Classwork & Homework

This Issue's Topic:

Tools to Build Student Text and Lecture Comprehension

There are a thousand small ways that students can drift into academic trouble by regularly showing up late for class, for example, or not writing down their homework assignments accurately. Teachers know, however, that such small problems can rapidly snowball into more serious academic difficulties, resulting in reduced test scores, lower course grades, and more disciplinary office referrals.

This Practical Teacher lists common stumbling blocks that can prevent students from fully understanding material taught to them or from completing work assignments. Practical solutions are offered to overcome each potential stumbling block. Educators can adapt the majority of these intervention ideas to include in Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and 504 Accommodation Plans.

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Students often benefit in unexpected ways from explicit instruction in improving their study skills. Research has shown that students with behavioral difficulties and academic deficits can show improvements in both behavior and learning when taught strategies to study and absorb information more efficiently. Students' self-esteem and self-esteem can also increase, as they acquire the capabilities to manage their own learning program.

This intervention plan outlines a 3-strategy package for helping students to (1) organize an assignment notebook, (2) maintain a calendar of school assignments, and (3) prepare neatly formatted papers (Gleason, Colvin, & Archer, 1991).

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Students who regularly complete and turn in homework assignments perform significantly better in school than those of similar ability who do not do homework (Olympia et al., 1994). Homework is valuable because it gives students a chance to practice, extend, and entrench the academic skills taught in school. Parents can be instrumental in encouraging and motivating their children to complete homework. This homework contract intervention (adapted from Miller & Kelly, 1994) uses goal-setting, a written contract, and rewards to boost student completion (and accuracy) of homework. Students also learn the valuable skills of breaking down academic assignments into smaller, more manageable subtasks and setting priorities for work completion.

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