Blog post image cap

No Worksheet Required

Published 10 months ago by Ann Baker

Maths worksheets are not worth the paper they are written on.

Right, got your attention.

Obviously not all worksheets are equally useless. In fact about 6% of maths worksheets have value.

A worksheet that presents out of context, drill and kill, mindless exercises without differentiation such as the example below are a complete waste of time. Why would I say that? Before moving on, evaluate the pros and cons and the 'interesting' components of this worksheet.

I have kind of copied this from a worksheet online (to prevent copy write issues). It came from a well regarded publisher.

N0 Worksheet Required-Blog1

My PMI Summary:

N0 Worksheet Required-Blog2

I could continue this chart but I am sure you get the drift.

So what is the point?

No one uses maths out of context or does pages of sums in the real world. No wonder kids don't connect in school maths with out of school uses of mathematics.

This is a version of a measurement task on a worksheet. Lets repeat the critique process for his one.

N0 Worksheet Required-Blog3

As you can perhaps tell from my poor rendition, students are expected to line up unifix cubes between the two lines and count how many to fill the space. There is so much wrong with this worksheet that I could practically write a book about it (actually I have written 3, Linear Measurement books 1, 2 and 3).

But as a 4, 5, 6 year old there are lots of things that the teacher needs to ensure students explore, experience and understand about linear measurement to be successful, and this worksheet deprives kids of most of them.

Kids need to learn for themselves, to:

Should people be chained to their desks measuring when they could be up moving, choosing things to compare, measuring, ordering?


If they are not working on a sheet we can't prove what they know - that seems to be a common myth.

We live in the 21st Century with digital technologies. We can capture all the moments that show purpose and understanding, where it matters, on the job, problem solving.

Work sheets are often used as a one size fits all formula. Well, they don't fit all.

We need purposeful tasks, that

We are working on a series called "NO WORKSHEET REQUIRED" The series will have problems with scaffolds and supports to busy teachers. Rather like a mini-professional development that you can use straight away in your classroom.

Start with a problem, gather formative assessment then implement a differentiated strategy lesson.

No worksheet in sight!

Check out the No Worksheet Required series

Share this post