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Robert Jackson

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:

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

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.

Click on the links below to see other principles of teaching:

Questioning Students

Mastery: Is It Practical?

School Work: Do Students See It As Purposeful?

Whole-Class Instruction: Is It Out Of Date?

Assigned School Work: Part of a Continuum?

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