My son, a third-grader, brought me a reading homework assignment on vocabulary words. In his basal reader program, the vocabulary is taught in isolation -- a complete waste of time.
Without droning on about the uselessness of homework, let me say that the idea of asking a student to locate synonyms for words he hasn't learned, without the help of context clues, is beyond foolish.
If you agree that this is an act of futility, you'll love the coup de grâce. The words in question were, "coy" and "toil." When is the last time you heard a 9-year-old use these?