Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Homework that Works

Literacy Network tutor Emily Shea has been working with her learner for over a year. In a recent monthly feedback report she mentioned that she gives her learner homework that she can do. Always on the alert for good ideas from the tutor corps, I asked her to share her secrets of creating assignments her learner will do.  

In addition to giving assignments in the Ventures workbook that came with the Student's Book, she creates brief writing tasks by hand.  "I have her write a short story about either her family, favorite meals to cook, what she did over the weekend, etc. I answer the question as well and provide that as a short example, making bold the verb tense, question words (like who and how) depending on what she learned recently."  
Personalizing the homework in this way, Emily says, makes it more likely that she will take the time to do it. Her learner even seeks out some help from family members to get it done. 

Emily tries to keep the writing tasks brief and personal, focusing on skills they have just worked on. Below is one brief essay she gave her student when they were practicing past tense. She gave an example, making the verbs bold to help her learner pay attention to the lesson objective.

Write a Short Story About Your Easter Sunday

Write a short story about how your Easter Sunday went, remember this will be in PAST tense. 

What did you do? Where did you have it? Who was there? What did you eat? What was your favorite part?

[Exampe:] For my Easter Sunday I went to Andre's family cottage in Waupaca, Wisconsin. His whole family was there, aunts and uncles and his twin brother. We had lots of good food. We ate salmon, carrot cake and salad. There were a lot of appetizers like cheese, crackers, olives and wine too. We decorated Easter Eggs, that was my favorite part! 

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