Homework Management: More Time to Play

IMG_5244Professional truants love playing hooky with our kids. But even we pros know we have to send our children to school. So we optimize playing hooky time with a good homework management system. Because our kids have a ton of work–just read experts like Donna Goldberg, author of “The Organized Student,” about their workload.

So, being a technology editor, I found good old Google offers a great way for helping my seventh grader manage assignments for her six (yes, six!) academic courses, plus music, plus art, as well as her after school activities. We started using Google Tasks and a great app, gTasks, that improves upon Google Tasks.

Her school has an online homework assignment tool–Moodle. But each teacher posts his or her assignments in different formats. One year’s English teacher always put a rose on the top of her assignment sheets, (which I liked), while last year’s science teacher laid out a grid for the entire year (I both loved and felt terrified by her organization!). And, not all classes are in Moodle. This year, science assignments are in an app called Haiku. (Shouldn’t Haiku be English?)

On top of that, some teachers post assignments on the date that  students should do the work on, so the assignment is actually due when the class next meets. Other teachers post assignments on the date that the assignment is due. Personally, I find it crazy confusing.

And nowhere does our school’s version of Moodle give an overall view of what’s due that week or over the long haul, so that my daughter can see when she’s got big projects due (and so I, the keeper of the family calendar, can not plan a big family get-together the night before said project is due).

For us, Google tasks and gTasks fixes that. It’s a little labor intensive, in that you have to cut and paste assignments out of Moodle (and now Haiku)  into Google Tasks.

Google tasks lists all assignments in chronological order. GTasks, lets you view what’s due each day on your handheld (iPhones, iPads and Androids). You can set alerts by time or location. For super positive reinforcement, you can print out a hard copy of the day’s assignments, crossing them off both on paper and on your handheld (actually, I do that–I switched from ToDo to gTasks after finding it for my daughter; she operates more virtually than I do).

It’s a pretty simple system. It’s not foolproof. But it’s kid approved.

“I like it a lot,” says my 12-year-old.


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