Yesterday and again today, the topic is homework. Today in my tweet stream, another Edutopia article provides tips [and links to another about helping students manage time] by Brian Sztabnik , AP Literature teacher:
— Andrew Harlow (@MrHlow) November 29, 2014
Five great questions, and I believe I considered these in my past homework assignments:
Have all learners been considered?
Will an assignment encourage future success?
Will an assignment place the material in a context the classroom can not?
Here’s one from ages ago  when I taught all subjects. It considered all learners because the students had practiced all components of the response before we started these. It was practice to encourage future success. And it brought in family conversation on our studies to bring a different context to our work:
Notice also it included reading practice, with writing practice as the response. There was vocabulary, without definitions, but rather synonyms and a sentence. A place to ask about something confusing in class. A place to share with family, and a creative component for science or social studies– and doodle in the margins. I wish I had taken pictures of some of those! It wasn’t graded, and it became discussion topics for our classroom, for those who completed it.
Before the Common Core State Standards and when I was assigned to a Language Arts classroom, I created this Language Arts Homework, based on state standards according to what had already been practiced in the classroom. The parent ideas were from John Hopkins University’s National Network of Partnership Schools created as Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork [TIPS}. The goal was that for any subject, appropriate and relevant assignments could be created that parents could review and collaborate on. A component of family involvement is included, and the work by students is based on already practiced and personalized assignments, so when students are at home, the work is familiar — to extend future success. It works for any student according to their learning and progress in our classwork, and brings in a new context in the family conversations. Again, these were not graded, but served as conversation points in the classroom.
Still, I began to see how even these may take too much time from family responsibilities and activities; what I really want is for students to do their best in class. Since we changed to a middle school system, I can’t know what all the other teachers are assigning. How much is too much, and how much stress does this create? So I don’t assignment homework now — although my students may choose to do homework based on their projects; it’s a choice. I’d rather my students be inspired. And that works well.
How have your homework assignments evolved?