What do your students do with their homework once you have handed it back?
I battle with this issue even today, in some ways even more now that I do not have a classroom to even display some of the work my students would do. What do my students do with their homework? There are times that a worksheet is a great tool for a lesson, and I expect those worksheets to end up in the recycle box. I might have used them as a note taking activity. Then using the worksheets, have a class discussion. As a teacher I try to build assignments that intertwine or build on each other. In the English Composition class, the students wrote two speed essays that are to be building blocks for their persuasive essay. But are my students already condition to see their school work as disposable, and worse, unimportant?
This morning I checked my kids’ homework, the same worksheets they have been doing all year. My second son has a 100-math problem worksheet; he gets it right every day. When can he do something else? My second son also gets a ring of flash cards to study every couple of weeks. When the unit is over, he hands that ring of cards back in. Supposedly, never to interact with those words again (there is an app for that).
My second son has been participating in gymnastics this year. We started him with the beginners, a 45-minute session. He is a typical boy, knees and elbows always bruised or healing from a scrape. He jumps, he tumbles, he would live in a jungle gym if he could. Halfway through the first six-week session the gymnastics teachers asked us if they could move him to the next level. He had progressed quickly through the basics. If you have ever coached a sport, this is how it works.
Start with the basics; build on the basics to improve performance and expectations. The basics are never forgotten; they are reinforced in different ways throughout a practice. Both the coach and the athletes also develop their expectations of performance as skills improve. Then comes game time, the reason for the basics. The time to express the skills and expectations. The really interesting part is that no matter if the game was a victory or loss, there will be a practice. There will be adjustments, basics will be reinforced, and expectations set for the next game.
This morning I checked my second son’s 100-math problem worksheet. He got it right again…