by Suzy Brooks, Director of Instructional Technology, MA:
In preparation for middle school, my fourth graders made the transition from weekly homework packets to nightly homework. Having nightly homework can prove to be a challenge. So, I thought I'd give my students some suggestions on how everyone can be more proactive when it comes to taking responsibility for learning.
I started coming up with some fabulous suggestions.
Then…I stopped and rethought the whole idea. Why would I just hand them MY wonderful list, when they could brainstorm their own?
So, today's writing lesson started off with an activity I call Carousel of Advice. Students were separated into four groups. Every seven minutes, they circulated to a new station where they answer the following questions:
By the end of our lesson, we had four posters filled with suggestions for the characters in each scenario to improve their homework situation. Here are some of the suggestions my students came up with.
Students who leave their homework at school could:
- Go back to school and pick it up.
- Do extra work that night and bring it in to show the teacher with a promise to finish the homework soon.
- Write an email to the teacher to explain the situation and to ask for the assignment.
- Phone a friend and have them either photograph or scan the assignment and send a digital copy.
- Check the class website to see if the assignment has been posted or uploaded there.
Students who do not understand their homework could:
- Ask parents for help.
- Email the teacher to ask clarifying questions.
- Watch online videos to review the topic.
- Skype or FaceTime with a classmate who understands the assignment.
- Write a note next to the problems that they don't understand, explaining why they might be wrong.
Students who know that their schedules will be a problem during the week could:
- Do homework on the bus or during breakfast or lunch.
- Create a schedule for that week that will work better for homework.
- Talk to the teacher for suggestions or ideas.
- Ask for the homework early to get a head start.
- Bring homework while doing errands in case there is time.
Students who were absent could:
- Email the teacher during their absence to ask for missing work.
- Ask a classmate to drop off the assignment at home.
- Check the classroom website to see if the teacher has posted any lessons or resources.
- Try to catch up by bringing home work to do on the weekend.
- After returning from being absent at school, ask the teacher for missed work.
- Ask lots of questions and pay really close attention when it is time to go back to school.
As you can see, students have some great ideas to help others who are struggling with homework! Every response assumes positive intentions and values personal responsibility. The activity asks for adults to help solve the problem while the student is still in charge of finding the solution. I think I speak for many teachers out there when I say that we are mostly looking for students to value learning and to put forth their best efforts every day. It's pretty simple when you really think about it.
Effort affects everything. Try your best!
After 10 years as an elementary teacher, Suzy Brooks is now the Director of Instructional Technology for Mashpee Public Schools in Massachusetts. Her work in blended learning, student engagement, and social media has been featured by EdWeek, NBC News’ Education Nation, Instructor Magazine, Intel, ASCD, and the NEA. Currently, she is the President-Elect for the Massachusetts affiliate of ASCD. Connect with her on Twitter at @SimplySuzy or at her website www.TechnicallyInvisible.com.