Tring!!! rings the school bell – the sweetest noise in school life; brings a sense a relief to students that they no more have to study for the day. But learning does not end at school; it follows students in the form of the dreaded homework assignments. If these assignments are lengthy, without an objective, and support cramming, the whole purpose of homework assignments fails.
Research has proved that when creative homework assignment options replaced traditional methods, students were self-motivated to complete their homework independently1.
So, following are a few tips to help you make creative homework assignments and instill edutainment:
Internet and homework assignment
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You could start a blog about a book discussion or a teacher-written essay. Instruct your students to provide their analyses in the “Comment” section after completing the reading assignment. Students will enjoy reading their classmates’ opinions and might even engage in healthy debate; all under your watchful eye. This exercise will also discourage copying of assignments. Set the necessary guidelines for participating in the blog discussion. Ensure every student has a computer and Internet connection.
Having fun with homework
The love for TV is undeniable among students. Surprisingly, most kids manage to finish homework assignments just to avoid missing their TV time. So why not incorporate TV in homework?
- As a creative homework assignment, ask your students to watch a popular cartoon show and submit a character analysis of any one character.
- Role-playing of characters among students is also an excellent creative tip. This supports the development of argumentation and decision-making skills among learners2.
- Another great idea for a creative homework assignment is asking for a synopsis of the episode. For example, if students were to watch Tom and Jerry, they could analyze why Jerry behaved a certain way or how Tom should have ideally handled the situation. This increases deep understanding of visual knowledge.
Making their own personal resources
Comprehension of matter is very subjective. While some students grasp concepts and fundamentals easily, some may have a tough time. If these concepts are reiterated in their own words and a language that comes from their mind, it is likely that their grasping power increases manifold.
As a creative homework assignment, you could ask your students to create their very own dictionary. This will involve jotting down new words that they have learned in class. This creative homework assignment can be applied to an array of subjects including science and math as each has a set of their own unique words and terms.
Inspiration from daily activities
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Children are keen to draw associations with their day-to-day activities and the world around them. If something that they commonly observe is creatively included in their homework assignment, the chances of peaking their interest are quite high. You could make your homework assignments creative by including students’ domestic chores as a part of their learning. For example, grocery shopping trips could be a great way to reiterate the lessons from Math Addition classes. Hotel visits could also serve as a creative exercise to revise their comparison, taxation, and various other lessons from school.
You could make your homework assignments creative by including students’ domestic chores as a part of their learning. For example, grocery shopping trips could be a great way to reiterate the lessons from Math Addition classes. Hotel visits could also serve as a creative exercise to revise their comparison, taxation, and various other lessons from school.
Integrating homework with family time
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Often children love to enact adults. We can tap this behavior to make our homework assignments more creative and fun. Moreover, parents’ involvement will not only ensure child safety but also instill better learning.
One great example is asking students to help their mom prepare a dish from a recipe book. You could have students write the recipe, explain how they fared, and share the food if possible. Other examples would be writing essays about their visit to their parents’ place of work, grandparents medical visits, etc.
Few things to note…
- While adding the creative aspect, do keep in mind that the soul of homework assignments is maintained. Making cardboard life-size images of plants or animals for a science class homework provides the least understanding of the chapter. Such activities are a waste of both parent’s and child’s time, resources, and efforts.
- Another great charmer is the right to choose. Students love to have their choices open even when it comes to homework assignments. For example, any analysis could be submitted either by scripted role-play in a classroom session or a small PowerPoint presentation.
- Lastly, avoid adding the same creative magic to all the homework assignments of various subjects. Remember, repetition of ideas is the ultimate killer.
If you liked this post, do share it with your fellow teachers. You can also find numerous other teaching tips and tricks as well as logic and math games on our blog and website.
Hope these tips let your creative juices flow.
Have fun while teaching fun!
- Diersen, Kimberly; “Improving Academic Achievement through Creative Alternatives to Traditional Homework Strategies” in ERIC, May 2000.
- Nadja Belova, Ingo Eilks, Timo Feierabend; “The Evaluation Of Role-playing In The Context Of Teaching Climate Change” in International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, Volume 13, Supplement 1, March 2015, Pages 165–190.
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But ESL students, on the other hand, may disagree. Adult learners will argue that they have busy schedules and a life outside the classroom, which translates into “no time for homework”. Young learners and teens may come to terms with the fact that they have to do homework, but do we want them to do it because they are compelled to do it... or do we want them to do it because they are excited to do it? Which would you prefer?
The only way to get young students excited about doing homework, and get adults to set aside some time for it, is through highly creative and thoroughly engaging homework assignments. And here are 5 examples:
Homework Assignments That Work
A Word Book
A Word Book or Vocabulary Journal is a classic among teachers of very young learners who are not adept at using dictionaries; here they have a chance to make their own. Help them design their very own Word Book from scratch, out of construction paper, cardboard, or any materials you have on hand. At the end of a reading task or activity, make a list of the words they have learned for the day. Their homework assignment is to enter each of the new words in their Word Book. The littlest ones simply copy the word and draw a picture of it; older students can use the word in a sentence that illustrates its meaning. There is no need to copy “dictionary” definitions. They may also cut out pictures from magazines or newspapers and get as creative as they like. But one thing is certain… these will be words they won’t easily forget!
Do My Research!
This is an extremely engaging way to provide extended practice of any grammar point. Say you want your students to practice comparatives and superlatives. Tell them you need information on this year's Oscar nominations. Tell them to go to Oscar.go.com and give them a list of questions they must answer:
- Which of the nominees for Best Picture is the longest film? Which is the shortest? The most popular? Earned the most money at the box office?
- Which film has the most nominations?
- Which in your opinion is the best film?
- Compare two of the actresses nominated for Best Actress. Who is older? Younger? Taller? Prettier?
You may assign any number of research tasks: ideal places for a family vacation (LonelyPlanet.com), best restaurants in the city (Zagat.com), or anything based on local information. Just make sure you give them a website to go to, a set of questions to answer or a task to complete, and above all don't forget to plan the assignment with a grammar point or learning objective in mind.
In the News
This is an ideal assignment for adult students. Most read the newspaper anyway, right? Or watch the evening news. Ask them to choose a news story that has piqued their interest, and have them:
- Write a report on the news story
- Write a dialogue in which a journalist interviews someone involved in the story.
- Answer a question like, “What could have gone differently?”, thus prompting them to use conditionals, for example (If the truck driver had not answered his cell phone, he would not have caused the accident.)
This is clearly one of the homework assignments that works best with adult learners or those who specifically study Business English. Give them an email to read and ask them to write an appropriate reply. Or give them a situation that would require them to compose a message, like a complaint over a bad service experience or an inquiry into vacation rentals.
Choose a TV series that is shown in English, either with or without subtitles (you may ask students to cover the subtitles). Choose a show that is suitable to your students’ ages. Tell your students that their homework for that night will be to watch an episode of Modern Family, whether they usually watch the show or not. Give them a task to complete after viewing the episode: a synopsis of the episode, a character description, or a questionnaire (Do you usually watch this show? If not, would you start watching it? Why/why not?)
Another great way to get students actively engaged in their homework assignments is to ask them to come up with some ideas for creative assignments on their own and share them with the class. They may surprise you!
And if you’re still stumped as to which worksheets to assign to practice grammar, vocabulary, or reading, BusyTeacher.org is always available to help, 24/7, with wonderful ideas for activities and great ready-to-print worksheets.
If you have any ideas for other wonderfully creative homework assignments, share them below!
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