quinta-feira, 19 de julho de 2012

Get It Done: Learning to Be Your Own Homework Coach

Overview | What skills and strategies can help students become more efficient managers of their time and course work? In this lesson, students learn how to act as their own homework coaches by becoming familiar with various organization and time management tools. They then select a tool that appeals to them and track the impact that usage has on its effectiveness.

Warm-Up | Several days before you teach this lesson, have students keep a daily homework log that tracks their use of time.
On the day of the lesson, students share their homework logs and compare their behavioral habits. Ask: How much total time did you spend on homework and studying? Did you do everything at once, or did you work in blocks of time, with breaks in between? What did you do during your breaks? If time permits, you might create a simple pie chart that shows the breakdown of students’ use of time.
Continue: Did you shut out all distractions while you worked, or did you multitask? Did you listen to music, have the TV on or connect with friends while working? When did you do your work? How alert or tired were you? Were you in a rush at any point? How did you keep yourself motivated and focused? Did leisure activities like socializing or playing games eat up a lot of your study time?
Next, ask: What evidence do you have of the efficacy of how you spent your time? Have you had any quizzes or other assessments this week? Where do you think might be some room for improvement in your study and homework habits? If someone were to observe you studying, what do you think he or she would notice? What suggestions for improvement might your observer have for you? Students might answer these questions in their journals.
Related | In the article “Like a Monitor Morethan a Tutor,” Sarah Maslin Nir describes a new brand of student support service — “homework coaches” or “homework helpers”:
If a student finds French grammar or algebra incomprehensible, a tutor in those subjects can help. But if the problem is a child who will not budge from the X box, or pens doodles instead of topic sentences, some harried parents with cash to spare have been turning to homework helpers, who teach organization als kills and time management, or who sometimes just sit there until the work is finished.
As schools have piled on expectations and as career paths have sucked in both mothers and fathers, this niche industry is catering to “students who are capable of doing the work” but need someone “who can just be there with them to consistently do the work in a regular manner,” said Mike Wallach, who along with Ms. Kraglievich runs the service Central Park Tutors.

But it has also led some educators to question whether this trend might simply be a subcontracted form of “helicopter parenting,”depriving children of the self-reliance they will need later in life.
Read the entire article with your class, using the questions below.
Questions | For discussion and reading comprehension:
1. What is the difference between a tutor and a homework coach?
2. What are some of the criticisms of homework coaching?
3. What are the benefits?
4. What point of view do you agree with more, and why?
5. Why is the word “help” problematic and controversial?
Activity | Use the list below to introduce time and task management tools and strategies that can help students plan more effectively, become better organizers and manage their time more efficiently.
Some of these items are approaches, and others are existing online toolsthat might give students some perspective on their work habits. You might also add to the mix some of the ideas in our lesson plan “Learn Your Lesson:Using Effective Study Strategies.”
Assign pairs or trios one of the methods or tools to explore how it can be best applied to their learning and working styles. They should prepare to present their ideas to the whole group.

· Homework buddies: Students pair up to motivate and encourage one another to get organized, meet deadlines and create to-do lists and schedules.
· Providing incentives like offering financial rewards foracademic improvement or punishing students for bad report cards.
· Minimizing multitasking, focusing on digital media consumption and taking into account how much multitasking might be affecting ability to focus and juggle tasks.
· Devising a work space designed for maximum efficiency and organization and finding other opportunities to study andwork.
· The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique designed to “eliminate the anxiety of time,” named after a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. After creating a to-do list of tasks, users work in time blocks of 25 minutes, or “Pomodoros,” on one task at a time in order of priority, setting a timer for a three- to five-minute break. Once they hit their fourth Pomodoro, they take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. Suggestions for how to deal with interruptions are offered in the free e-book (see Pages 5 to 10) and cheat sheet. This method gives users — even a group working together on a project — a way to track how long a particular assignment takes.

· Getting Things Done is an organizational method that seeks to maximize productivity based on making it easy to store, track and retrieve all information related to the things that need to get done. For students, this means making lists of assignments, setting action goals, keeping a calendar and regularly reviewing goals and tasks. Strategies include streamlining in-boxes and using manila folders, a label maker and a garbagecan — all of which help users continually organize,identify or label important things and get rid of “stuff” that interferes with productivity.
· The Big Six is an approach to problem solving used at the K-12 level. It breaks tasks down into six steps: task definition, information-seeking strategies, location and access, use of information, synthesis and evaluation. It can be used to organize assignments and as a personal homeworkhelper.
· Slim Timer is an online tool that allows users to create “timesheets” with a list of tasks, then tracks amount of time spent on each one. It also provides an instant snapshot of how users are spending their time, and in turn provides ways to manage and improve how time is spent.
· Leech Block is a Firefox browser extension that acts as a “simple productivity tool” because it blocks time-wasting Web sites. Users just specify which sites to block and when to block them.
· HiTask is a free online time management tool that allows users to track their own personal to-do lists or to manage team projects in auser-friendly environment.
· StickK offers users the opportunity to create commitment contracts to achieve personal goals. A support team of peers, colleagues, friends and family is available to provide encouragement, and users can set up a reward or incentive system.

When the groups share their findings, the class should discuss and evaluate each approach or tool. Which ones seem particularly useful and why? Might any of them be combined effectively? Have students return to the notes they wrote during the warm-up activity on where they saw room for improvementin their own homework habits. Would any of these methods help them close the gap?
Going Further | Each student selects one or more methods to put into practice. The students should use this method for a week or longer, then compare its impact on their homework habits with their initial homework log.
Students share their findings with one another and evaluate ways in which they have been successful or unsuccessful in improving their homework habits. Ask: What obstacles did you overcome? What challenges remain?
Additionally, students investigate research on the value of homework through research studies and case studies from around the world. What value does homework have? How does that value compare with their school’s overall approachto homework? They then write homework manifestos outlining their perspective on whether and to what extent homework adds value to the learning process.
Behavioral Studies
3. Understands that interactions among learning, in heritance and physical development affect human behavior
Life Skills: Self-Regulation
1. Sets and manages goals
2. Performs self-appraisal
4. Demonstrates perseverance
Life Skills: Thinking and Reasoning
2. Understands and applies basic principles of logic and reasoning
3. Effectively uses mental processes that are based on identifying similarities and differences
4. Understands and applies basic principles of hypothesis testing and scientific inquiry
5. Applies basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques
6. Applies decision-making techniques
Language Arts
1. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
5. Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process
6. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts
7. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts
8. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes
9. Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

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