Worksheets into Online Content

Dear Abby convert worksheet to online content

Dear Asking for a Friend –

It sounds like there is some confusion about online content at your school. And that sounds typical for where K12 education is with creating digital content.

scroll to the bottom for a sample conversion

First Thing is First

Let’s be real, it is great that your school is moving toward making content accessible online! I suggest being extremely intentional about what you put online and what you reserve for face-to-face interactions and setting a realistic goal of how much you aim to put online each school year. And some of the younger grades do have practice sheets that would best be completed in class with a teacher. So, whatever you choose to put online and what you reserve for face-to-face is likely grade-level dependent. That sounds like a good follow-up discussion for your grade level with your Principal.

Before you Convert Worksheets

Since you probably asked your technology teacher exactly what the Principal said, your technology teacher is likely correct about copyright. If you just scan in a worksheet it is as if you have a copy forever, that you can share; likely not what the person who produced it meant to happen to it. In this ever-changing world we live in there are somethings you can do:

  • Check the Terms of Service (front of the workbook, Teachers Pay Teachers store guidelines, website, etc.) to start. Most people publishing content tell you how they expect, and do not want, their content used. Moving forward, buy items you can use as you wish, but respect those oldy-but-goodies which you may need to not store electronically and continue to use face-to-face in the classroom*.
  • I have alluded before to how copyright should (and should not) be viewed by educators  a couple of times. Please check those thoughts out before you spend one more minute thinking there is some numeric portion of published works you can borrow. But with that knowledge that you are free from “the 10% rule,” comes the understanding that you must critically think your way through how to deconstruct and reconstruct content.
  • Actually – you will use it so much – just go ahead and buy Renee Hobb’s book: Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning.

Worksheets to Online Content

Anytime you convert your classroom practices to an online format you should consider ways the platform you use can help you. Every LMS has features which give participants of the content different benefits. Those features are static, while the differences between teachers and content varies; not every teacher will use the LMS in exactly the same way.


Consider your students and the level of ability each can consistently demonstrate in interacting with your content. Online content is encountered differently than a worksheet. A worksheet is often a self-contained lesson. It can include directions, an example, and practice opportunities of varied formats. You can recreate this in a LMS, but you want to be mindful of how to guide not only your students, but their families through this content.

Families have more experience with worksheets than online learning likely. You may want to share a personalized tutorial to your families about how you are using the LMS for the online portion of their student’s learning. Since adults (and colleagues) can underestimate the technical abilities of young students, it might be a fun assignments for students to create these tutorials.

Since you are including the families in this you want to be mindful of the types of content you encourage students to complete at home. Nothing high stakes, but instead reinforcement, remediation, enrichment opportunities where it is not a big deal if some parents “help” more than others.

Chunk Content

Break apart the content to fit on a screen without scrolling whenever possible {spoiler alert: not always possible}. You cannot always predict the size of the screen, but start with the idea of one screen per chunk of content. The directions, depending on intricacy, may need their own page. Examples and practice opportunities can go together if short enough, but may need their own pages. Demonstrations and experiments can still be completed in class, but then videos are made visible in the LMS for the reference of your students and their families. Do you know where word searches go? Me either, they sure don’t fit in a LMS. That bring up the point that you may also end up evaluating if portions of your worksheets are rigorous enough to display to parents of students in your classes.

You might wonder how are students supposed to know that all of these things “go together?” You can take care of that a couple of ways. One way is through the naming conventions you give each item. Streak Test: Directions, Streak Test Results: Examples & Matching Practice, Streak Test: Lab Preview could be an item in a module/unit with a larger related Minerals theme, but all from an *oldy-but-goody worksheet you usually do the day before the Streak Test Lab. Think of creating an outline of the parts of your trusted worksheet and entering each line in the LMS. You may find you need to rework the formatting or layout, but you can capture what you have always liked in that worksheet and transfer that to your LMS.


Turn Worksheets into Online Content

The other thing you may like about that beloved worksheet is the clip art. And the clip art on the worksheet is a big part of what is copyrighted. Consider searching for/creating images. These images can be good for the visual-mental joining of your (now separate) items from that one worksheet. If you find a nice image for minerals that you can apply to each page from what used to be your Mineral Test Streak worksheet use it to visually cue your students and their families. Create a header or short table on each page and insert the image in the upper left corner and in the next cell over give these items the same name. Students will know visually when this chunk of content is over as they page through. And you have made a nice template to copy for the next worksheet you create.

Format Benefit

Good teachers know that often educating on the reason for a change (like format of delivery) is expected by families as well as faculties. It would be worth your time to point out that extended access time to these ideas/information will make homework time easier for all, increase the potential exposure students have to content, and hopefully provide a place to find general as well as assignment-specific information/directions. Don’t be shy about selling this!

Share the Content Online

Expect to make a mistake or two the first time you try out anything new; don’t be scared of doing the wrong thing and instead do nothing. Just let stakeholders know in advance that this is new and you may need to fine tune it while it is out there.

Here is an example, from ugly, old, and partially irrelevant worksheet to online content which addresses current standards: