Friday, September 27, 2019

No Homework: Easier Said Than Done

One of the things that I wanted to make part of my new design class was a strict no homework policy. I wanted students to use the time in class to complete their work and not stress over completing things at home. If they wanted to work on their project at home, they could, but only if they really wanted to. Students loved this idea and parents were on board. I was excited to get rolling and I just realized that I failed on the first assignment I gave in class.

The first unit was exploring Deign Thinking and creating in Minecraft. We spent two weeks interviewing and building in Minecraft. When the students were done, they were suppose to post snapshots of their creations with some captions to SeeSaw. I walked students through the process and some students struggled to get the process done correctly or they forgot to add captions as was required for the assignment. Typical student behavior. The problem was that I had a schedule I was intent on following and felt I needed get ready for the next project.

I simply told the students that could not finish the upload in class to complete the work at home by the time we met in class next. That was a Friday and we met next on a Tuesday due to our block schedule format. My traditional thinking was that the students would have four nights to upload the work. I even created a video to help them with the process. I thought everything was great. Until I reflected on the assignment.

I make it a habit to reflect on my lessons, especially new ones, to see how things went and what I would change for the next time. For these new reflections for a new class, I really wanted to make sure I was sticking to the basic tenets of the class of no homework, no grades, and student choice and voice. The very first thing, no homework, stood out to me right away. Are students being required to do work for class outside of class time. The answer was an easy yes and I felt very defeated. The first lesson and I managed to give homework. I needed to fix this right away.

The next class I started with an apology to the students about dropping the ball and promised that I would fix the issue by setting aside class time for us to all work together and post what needs to be posted. The kids were very understanding and bit surprised that I was apologizing for making the mistake. The kids are just so used to being given homework that they did not really think much about it.

Breaking old habits is something that is very hard to do. I was surprised at how quickly I fell back into giving homework when not doing that is a core part of the class. I am glad I noticed it early and the only thing I can do is be more mindful of this for each assignment. 

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