Throughout my Bachelor of Education I learned how to use curriculum documents, create unit plans/lesson plans, and develop behaviour management programs. Not once in my 2 year university program was the work ‘homework’ mentioned. Flash forward to my first year flying solo in the classroom… There I was – with no clue what to do about the homework thing.
This forced me to dive deep and really thinking about what I believe to be true about the purpose of homework. Is it to complete unfinished work from the classroom? To practise reading skills? To develop study habits and time management? To study for a weekly quiz? Luckily for me, my school had a task force that was in the process of researching and revamping our school philosophy around homework. Much of what was uncovered through this process aligned with my own personal beliefs around homework. The graphic below represents some of the philosophies that were uncovered by my colleagues on our homework task force and how these pieces fit (*puzzle pun*) with my own personal beliefs.
When designing my homework plan, I felt that the two beliefs that belong on the forefront are (homework should…) include student choice and explore student interests and foster a love of learning outside of the classroom. This may seem like a big feat, however, I think these two beliefs lend themselves to each other so beautifully. My thought was that by creating a homework plan where students can choose their assignments based on their interests, they will feel excitement around homework and start developing a love of learning outside of the classroom.
So that’s what I did.
Every Monday, my students get to choose their own homework adventure. They are presented 4 different tasks; a Science, a Math, a Language Arts, and a Social Studies. The rule is that they need to pick at least 1 task to complete and hand in on the following Monday. However, my students are always encouraged to do more than one task if they would like. For those of you reading this and thinking only one task for the whole week!? Keep in mind, my students are in Grade 2 and also engaging in nightly homework in French and Hebrew.
At times, I find it challenging to come up with 4 different fun and meaningful tasks for my students each week, but the success I have seen with the homework program motivates me to keep it up. It has been wonderful to see my students get excited when I reveal our weekly tasks, but the highlight of my year has been seeing (or more so hearing from the parent) about how engaged her son is in his homework for the first time.
It’s the moments of excitement when I assign the homework along with the moments of pride when students hand in their homework that reassure me this homework program is working.