Homework is a good teaching tool. In order to be used effectively you need to make sure it is helping your students and that the exercises you assign are not just busy work.
Students will know if homework is really benefiting them or not so be sure to make it worth their while or they will be less willing to complete assignments in the future. Let’s take a look at the different steps you can take when it comes to using homework appropriately.
5 Secrets Of Effective Homework Assignments
Preparing for it
Homework should be a review or further practice of something learned in class so ensure that whatever homework you have assigned can be completed by students independently and with ease. To do this, conduct several comprehension tests and practice activities in class so that students feel confident enough with the material to work on their own. Encourage students to ask questions about anything they are unclear on. Indicate what pages of the textbook you are using so that students can find key information later on when you are not available to help them.
Think about the objective of each homework assignment before giving it to students to make sure that it will actually benefit them. Also, try to use a variety of exercises rather than the same ones over and over again (see our article ‘5 Most Creative Homework Assignments: Homework That Works’). When handing out homework, go over the directions in class to check that students understand what they are expected to do at home. Have students read the instructions aloud and ask them if they have any questions about the exercises. Do not assign new material as homework as students will not understand it and only become frustrated with the exercises as well as less open to discussing the topic in class. Sometimes you might want to give students the opportunity to think about a topic before you introduce it in class but in this case you should assign something very general for example tell students to try to think of three directions related words for the next class. This is not something you would collect so students do not have to give it a lot of thought or get stressed about it. In this case, you can spend some time at the beginning of the next class eliciting words from students about directions. If some of your students find homework assignments too challenging, arrange a tutorial once or twice a week either before or after school so that students can get extra help.
Once students have completed homework, you have to check it. This can be done a number of ways and depends a lot on the type of activity you assigned. You should check most writing exercises thoroughly for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors before asking students to present their work to the class. This will help them practice the right material rather than repeating mistakes. If the worksheet consists of fill in the blank or short answer type questions, check answers as a class before collecting the sheets from your students. This may mean that students who did not complete the homework will fill in the answers as they come up in class but if you notice a student doing this, you can mark him down for not doing the work at home and should take some time to talk to the student individually.
Not all homework has to be graded but this encourages students to actually do the work. Be sure to collect all homework assignments even if all you do is ensure that they have been completed. Other activities, such as the writing exercise mentioned above, you may consider giving grades on. It is up to you how many points the exercise is worth. When grading subjective material try to create a rubric which you can use to help you grade all the work the same way. Breaking down points into different categories such as spelling, content, and grammar will certainly help you with grading fairly.
When you return the homework assignments to your students give them another opportunity to ask questions about the material and encourage students with questions about their grades to meet with you after class to discuss their concerns. Students who consistently perform at a low level might need a second opportunity to complete the exercise once they have a better understanding of what you are looking for. This will give them the chance to earn more points towards a higher overall grade. In this situation, it is still better to be proactive and give these students special attention to begin with but a combination of both approaches may be the most successful.
Homework is a valuable tool that can assist students by giving them extra practice using course material.
By reserving larger reading and writing assignments for homework assignments, you can maximize your class time by conducting lots of speaking and listening activities. Homework also gives you more material to better evaluate individual student performance so it is very helpful when used correctly.