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Creating meaningful, engaging, and relevant homework fully integrated into classroom learning and activities is a vital part of what we do as teachers. Students benefit enormously from quality homework. They expand their learning, gain independence and confidence, develop responsibility, and enhance their in-class experiences. Failing to expect homework limits student learning. Low homework expectations, especially in "low-track" courses, can be seen as a form of discrimination against minorities and lower socio-economic groups. Yet it is not always easy to create good homework assignments, and, at times, even more challenging to get all of your students to do them.
Interns and new teachers confront special difficulties with assigning homework. Above all, you don't know your curriculum or your students well-this takes time and experience. Moreover, trying to raise expectations without your mentor or colleagues behind you may jeopardize your relations with students. Remember that change takes place by beginning with where things are, aiming for where you want them to be, and taking one step at a time.
Of course, to get students to do their homework you have to know
The Secret Code of Schoolwork Expectations.
1) Homework needs to be at an appropriate level of difficulty,
neither too hard to be frustrating or too easy to seem like busy
work. Find ways to adjust the level of the homework, such as previewing
reading, creating study questions, creating peer support, beginning
it in class, etc. Even the most tracked classrooms still have
a great diversity of student abilities-all students need to be
challenged while experiencing a high level of success when they
2) Homework needs to be meaningful and well-integrated into
class activities. If students are assigned reading, for example,
that reading ought to be discussed or addressed in class the next
day. Are you using an historically grounded, thematic curriculum
that is relevant to student lives and interests?
3) Homework needs to be clearly assigned. Write it on the
board, pass out written instructions, talk about it at the beginning
and the end of class. Make sure students have each other's phone
numbers so they can ask each other questions about the homework.
4) Students need to know that homework is important. Talk
frequently about the positive values of doing the homework and
why it is useful to what you are doing in class. Avoid point systems,
petty rewards, or grade threats. Teach students how to do homework
and the study skills they will need for academic success.
5) Homework needs to be fun, creative, and involve high-level
thought. A key measure of this is how you feel responding
to the homework: truly creative and intellectually meaningful
homework is something the teacher looks forward to reading.
6) Homework needs to be closely monitored. Collect homework
from individual students at their desks. Return homework that
you have responded to quickly, preferably the next day.
7) All students need to be held accountable for
doing homework. When students don't have their homework, be
sure you let them know that you expect it. Meet with them after
class, find them during your "prep" period, call them
at home, develop contracts. Your personal relationship with each
student is vital to inspiring students to do the work in your
class. When a few students get away with not doing homework, the
atmosphere in the whole class will deteriorate.
8) Inform parents about homework expectations, and let
them know when their child is falling behind. Enlist their help,
support, and involvement (but don't blame them for students not
doing the work in your class-hat is your responsibility and that
of the students, not the parents).
9) When several students are not turning in homework, it is important
to have whole class discussions about the homework. "I
noticed several people did not have the homework done, what is
going on?" might be one way to start such a discussion. Involve
students with helping each other with the homework and supporting
each other with turning it in.
10) Learn from your students, don't blame them. When students
are not doing their homework that does not necessarily mean that
they are lazy or don't care. Instead it is an important piece
of information for the teacher that something is not right either
with the curriculum, the homework itself, or the way it was assigned.
In addition to these suggestions, you will find excellent advice
in First Day of School by
[Western Michigan University] WMU English Department [WMU English Education]
Created by: firstname.lastname@example.org
Revised Date: 4/98