Every experienced ELA teacher has felt that moment of utter frustration when he or she realizes that very few students completed their homework or students completed it but cheated. This is especially true for those dreaded spelling or vocabulary worksheets — the boring, but necessary — or are they? I have recently experienced much success with my advanced level kids mastering vocabulary by using a differentiated homework assignment. The assignment sheet is the same for each child, so it’s easy for the teacher to create, but the product is different for each child, so it’s hard to cheat on! Everyone has to learn the same 20-25 vocabulary and spelling words, but each child chooses the method that helps him or her the best. Teachers can also accept electronic homework for even more choices and even better adaptability to each child!
I cannot take credit for this idea. I am sure many teachers K-12 have used some form of this assignment, but I developed my own version for high school students after studying a homework sheet from a fifth grade student developed by my friend and colleague Hollis Hill from Bryan County Elementary. I used a very similar design, allowed for choice and readiness, and voila!, the cheat-proof assignment was born. Thank you, Hollis, for the awesome idea!
Special thanks to Mrs. Hollis Hill, Bryan County Elementary School.