How We Turned a Bad Worksheet into a Teachable Moment Integrating Technology

Below is one of the worksheets that Braeden did at school. The top portion is a reading passage about Ecosystems with mis-spelled spelling words that he must identify and correct. The bottom portion asks him to imagine that he was an explorer and write about the ecosystem that he discovered for the first time. Sounds like a great activity?


In Braeden’s words…

“I didn’t know what an ecosystem was. She wouldn’t tell us and I didn’t have my ipad to look it up. She gave it to us and sat in her desk. She told us that it wasn’t a grade so I just wrote down anything at the bottom. If you look at it, I even copied one of the sentences from the top”

My response to him was to grab his ipad and find out what an ecosystem was. He immediately went to google images and came up with a pretty good definition. He then went into a long discussion about how minecraft was an ecosystem especially when you add animals.

Braeden’s assignment was to write a paragraph using at least 4 spelling words. With a new set of eyes, he smiled and wrote the paragraph below…

“In my world, I have an ecosystem with herds of pigs and cows. The cows were first because the grass was so green and tasty. The chickens want a place to play so I have to learn how to build a place for them. I made a small barn so that my animals can go inside when it rains. The rain helps the grass grow in my ecosystem.”

What we learned…

Braeden knew that the worksheet meant nothing which is why he just “wrote down anything”, as he stated. Giving kids a worksheet or any assignment where the content within the meaningless assignment has no meaning to him further guarantees that the outcome won’t be anything that helps him to increase understanding.

Using his technology, Braeden did a bit of research and made a connection to something that he loves…minecraft. He then thought about how he could describe his ecosystem in a way that also included his spelling. Not only did he use his words in sentences that made sense, he deepened his understanding of ecosystems as well.

In case you missed it, where was his teacher as he was barely doing the worksheet below??

At her desk


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