How does one differentiate homework?
Thanks for your question, Joseph. I'm tagging some of our MAP Growth consultants for their thoughts.
Candi Fowler Ella Rigoulot Lori Seelig Brooke Mabry
We get a lot of questions about differentiation. Your specific question about differentiating homework is very interesting. Before we go there, I want you to think about your intent and purpose for homework. If you are talking about homework in its truest form, that is work that you are sending home for a child to complete independently. For this type of independent work to be successful, it is critical for you to consider the student's readiness and ability to work at the independent level. A student has the best chance of learning material when it is in his/her ZPD or Zone of Proximal Development. If it's too hard, they will get frustrated and not be able to complete the assignment. If it's too easy, they can complete the assignment without any difficulty, but they didn't learn anything new. I like to use the Test View of the Learning Continuum to check and see where my students are in their ZPD. If the lesson I presented and the homework that follows is in the 211-220 RIT range, a student that has a 195 may struggle with the homework and a student with a 235 needs something more to provide the appropriate challenge. Think of ways you can tweak the homework assignment to fit the readiness of your students. This is challenging when the work goes home because you aren't there to provide support and you don't know who is. When differentiating, you can modify the content. You could have different levels of rigor based on a students readiness. You can modify the product. Maybe some kids are fine writing the summary of the assigned work, maybe some would prefer to make a visual or a video. If the point of the homework is for them to demonstrate their understanding of the content, how can they best achieve that? If the purpose of the homework is to provide repetition and automaticity, keep in mind: Practice doesn't make Perfect, Practice makes PERMANENT. You never want your kids to practice doing it wrong. And that's the biggest argument for why differentiation is so important.
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