Teachers make both closed and open assignments.

Closed assignments are a follow-up of material taught. Often, they are practice. All students do the work of the assignment in the same way. Examples of closed assignments are:

Do all the calculations on page 120 of the arithmetic book.

Write the letter B twenty times as carefully as possible.

Memorize the poem on page 50.

Open assignments provide for student diversity. Examples of open assignments are:

Write a half page about your weekend.

Find three new words in the dictionary and write sentences using them.

Continue working in your workbook.

Using the techniques taught to the whole class, draw a picture with crayons illustrating the season.

Although closed assignments are necessary for the sake of mastery, they do present problems:

Students vary in how long they take to complete an assignment. Take an example. The teacher teaches a whole-class handwriting lesson on forming the capital B. Posture, hand position, and how the pencil is held are all taught in the lesson. The students are then given an assignment to practice the formation of the capital B. The fast students get the work done in short order. The slower students complete only part of the assignment.

What should be done with the students that finish the work quickly?

Should the laggards be required to complete the assignment?

This frustrating situation exists every day in every classroom in the world. There is no excellent solution. However, the students are least frustrated when the work seems easy to them. Rather than gearing the assignment for the average student, the teacher can gear the assignment for the below average. Students who complete the work quickly can turn to open assignments.

The effect of this is that the slowest students work on closed assignments most of the time, while the fastest students work on open assignments most of the time.

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