TATL #13: Homework Part 1

Main Content

Emily and Roger discuss about the purpose of homework and the difference between knowledge-focused homework versus skills-focused homework. They give examples of what zombie teachers do and how to avoid that lifestyle.

Goal: Avoid being a zombie teacher! (Teachers who don’t really give that much thought into teaching because they have done it for so long)

Q: Why do we assign homework?

A: There is a concept that when you work hard and get good feedback, you’ll do better next time. If this process is repeated over and over again, you’ll master understanding that knowledge or skill. 

"Homework is so ingrained in classroom culture both in the teacher’s mind and the students’ mind."

2 types of homework: knowledge or skills?

Knowledge homework: learning definition of concepts, how concepts are related to each other, parts of grammar, meaning of vocabulary words, paragraphs. etc. It is basically expository. There is a focus on what students know, not what they can do.

Skills homework: any homework where students practice something: interview someone, create a dialogue using the grammar they have learned, make sentences using specific vocabulary words, etc. There is a focus on what students can actually produce.

Questions to consider: Is it possible to do a skill without the knowledge? Should we care about the order of what kind of homework to give first: knowledge? skills? Should we give homework that focuses on both?

"What are zombie teachers doing?"

Easy in grammar because teachers can just look for worksheets and have students do it. It’s not bad to do worksheets since students are practicing their knowledge, but it shouldn’t be the only kind of work students are expected to do.

Teachers should consider checking homework but be practical about going over answers.


Emily: Mentholatum Inhaler (

) and Wasabi Beans (http://www.quest-for-japan.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/wasabichaya_smallpacks.jpg)

Roger: Thermal mug (http://wwwhydroflask.com/)