Math Homework Controversies

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by SF_Giants66, Oct 3, 2014.

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  1. SF_Giants66

    SF_Giants66 Cohort

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    My classroom management professor talked to us about studies done on the effectiveness with math homework, and stated that many teachers believed it was for the purpose of practice and drilling, that what ends up happening to many students is they practice it incorrectly and have to relearn while undoing the incorrect habits.

    What kind of confuses me is if students struggle with math, they don't understand it in one day, they end up more confused when doing homework, and at the same time they need practice and repetition skills to get the problems done right while there not being enough time in a school day or class period to cover what is needed, then what is the answer? I thought that is what text books and modules were for, so they could give them step by step instructions when the teacher isn't available.

    My professor doesn't believe we should give homework at all. She pretty much doesn't believe in just about anything, let alone homework.
     
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  3. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I'm not a huge homework proponent, either. In my experience, most of the students who complete the homework are those who understand the concept and don't need the practice. Those who don't "get it" either don't do the homework or do it incorrectly.

    In my math classes, my students are rarely all working on the same thing at the same time. I give a short (10-15 minutes) lesson, then students work on follow-up activities--games, partner practice, problem-solving--while I am able to work with students who are struggling. While there is, occasionally, math homework, it is minimal and I am sure that the student understands and is able to complete it independently.
     
  4. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I think there's some truth to what your professor is saying. You might also find your school or district gives you no choice. I am required to send home math homework Monday-Thursday. I try to differentiate but the vast majority of my kids get district-written math homework based on that day's lesson. Thankfully, they're short. Our 2nd grade homework lately has been 3-4 word problems or 10-12 simple arithmetic problems.
     
  5. GTB4GT

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    I believe in HW for math classes like trig, stats, calculus etc. In our school teachers are loathe to give homework because our kids won't do it or copy it from others. so our kids don't get HW (inmates running the asylum imo).

    So we have juniors and seniors who have made A's without ever cracking a book at home. I give the upper level classes "lots"* of HW so can do the drills, learn to use their books as a reference tool, etc.

    * The 8 seniors in my calculus class told me this week they were going to drop my class due to its HW workload. When i asked them, on average, how much time each assignment took outside of the class, they all agreed it was about an hour for each assignment. Keep in mind, we are on modified block so this works out to be 1/2 hour each day that I require of our "best and brightest".:dizzy: Yet they all want to go into engineering or med school in the future.:lol:
     
  6. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Devil's advocate here...how many classes do these students have each day? If each class gives at least 1/2 hour of homework each day, that could conceivably end up being several hours homework each night?
     
  7. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    I look forward to reading this thread because many of the math teachers I know give much more homework than I give. I will give homework 2 or 3 nights each week, but even then my guess is what I give takes most students about 10 minutes to complete. My personal experience is just that a lot of homework doesn't do a lot to improve students' skills.

    I will agree with what Pisces said about many schools having a requirement on the amount of homework. My current principal likes homework but hasn't set a school requirement about it yet. I used to work in a school that required a certain number of homework assignments per week to be written in the lesson plans. (However, I don't remember that number)
     
  8. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Sometimes when I assign homework I will upload an answer key on my website. Students can copy the answers, but I still require them to show the work. I've told them that if they get two or more wrong in a section they can stop, come by before school and we'll do one together. They can finish the rest.

    I'm curious SF - is this professor one of those former teachers that spent about five years in the classroom before realizing she couldn't handle it?
     
  9. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    as I mentioned, the other teachers generally don't assign HW because our kids won't do it. Which leads our kids to think that work outside of school is cruel and unusual punishment.
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Homework, if given, should be to reinforce, not to teach. If students aren't very capable of doing a specific type of problem, it shouldn't be on homework. Since I'm required to give homework, I usually try to do homework on past concepts, to keep them fresh for the kiddos. So the homework I give them in December may be on something they learned back in October.
     
  11. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    We are supposed to provide homework, though it is also required to be work that student know how to do (I.e. practice). Our curriculum is great because it has differentiated homework - regular practice and then enrichment and a special reteaching page for those that might still be struggling. The latter one contains the content we learned so that they have more scaffolding and, if the parent wants, they can try to work with their kid. The homework is always just practice of already learned content though and 10-15 minutes worth (upper elem)
     
  12. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    If they can manage As without homework than either A) the homework obviously isn't necessary or B) grades aren't actually reflecting learning.

    In either case the homework is not the problem.
     
  13. SF_Giants66

    SF_Giants66 Cohort

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    I'm not sure if she was a teacher. All I know for sure is she was a school psychologist before a professor.

    So far we've gathered she doesn't believe in homework, detention, silent lunch, taking away recess, office referrals, sending kids out of the classroom for bad behavior, calling parents about bad behavior, or reward slip incentives (such as those pieces of paper kids collect and redeem).

    She hasn't said those all at once, but mentioned each of those at one time. I agree with her on some of those.
     
  14. SF_Giants66

    SF_Giants66 Cohort

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    The thing is though that I do believe practice outside of school builds repetition and makes mistakes less likely on tests, or at least did for me. So, I just wanted to know what the solution really is if there is no homework.
     
  15. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    totally agree. In higher levels of math there are simply too many permutations and combinations of problems to work them all in the classroom. Imo, you have to work a lot of problems to be able to deal with all the possibilities. if the kids can only work exactly the types of problems that they have seen worked in the classroom is that really learning? or memorization? Don't get me wrong, there is great value for doing work in the classroom and I try to budget time for that, it's just not possible to squeeze into all into classroom time.

    If you confine all the work to the classroom setting, then you don't get to cover your standards. You could spend weeks on just one lesson to see and solve all the variations of problems in calculus or other branches of higher math.And that is not getting the kids ready for college. in engineering school, I have worked on ONE problem for 6-8 hours. and there were 4 problems on the assignment. again, just my opinions. ymmv.
     
  16. UCLACareerChngr

    UCLACareerChngr Comrade

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    I will speak as a father with a 4th grade daughter who is struggling in math. I love the fact that she gets homework, because it gives me a chance to work with her and see firsthand what she is struggling with.

    But, I also feel like I have a teacher's viewpoint, which is different than my wife...My wife wants to make sure that she ends up with the correct answer on all of the problems, while my attitude is "if she can't figure it out, then I want her to write what she thought, and then make sure that the teacher knows she doesn't understand it."

    I love getting the chance to see how she is reasoning through problems, and then getting the chance to help her. But, my help is not how I learned to do the problem, but rather, I say "tell me how your teacher taught you to do this." So, without HW, I would have no idea how the teacher is teaching, which I think is very important, since common core seems to be coming up with different methods of problem solving than we have been exposed to as students ourselves.
     
  17. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Awesome answer and even more awesome parent supporting education - job well done!
     
  18. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    How is she teaching you how to function in the classroom...what DOES she believe in? It seems that she has never stepped a foot in the classroom.
     
  19. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I face a similar dilemma in my world language classes...It's very rare that students will have anyone at home who can help them with French homework, so in my experience, of the kids that do the work, at least half will do it totally wrong or just try to copy from the internet, and the half that do it right already knew what to do anyways, so it was essentially a waste of their time. I teach on a block period so there is usually ample time for us to at least start on independent practice in class, and then if there is homework, it should be a continuation of what we started together and I will already have checked for understanding. I don't think giving homework just for the sake of giving homework is helpful in this instance.

    My English classes have a reading assignment almost every night with an assignment which is to apply an active reading skill (questioning, annotating, vocabulary, etc). But again, we usually start in class and I will always model the assignment for them until they know what to do.
     
  20. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    When it comes to homework my personal philosophy is that homework is for practice. You should be able to choose not to do it if you don't feel that it is time well spent.

    For instance, in many college physics courses I've taken, homework isn't required to be done, but be damned if you don't fail the tests if you didn't complete the homework.

    Now, with young students, they don't have the maturity to make these connections between homework, learning, and grades just yet (or even the importance of good grades), and if they don't complete the homework they can end up with a lot of harmful gaps in their knowledge for later on. They do need to be required to complete the homework, and for that purpose I require homework in my class to be completed.

    But I also make the homework worth almost nothing, and a lot of it is student self-graded to instill the idea that the homework is purely for practice and learning and not a make or break thing.

    I think by the upper High School grades, homework should be assigned, but be optional to let them start finding out why doing the homework even when it's not required is useful.
     
  21. SF_Giants66

    SF_Giants66 Cohort

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    She worked with some of the most challenging behavioral issues such as kids who freaked out and had violent meltdowns in class to children who were being sexually abused at home.

    She generally seems to spend a lot of time critiquing every classroom discipline method out there.

    What I gathered is that she believes in the importance of having class rules as it is part of the state teacher evaluation standards, and that she feels it is important for teachers to establish a personal relationship with each student.

    I don't recall her necessarily giving her opinion on which is the best method of classroom discipline or dealing with behavior.

    However, as far as math is concerned, she definitely is against homework. For the person that mentioned their college physics homework not being required, I agreed and actually preferred if I didn't have to do all my Calculus homework when I knew what I was doing. Unfortunately I just think that many kids simply won't do their homework that they should be doing if it isn't for a grade. My 8th grade teacher for Algebra had a bit of a creative system. If you had an 88% or higher in the class, you were able to skip one homework problem. If you had a 92% higher, you were able to skip one-third of the homework problems. If you had a 96% or higher, then you could skip two thirds of the homework problems. This generally helped in the sense that when I was getting an A in the class, I didn't need to do every practice problem that was assigned.
     
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