Monday, July 20, 2015

Moving Beyond the Workbook: Getting Started

I thought I'd start a new blog series this week showcasing some ideas for moving beyond the workbook when teaching. I realize that this is really hard to do when you are a new teacher or new to a grade level. However, it's really worth the effort. I've seen much more growth from my students when not using a certain workbook page or reading an awful story in the basal. Because you know that most of them are pretty awful! 

So here's my schedule for the week: 

Monday - Getting Started
Tuesday - Amazing Apps
Wednesday - Would You Rather Questions
Thursday -  Singing with the Curriculum
Friday - Q and As

Okay, so first stop, how do I get started? When I looked at my objectives, I thought about a way that I could have students participate in the lesson without using a workbook or worksheet. Now don't get me wrong, I do use worksheets sometimes. I'm a big believer in less is more. If I do use a worksheet, I only make them do less than 10 problems if they understand the concept. There's no point in keeping them doing something they totally get. Instead I try to move them beyond that concept. If they don't understand, I reteach the concept in a small group or individual setting (if possible) because the worksheet isn't really helping them anyway. 

One thing I've done to change my teaching is focus more on small groups and less on whole group teaching. I found this quote on Dr. Nicki's Guided Math Blog that totally made me think.

“When a teacher tries to teach something to 
the entire class at the same time, chances are,
one third of the kids already know it,
one third will get it, 
and the remaining third won’t get it. 
So two thirds of the children are wasting their time.”
~Lillian Katz

Isn't that so true? I think back to pretty much all my classes and I think about all the time that I've wasted trying to teach all the children the same way using a workbook. It's just not good enough! 

I found these great questions from Wonder Teacher to ask yourself when you are thinking about removing a worksheet from your lesson. It's not realistic to do this for every lesson but if you come up with some ideas that you can constantly use to replace a workbook or worksheet, you will be set. I hope my next blog posts this week give you some great ideas to add into your teaching this year.

So tomorrow I'm going to focus on some Amazing Apps you can use to replace those boring workbooks.

Also, if you have any questions for me to answer on Friday, please email me at or leave me a comment below. I'll try to answer all questions on Friday.

Just a reminder to enter my giveaway for a $50 gift card to Erin Condren. Click here to enter.


  1. So glad I found this today! We start back to school in 2 weeks and I have been pondering the changes I want to make with our ELA block. I NEED to get this settled or I'm not going to get any sleep! Thanks for sharing!

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