All classroom teachers assign homework regardless of the subject taught. Students spend hours on it every week, but are they really benefiting from it? What types of assignments are often given where students actually are challenged to think beyond the text? After all, the goal of common core based lessons is to have students apply academic knowledge to the real world. If this link is established, it will open the door to preparing students to successfully enter the global workforce where project based activities are often the norm.
Teachers should try to move away from the traditional assignments such as answering questions from a text to activities that make the leap from text to real world. For example, if studying biology, why not have students begin a project where they must plant a garden on campus and justify their selection of plants. This type of project might involve blogging on the progress of their plants, ideas on what to do with the produce, creating detailed charts on the nutritional value of each of the vegetables planted, etc. Notice how such an assignment would naturally lend itself to student collaboration beyond the school day as students text, email, or call each other to monitor the progress of their plants. A project like this involves not only a knowledge of biology, but also math, writing, and research. All these elements dovetail quite easily. There is also built-in support for English language learners.
In this article on homework, teachers might walk away with a new outlook on what constitutes effective homework for them and why:)
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