(Ed. Note: This might be how to make the assignment talk back.)
We learned several things about Bermuda that Abby hadn't found in her initial search for "10 facts", including that they catch rainwater from their roofs for all of their fresh water, that girls like playing "netball," and that each house is only allowed to own one car. She also got to see what the roofs and houses looked like, and what Shannon and his wife (and their house) looked and sounded like. Ultimately Abby combined this new information with what she already had, came up with her 10 facts, and we printed out the Google Doc to staple to the homework worksheet. (Yes, I know, but sometimes it's just easier to print and staple than perhaps cause problems by asking to turn it in electronically. She also made a blog post.)
So, which is Abby more likely to remember, the facts she found from a couple of websites, or the 15 minute conversation with Shannon and his wife? (After we hung up we were talking about collecting the rainwater for all their water needs and Abby said, "Wow, they must get a lot of rain." I'm thinking that has more of an impact than reading their annual rainfall in inches.) Which one gave her a better feel for what it was like to live in Bermuda? Which is more likely to encourage her to be curious about the world around her?
What assignments of your own could perhaps be revisited? How can you help connect your students to the wider world around them?