Saturday, September 10, 2011

Can Homework Encourage Creativity?

I recently participated in an #elemchat Twitter Chat about homework (here is the transcript). Many teachers give meaningless homework which is nothing more than busy work. My children attend a Fine Arts Academy (charter school) where the approach to learning is a little different. Although they have the usual math problems and book reports, they also have the opportunity to get creative with their homework assignments. The teachers are aware that all students learn differently and so they give options for homework and projects.  For instance, instead of just doing a report, students are given the option to make posters/books/artwork, create songs, cook, use technology, choreograph a dance, or dramatize it with live action, photography, or video. I love that the students are given choices. My son enjoys using technology and makes really good Prezis.

My youngest daughter is very "hands-on" and recently worked with a group to create this magnificent crispy rice relief map of Texas. What I like about these kinds of assignments is the time and effort my kids put in to them. My son is very "techie" but my daughter is more "artsy" so they can choose assignments that work well with their learning style.
  
As a teacher, I want to offer my students options as well. Instead of the usual "write your spelling words 2 times" and "do 50 math problems", I want the students to be able to use Spelling City, make rainbow words by using 2 or 3 crayons to write the words, or create "pyramids" with the words:
P
Py
Pyr
Pyra
Pyram
Pyrami
Pyramid
Pyramids
In math they can use sites like Cool Math, take pictures of patterns in our world, or make cootie catchers to learn math facts:

The possibilities are limitless.SO! As teachers...no matter where we teach...it is our job to tune in to our students and pull the very best out of them! It's easy to get in to a rut and use the same assignments from year to year, but that's not the kind of teacher I want to be. How about you?