So one day a few years back, I was watching the show “The Real World” while lesson planning. I thought about how boring workbook pages are for homework. They just copy someone’s answer during breakfast or before class anyways. Their tag line “find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real…” made me think. What if homework was “real?” What would that look like? So then the Real World Homework was created!
I went to the coffee shop to meet my friend Rachel C. and the ideas started flowing! So for the food unit, they can bring in a box with cooking directions in TL (target language), print a recipe in TL, try a TL restaurant, order in TL, bring in a dish, find a TL song with 3 food words, etc. We tried to vary the modes and the multiple intelligences on the tasks. We realized that students were finding the resources that we spent hours finding! Brilliant.
Next we added some student choice. We said that they only had to do 5 of the 10 activities. Also we put blank boxes so students can add their own ideas after approval. Talk to your Cuban neighbor about the foods he loves? Sure!
Finally we made a system to organize it and add a dash of fun: stamps. I have all kinds of Spanish ones! The homework is formatted where I stamp it after they show it to me (usually during independent work time). It’s either completed, or not. No “grading” right or wrong! It is due by the end of the unit, or sometimes I’ll say I need a certain one done by a date so I can use them in class the next day. Sneaky, huh? 🙂 It also has helped when a student finishes early in class. Now they have something they can work on independently.
I assign it at the beginning of the unit and decide how many they need to complete (usually 5 or so). Since it’s due on the last day of the unit, I like to have a stations day to review and practice right before the summative unit assessment. I set up one station to be me to check their Real World’s. I love having this time to chat with them about what they found.
I find that this creates a more authentic homework that students end up enjoying. They spend more time doing this than those workbook pages. This is no way perfect yet. I find that each time I reteach the unit, I add more authentic ones to replace a “forced” one.