Rethink your homework plan to support and evaluate learning while keeping students engaged and parents happy.

homeworkWhile homework traditionally goes hand in hand with school, it can have negative consequences when implemented incorrectly. After spending all day at school, coming home to more work can stress out parents and students. Too much homework can also lead to competition between extracurricular activities, family time, and rest.

Homework is not all bad, though. Homework helps teachers see gaps between what is being taught in class and what students are actually learning. Not only can it help you as a teacher shape your lessons but also help you cater your attention to specific issues with students. Homework additionally teaches valuable skills, like discipline and time management and prepares students for success in careers and college.

The type of homework is what can make or break the value of assigning it. Consider these tips when assigning homework this year.

homeworkEncourage independent work.

Homework should encourage students to work independently and problem solve, not drive them to parents for help. While it should be a challenge, it’s better to focus on doable work and utilize in-class time to help students get started with more difficult tasks when you can be there to support them.

Value quality over quantity.

National PTA and the National Education Association encourage teachers to only assign ten minutes of homework per grade. So ten minutes for first grade, 20 for second, and so on. While it might not be completely realistic in middle school and high school, it is a good rule of thumb to consider when you’re planning assignments. One of the biggest homework complaints right now is that students are spending too much time doing homework. Be aware that you’re not the only teacher assigning homework and focus on meaningful, valuable homework rather than assigning busy work just to give them something to do.

Utilize technology.

homeworkSpeak the language of your students. There are lots of apps for teachers – and specifically STEM teachers – to help you teach in a more effective, fun way. As you plan for this upcoming year, think about where you can insert technology in your lesson plan. Whether you communicate with students via a blog, assign STEM games for students to play, or ask students to use social media in class projects, using technology will keep students engaged and make homework unique, approachable, and fun.

Connect to real life.

One question you might be tired of hearing is, “When am I ever going to use this in real life?” Though it might be an annoying question, it is an important one. If students can connect lessons and homework with their world and future, they will be more motivated to learn. Use homework as a chance to prove to your students the value of STEM by asking them to solve real-world problems and focus on their passions.

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