Students can certainly benefit from practicing new skills and concepts on paper. From letters and numbers to report summary formats, worksheets can provide students with a framework for practice _ an avenue for synthesizing new information in their brains. Well designed worksheets can also give students a platform for expressing creative ideas and reaching towards higher levels of thinking.
As far as using worksheets for busy work, the verdict is in. It is destructive to classroom learning to assign worksheets to simply keep students occupied. Busy work creates monotony, causes boredom and increases the likelihood of behavior problems. To know if you are on the right track with worksheets in your classroom, answer (honestly) these simple questions: Do my students groan when I hand out a worksheet? (The answer should be no.) Are my lesson plans based on worksheets? (The answer should be no.) Do I feel anxiety if I don't have worksheets copied? (The answer should be no.) Are students excited about learning in my classroom? (The answer should be yes!).