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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in homework

Posted by on in General

homework stress

It's The Age Old Debate

Depending on which camp you belong to, you are either starting to get fired up about students needing practice at home, OR you are thinking "down with homework!"

To be honest, I see the merit of both arguments and there is a lot of research out there that supports practice and also says additional work doesn't improve student outcomes. I could reference and review all of this research but you probably don't want to read it and I'd really like to get to my primary point here. The real debate shouldn't be"practice v. no homework." It should be about what KIND of work you are assigning. 

Is What You're Assigning Worthwhile for YOU and Your Learners?

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Homework clipart

Throughout all of my 15 years of teaching, there has been one word that has caused me, my students, and my students' families to shudder. If you are in education, and even if you are not, I am guessing you can figure out the word. The word is homework. Didn't take you long to shudder, did it?

The word homework causes many to shudder much like the word shot does for my six-year-old daughter when she has to go to the doctor. Not even the promise of the lollipop at the doctor's office can get her to stop her fussing over going. She dreads going days before and, of course, tries to talk her way out of it all the way up until we get called back from the waiting room. She clams up immediately when the doctor comes in, and then the tears, crying, and wailing comes as soon as she sees the shot. What should take only seconds, ends up taking emotionally draining (for everyone) minutes and minutes to complete.

Obviously shots are different than homework, but some of the emotions our children (and we) go through dealing with homework are the same. Shots have a different purpose than homework. Shots are to prevent or treat illness, where as homework is to assess student learning. Or at least it should be.

Homework should not cause students, parents, and teachers to shudder. It should be relevant, meaningful, and meet students where they are. It should be quick and manageable. It should be reflective for the student and teacher. It should be a formative assessment that helps the teacher guide instruction. It should be more for the teacher, than the students. And it should not be used against students, be it grades, placement, or punishments. 

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Posted by on in Assessment

I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice.” -  Ray Bradbury

Many studies report that there is little gain from homework, yet I'm not ready to give up on math homework altogether as I believe homework still has value with regard to building good study habits, practice, and independent or family time to think deeply about math ideas. 

I do want to heed the homework research and results though by treating homework routines with greater care, differentiation, and simplicity. I don't want homework to turn into added struggle for students or families. Therefore I will establish a positive homework routine beginning on the first day of school. 

The routine I'll foster includes the following actions and goals:

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Posted by on in General

0-HomeworkDoesntWork.png

When I started as a brand new teacher in the Chicago Public Schools some 13 years ago I came across a poster on the wall of the attendance office, that explained the “Grade x 10” formula for assigning homework. So, a first grader should have 10 minutes of homework each night (1st grade x 10), while a high school senior ought to spend 120 minutes on his studies every evening following the same formula.

But why do teachers give homework? They believe it can help students be more successful as it allows them to practice what was learned and to remember what was taught. In addition, homework is somewhat of a holy grail in teaching. Teacher preparatory programs push it, textbooks are designed for it, and it is a deep-rooted tradition that allegedly promotes student learning outside of the school walls.

Kids ought to have homework, right?

Wrong!

There is a growing body of research challenging the effectiveness of homework. Alfie Kohn, the author of the 2006 book, Homework Myth, concludes that there is no evidence that homework benefits young children and questions the advantages it brings to older students. Kohn also points out that a 2011 study “fails to find any meaningful benefit even when the study is set up to give homework every benefit of the doubt.” In The Case Against Homework, Bennett and Kalish (2006) explain the negative effects the homework overload has on children’s achievement and development. And there is a plethora of other academic studies that have comparable findings.

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Posted by on in School Culture

SOON

My husband, who was a math major in college, received this text from our daughter, who is a veterinarian with strong math skills: "If dad is bored, he can think of a word with uppercase letters that has 5 acute angles, 2 obtuse angles and 5 right angles." This is her third grade daughter's homework. It took my husband twenty minutes to come up with LANE. My daughter also thought of VALVE. But here's the point. It was a child's homework assignment and there was no way she could ever have done it herself.

My fourth-grade granddaughter recently asked me what I was thinking to write for my next blog post. She has strong opinions and great suggestions, so I turned the question back to her, and she told me that even with an excellent and innovative teacher that she loves, it is hard to stay focused on the work all day. She shared that sometimes her orchestra music plays in her head when she is supposed to be listening. Many of her friends need balloons filled with material that makes them squishy or balls of play dough to keep them from feeling bored and frustrated. I think we grownups would call those objects stress relievers. This is for nine-year-olds.

But if we really want to see the state of education and what we have done to our young children in school, let's go back to the beginning. I recently led a discussion for parents whose children will start public school kindergarten this fall. I tried to walk a fine line between reassuring them and making them aware of inappropriate practices so they could advocate for all children, including their own.

I cautioned parents that the latest research supports that kindergarten is definitely the new first grade and its goal was to produce readers, regardless of whether children were developmentally ready or not. In the end, however, I encouraged the parents to attend the kindergarten orientation meeting at their local school to form their own opinions.

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