117. I have read the question and answer on Homework. What would be an effective example of constructive homework in your opinion?
Since January, 2002, --when I returned to the classroom at a K-12, 4,000-student school in Los Angeles, I have not given a commercial "ditto" sheet for homework to any of my classes. I did use one ready-made lesson prepared by the American Heart Association on preventing teen smoking. Students had to identify key vocabulary words in the reading. Students answered the ready-made ditto sheet, anyway, although they lacked information about tobacco use. They answered incorrectly most of the questions, without my specific instructions or my permission.
I prefer to give homework that is open-ended but that allows students to do the homework correctly. For example, I have just helped my students access web sites where they can find "idioms," or "idiomatic expressions." All students are to bring to class and share as many idioms as they would like. Most of my students lack knowledge of idiomatic expressions --whether they speak ONLY English or they have another primary language and are ESL students. Thus, they can read through the idioms they find, select as many as they wish, and share in class -- I make copies for everyone of the idiomatic expressions shared by students. I test for idiomatic expressions so they must learn the idioms contributed by their friends.
Another homework they have is to write sentences with the new vocabulary words and expressions found on a book we are reading: "Katherine, Called Birdy." I selected and prepared ALL of the new vocabulary, organizing all new words into meaningful categories (All these words can be found on my Web Sites.) With these new words, and after reading with me the chapters in the book, after listening to an audio-tape of selections from the different chapters, and after writing together summaries of the chapters, students must write sentences about the story. The reading books remain in the classroom so the sentences must be written from memory.
We read about PEACE early in January. On a beautiful holiday card I received the word PEACE was defined by 30 other associated words such as "serenity, thoughtfulness, camaraderie, etc." With these 30 other words we wrote together 4 paragraphs, then wrote the beginning sentences of each of four additional paragraphs, which they had to finish as homework.
I stress positive words in my class, so, twice I have written these positive words on handouts where, in English and/or Spanish, students must complete a paragraph with each of the words. The paragraphs begin as follows: "I am responsible because . . . . "; "I am self-directed because . . . . ." etc.
We have compared and contrasted life today with life at the time of the stories we have read and are reading: the 800's, 1290-1291, the 1350's AD. They will write these similarities and differences as homework.
For me these are constructive homework assignments --at least, I truly hope they help students construct their own thinking framework.
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