To foster a love of learning in my classroom, I need to inspire my students to WANT to learn. After reading a great blog post about homework by John Spencer, I became inspired to change my homework ways. And then, coincidentally, my own students gave me the courage to jump in and try something new! Here is what happened:
Situation #1--Last week a student brought the math homework back to school and the backside was covered with math problems. He had used repeated addition since he was not proficient with multiplication. He then proceeded to tell me (proudly) exactly what he had done and what he had learned. I was impressed. It was extra work that he had assigned to himself ! Hmmmm....
Situation #2--On Valentine's Day, a student gave me a book that he had written at home. It was awesome! It was a simple book, yet it had a storyline, dialogue and pictures--but most important to me, he had created it at home on his own time. For a boy who struggled in class and did not consistently return his homework, this was a big deal! He did extra homework to create a special book for his teacher?!? Wow!
So....this got me thinking. Why am I doing all the work in assigning the homework? Maybe if I gave my students a little guidance combined with a little freedom, they would produce way better homework than I could ever assign. So, armed with the blog post, my idea and crossed fingers, I announced the new homework plan to my class...and they loved the idea! They started shouting out homework topics faster than I could write them down. Here is what we came up with:
1. The focus is on Reading, Writing or Math (but other ideas may be accepted)
2. You have to create a weekly plan (using Mrs. Griffith's template)
3. Everyone must present something on Fridays
4. You can work independently or with a partner/team
Those are the basic rules but we will be adjusting them as we go along to see what does and doesn't work. Yesterday we filled out the template together and students chose their first project! Everyone was excited to get started!
I don't really know how this will turn out, but it feels good to be taking a risk and trying something new. This is real-life learning that will benefit them as they get older. Creating a plan, monitoring progress and evaluating results are things I do everyday. Why not start learning those skills in 3rd and 4th grade? And if I can inspire my students to continue their own learning at home, I feel THAT will be a true benefit of homework.
What are your thoughts about homework? Share your homework stories here!
Wednesday 5:40 pm--Great news! Day 1 of the New Homework Plan went GREAT! 100% of my students completed and returned their homework....and they were EXCITED! We still have a few kinks to work out with the template but the kids are loving the goal-setting part of the plan. They loved seeing that they met or even exceeded their homework goal. I cannot wait until Friday to see what the presentations will look like! I will post pictures and give another update on Friday!!