Homework by Choice

This first semester of 2010-11, Jill Gough and I are co-facilitating an eighth-grade course called Synergy 8. In brief, Synergy 8 is a inquiry-based, community problem-solving, persuasive communication course. For several days, we have been working with our 24 students to determine which archive/communication tool we will use for the class. Journaling, class discussion, data mining, and polling have been steps in the process. In the last two class days, we have been experimenting a bit with Grou.ps as a tool. Ms. Gough and I have assigned no homework with respect to Grou.ps. However, students are choosing to post blogs there, form groups, write to wikis, and comment on videos. They are messaging each other and giving the chat feature a try. Two students have attempted to invite their parents to see what they are doing on the site. The posted work, in most cases,¬†is high-level, in my opinion, all things considered. Why are students choosing to assign themselves homework? Some teachers believe that students are only motivated by the currency of grades and the authority behind homework. Perhaps, as they started in the world before school, children are motivated by LEARNING. Maybe we teachers have habituated them to the seeming rewards of grades and check marks for completed homework. Maybe we don’t give children and students enough credit – the real kind. Maybe we need to make the learning more fun, more relevant, more engaging, and more enticing.

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