We’ve all been there.  It’s a busy week with IEPs and evaluation/re-evaluations galore.  The paperwork is overflowing, you’re feeling sick, and you reach for the pre-printed worksheet.  Maybe it’s one on context clues or complex sentences or prefixes or root words.  Maybe it’s an article where they have to answer questions about main idea and details afterwards.

My personal belief: this isn’t a crime.  The worksheet is, after all, still targeting their goal(s) and if it isn’t the most exciting or innovative activity ever….. well it doesn’t mean it won’t hone those language skills nonetheless.

But before you reach for that worksheet, ask yourself one important question: is it multiple choice?

The Problem with Multiple Choice

I’ve noticed a trend with handing my students multiple choice worksheets: it is a terrible measure of their skills.  Sometimes the options are so dreadfully obvious that a student can get 100% accuracy simply by process of elimination.  When I give that same student a task where they have to come up with the answer on their own, they have no idea.  Are you really giving your students a chance to practice their language skills or to practice their basic reasoning skills by eliminating all or most of the obviously wrong answers? Do they really known context clues, prefixes, roots, relative clauses, etc or are they just skilled enough to guess? If you have to ask, it’s probably the latter.

So do yourself and your students a favor with one simple fix: copy/paste your worksheet questions into a word doc….. without the multiple choice options.  Make it fill in the blank or short answer.  Have them write down their answers and then read/explain them to you, or alternatively just answer verbally if writing is too big a hurdle.  Force your students to use all those verbal comprehension and expression skills you’re drilling!  It’s one quick and easy fix to ensure that not only they are targeting their goal appropriately but that you’re also getting these extra bonuses:

-a sample of their grammar for future planning/goals

-a sample of their spelling

-a sample of their sentence length and structure

Thanks for reading.  Here’s your exit pass for today:

What is the main idea of this blog post?

a) elephants at the circus

b) how to bake a cake

c) snacks to eat at a football game

d) why multiple choice worksheets are a bad choice for language therapy goals


……….See what I did there? 🙂






%d bloggers like this: