Challenge Your Students to Think, Rather than Just “do their work.”

January 3, 2015

Posted by Emmy Ryder


Guest blogger and sophomore at Kent Innovation High , Emmy Ryder, shares her views on homework.

How many students can say that they have enjoyed every single piece of homework they have ever been given? Probably none. I know that I have had homework assignments that drove me insane. Some homework is just repetitive problems. Sure, repetition is a good way to remember things but what if I already know the content. Why should I spend time working on this skill? I could be deepening my learning elsewhere!

At most traditional schools homework is “the norm”. During class you receive some sort of assignment and are expected to finish by the next class period. 9th grade “traditional” student Cameron McDermont says “I get lots of book work with an occasional review worksheet. I have to take many notes and have to study at least one subject every night.” He also says that most of his homework is from his Math class. One student says “It (homework) is a nuisance and doesn’t always help me learn the content.”
Students should NOT be thinking this way. We should be viewing homework as an opportunity to learn, not a setback. The problem is, to many students it is a setback.
“Homework can be useful but must to be done with a clear and focused purpose”, says KIH Civics facilitator Jeff Bush.

These days, there are about 30 different students in a classroom. That means there are 30 differents speeds of learning. As you know, some kids grasp certain topics speedier than other students. Some kids need more practice than others. Why should all homework be the same? I think that homework needs to be personalized along with learning. For the kids who struggle more, simpler problems with step instructions. Maybe offer them some optional worksheets, build their confidence. For the stronger students, create more challenging problems. Instructional Coach at Decker Middle School in Manor Texas Chris Fancher gives this advice to students “Work additional problems than what are assigned – if you are struggling! If you get it, skip around and just do a few to keep your game honed to perfection.”

Homework should be present in the classroom , and students should be working on it, but not dreading it. Homework needs to deepen their learning and be a good use of time. No student wants to work on busy work, but almost all students would love to deepen their learning. In moderation of course, junior Katie Hamel reminds teachers to “Recognize that students have lives outside of school and keep that in consideration when scheduling homework.”

Challenge your students to think, rather than just “do their work.” Work to a student’s strength, and help them lessen their weaknesses.

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