Rethinking requires questioning:
- What is the purpose of homework?
- Is the learning goal accomplished through this teaching method?
- Is this true of all students, or just those that have a home life that supports academic success?
- Would the students with the home life advantage be successful in their learning without the homework?
- What other unintended goals might you be accomplishing through the assigning of homework?
- Decreased family time?
- Frustration on the part of the student that damages their self confidence or alters their feelings about academics?
- If homework is required and calculated into a course grade, are students failing your class because of their socio-economic status?
- Damage to the parent/teacher relationship over the frustration of their inability to support their child when they don't understand "these new common core worksheets", which leads to social media rants that can have an impact on how non-educators view the standard of education in general?
- Do parents like homework? If so, what is it they like about it?
- Do you like giving homework?
Initially I was discouraged because students weren't really commenting or engaging in the posts, but I began to realize that they were bringing things up that were related to things I had posted on Instagram. So they weren't posting very much, but they were talking about it. It was getting them thinking and it was generating interest and excitement about what we were doing in class. I'm not sure a homework packet ever generated any interest or excitement related to what we were doing in class, so I'm going to call this a win (sort of-it's a work in progress really) and share some of my "homework packets" with you.
Writing: The Micro-Version not the 5 Paragraph essay
It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn."
"Assigned" when we were learning how to write engaging leads:
"Assigned" over the winter holiday, prior to New Year's Eve:
"Assigned" when we were reading "Peter Pan" and studying the coming of age genre:
There are lots of really interesting picture writing prompts to be found on Pinterest. I'd much rather peruse Pinterest over a morning cup of coffee than stand over the copy machine making homework packets during my prep period.
I also have some fun dice games for writing that I can take a picture of and post.
One thing I really like about micro-fiction is that it is short enough to be shared on social media. Once shared, other students can add to the story through comments or @ replies to create a collaborative story. In my experience, students are more engaged in writing activities when they are writing for an audience of their peers. I feel like a great deal of my students care more about getting "likes" than grades on homework.
Vocabulary: It's All About the Word Play
"Assigned" after a lesson in Media Literacy class. Click HERE to view the lesson.
"Assigned" prior to a Valentine's Day lesson on figurative language. Click HERE to view the lesson.
The image of "eyes in the back of my head" came from worth1000.com which used to be a really cool website for examples of visual idioms to show students. The website has changed to Design Crowd and it's new layout and search feature make it really difficult to find the old images that I liked before the change in web page.
I'd suggest having students create and share their own visual images of idioms. There are countless tools for photo editing and it's likely that your students will be the experts in this area. I often find that when it comes to tools, I am the student and they are the teacher. I love learning new things from my students.
Reading: Varied Responses to Varied Texts
When it comes to homework, what I'd love more than anything is if my students spent time reading. I have done a lot of thinking about what reading homework should look like. The most read/shared blog post I've written was "Ten Ways to Ditch That Reading Log", so I don't think I'm the only teacher that feels like traditional reading homework isn't really working.
I've recently began to explore sharing books on Snap Chat and am hoping that this medium will catch on with my Snap Chat using readers. To read more about #BookSnaps, check out Tara Martin's blog post.
Feel free to take a look in my toolbox, it's a work in progress so there are a few options that aren't yet linked. This menu of reading tasks was inspired by the observation that my students really enjoy using technology to create something more inspiring than a shoe box of a scene from a book.
Hyperdocs: Opportunities for Extending the Learning
Gaming: If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join "Em
Mindfulness: Can Breathing Be Considered Homework?
We learn about the practice of mindfulness daily, so sometimes our "homework" is a reminder to be present.
This was a powerful lesson and one of my all-time favorite "homework" assignments. You can find the lesson HERE (it's on slide 22).
Service Learning: Making the World a Better Place
FreeRice.com is a web site where students can answer subject area questions and earn donations of rice for hungry people all over the world through the World Food Programme.
Student Work: Some Examples of What My Students Do For Homework
Some Final Thoughts:
I don't teach Math or Science, so I have little to offer in that area. I read a book by Denis Sheeran recently called "Instant Relevance" and I highly recommend checking it out. There were many ideas in this book that I thought would be great improvements on traditional math homework.
"How Much Would it Cost to Repair the Home Alone House?" is an online article that my daughter shared with me the other day. My first thought was: that would be a great homework assignment in a math class. These types of ideas can be explored in Sheeran's book.