For nearly two decades, James Randi Educational Foundation has been offering a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who could show, ‘under proper observing conditions’, evidence of any supernatural or paranormal power. Unfortunately for teachers, the only super power which is not listed as the type of powers eligible for the award is the power that we are supposed to exercise on a regular basis and under any condition – the power to get our students to do homework and keep them interested at the same time.
There are numerous blog posts on homework arguing why teachers should assign homework, or why they should not assign it, or when they should assign it, or how much homework is actually homework, all offering advice and some practical solutions.
I have 3 simple rules for
setting homework…ehm, helping them learn better:
‘Don’t mention the war!’
There’s no ‘homework’.
They say words shape our reality. I suppose even homework itself wouldn’t want to live in the reality it shapes. Just as in the case with grammar (the second top hated word among learners of English – check out ‘WHY GRAMMAR LESSONS SHOULD BE RENAMED ‘UNDERSTANDING LANGUAGE’), the only feasible solution is to replace the word with a different word to make it sound more positive.
This could have a much fancier and attractive name, something like a mission, or a super mission, or a simple ‘and to learn more, please check out this resource‘.
E.g. And your mission for tomorrow is….
Give them choices.
Offer them choices. This will shift their focus, and they will meditate on ‘which task will I do‘ rather than on the everlasting ‘to do or not to do‘ question.
E.g. Either you revise homonyms on page 35 or play with the Homophone Machine (and please bring the conversion results to challenge your group mates).
The principle of one minute.
There is a Japanese time management method called Kaizen established on the principle of one minute that helps us to keep the will and interest longer. When time is limited to one minute, things do not look difficult to be done, and of course, they bring joy and satisfaction. After all, it is not only great effort that helps achieve great results but also taking small, regular steps.
One minute, once a day, is quite a bit and feasible for anyone.
E.g. Please do this quiz on homophones at home. Use your one minute wisely.