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Multisensory Homework Ideas

Class lessons that engage students’ visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic learning modes contribute to effective learning. But what about homework?

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Class lessons that engage students’ visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic learning modes contribute to effective learning. But what about homework?

The second Landmark Teaching Principle™ indicates that using multisensory approaches to learning can help students to better grasp and internalize academic content. Planning multisensory homework assignments, thus, provides increased chances for students with different learning styles to experience success and internalize new material.

For the full text of the Landmark Teaching Principles™, including “Use Multisensory Approaches,” click here(opens in a new window).

Homework Assignment Guidelines

In order to make sure that all students are clear about the assignment being given, follow these suggestions for presenting and detailing the components of an assignment. Be sure to include ways for students to feel successful regardless of whether they are an auditory, visual, or tactile/kinesthetic learner.

  • Post the assignment and instructions visually – on the board, on a class website, or on a handout for the students
  • Review the assignment orally with the class
  • Require students to record the assignment in their agenda books
  • Ask a student to explain the directions back to the instructor

Be specific about the reason for an assignment, the materials required, the steps to follow, and the criteria for grading. When giving homework, directly tell students:

  • The purpose of the assignment:

    “Tonight you will practice description, a key skill for scientific work.”

  • The materials they need (the book, chapter and pages, or the name of the handout):

    Open your book, Conceptual Chemistry, to page 11 – table 1.1.”

  • The action required:

    “Write a paragraph about yourself using physical properties.”

  • The grading criteria:
    • “Your paragraph must be 6 to 10 sentences in length.”
    • “Include at least 5 examples of physical properties that describe you.”
    • “It may be typed or handwritten.”
    • “Put your name, date, and the title/label of the assignment at the top of the page.”

Alternative Homework Assignment Ideas

Creating homework assignments that engage multiple sensory modalities (visual, auditory, tactile/kinesthetic) facilitates students’ success. Be clear about the purpose of the assignment first; then, consider a variety of multisensory tasks to achieve it. Varying types of assignments offers students opportunities to excel in different ways. The grid below presents some examples to spur thinking about multisensory homework.

Purpose Commonly Assigned Homework Multisensory Alternatives

Demonstrate your understanding of a concept or event in history

Write an essay

  • Create an interactive website
  • Make a short (5-7 minute) documentary film
  • Write a letter to the class from the perspective of a witness to, participant in, or key person related to the event - include the major points that you want others to understand about it
  • Create an online photo album with images and annotations that demonstrate your understanding of the concept or event

Learn how to use particular mathematical formulas

Practice plugging in information and solving for area, distance, velocity, etc.

  • Measure the radius or length/width of common objects and calculate the area
  • Measure the distance from one point to another and then time a car moving to calculate the average speed it traveled
  • Measure two sides of a real object that creates a right triangle and then use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the third side. Check it by measuring the third side.

Learn/review characteristics of functions, numbers, operations, etc.

Take notes from a textbook

  • Complete a Venn diagram with similarities and differences between related math concepts
  • Make posters that demonstrate mathematical concepts
  • Create a card or board game that reviews the characteristics of mathematical concepts

Learn key ideas related to plot, setting, and character from a book

Read Chapter 1

  • Read and make two-columned notes for characters/setting/plot
  • Create a visual with pictures or drawings/photos  and corresponding descriptions of setting/plot/characters
  • Highlight details about characters, setting, and key events in three different colors while reading
  • Use colored sticky-notes that correspond to characters, setting, or key events. Affix a setting note to the pages on which the author describes the setting, and write your question or comment on the note. Do the same for characters and key events.

Understand scene(s) from a play

Paraphrase the scene(s) for a class discussion

  • Watch several interpretations of the same scene on YouTube and write about how they are different
  • Record yourself reading the scene out loud (alone or with friends) - then rewrite the scene in your own words and record yourself again

Learn vocabulary words from a list

Study vocabulary

  • Make index cards (or use a free flashcard software such as Quizlet): write the word on the front and a picture that reminds you of the definition and the definition and a sentence on the back
  • Write a poem/story/song/mini-play that uses the vocabulary words
  • Write the words on a piece of paper that you affix to a container (e.g., coffee can or oatmeal box), then fill the container with small objects or pictures that remind you of each word’s definition. To review these words, dump out the objects and match them to the definitions.

Review for a test

Study concepts from Chapter 2

  • Use an online discussion page/forum to interact with classmates and ask and answer questions, or work with a study group in person
  • Create note cards with major ideas or important information as a study guide
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