In this online course, we will discuss our experiences of homework, as students and as teachers. We will share some of our most powerful experiences of when homework has worked well and when it has fallen flat and become a form of punishment. We will also share ideas about how we would like homework to look and feel for us and our students… and parents!
Topic 1: Work & Play as Approaches to Learning
We will explore the differences between learning through work and learning through play. In the process, we will reach our own understandings of what “work” and “play” actually are and how they feel. I will share my experience with you about why I began to call it “Home Learning”. What will YOU and YOUR students call it? We will share ways that you can decide on this together to begin building your shared vision of what learning at home will be like.
Topic 2: The Power of Choice – Trusting the Learner
As teachers and purely as people, we know that the key to great and impactful teaching and learning are intrinsic motivation and a feeling of empowerment. We will explore the potential of autonomy, purpose, and mastery in guiding our approaches to homework. Learners of all ages have strong ideas about what they would like to learn and how they would like to engage in learning. All learning is worthwhile so we just need to capture the attention and imagination of our students to turn homework into something they are connected to and excited about. It IS possible! I look forward to sharing some of my experiences about this with my own students.
Topic 3: What’s Worth Learning and Who Decides?
By reflecting on how we currently “do” homework, we will uncover some of the aspects of traditional approaches to homework that cause it to become such a chore, for everyone. Why is it that our youngest students crave homework and even ask for it, and then in later years, groan when it is assigned and resist doing it? What goes wrong and how can we fix it to keep students excited about the learning they will do at home? How can we bring “grain-of-the-brain” thinking to learning at home for our students and how can we work backward, to find teachable moments and to bring the curriculum to our students, rather than the other way around?
Topic 4: Why Give Homework – Who is it For? Is it really a “Gift”?
Through reflective exploration, we will consider the reasons for the existence of homework. Where does the concept come from and when did we last consider new approaches to this aspect of school life? We will put ourselves in our students’ shoes to gain perspective about their experiences of homework and how we might transform “punishment” into “privilege”, for everyone; students and teachers alike. We will analyze the vocabulary we use when we think about homework: assign…set…hand-out…give… What about if we changed our vocabulary: choose…select…create…share…? So often a change in the vocabulary we use causes a change in the way we experience something.
Topic 5: Revisioning Homework as Home Learning – Sharing the Responsibility
How can you work with and within the limitations and expectations around “setting” homework that are outlined by your school? How can we navigate our way through ethically and responsibly looking for the loopholes and still meeting the schools’ expectations? We will take the perspective of researchers, and conduct an experiment with our students to engage THEM in homework that THEY are excited about. By taking a proactive approach to making the homework experience more pleasant, we will take proactive action to change perspectives, which can be captured, measured and shared with colleagues and leaders. We will design ways to seek parent and student feedback…they will definitely notice the difference! This is action research at its best.