Let's all start the school year off with a commitment to decrease the number of worksheets, dittos and busy work that the students are doing. Let's get the students actively engaged in activities that have meaning and show them a purpose to what they are learning.
I know worksheets are easy and fast. Save them for when there is a sub or class time is cut short for some reason. Worksheets are busy work. They don't actually reinforce the skills you are teaching. General education students zip through them and classified or students that struggle with learning either lose them or don't do them. So why waste another tree. Play a game, come up with the a song, have the students demonstrate how the information can be used.
Allow the students to use the technology that they have. If your students have cell phones start using them for activities in the classroom and homework. Check with the parents to make sure the students have unlimited texting or picture capability. There are so many ways that students can use their cellphones without making a call. An example of an activity, find 5 compound words in your environment and take a picture of the object then label the picture. I live on Bayview = Bay+view, newspaper = news +paper, and flowerpot = flower+pot. This is a way to have the student learn that their cellphones are more than just a communication tool.
Have students work on projects. We are in a digital world and students are losing the face to face communication skills, and problem solving on and off the computer. They can still use technology for the projects.
Have the students write a daily blog line. Example: Ms. Van Houten's things we learned today.
JS: I learned the word compromise means finding middle ground in a disagreement.
NB: I learned that 1/2+ 3/4 = 1 whole.
AD: I learned that our state bird is the Eastern Goldfinch. There was one sitting on the bird feeder at the window during math.
CF: I learned that NJ state capital was not always Trenton.
You don't have to use students names or even initials, you can just have a list of things that were learned. It is a way for the students to demonstrate what they learned in the day, practice their writing skills, and share with their parents what happened in school. For younger students you can use pictures or a list of words they can pick from.
Hope you all have a wonderful school year. Try to decrease the number of dittos - worksheets by 2 a week. Although it takes extra planning it is well worth the journey you will have together with your students.