A young, smiling boy danced by my table and exclaimed, "That homework helped!"
Another child explained how he worked "really hard on that homework" and then he had to make a lot of corrections after the babysitter reviewed it. "It was a lot of work."
The hard work paid off as students overall excelled on the almost hour-long test. It had been a successful learning event for a number of reasons.
First, as a class, we had studied the material for an extended period of time in a variety of ways during the past month. Next I had assessed everyone prior to vacation, witnessed the holes in the teaching/learning, and then re-taught to fill the gaps. I also reached out to family members to help out in order to reach this mostly traditional math goal, and families did help out. I could tell that students had practiced.
There was a great sense of accomplishment in the room as students received their corrected tests. "This is my first 100%," one child responded.
If you read my blog, you know I'm not all about grades, but I do think that grades are sometimes a good fit for the learning and assessments used. I'm also open to lots of different kinds of homework, but I was happy that this particular assignment matched the goal well--it was doable and it directly related to the learning in a way that children could understand and see the connections.
Next week's homework won't be such a tight a fit. Instead it's a broad review and in some cases, introduction, to a number of measurement facts and concepts. It will require students to think differently about how to approach the homework, and I'll have to provide some tips and modeling with that in mind. In general, however, using the experience relayed above, I want the home study to connect well with the weekly learning pattern so that students remain motivated and so that they understand well the connection between their efforts and learning progression. Onward.