Professional Educators

Quality Homework Tasks

By Peggy Saunders, National Board Certified Teacher. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and literacy coach at U46 in Elgin, Illinois.

In my job as a Literacy Coach, the topic of student behavior comes up frequently.  One area of behavior that we discuss is homework – not doing it – usually on a regular basis.  Here are some of the questions we had.  They may sound familiar to you:

  • Why don’t all our students do it?
  • When do we grade it all?
  • What do parents think about it?
  • Does it help our students learn the math?

I started by thinking about math homework, and more questions came:

  • How much class time do we spend checking it?
  • Does everyone understand the problems after we check?
  • How can we individualize for students that need more or less practice?

One of the resources I used to help me think about this topic is Rethinking Homework (2009) by Cathy Vatterott. The PDF linked here, Designing Quality Homework Tasks, can help with creating tasks to improve learning, motivation, and student ownership of learning.

The Homework Partners is an idea I had about using student partnering to help students learn math.  The correct answers for the assigned homework would be displayed on an overhead, and students would work in partners (or later, small groups) to check and repair their own understanding.  Days could be alternated for helping with or help from, or two short sessions could be used.  Choice is used to support motivation and student ownership of learning.

This post is part of a series from National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) who have been invited to blog about their experiences working in a priority school.

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