I just read a post by Elona Hartjes at Teachers at Risk on homework and came across this wonderful twist on homework:
I like Damion Frye’s approach to homework. He teaches grade nine, and for the last three years has been assigning homework to parents. Yes, that’s right. He’s been giving homework to parents. So how does this work? Well, students work on assignments in class, and then parents are expected to respond to their child’s work via an on-line blog or email. If parents don’t do the homework, it can affect the student’s grade. Why give homework if it isn’t going to count. He believes that involving parents in their children’s education improves the children’s educational experience. Frye says that parents complain they never see their kids’ school work. Now because of his homework policy, parents know exactly what their kids are doing , at least in his class.
When I think of it, most of the homework I have ever assigned has been for parents anyway! It makes so much sense to make this purposeful. Involving parents instead of merely appeasing them is much more relevant to student learning and success.
My students work really hard during the day in school. They take work home when, really, they’ve been goofing of during the day or if they have preparation to do in studying for an evaluation situation. I have no control over work that goes home. So in the past, when parents complained that there was no homework, I sent home ‘busy work’.
Lately, I have been doing something a bit different. The homework I give my students has to do with gaining exposure to the world around them (by watching, listening to, or reading the local news) and conversation with their families, as part of the homework is to report on a conversation they had about something that happened in the news.
I really like Damion Frye’s idea, as presented by Elona above. I have at least 2 students in my class who do not have computers at home, so I need to think about that. Though they can certainly go to the local library or even come by school to complete the assignment…(don’t mind me, thinking out loud here ;) )
Thanks for the idea Elona and Damion!
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I like your idea of encouraging your students to expand their horizons by discussing with their parents something that’s happened in the news. I also like the fact that the homework is oral. So many kids are strong orally and we need to allow them to demonstrate what they have learned by using their strengths. We need to do more of that. Parents could write their homework on paper and send it to school with their kids if they have to.