This week, I decided (after years of contemplating how to newly approach homework) to go 100% online for homework. Aside from encouraging (or really assigning) students to read each night and practice their math facts, their work in math, spelling and literacy has been online. And you guessed it, part of that was done on Big Universe. I assigned a book to read for the class as well as the quiz that goes with it. Three days into the week, 16 out of 21 students have completed the assignment which is due at the end of this week, and many of those students have gone on to read more books, add to their bookshelf, write stories and, their favorite: friend and send messages to one another.
Viewing the results is quite easy. All I have to do is look at the usage stats under "Manage Account" and see who has completed the work and how they did. The results are interesting, but real. It's good to be able to see quickly and easily how the students did. And if I want details, I can click on the student's name and get to summary of his/her quizzes or click into a specific quiz. The real potential is in differentiation among students. I can search books for students' reading levels and assign specific books for specific kids.
This as been a trial week to see how things go. There are kinks to work out: the distribution of usernames and passwords, students entering them accurately on their own at home, students who do not have computers or internet access, but in all, it has been successful. Parents have been so receptive to this method of homework and are emailing me with the glitches they are coming across. Most have to do with usernames and passwords.
The one overall downside so far is that is isn't easy for students to go back in text to search for answers in the story. One strategy I will teach them is how they can view the story in one tab and take quiz in another. I hope to introduce them to this tomorrow when I am able to take them up to our school's Computer Clubhouse.
In all, this has been a great experience and I am hopeful that once students and parents get comfortable with this work online, the desire to read, write and work online will be a natural extension of their learning. That's the real goal in assigning homework.
Here's an email I got just this morning from a parent of a boy who struggles in school and usually fights at home to get work done well:
We are loving the new homework site. 'Johnny' has been having fun doing it, not arguing about doing it and I'm able to let him finish it on his own."
Go Big U!