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Aurora Institute

Learner-Centered Tip of the Week: Homework

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Courtney Belolan

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Rethink Instruction

This post originally appeared on Courtney Belolan’s website on October 13, 2015. Belolan is the instructional coach for RSU2 in Maine.

At last week’s professional learning day, we all spent some time in our groups talking about homework. What is the point of homework? How much is appropriate? Are there boundaries?

According to Marzano, homework has a positive effect size only some of the time. It very much depends on a variety of factors if the homework is beneficial or not. He gives some of these tips for making sure homework is beneficial:

  • structured to ensure high completion rate
  • the amount assigned should not be a burden to parents or students
  • should have a clear purpose
  • tied to a small set of clear, current learning goals
  • able to be performed independently by students

I recently learned from a friend about his standing homework assignment for his 6th grade class. He calls it the “C-C-G” homework. Every week, students choose to engage with their curiosity or in activities to grow knowledge or skills in an area of their choosing. They set a goal, engage for an amount of time each day, and reflect on their progress.

CCG Homework

This assignment holds up well against the points listed by Marzano. Depending on what a student chooses to engage in, they could be working on a variety of different targets.  Developing life-long learning skills?  Growing work habits?  Absolutely. It also weighs in pretty well against the recommendations of Tony Wagner and Sir. Ken Robinson who advocate for more including creativity, innovation, and student passions in school.

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Courtney Belolan works at RSU 2 in Maine where she supports K-12 teachers with performance-based, individualized learning. Courtney works closely with teams and teachers as a coach, and with the school and district leadership teams as an instructional strategist. Courtney has worked as a 6-12 literacy and instructional coach, a middle level ELA teacher, an environmental educator, and a digital literacy coach. Her core beliefs include the idea that the best education is one centered on student passions and rooted in interdisciplinary applications, and that enjoying learning is just as important as the learning itself.