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
5. Create assignments that challenge students
Homework can give students an opportunity to apply a concept beyond the controlled conditions of the classroom. It can also help students pull together and connect information from different places, sources, and subjects.
to think and to integrate
Good assignments often challenge students to break free of their usual way of thinking. Such assignments might require students to combine two ideas that are usually not associated.
Ms. Faucette suggests the following assignments for junior high students:
Open a junk drawer and list 22 nouns for things you find there.
Read the chapter on letter-writing. Then write a letter that breaks every single rule you know. "One hundred percent return on this one," she says: "How can you break the rule without knowing it?"
Write a paragraph about your crazy Aunt Melba or Uncle Albert that breaks 10 rules of capitalization. The next day students present their paragraphs to see if their peers can figure out which rules were broken and correct them.
Sit outside for 5 minutes and listen. Spend the next 5 minutes listing all the sounds you hear. Circle your favorite five. Write a poem about one.
Write a 30-second radio spot using George Washington to sell deodorant soap. Work in four facts about his role as a general.
Generate 10 new classes for the school curriculum. Write a letter to school board members persuading them to implement one.
Here is an answer: 54. Now generate 10 different questions, problems, or situations that can be answered with that number.
- Students in Fie Budzinsky's 11th-grade chemistry classes participate in "Chemistry on Stage," an assignment that integrates chemistry with theater, art, and writing. The Connecticut teacher instructs her students to research the life of a chemist who has made a significant contribution to his or her field. Students then write a script, which includes some aspect(s) of the chemist's life and a simulation of his or her scientific contributions. Students also design costumes, props, and sets and perform their 10- to 15-minute productions. Parents and students throughout the entire school are invited to attend, and food is served--always a draw for students. And Ms. Budzinsky says that, in addition to learning a lot, "Everybody has fun."
[4. Make assignments focused and clear]
[6. Vary assignments]