Thursday, 2 July 2015

How is This for Homework?

This past year my sister was a first year teacher in a grade 2 class.  On the first few days, the students wondered when they would get "homework."  We talked about the need for homework for young students.  We looked at some of the current debate on the subject (here, here, here and here for a few).  We discussed the need for children to read daily with their parents, and maybe not just to practice reading but to be together.  We talked about "big projects" that are often sent home that take up great amounts of time for the family and cause undue stress on parents to afford materials and time to create an amazing product.  We talked about how these projects often become the parents' project and not the students'.  I gave the example of a bridge project in a grade 3/4 class.  The bridges that were returned for grading were amazing feats of engineering hardly completed by 8 and 9 year olds.  While these bridges were amazing and may have contributed to "family time", they were NOT projects solely completed by the students. Even so, these grades became part of the term grade for the student.  One little bridge that came in made of lined paper and glue and string was very obviously done by a youngster on her own.  This bridge received a poor grade and in reality was likely one of the only ones made by a student!  
Enough of my rant...

So the two of us came up with a plan to have "homework" as requested by the students and parents, but to make it authentic and useful.  So this is the list of homework we came up with:
1.Go on a nature walk with your family and collect 5 things to share on the 100s carpet.
2. Ask your parent for permission to write in a magazine and circle all the words you know.
3. Survey your parents about your name - where did your name come from? (to be used in class later).
4. Play a board game with your family.
5. Survey your family about their favorite drink.  Bring the information to school for graphing.
6. Count all the electrical sockets, light switches and lamps in your house.  Make a graph of the information.
7. Play outside with your family.
8. Find all of the things in your house that start with the letter A, B, C, etc.
9. List all of the people who live in your house and their ages.  Compare each of their ages to your age.  Who's age is greater than yours? Who's age is less than yours?
10. On your computer, go the American Art Gallery and use the collage maker to create your own masterpiece.
11. Write about yourself  as if your were introducing yourself to a stranger.
12. Take your word wall words home and make as many sentences as you can.
13. Make a grocery list and convince your parents why they should use your list.
14. Write down all the times you eat at home.  Compare the length of time between each time.
15. Sketch a tree in your yard.  Write five interesting things about that tree.
16. Write a letter to a grandparent or other favorite adult.
17. With a parent's help, make a dessert for your family.
18. Come up with an idea for a special day at school complete with activities for your classmates to complete.
19. Build a fort and read a story book in your fort.
20. Organize your toys into categories and count them.  Figure out which category has the most toys in it.  Why do you think this category has the greatest number?

This was a start.  What ideas would you come up with?

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