Saturday, November 3, 2012

Best. Worksheet. Ever.

Check out this worksheet posted by Steve Bowler. It was assigned by his eight year old daughter's teacher.



  1. That's appalling. I want to say so much more, but it would be very uncomplimentary toward the teacher.

  2. This worksheet and the resulting conversation is incredibly compelling - for many reasons. Not only does it highlight how our preconceived notions influence how we view the world, but how one data point tells us nothing. That said, I saw the pic, scoffed, and retweeted. Then, I looked again. Steve, the Dad, saw all the checkmarks and judging by his tweet, assumed his daughter failed the task. However, there's no grade on the work (i.e. 10/20) so the teacher's writing is more feedback than evaluation. Regardless, how he perceived it is what matters and what will drive the conversation he will have with his daughter's teacher (similar to what I imagine you, Joe and your wife, have with your children's teachers)

    Second, the worksheet is a graphic organizer. It's a commonly used modified Venn Diagram to help emerging writers organize their thinking when comparing and contrasting. (The first column are the things that "boys" do, the second column is the things that "girls" do, the last column is what they both do.) Steve's daughter didn't lose points for not correctly assigning boy tasks and girl tasks, but for not having equal examples. Having a point/counterpoint in compare/contrast is a critical skill. Venn's make that challenging because of their structure so teachers modify it with a table format. The teacher's feedback "we talked about how each square needs to be filled" is a reminder that the student needs equal examples. (I.e. cats have kittens, dogs have puppies. Cats meow, dogs bark.)

    All of that said, the teacher made an incredibly bad choice when providing examples to the students. Steve's subsequent tweets suggest it was based on an article (perhaps one about defying gender norms, but I doubt it, given the daughter's age) but what I suspect happened is that the teacher was trying to make it relevant, trying to meaningful for the students and didn't think through the implications of her decision.

    One bad worksheet does not a bad teacher make.

  3. ^^^

    Bunch of nonsense.

    Sorry, but this worksheet is meaningless drivel typical of the government-run public school system.

    1. Teaches blatant gender bias.
    2. All the boxes must be filled? Why? It's impossible to accurately place the categories if all boxes are used.
    3. What do the checks even mean? Do they put a check instead of an "x" now?
    4. Matchbox is one word.
    5. Stomp Rockets is a noun.
    6. "War video games" probably aren't 3rd grade appropriate.

    And the list goes on...

    1. Well, how do they know what "War video games" are in the first place?

  4. See you were right...the first thing we do is decertify all the teachers cause the "fill in all the boxes" mentality, the way "we talked" about it is sadly pervasive.

    Really how did this person benefit from 'teacher training,' Is this more like silly pet trick training?

    Bravo for the brave learner, who actually seems to be engaged and thinking about gender typing, categorizing, and sorting...kinda the essence of all learning...

    The bright light and ingenuity the little girl shows in putting extra lines in the columns that is not being constrained by the form..will soon be worn down, if not snuffed out completely by an 'education' like this...

  5. What symbolism...learning boxed in and thinking creatively down graded...RttT and NCLB in a nutshell.

  6. I sure hope he had a conversation with his kid's teacher about how sexist and gender biased that is. How sickening. I loved Steve's comment, though, about how glad he was his kid failed.

    1. However.. let's say hypothetically, for the sake of argument, the worksheet was completed as a part of a discussion about what "traditional" gender roles mean. Granted, the student is in third grade but one could argue that's a good age to let student start exploring how their sense of self conflicts with society's definitions. I know a school in NYC that does a unit in elementary school on "What is beauty?" Would knowing that this worksheet was a part of that unit change your opinion?

  7. Vegetables vs Fruits, Furniture vs Vehicles, Summer clothing vs Winter clothing, Sweet taste vs Sour taste...there are many ways to practice the use of this graphic organizer (which BTW is often expected to demonstrated on state achievement tests, thus they are taught) than to personify it with gender bias...very poor teacher choice. I wonder if it was an activity mandated in the curriculum/text book? If so, it is time to approach the School Board.

  8. I liked it until the comment at the bottom. I love the fact that she made MORE boxes to fit everything in. It shows me that she thought critically about her choices and recognized that most things can be enjoyed by anyone. I wish, though, that the comment had been left off the bottom and it had been used to kick start a discussion, rather than be just a point in the grade book.

  9. I find it hard to believe there are comments here that endorse this teacher's decision to ask kids to apply gender bias in this way. I am all for compare/contrast graphic organisers - I use them all the time - but the content of this one is unbelievably inappropriate (as is, incidentally, the instruction to 'fill in all the boxes' - this makes it a cloze activity, not a thinking tool).


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