Sunday, May 1, 2016

Homework Choice

Providing choice for students is powerfully engaging. It is also an opportunity to help them with decision making and builds meta cognition skills. If you find yourself faced with being required to assign homework one thing you can do to build autonomy and engage students is provide choice.

Reading is a critical life skill and one we want our students practicing multiple times a day. It is also a common homework assignment. This type of homework typically naturally builds in choice - students choose what they want to read at home and with whom they want to read it with (or not). Add another component of choice - let them read digital content. If your classroom, school or district has subscriptions to PebbleGo, RAZ Kids, National Geographic Kids, Newsela, Tumblebooks, etc. provide them the option of reading them at home.

I have learned a great deal from assigning math homework choice. Whether my students chose a math game to borrow from the classroom, which problems to complete on a worksheet, or a game or app to practice math skills it is important that they know how to make a choice and why they are making that choice.

Writing, science and social studies are three curriculum areas commonly forgotten about when homework is assigned. I found success having my students bring their writers notebooks home each night. Many continued the writing they began in school and others started new writing projects. Some of my favorite science and social studies homework is encouraging students to try the experiments we did in school at home, getting more information about the topics we are exploring (just provide links), and having them bring in items for a learning activity.

A common aspect of homework is requiring students to log their homework on paper. Turn homework logs into a google form; allowing students to choose from drop down menus. The can click on the time they spent reading and the apps they used. It can also include a reflection where students reflect on how much fun they had or why they chose particular ways to engage in homework.

We are so fortunate to have mobile devices readily available and a dramatically increasing number of online companies creating mobile apps. This is perfect for helping students with busy schedules completing required homework. They can easily read a book in the car on their way to scouts, practice telling time leaving the game, or watch a video about instantly freezing water as they leave their after school provider.

The key is to teach the children how to access these applications on multiple devices, and how to make a choice each night. Depending on the age of your students, you may even need to teach them how to schedule time for their homework.