My last post RE-Assigning Work is a tangent thought to the thoughts in this one. There I spoke of how sometimes the assignments we give need to be given back to our students so that they can try again and do better work. (It’s part of the process, after all of becoming better at something.)
Here though, I ‘d like to comment on the original assignment – the one the teacher commits to and gives to the students. Again and again, as I ponder the concept of Less is More I look at the work I assign my students and contemplate it’s purpose. Sometimes I think about it before deciding to give it or not, and other times I sit, looking at the low quality of work given back to me and wonder if the assignment was worth the time: both mine and the students. Let’s face it, there have been times when I sat with a pile of papers and contemplated taking a trip to the recycling bin.
I guess I can narrow an assignment’s purposefulness by reflecting on the following two questions:
1. Will I correct it or comment on it?
2. Will I use the data I collect from this to inform my instruction?
If the answer to either of these is no, then there may not be a good enough purpose to the assignment.
It’s not good to simply put worksheets into my students’ hands to feel like they are effectively practicing skills. There just may be another, possibly arts-infused way to do that. And my students don’t need to be silent at their seats in order for real learning to occur. In fact, I am a huge believer in The Cocktail Party Philosophy.
Purposeful assignment come in a variety of forms: pencil and paper and paperless, introspective and conversational, research-based and reflective, tech-infused and arts-infused. Kids can learn while moving and drawing, singing and writing. There is no limit except what we put on ourselves.
As the school year progresses and I continue to Balance my days with inspired learning and test preparation, it is my hope that I can practice the art of creating purposeful assignments.
How do you? Please share!