Sure, it can be a challenge to get students to do their homework every night, but it's still one of the best ways for students to practice new skills and reinforce what you taught during the school day. To double-check that your homework assignments are worthwhile and well-designed, keep in mind these dos and don'ts of assigning homework.
__ Explain the purpose of every assignment and why it's important to complete it.
__ Offer guided practice of new skills in the classroom before assigning homework on those new skills.
__ Communicate your homework expectations to students and parents, including how much homework they can expect, what parents can do to help, and the consequences of unfinished or missed assignments.
__ Keep in mind this rule of thumb: ten minutes of homework for each grade of school. Check your school or district homework policy to be sure what your school system's guidelines are.
__ Acknowledge students' efforts in completing homework and encourage parents to do the same.
__ Encourage parents to create an atmosphere conducive to homework.
__ Avoid grading homework. Remember, it's intended as practice or enrichment, not as a test.
__ Do collect, check, discuss, or in some way show that you value students' efforts and that it's worth their while to complete homework assignments.
__ Assign homework that will enrich students' experiences and allow them to express individuality and creativity.
__ For lower grades, prepare and distribute homework instructions for students to take home. For upper grades, use assignment logs or planners so students write down their homework assignments daily and remember to do it. It's also a good idea to have parents sign the logs as assignments are completed.
__ Post homework on your class or school Web site. This acts as a backup for students and gives parents a way to monitor assignments.
__ Don't assign homework as a task just for students having difficulty.
__ Don't use homework as a chance for students to finish work they couldn't finish in school.
__ Don't assign homework as busywork or punishment.
__ Don't use homework as a way for students to teach themselves.
This checklist was adapted from Learning to Teach...Not Just for Beginners: The Essential Guide for All Teachers by Linda Shalaway, © 2005, published by Scholastic.
This book is available in the Scholastic Teacher Store.