Creative Homework Assignments Can Motivate Students
Teachers can make homework more meaningful by giving students interesting and motivating assignments.
By Cathy Neushul
It’s easy to get into a routine in which you give students the same type of homework each week. There’s usually a spelling packet and math worksheets involved. While these types of homework assignments serve a purpose, there are ways to incorporate additional activities to make learning at home a little more meaningful and interesting.
Create Assignments That Relate to Real Life
A first step toward creating meaningful homework is to take a look at your own daily life. You may go shopping every day, fill up your car at the gas station, pay your bills, balance your check book, apply for a loan, or make dinner. When you really think about it, there are all sorts of ways we practice skills we have learned in school in our daily lives. We can help our students do the same.
Let’s say, for example, that one of the standards your students have to meet involves understanding measurement. You could start by asking students to choose a recipe and make something with their parents. In completing this assignment, students would be practicing a variety of skills, including measuring, working with fractions, following directions, and reading. After they have finished their assignment, students could write about their experience, and talk about why they chose the recipe they did, and whether the food turned out the way they thought it would. Perhaps, students chose a recipe that held a special meaning for their family. This could also be something they could share with the class. Cooking is always a fun way to get parents involved.
Use Technology to Motivate Students
Getting students to read isn’t always easy. While there are many students who love reading, there are those who have a difficult time. Students don’t like to read for a variety of reasons. Maybe they haven’t found books they are interested in, or they find it difficult. Either way it is important for all students to become fluent and avid readers. With this in mind, it’s important to find ways to motivate students. At the beginning of the year you could have students generate a list of things they are interested in, and help them look for books about these topics. There are websites that have lists of children’s books divided by topic. If a student is interested in science, you could easily come up with some titles for them to read. This list can then be used to assign weekly reading homework.
Once you have helped steer students toward books they are interested in, you can develop a means for them to express themselves. One way would be to set up a classroom blog in which students write a critique about a book after they are finished. This could be part of their homework assignment each week. Students will love to read what other students have to say.
Another way to get students more interested in homework is to allow them to show mastery of a subject in a creative manner. If you’ve taught them about earthquakes, you could have them design a short PowerPoint about what they have learned. If students don’t have access to a computer, you could modify the assignment to be a visual presentation of some sort.
Whatever way you decide to do it, it is important to augment your weekly homework assignments with motivating projects and activities. What follows are more homework ideas.
In this lesson students write about successful companies in the Silicon Valley. For homework, they write about new developments in the tech industry. This type of homework assignment could be used to have students review any topic.
This assignment is very creative. Students analyze commercials and the messages sent by watching television with their parents. It is a terrific way to make homework fun. Students return to school ready to share what they have learned.
This lesson has students practice using Excel at home. Teachers could modify this assignment for use with any computer program.
In this lesson students learn about pi. Students compare the sizes of pizzas at local restaurants using pi. This is a really motivating way to get students to practice calculating the area of a circle.