## A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Helping Your Students With Homework: A Guide for Teachers - February 1998

# Tips for Getting Homework Done

## 3. Make sure students understand the purpose

Most students appreciate understanding the purpose of an assignment, but the purpose may not become evident until students are part way through an assignment or have completed it altogether.

• "I talk together with the kids about why an assignment is important," Ms. Blegen explains. "From the beginning, kids must know what you are after."

• "There is no confusion in my classroom--or little confusion--over the value of an assignment," says Mr. Howe. "I explain that when I assign it. I don't say, `Read this; fill in the blank," without letting students know how it's important within the larger picture of what we are studying."

• Ms. Dunn uses Ken and Barbie dolls to help her eighth-grade math students learn math principles. Her students know before beginning an assignment what some of these principles are. But much of the assignment's significance does not become apparent until students have partially or fully completed it.

The Ken and Barbie assignment requires students to determine what the measurements of the dolls would be if they were life-sized people. Students also compare Barbie's measurements with a composite measurement drawn from all the girls in six of Ms. Dunn's eighth-grade math classes, and Ken's measurements with certain measurements from the eighth-grade boys. This assignment requires students to measure accurately and to analyze, as well as to design a spread sheet and read a bar graph. Information about volume, proportion, and ratio are also taught. And, not insignificantly, the assignment challenges image-conscious eighth-graders to rethink their notion of appropriate body size: Barbie's feet are so small that a real person, with comparable dimensions, wouldn't be able to walk.

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[2. Create assignments with a purpose] [4. Make assignments focused and clear]