Chapter 7 of “Classroom Instruction that Works” was all about homework and practice. The three main recommendations for assigning homework that this chapter gave were: develop or communicate a district or school homework policy, design homework assignments that support academic learning, and provide feedback on assigned homework. Although all three recommendations are important, I’ve decided to focus mainly on the last two for the purpose of this blog post.
Just like all aspects of a teaching unit, homework has to have a clear purpose. Homework should also encourage rather than discourage learning, which can be assured only if teachers are assigning homework that the students are fully equipped to do; therefore, students must have an understanding of why they are doing the homework (the purpose), otherwise it will prove to be useless, as well as have the basic knowledge-base to work with and build upon skills that will be worked with in the homework activities. In regards to feedback on homework assignments, the chapter stresses the importance of it but in a different way than what I’m used to: provide written feedback rather than graded feedback. Written feedback will not only encourage students to build upon their previous work, but it will also help them to do so in ways that a grade cannot. Only when the students have been provided the necessary tools and knowledge should they be graded on the material through summative assessements.
In reference to whether or not homework works with A (Acquiring skills), M (meaning), or T (Transfer), I believe that all three are involved, but mainly acquiring skills. As the chapter stated, a lot of what homework involves is providing “students with opportunities to practice skills and processes in order to increase their speed, accuracy, fluency, and conceptual understanding” (106). Homework should be giving students a solid skill base through the use of flashcards, memorization, and other “know” processes. Then, in the classroom, students can utilize these skills to build upon them and implement them towards the bigger picture and to a more deeper understanding of the material. In other words, homework is the gateway for students to make meaning as well as connections (transfer).
Towards the end of the chapter, the use of technology as a beneficial tool for homework was brought up. The article that I chose for today’s blog focused on how students are balancing technology for school work and social purposes. Although we would expect individual use of technology for homework use to turn into somewhat of a distraction for students, specifically at the secondary level, this article addressed the notion that technology actually is a lot more beneficial for students than thought otherwise. For example, students expressed utilizing their computer for group discussions, homework postings, creating slideshows and study guides, and even using the internet to delve deeper into specific topics. If utilized to this extent, technology can be an effective tool for aiding students’ understanding of topics and going beyond the mere acquiring of skills that homework assignments encourage, and into making meaning of the material, which they can then take into the classroom more prepared than before.