Sending Independent-Study Work Home


How should a teacher respond to a student's request to work at home on independent-study materials? The teacher certainly doesn't want to stifle a student's interest; on the other hand, some students race through work so quickly that, instead of really learning, they are just covering ground. Furthermore, school materials that are safe in school are sometimes lost or damaged at home - "My dog chewed on it," the student says! Lastly, if the work requires checking, at a student's home the teacher is not at hand to check it. It is true that some parents are just as good at checking student work as the teacher, but others aren't. Then there is the student who does work at home and brings an armload of work to school for the teacher to check, expecting the teacher to spend an inordinate amount of precious class time doing so. For sure, the question of whether to send independent-study work home is not a simple one.

If the teacher does decide to allow independent-study materials to go home, the teacher must be particularly diligent to work with the student managers of kits and collections to be sure that they are keeping track of the materials. As any librarian knows, lost materials are a major headache. If possible, the teacher should keep a backup copy of the materials.

To those students who arrive at school with an armload of completed work, expecting the teacher to check it, the teacher should say, "Excellent! You have done a lot of work. Let's spot check it to see how conscientious you have been. If there are many mistakes, back you go to redo it."

Students who allow materials to be lost or damaged cannot be allowed to continue on their destructive path. On the other hand, their sentence shouldn't be forever. Once they commit to more responsible behavior, they should be given another chance.

Parents who are willing to work with their children are a godsend not only to their children but also to the teacher. The teacher provides the independent-study materials; the parents do the checking. However, sometimes parents are not knowledgeable enough to check their children's work, so the teacher must continue to spot check.

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