How to Give Assignments | Part 2

Posted by Alex Hopkins on April 05, 2020

In our preview post, we shared a bit about setting expectations when assigning tasks remotely, along with the benefits of print versus digital assignments. Now, we’ll explore a range of assignment types that promote engagement and inquiry in a distance learning environment.

ASSIGNMENT TYPES

This is a unique time for everyone, so consider assigning tasks that are also unique to your typical coursework. With extra time spent at home, students have an unprecedented opportunity for reflection, creativity, and (safe) outdoor exploration. To get started, here are some different assignment types you might consider for your students:

Writing Assignments. Student-driven learning tasks, such as writing assignments, offer a great way for students to realize how much they actually understand about the topic, develop their own independent ideas, and build communication skills in the process. 

  • Exploratory Papers. Create engaging writing assignments that allow students to interact with the lesson and share their personal experiences. Examples include:
    • Comparisons or case studies
    • Claim-Evidence-Reasoning summative assessments
    • Analytical thinking summaries
    • Book reports or reviews
    • Reflective essays
  • Student Journals. This time will have a long-reaching impact on our country’s history, so why not ask your students to write about their experiences during our global pandemic? Promote student journaling in the following ways:
    • Students keep a journal and submit a daily or weekly log 
    • Provide discussion prompts for students to answer through a journal entry

Creative Assignments. Interactive, hands-on assignments provide another stimulating way for students to absorb lessons in your subject. When coming up with different creative exercises, consider whether they have personal, family, or community interests that they do not always get to pursue in school.

  • At-Home STEM Activities. Assign hands-on exercises (create a chain reaction, build a rubber band helicopter, create an apple volcano) to perform at home for a more engaging lesson. Find ideas on trustworthy platforms like Pinterest, sciencebuddies.org, stemteachingtools.org, and Google.
  • Incorporate art to make STEAM. Art projects allow students to tap into their creative side and express themselves and their understanding in a unique way. Examples include:
    • Photography documenting this time in history
    • Drawing or painting for internal expression
    • Making a craft from household items 

Outdoor Assignments. Many activities we regularly do outside can support meaningful learning, so take advantage of this unique situation and incorporate outdoor elements into your lesson plans. Getting students outside for some of their assignments will help them stay active and positive, as well as make important connections to your lessons. Plus, taking a break from traditional classwork while confined at home will be appreciated! 

  • Real-world application. Create assignments that focus on how your lesson fits into everyday life, so students can see it for themselves and develop a deeper understanding of the topic. Do some research to come up with interesting topics, like “the science of [construction, grilling, gardening, running, etc.].” This can open up all sorts of meaningful questions and experiments for students to explore.
  • Take a breath… of fresh air. Assign outside activities to promote relaxation during this time of stress. Sending kids outside is also a great way to incorporate some physical education assignments to help kids to stay moving, motivated, and healthy.

Now more than ever, it’s important to engage your students with high quality activities and not just fill time to keep them busy. Just remember, not every student will have access to necessary resources, so you’ll need to be thoughtful about scheduling lessons and assignments. 


PARTING THOUGHTS:

  • Your community’s physical and emotional well-being should be top priority. Keep your initial assignments light and interactive, so everyone can enjoy the educational distraction without added stress.
  • Don’t try to recreate the school environment. Home-based learning is unique, and mimicking classroom learning may cause frustration for everyone involved. 
  • We’re here for you. Feel free to reach out for more information on how existing customers can access STEMscopes from home. Call 800.531.0864 or email us at stemscopes@acceleratelearning.com.

FREE & HELPFUL STEM RESOURCES:

Topics: COVID-19, teaching online, distance learning, "remote learning", virtual teaching, student engagement