Christy Steffen Leave the Chalk Behind

Homework, Fun and Relevant?

A simple Google Scholar search for “homework” returns 411,000 articles. It is a debatable topic to say the least. As a high school resource teacher, I struggled with my feelings toward homework. Half of every resource period was dedicated to helping students with disabilities complete their homework. For the seven years I have been in the high school setting, I’ve seen A LOT of homework. But does it help? Is it relevant? It is definitely not FUN!

Teachers don’t like to grade it any more than students want to do it, so why it is it necessary? Or is it necessary? Some students will complete an entire assignment wrong and don’t know it until the next class period. How long does it take to undo that damage? Does completing homework teach students the value of hard work, perseverance, or creativity? I know plenty of students who don’t complete their homework but are able to hold a part-time job, be a dedicated athlete, or a talented musician. It is difficult to motivate students to work hard when they don’t see the relevance.

So what can we do? I had an epiphany this summer while teaching 3 and 4 year olds to swim. I give them homework but it is fun! Their homework is typically along the lines of blow bubble in your milk with a straw. Blowing bubbles is a very important part of future success as a swimmer and just telling them to practice in the pool won’t necessarily achieve the desired results. Teachers need to think along the same lines. Have the students search the internet to find out who (what career) needs to know what the teacher wants them to know. Make it relevant but make the students do the heavy lifting!

There are times where practice is necessary, point them online so they can get immediate feedback. The damage from practicing a skill wrong is difficult to undo! There are so many tools for this: Kahn Academy Lessons, CK-12 online, and Edmodo to name a few.

The students who have always done their homework will complete any task given to them. Why not change it up and get some of those who don’t participate to do something? Make it fun and relevant for all students and you just might catch a few new ones!

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