Are you still sold on the idea that homework is a necessary evil? Consider a few “worst” practices before you give students another assignment to be completed at home:
“But doesn’t practice help?”
Yes, practice helps. But only if you’re practicing the right things and doing it consistently. My problems with this argument:
- What happens when half the students complete the practice and the other half don’t?
- If the practice is happening in isolation, how is the student gaining any communicative skills?
- What about when the student spends the whole time practicing the wrong thing because no one was around to notice and help?
- How effective is the practice when the student’s frustration level rises and shuts down acquisition?
“Weekends and holidays offer lots of time to complete big projects!”
I suppose they do. But they also offer lots of time for kids to do more important things – stuff like play outside, spend time with their families, make memories and traditions, and learn to be good friends. I covet the rest and growth that weekends and holidays provide for my students and I never, ever intrude on that.
“Homework builds responsibility.”
Honestly, I hate homework so much that I tried to find a way out of this one, but you know, you’re right. There is something to be said for developing the habit of completing an assignment on time. Perhaps my chronic tardiness in completing projects stem from my being homeschooled and hence having few real deadlines in school – although I didn’t seem to have any problem in college or grad school. Just please, don’t make this the only reason you give an assignment. Make it have some communicative, motivational punch while you’re helping students develop responsible habits.
On the other hand, if you don’t assign that next worksheet, there’s less paper wasted and less for you to grade! For an alternative idea for homework, consider something like free-topic blogging or a student choice activity. Or share with us your ideas for creative, effective out-of-class activities.
Photo credit: Olga Berrios