can be found to address specific educational, skill and personal issues that many kids today face:

  • Academic Skills: Worksheets for math, science, language, history, and cultural studies are available from a variety of sources. Each sheet is designed to enhance the student’s knowledge and expertise in a specific area of study. Some include practice exercises and remedial information. Some walk a student through a tricky concept that they may be having trouble with. All are interactive and seek to engage the student on multiple levels besides just reading words on a page.
  • Personal Issues: There are always issues that trouble children, and each child has their own unique set. By having a worksheet resource list, you can outline a series of aids to get a child through a rough patch and help them to develop the personal and interpersonal skills need to thrive in their environments. Worksheets are available that address issues like

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  • Bullying
  • Self Image
  • Physical Disabilities
  • Cross Cultural Interaction
  • Interpersonal Communications
  • Conflict Resolution and Anger Management
  • Career Goals and Opportunities
  • Time Management
  • Finding and Developing Interests: Many downloadable worksheets are available that can introduce students to activities and disciplines that can help enrich their lives for years to come. Activities that they might not encounter in their normal, day to day lives. Areas to consider include:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Literature
  • Sports
  • Technology
  • Current Events
  • Ecology
  • Cooking and Cuisine
  • Movies, TV and other forms of Popular Culture
  • Legal Aid and Advocacy
  • Politics and engaging in the Political Process 

Free vs Fee:

While many worksheet sites offer free worksheets, some require a subscription fee or a per-sheet license to download and reproduce the work. It is important that you follow the guidelines for copying the worksheets, as unless specifically stated, all copyright and trade mark rights apply, just as with any intellectual property. While some sites are set up to provide free access to some or all of their work, others require some remuneration in order to use their products. This is only fair, as a great deal of work and effort went into creating these pages. 

While many of sites have exceptional pages that you can download and reprint for free, it is not surprising that some of the best pages are available at a modest fee. 

By checking out the offerings of the various downloadable worksheet sites, you not only provide interesting and engaging activities for the children you work with, you have the opportunity to enrich their lives and their futures at the same time.

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Worksheet Download Sites for Special Subjects

If you are involved in children’s education at any level, you know the importance of worksheets for developing skills. They can also be an entertaining diversion or activity which reinforces the lessons you are trying to teach.

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There are a number of web sites that provide worksheets, resources and lesson plans for the general education topics like math, science, history and the like. Some of these are free, others charge for downloads or require a subscription fee to access. Most of them provide useful, high quality material which you can use to enhance your current curriculum and study materials. 

But what if you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, a subject that is not considered part of the 3Rs? Here are some sites which specialized in specific aspects of the educational spectrum:

  • Busy Teacher: This subscription site specialized in English Language studies, a subject often downplayed in this day of grammar and spelling checkers built into our computers and our phones. But good grammar is still an important skill, simply because communications is key to success in any industry or endeavor. This site has on line resources for topics including:

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  • Vocabulary: Knowing the right word to say in a given situation can be important.
  • Spelling: You won’t always have a spell checker available to you, and besides, sometimes the word you want isn’t in the data base.
  • Speaking, Listening and Pronunciation: Before you say why bother, oral communications are still important, and people who can speak well and listen effectively will have an edge in any job they seek. This site also includes reading comprehension drills that will help your students develop the skills required for handling reading material in the over 140-character category.

  • Sheet Music and Music Lesson Material: The One Minute Music Lessons site contains a page listing source sites for sheet music, much of it free. It includes pieces that are in public domain and others that have been made available for free or discount prices. Music has been shown to be not only an enjoyable pastime, but has proven to help a student to develop mentally in a number of areas, including math skills, speech, and reading comprehension.
  • Incredible @rt Department:  This site focuses on resources to help with art education, from art history and theory to activity and practice sheets to develop basic art skills. The site includes galleries of great art, a useful art teacher’s toolkit, as well as activities, worksheets, and curriculum suggestions for art teachers or people who want to introduce the world of art to young children.
  • Foreign Languages:  This page from the tlsBooks.com site provides a number of worksheets, coloring pages, lesson planes, vocabulary lists and seasonal activity sheets designed to help teach English speaking children another language. Languages supported include German, Italian, French, Spanish and Greek. Age appropriate pages are available free for K-12 as well as multi grade class settings.
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The top sources for teacher worksheets

As a teacher, it can be difficult to summon the creativity to make every single lesson different, and yet still interesting and interactive. With so many hours invested in your students already, your brain has enough to think about without necessarily producing brilliant activities every day.

Luckily, there are some sites that can provide effective, ready-made worksheets that align with your curriculum. This isn’t a lazy way out; it is just common sense! They are particularly useful for newer teachers who don’t have years of experience behind them, and just need some inspiration.

We have rounded up the best sources of worksheets for you, to explore when you need a well-deserved break from planning.

Super Teacher Worksheets

This site offers a massive range of worksheets, although the bulk of them sit within the 5-12 years age group. They cover math, English, science, geography, handwriting, social studies and more. Although their site is super cheesy, for just $19.95 a year, it is worth the occasional cringe!

Education.com

Their name is fairly self-explanatory… they offer a huge variety of activities and lesson plans, right through from kindergarten to fifth grade. In global speak, that is aged 3-11 years or thereabouts. They also have some really interesting articles on the subject of teaching and education, so it is more of an industry hub than just a source for worksheets. They offer free memberships, but work on a tiered membership scheme. The more you pay a month, the more access you have, and even their highest package is still reasonable.

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abcteach

A lesser-known site that offers a smaller, but still very effective range of materials. Their subjects are broader than most, to include art, sports and music as well as those you would expect. They offer a lot of interactive tools aimed at a younger audience too.

Scholastic

This is a site focused on literacy, where teachers, parents and students can all go to find information, videos, news, worksheets, game and other resources. They have some awesome lesson plans, and their focus on books and reading is refreshing – something distinctly lacking in some of the other tech-heavy interactive sites! They also offer advice on topical subjects, such as Hunger Games at the moment, and offer a whole course of activities around them.

LessonPlans.com

Another one that does exactly what it says on the tin. They offer lesson plans for a whole range of ages, probably the broadest out of all of them. They have a good sharing tool where you can upload lesson plans you have created, which means a lot of the resources are proven but teachers in a similar situation.

Teachers are notoriously underrated – until your students become adults themselves, that is – but we know that you have one of the hardest and most worthwhile jobs. We want to help you in every way we can, and so do these sites. So put your feet up, put down the pile of exams waiting to be marked and have a browse.

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4 reasons worksheets aren’t just for substitute teachers

Focusing

The best reason to use worksheets is the exact reason that they are so popular with substitute teachers. They cause focus. They give students an exact task to carry on with. Now, the difference between you and a substitute, is that you will be using the sheet to teach core information. When you’re standing at the board giving a lesson or presentation, a few minds will wonder. But, worksheets offer active learning, which means you would be engaging in child’s brain individually. If you’re a parent with only one child, then the same applies. Rather than showing a child what to do, you’ll be showing him or her, how to do it.

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Teaching independence

When it comes exam time, regardless of whether you’re a teacher or a parent, the child is going to be doing it alone. Even when they’re studying, there are going to be topics in their textbooks that they didn’t fully understand in class and will have to look over independently. The use of worksheets can help to teach them how to learn by doing! The parent may not even be able to help them, as the curriculum being taught to even our youngest students aren’t things that were covered in their parents’ education. However, with the independence students learn through working through worksheets, they will be able to simply pick up their textbook, read through the theory and practise, until they’re confident in their abilities.

Connecting previous material and new material

It’s sometimes very difficult to connect the skills that were learnt in previous lessons a long stretch ago, to new information. But, with worksheets, it’s very simple for the students to be able to practise the familiar skills that may or may not have been forgotten, before moving on to the new things. It’s an easy, proactive way to engage their learning and encode the new information semantically. All this means, is that you’re tying the new information to old information that is already present in the student’s mind, therefore, increasing the changes that they will remember how to do both tasks.

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Math

Math gets its own sub-heading because, there really is no better way to practise math than with worksheets. It’s a painful subject that children find very hard to grasp as a concept. But even without a full grasp as to the mathematical logic behind the theory, worksheets allow students to practise the practical skills necessary, until they can do it like clockwork. Undoubtedly, it should be the intention of the student to understand both sides of the work being done i.e. the theory and the practice, however, if the worst should come and the theory should leave their heads at exam time, you can rest assured that muscle memory works almost as a reflex. As long as they have sufficient practise, the student will maintain the ability to manipulate the numbers in order to get to required answer for much of their lives. Trust us on this one. No force on this earth could make me to forget that speed=distance/time.

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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.

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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.
  • Math-Drills.com: 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.
  • SchoolExpress.com: 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.
  • BusyTeacher.org: 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

Education.com

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.

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SchoolExpress.com

This site isn’t quite as professional, but what it lacks in interface, it makes up for in the sheer size of its inventory. SchoolExpress.com 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.

Getworksheets.com

It’s a good name, it gets to the point; I like it. GetWorksheets.com 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 Apple.com, 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!

teAchnology.com

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!