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Friday, December 28, 2012

Teacher Advice On How To Devise Quality Homework Assignments

Here is a follow up on the last post on creating relevant homework assignments.  With another week or two of vacation time to go, there is time to reflect on ways to motivate students to want to do homework with the start of the new year:)

If teachers find practical applications of their lessons outside the classroom, they demonstrate to students that what they are learning does serve a purpose in their lives.  Further, such assignments need only take no more than 15 or so minutes.  If they go beyond that time frame, they will be overwhelming.  Imagine 6 separate homework assignments for 6 classes.  Now imagine 1 hour more or less for each.  This will cause students to "prioritize" in selecting those 1 or 2 assignments that they think they can manage in that time frame and not attempt any of the remaining ones. 

So after more realistic time frames, what else should be implemented to excite (not a typo here) students to truly want to complete their assigned tasks?  Tie homework to their lives.  As a personal example with my own two children when they were young, I would tie percentages to shopping.  They had their allowance and wanted to stretch it so they tied percentages to discounts.  Twenty-five percent discount on the dollar meant more money in their pockets.  In such a simple activity, they became more consumer savvy shoppers and honed their math skills.  As a classroom English/ELD teacher, I made every effort to tie all classwork from the day's lessons to areas of interest for them (a huge motivator).  When we were studying To Kill a Mockingbird, we looked at how discrimination is still an issue in their lives and how to fight it.  When studying Brave New World, they wanted to explore cloning so we looked at how human cloning might be received by different segments of society (religions, military, scientists, clones themselves, and people who couldn't have children on their own).  This lead to student-generated research based presentations on their chosen group's viewpoints on cloning.  The list goes on and on when teachers involve students in the assignments.  This is the buy-in for them and inspires them to do the assignments that they generated.  Time frames were determined by both the students and myself with ongoing monitoring by me (regular checks for progress).

TEACHER RESOURCES ON QUALITY HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS --supplies more information on how to tweak assignments to generate student buy-in.  Tie homework to their interests and it will be completed.  Just assign more questions from the text and the work will most likely not be done by the majority (especially if they are ELLs). 

MORE SAMPLES OF QUALITY HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS---offers more examples of original homework ideas for students.

Denise

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