It’s the end of the year and my patience is wearing thin. We are finished with testing. Grades are done. Students are on summer brain. Right now is the week of “busy work”. I struggle with giving students something so that I can get work done that will still be meaningful. I have been inspired recently by Joe Schwartz’s idea of modifying popular worksheets to make them “less helpful”. You can see some of his examples here and here.

I’m sure most teachers have seen and used (I know I have) the “color by number” sheets. Students solve math problems, color the answer a specific color, and in the end it makes a picture. So, in my efforts to be less helpful, I gave students a hundred chart and did not give them math facts. My directions were first to color a picture, pattern, or design on the hundred chart. Then, they were given a separate sheet of paper to write math facts that matched the hundred chart. Here is an example of the idea behind it.

Well, it bombed. My students did great at drawing a picture, but when it was time to do the math facts, having them write 100 math facts and keep it organized was way too much. I ended up taking up their work and said we would try again the next day. The next day I reduced the chart to a 50 chart and we tried again. Success! So much learning and math went on. Students were creative in the math facts used. Some did addition, subtraction, and even a little multiplication. They then switched papers with another student and worked that student’s paper. When finished they checked their work by seeing if their pictures matched. The kids enjoyed it because it was their worksheet that they created. They were also interested in solving a peer’s problems to see if their pictures matched…and to see if their peers made math mistakes. I will definitely be doing more modified worksheets next year!

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## About Christy S

I am a math teacher that LOVES mathematics and wants to continually improve to make math make sense to elementary students.