How to Design Personalized Homework

As a full-time education consultant, Allison Zmuda works with educators to grow ideas on how to make learning for students challenging, possible and worthy of the attempt. Over the past fifteen years, Zmuda has shared curricular, assessment, and instructional ideas, shown illustrative examples, and offered practical strategies of how to get started.

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Ask yourself the following questions to guide your personalized homework practice:

  • What is the purpose of homework? Independent practice? Extension (compare, revise)? Transfer (authentic application)?
  • Is it necessary? Is it appropriate? Is it useful? Focus in on key questions or problems based on where students are right now and what they need to do next. Because students are working on this independently, make sure they have clarity on directions, access to resources, and understanding of how it is going to be built upon the next day.
  • What is most important for students to focus on as they are doing the homework? Clarify what you want students to pay attention to (difference between # of minutes practicing/reading vs. willingness to work on areas of difficulty or challenge).
  • Do students have the “space” to do the work? Consider time, space, and access when assigning homework.
    • Time – build relationships to better understand significant obligations students have and help them prioritize
    • Space – consider physical and virtual spaces that are conducive to necessary focus (e.g., impact of multi-tasking on attention, sitting with a supportive adult)
    • Access – ensure there is an even playing field for students by privately addressing resource challenges (e.,g., limited to no wireless access outside of school)
  • How long should it be? Self or parent reporting on how much time it took is a helpful marker in getting a broader picture of fluency and understanding. In addition, the combination of homework assignments (especially when students have individual subject teachers) can overwhelm and overload both students and their families.
  • Who reviews/evaluates the homework? Formative tool to guide next steps for learning that has minimal to no grading weight

What would you add to the list of reflective questions? Comment down below or send me an email: allison@learningpersonalized.com.

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