Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences

The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman


Book Summary

If someone invented a homework machine, and you had the chance to use it, would you?  After all, you'd have more time to learn other things, like playing chess, or getting exercise.  On the other hand, you might not learn your class work as well, and isn't it dishonest?  These are the questions that four fifth grade students are wrestling with in this book.

The Homework Machine book cover
The Homework Machine

Book Review

This book is similar to Because of Mr. Terupt, because several different characters tell what led up to an important incident from their unique perspectives. However, it is simpler because the vocabulary is not as advanced, and it uses fewer characters to tell the story.

It might not be a book that pushes the most advanced thinkers, but it's a book that almost every student will enjoy.  The four main characters are distinctly drawn, if a little stereotypical, and provide a good starting point for discussions about how student relationships operate in U.S. public schools.

Left quotation mark

I say who's that and he says it's Leonardo da Vinci and I say isn't he the dude who was in Titanic and he says no he's the dude who painted the Mona Lisa and I say the Mona what and he says oh forget about it.  Have another cinnamon roll. So I do."
p. 30

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Personal Responsibility; Ethics
  • Courage; Self-Confidence
  • Benefits of Homework
  • Different Kinds of Intelligence in Students
  • School and Family Relationships
  • Supporting Military Troops and Opposition to War
  • Individuality vs. Herd Mentality

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions coming soon**

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