As the debate about homework swirls around educators, it was nice to be approached by Corinne offering to share some thoughts on interesting way of setting fun homework for Middle Years kids…
Homework is an essential part of any curriculum. While it may be easier to assign homework to junior grades, it becomes increasingly difficult to give middle school teens homework because they’ve already got more on their plates than they can chew. So how can middle school teachers achieve the fine balance between assigning their students homework and making sure they’re not overburdened? The following homework ideas might just be the solution!
Create a reading log
Have the kids create their own reading logs at home and then check them at month-end.
What is it?
A reading log is a journal where you can record your reading activities – what you read, how many pages have you read, what you think of the plot, etc. In other words, a reading log can be an excellent tool to summarize what and how much you are reading. Reading logs are generally broken down by dates.
How does it help?
Reading logs serve manifold purposes. They gift readers with memorable experiences as they go on listing the books they read and their points of view on them. What a fulfilling experience it would be to go back and look at a reading log that was made several years ago! The cathartic effect of talking about a book after reading it cannot be negated either. Don’t you feel lighter when you discuss the book you read with someone? In the case of a reading log, one gets to note down their afterthoughts instead of discussing verbally with another. Keeping reading logs can give teens a real sense of achievement when they go through their entries.
How to create one?
Help children make their reading logs at home or advise them to download simple reading logs from third party websites, only after you’ve viewed their terms and conditions. Below is a sample reading log.
|Date of reading||Book title||Author||No. of pages||Like/dislike so far||Reviews/comments|
|30th June||A Dance with Dragons||George R. R. Martin||78||Like||None
|2nd July||A Dance with Dragons||George R. R. Martin||142||Like||Can’t wait to finish it|
|4th July||Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Macmillan)||Lewis Carroll||200||Like||Been waiting to read this one for so long!|
Science experiments can be a wonderful tool to explore science subjects at home and learn hands-on. Hand over an instruction workbook to each student in the class so that the child can independently carry out the science experiments at home. Discuss the observations and conclusions in the class so that the students continue to learn from one another’s outcome. Get ideas for science experiments from online sources or chalk them out yourself; just make sure they are fairly simple and safe to carry out as older children may not always request adults to help out if they’re doing the experiments at home.
Aah, history calendars! When did World War II take place or when did the United States elect its first President? Dates are difficult to remember for every middle-schooler, especially when they’ve got more important tasks at hand like solving a trigonometry problem or analyzing the aftermaths of the WTC attack for their social studies projects. It’s a good idea to give them the homework of making history calendars that you can put it up in the classroom. If you’re planning for the middle-schoolers to make a calendar from 1900-2010 then divide the years equally among the students and have each of them make a calendar with the important events in the years assigned to them. For example, have a student make a history calendar for 1900-1910, another one for 1911-1920, and so on. Encourage them to illustrate their calendars and use colors to make it display-worthy!
If you’re a middle school teacher, have you ever attached any importance to the teaching values of conducting an interview? It’s time you did! Have middle school students interview a neighbor, parent, teacher, peer, or sibling as homework to find out more about a particular topic. You can suggest topics specific to the interviewee; sibling – sibling rivalry, parent – responsibilities and expectations of a parent, neighbor – sharing and giving, etc. to get the teens started. However, allow them the freedom to prepare the questionnaire for their interviews. Apart from understanding another person’s perspective and point of view on a particular topic/issue, students will have much sharpened communication skills too by the end of the interview.
As times are changing, teaching is also evolving into a more interactive and game-based exercise. So, bend the rules and sneak in a good amount of fun to the learning that you are imparting!
Corinne Jacob is a wannabe writer who is convinced that kids learn best when they’re having fun. She is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make learning an enjoyable experience. Corinne loves all things that scream out un-schooling, alternative education and holistic learning.