Today I saw a tweet from Tony Sinanis: the principal at Cantiague Elementary School in New York City. I’ve never met Tony before, but I just love learning from him online. He’s devoted. He’s passionate. He’s incredibly student-centred. He likes to inspire change, and he inspires me to want to change. He’s definitely someone in my PLN that I would love to meet in person one day, and I really hope that I do. And it’s because of everything that Tony does and embodies, that I not only want to do his challenge, but challenge others to do so as well!
Here’s the truth: for me, this year, this challenge has been my “every day.” This hasn’t always been the case. In fact, this is the first year that I could make this comment. I’m not sure what really inspired me to change.
- Maybe it’s because it’s hard to align inquiry and worksheets, and we continue to passionately explore inquiry in the classroom.
- Maybe it’s because I haven’t found a good way to really differentiate with the use of a worksheet.
- Maybe it’s because I still haven’t quite figured out the “box of paper system” at my new school 🙂 (see this post for more information), and this has forced me to keep questioning first why I need to photocopy. After asking the question, I end up convincing myself it’s not necessary.
Now, I’m not saying that everything we photocopy is a worksheet. And I’m not saying that there aren’t good materials that are worth photocopying and distributing to kids. I’m just saying that in my opinion (and please know that you don’t have to agree with me), maybe the same activity for every child is rarely necessary. Maybe what could be accomplished by a worksheet, could also accomplished without one, but in this latter case, allowing for extensions, greater thinking opportunities, more hands-on learning, and multiple ways to show thinking and learning. (Another important point to consider: worksheets can also be just as easily shared and completed in digital formats, and I think we should reconsider these ones as well.)
I know that my feelings about worksheets and the fact that I don’t use them now will make this challenge a little less challenging for me. But I think that no matter where we stand on the worksheet continuum (from rare use to all-the-time use), we should support Tony’s challenge. Why?
- Because it’s when we’re uncomfortable that we can really grow. Thanks for sharing these wise words, Sue!
- Because even if we rarely use worksheets now, we can always learn new ways to improve our practices. Learning never stops!
- Because this provides a great opportunity to try something different, and share these different approaches with a global community: through Twitter and through blogs. We’ll all be in this together!
- Because we can learn so much from each other. As we reconsider worksheets, we can share, question, and revise our new approaches together. We’re not in this alone.
- Because this provides the perfect opportunity for “voice” and “choice.” We can let the students help us come up with alternatives. We can give them a bigger role in the planning and learning, and see what happens. I think it will be something wonderful!
- Because it’s one week, and if it doesn’t work, we can always go back to our worksheets. But maybe we’ll find that we don’t need to, or at least don’t need to in the way that we used them before. Every journey begins with a single step. Let’s be brave and take this step.
Who’s in? Why do you plan on doing this challenge, or why do you plan not to? If you do plan on partaking, how do you plan on making it work? Hopefully we can learn a lot from each other before the challenge even begins on Monday! Thanks for the inspiration, Tony!