Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Topic: Homework

Question: What are some alternatives to traditional homework?

10-second review: Teacher assigns 30 minutes (Monday through Friday) a night of reading a book of their choice, leading to about 15 books a year plus the 5 books assigned to be read in class for a total of 20 books a year. She assigns no other homework.

Title: “Twenty in a Year! Discovering a Prince in a Library of Frogs.” Amanda Stovall. English Journal (November 2008), 52-56. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: The author uses Friday for sustained silent treading. Enables her to see what books the students are reading. Takes classes to the library to allow them to select from new books. If students miss a night—Monday through Thursday—they must make it up by reading for an hour on Saturday. She assigns no other homework.

Comment: Assigning no other homework leads to questions about how she deals with the five books for class study. They read in class? No doubt about it, the author has solved the major problem of high school students’ failure to read on their own. The homework assignment and goal are straightforward. Grading and accountability as described by the author are complicated and made harder by dealing with plagiarism from the Internet. The idea is a good one. I would need to make the reporting, grading etc., as straightforward and simple as the assignment. The author’s approach to accountability has so many contingencies that I would become overwhelmed in detail.

To achieve the same goal of encouraging students to read books of their choice each day, I’d almost be inclined to have students read for ten minutes at the beginning of class, instead of requiring it for homework. Settles the students for class and can produce a one-sentence summary each day. RayS.

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