Confession: I used to be a “The Real World” junkie. I loved that wild, drama-filled show on MTV! They had all the drama that I never wanted in my own life. So one day a few years back, I was watching the show and lesson planning. I thought about how boring workbook pages are. They just copy someone’s answer during breakfast or before class anyways. What if homework was as cool like this show… So then The Real World Homework was created!
I met with my Frenchie friend Rachel and we brainstormed all the types of “real world” activities that students could do as homework for a given unit. 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 you can put blank boxes so students can add their own ideas after approval. Talk to your Cuban neighbor about the foods he ate? 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. 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?
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.
Rachel and I presented this at the KWLA conference in 2011. Here is a link to the KWLA conference wikispaces. Shout out to KWLA, one of the best WL conferences around!