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child-517839_1280I have a friend who refers to a student’s ability to “play school” as “schooliness.”

I have a bunch of students who lack that.

So I’ve spent the first semester just getting to know them and doing activities in class. No homework. They wouldn’t do it anyway. All of them have jobs to either support families or to have their own economic freedom in a collectivist society; even when they are working for themselves, they see it as taking a burden off the family.  Or they are responsible for taking care of parents, siblings, dinner, cleaning…

When we started the year, they used to do other teachers’ homework in my class–until I asked whether I had to assign homework for them to take my class seriously. Then they stopped.

Now they come to me whenever I’m not teaching to get my help. They now are tapping into supports that exist to help them jump through all the hoops.

I’ve got them, mostly. Most days. Some days, they are a bit like Flubber: unable to sit still, concentrate, play school.

But next term, I really want to teach them something. I want to help them be a little more “schooly.”

And I am a true believer in using homework as formative assessment instead of using it as something we use just to put grades in the book. I think one can learn without it.

But that means there has to be a way to assess that learning, to make sure we are all moving forward.

There is a great blog post form Eductopia about creative ways to assess in the classroom.

I’m going to work to build these into my everyday practice.

What new thing will you try?


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