Tips on Using First Day of School Worksheets

In my first year of teaching and for many years that followed, I spent an inordinate amount of time preparing my own first day of school handouts. I thought it was the “hook” that students needed. I thought that teacher dominated discourse represented learning. But it really wasn’t. It was actually a cover up for understanding the true purpose of what a good handout actually is all about.


A lot of teachers I know use worksheets for different purposes and when used effectively, it can be a good filler or fulfill the purpose of what you want to teach.


A good handout always supplements the lesson. You need to pre-teach material and information before it is to be processed via a handout.


When these are given too much emphasis however, students can become demotivated by the learning process, which in turn, lowers their self-esteem. You obviously want to avoid this.


Ask yourself these questions when preparing a handout whether it is for the first day of school or just a plain ordinary lesson on teaching reading strategies.


What is the aim of the handout?
Will I grade the handout?
Will I go over the handout in class or collect it?
How much percentage will I give for handouts for the final grade?
Is my handout well prepared?
Do students have enough information to tackle the subject matter of the handout?
Are the instructions crystal clear?
Do I want the students to finish the handout at home or during class time?
Do I want to give the students an answer key for the handout?
How much time do I want to spend talking about the handout?
Did I preteach the content of the handout?
Did I illustrate the task with an example?


By thinking your handouts through, you will be doing your students a great favor by aiding them through the learning process. Many students don’t have enough learning skills.


Take them through the process of handling their work. Teach them a system of organization. This can include:


1. How organize a folder of their handouts.


2. What to do with finished worksheets. Perhaps you want to have a showcase of finished student worksheet. Have you considered a portfolio?


The Teacher as a Model

Model think aloud skills. By using an example to show exactly what you want, you are acting as a facilitator for the students’ abilities to process information.


You can have a full lesson just teaching these life long skills of organization.