In Rethinking Homework Part 1, I described how three chemistry teachers had made the decision to place their lectures on vodcasts, allowing students to listen at their own pace, while freeing class time for discussions, labs, and activities.
In another example of Rethinking Homework, Diana Laufenberg, from the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, engaged her students in President Obama’s address to Congress on February 24 using Gcast, a resource that lets you record a brief podcast using your cell phone. Students were given the assignment of watching the President’s speech, then recording a brief summary of their thoughts and questions regarding Obama’s stimulus plan. The students were likely relieved that they did not have to sit and write a reflection, but instead were able to use their cell phones to give initial reactions to the speech.
These two examples paint a very different picture of homework than a student struggling through a worksheet late in the evening at the kitchen table. They make homework purposeful, engaging, and leave class time for higher level discussions and activities. If homework looked this way more often, educators and students would likely have a much more positive opinion of the practice than they currently do.
What other best practices have you heard of that engage students and provide meaningful learning experiences outside of class time? What steps do school leaders and decision-makers need to take to broaden these types of experiences to all students? We welcome your comments and questions!