homework revolution

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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Gleaned from Scott McLeod

“You can’t expect responsible kids if you don’t give them any responsibility.”

Love it.
Isn’t this what it is all about, this teaching business?
Thanks Scott.

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Trying to lead from the heart

Really, I am trying.

I don’t usually write about my personal challenges as a teacher in this blog, but today I find myself needing to.

I started at a new school this September and was hired to teach and design a new program for older students (16-21) who are not  expected to graduate.

I’m now teaching 14 students from the ages of 12-19. 6 of them are in the original program – a life skills transition program we’re calling Bridges. 8 of them are in a ‘learning centre’. I teach them all at the same time. One of my students is severely intellectually handicapped and works below a kindergarten level. Other students have a variety of cognitive and learning disabilities. I am finding it difficult to lead them where they need to go when there are such different objectives attached to each of the students in the room. I need help.

I think I need to map out the types of learners in the room and work from there. So I can design maybe 3 or 4 different plans per lesson rather than 13. And so that I do not have lessons where students are lost, or I am lost.

Because that is how I feel sometimes with them. I want to lead them where they need to go, and from my heart.

New Wiki –> TeachingFutures

turn your head

A while ago I created a post in response to recurring themes I was seeing in many blogs around creating change in our schools towards authentic, meaningful learning situations for our students and teachers.

Here is that post.

Today I finally got around to creating a wiki to continue the conversation (thanks to John Brandt for the reminder).

I’ve called it TeachingFutures and am inviting all of my wonderful readers to join and add to the conversation. I think I made it public to join, but if it isn’t, post a comment asking for an invite.

As you can probably tell from that last line, I am a wikinewbie and will be relying on your help to make this one work for us :)

Here’s a question – I have added a page, but it does not appear as a tab…is it supposed to? Will it only appear if I create a link to it from a main page? I went to edit the ‘home’ page but did not seem to have the option to keep the welcome content there, which describes a bit about how a wiki works. I’d like to keep that there for any other wikinewbies who may need it. I did manage to create a link from the menu side bar, though…woohoo!

So, to see the new page (and discussion) I started, click on the sidebar link called ‘Discovery’ when you get there.

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marvels, each and every one.

Image: from Firehouse 3rd grade 57-58 Mrs Barrett by Clarkstown67 available on flickr through a creative commons license.
I came across this quote today on Angela Maiers’ blog:

“When will we teach our children in school what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are
unique. In all of the world there is no other child exactly like you.
In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another
child like you. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a
Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel.”

~ Cellist Pablo Casal~

It rips my heart out each time I hear a teacher refer to a student as a monster, as unteachable, as not wanting to learn.

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