Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thinking About Homework?

Rather than listing the unsuccessful, dissatisfying homework strategies I've used in the past 24 years, I'll focus on the routines that are positive.
  1. Differentiated Homework: Students learn at different rates.  One-size-fits-all homework does not work for a heterogeneous group of elementary school students.  Homework with multiple entry/completion rates/levels is best.
  2. Online Homework:  Strategic, student-centered online homework is an efficient way to practice skills.  Programs like "That Quiz" offer teachers easy-to-assess "grade/completion" reports for quick student review.  
  3. Blogs: blogs foster writing in natural, thoughtful ways.  Students are usually eager to share their thoughts, and they have the opportunity to read classmates' thoughts too.  Teachers can easily engage with students using blogs as well as assess student learning and writing skills.
  4. Video review:  Assigning video viewing via Discovery Education or other venues is a good way to develop student knowledge.  Students could then comment about the video on a class blog or online commenting form.
  5. Writing:  Keeping an online journal or portfolio that teachers can view and comment on is a nice venue for homework.  Google docs/blogs could serve as the medium for this type of work.
  6. Commenting on published work:  Students could view and comment on classmates' work as part of homework using online discussion threads.
  7. Online Book Groups:  Students read selected pages each night and comment as we move through book after book.  Of course, we'd have some in class follow-up, but this would help everyone prepare for the real-time discussions.
This blog is meant to start the discussion, and foster decisions about classroom homework for next year's class.  I'd like to create a homework pattern, one that I can introduce to parents and students at the start of the year.  As Khan suggests, I'd like homework to be mainly done via the computer, thus leaving class time for project work and essential skill practice and learning.  

I want to think more on this.  Comments and thoughts are welcome.