Old Skills or New? Hand written worksheets and the 21st C Skill Set | Acting to Improve

Old Skills or New? Hand written worksheets and the 21st C Skill Set

Dy/dan fell in love with the design aesthetics of this hand written worksheet and started to question our obsession with the word processor:

dy/dan » Blog Archive » Careful now.

I saw this in a pile of forgotten masters while walking by the copier. It was love.


Check out the clear hierarchy. The single, legible font. The single style for emphasis. Margins tightly aligned. The second lines indenting just as they should. Spacing is evenly distributed. The kids know exactly where to look, where to go for their next question, and where to find important information.

Somewhere, until quite recently I still had all my hand written masters for worksheets. They were done in the far off days of the banda machine. Everything came out blue, very dark bluey/purple if you were lucky or, almost unreadable, light blue, if the ink was running out. Your hand writing had to be clear otherwise there was no chance of the children reading it. You had to use weight, bullet points and underlining to make things stand out.

Pupils were used to reading cursive script and they loved worksheets. It was so much easier than squinting, copying notes off a blackboard. We were taught at Teacher Training College that using blackboards full of notes (as many of the teachers in our TP schools did) was very poor practice and the banda worksheet was the way forward. I think the word ‘personalisation’ might even have been used!

I looked through those old worksheets before I threw them away and realised they were from a time that shared many ideas with where we are now in schools. The tasks they set were differentiated by “must, should and could”. They often sought personal responses and gave scope for extended writing. They even included some line drawings and diagrams or asked for a pictorial response ( my subjects were Middle School English and Comparative Religion – does anyone still teach that?) They were then my very best attempt at helping my pupils to learn and I was still proud of my 20 year old self for having made a good job of them. But I binned them anyway.

Now I question the value of worksheets, how ever well designed. After all, as Adrian says

Worksheet pic

* In years to come will you be stopped in the street by an ex-student and they will bow down before you and thank you for all the exciting worksheets they gave? I don’t think so!
* Please challenge your students and teach them to think.
* Please give your students a 21st Century Literacy skillset.
* Please hang this poster next to your school’s photocopier.

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