Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Homework and Practice

Homework is not a new idea and practice is not a new approach but how can we use these tools effectively?

Research validates the feeling that the amount of homework assigned to students must be appropriate for their grade level. Teachers and schools need to set reasonable guidelines for the length of time students are expected to practice outside of class. While parent involvement in monitoring and facilitating good work habits should be encouraged, students must be responsible for completing assignments and developing solutions.

The purpose of assignments must be clearly communicated. Practice problems are linked to skills students have become familiar with in an instructional setting. Students can be asked to think about background knowledge they can apply to a new topic or be asked to comment on how their skills or understanding have been expanded after studying a new concept. The intent determines the intensity and focus students need to apply to the task.

Research has also shown that developing competence in a new skill requires multiple practice sessions spread over time. Students must work with new processes until they can apply them quickly and accurately. Technology tools can be employed to help students track their progress by charting precision and speed. Excel graphs allow students and teachers to monitor achievement and adjust assignments.

Don't forget the importance of feedback. Students must feel their work has value and derive maximum benefit from assignments if they receive suggestions for continued mastery. Microsoft Office features can be used to analyze student work and refocus efforts. Interactive/adaptive activities can automatically adjust to meet individual needs. Collaborative tools that allow students to support one another can help everyone move forward.

What specific technology based tools would you recommend? How can we help teachers integrate and appropriately utilize these tools?

Let's rethink the possibilities.

Based on content found in:
Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement written by Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering, and Jane Pollock
Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works written by Howard Pilter, Elizabeth R. Hubbell, Matt Kuhn and Kim Malenoski

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