Assigning homework, what are your views?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by cali*teacher, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. cali*teacher

    cali*teacher Companion

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    Oct 16, 2010

    I have the basic philosophy that I just will not as a teacher assign a lot of homework. Some, but not much, unless it's some kind of creative project. I don't want to overburden children and families with what I personally feel is a lot of busy work. I guess as a parent I know both sides of the story. What about elem. teachers on here? Is that plausible to give minimal homework? Is it frowned upon? I would, but minimal. My dad was telling me when he went to Catholic school they gave the students homework time during the end of the day, if they didn't finish it, then they had to bring it home, which I think is a great idea.
     
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  3. Julie9789

    Julie9789 Companion

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    Oct 17, 2010

    Supposedly it's 5 minutes for every grade level per subject. So Kindergarten is 5 minutes, 5th is 30, and 8th is 40 minutes. So the max for let's say 4th grade is 75 minutes (math, reading, and ss/science). That's how one of my field experience schools determined homework.

    I think it's a good policy. I knew one teacher that would have these 4th graders working for over 2 hours on homework. That's way too long, not just for attention spans, but frustration levels.

    My feeling is that homework shouldn't be the lesson itself. It's just for the students to practice what they learned that day to encourage the memorization (unfortunately) and the retaining of information.
     
  4. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    Oct 17, 2010

    My homework takes maybe 20-30 minutes a night.

    I would give less if I made my own, but we send it out as a team.
     
  5. cali*teacher

    cali*teacher Companion

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    yes, but I see your an early childhood teacher Danny'sNanny. What grade level do you teach?
     
  6. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Oct 17, 2010

    As a middle school math teacher, I know students must practice the math concepts and formulas to truly learn them. As a parent with two ADHD children (one in middle school), I definitely know the frustration of dealing with huge homework assignments.

    I know a math teacher in that insists on giving students at least 30 minutes of homework every night (including Friday). North Carolina has established time restrictions on homework similar to those posted by Julie. Technically, any parent who has middle school children being assigned more than 45 minutes of homework each night tell them to STOP working on HW after 45 minutes, then go to the principal and demand their child receive full credit for the HW because the school is exceeding the State-mandated guidelines (this actually happened at a school I subbed for in our district).

    In my own class, I try to limit the amount of homework to roughly 20-25 minutes (usually about 12-15 problems) and give students at least 10-15 minutes of class time to work on the assignment.
     
  7. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    Oct 17, 2010

    I give none and know many Montessori schools that don't give homework until 4th grade. Even then, it's more to prepare them for where they'll end up in the 7th grade than actually doing homework.

    cali*teacher, you're wonderful for not giving much homework. I applaud you.

    Has anyone read any of the recent research on homework and whether or not it really helps classroom performance?
     
  8. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Oct 17, 2010

    I am also a parent (daughters in 4th and 1st grades) and a teacher (7th grade LA), so I also see both sides of the picture.

    In my class, homework is either reading or writing. I ask students to read AND write for 30 minutes per day. Since our class is structured as a workshop, they have at least 30 minutes in class every day to do one of those things. The other they do at home. Grammar we always do IN CLASS, so very rarely to they have grammar homework.
    It works for me.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 17, 2010

    I hate cutesy projects whose intention is to help us spend more time together as a family.

    If I weren't at the dining room table helping with the project, of course, we WOULD ALL be spending that time together as a family. And it bothers me that a teacher who isn't part of my family has decided on what's right and important for my family.

    But the standard homework-- spelling words, math and so on-- seem to be common sense. You hone a skill by practicing it.
     
  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Oct 17, 2010

    We have district standards for the amount of homework that can be assigned at each grade level. My homework is assigned M-Th and reinforces the skills and concepts that have been taught. I do believe that homework reinforces a school-home connection, but my expectation is that students will do the work independently with little, if any, intervention from the parents.
     
  11. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Oct 17, 2010

    Before I was a parent myself, I used to assign projects. Now that I have two kids of my own, my feelings on them has changed. If my students are doing a project, the whole thing is completed IN SCHOOL and is rarely cutesy. I'm actually dreading my daughter entering 6th grade at my school and having to do the Egypt project. I just don't see how making a pyramid out of gold-painted sugar cubes or dressing up an American Girl doll in a Cleopatra costume shows what she learned about ancient Egypt. I'll be one of those moms who says, "Figure it out for yourself," and she'll have the sorriest looking project there. Mean mom!
     
  12. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    Oct 17, 2010

    This is exactly what I will do when I have a classroom (I am a para right now). I have so many kids coming in telling me their parents don't understand it and many more have parents who can't or don't help them. I grade homework on effort more than correctness so I'd rather be there while they work on it as a resource to get them started and address any questions. I think saving the last 10 minutes of the day for that is worthwhile.....and the kids who turn in no homework would really have no excuse!
     
  13. 2ndTimeAround

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    Oct 17, 2010

    We are on a block schedule. The original goal of block scheduling was to have students get MORE out of the day with less time to forget between classes. So classes could do more projects in class or more labs. But I've heard that what it ended up being is 70 minutes of instruction and 20 minutes to do homework. Which is a waste of instructional time, IMO.

    I'm in high school. When I teach chemistry I expect my students to do homework each and every night. When I teach biology I expect them to review their vocabulary but they may only have written homework twice a week.

    As far as the 45 minute limit on homework, I believe that would apply to a student that is on-level and on task. I would have a hard time entertaining a parent who came in complaining and insisting that his child get full credit for a homework assignment that they did not complete. If a student takes longer than the normal amount of time it is because they are goofing off, did not pay attention in class or they have some issues that should be addressed with an IEP. Even with an IEP I expect the student to get their work done - I might give them extra time to do it, if that is stated in their accomodations.

    I assigned a webquest for my students a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time I had used this particular one so I guesstimated on the time it would take to complete. Even though all of my students in that class have internet access, I put the due date out five days and over a weekend. Told the students that I could give them library passes if they needed it. I figured it would take them 20 minutes to complete. One student brought it back the next day and said it took her an hour and a half. She admitted that some of that time was spent on Facebook and YouTube. She has the second highest grade in my class. Another student turned it in the next day. He has a low C. He said it took him ten minutes. He did it at the mall at a computer kiosk while he was waiting to be picked up! lol On the due date I still had a few students tell me that they didn't have enough time to get it done and that their computers were down at home.
    Homework in my class is either practice or pre-learning. I grade for completion most of the time. But I do assign projects and/or labs that will be graded for accuracy. I do not expect parents to participate in any way at all. Most parents CANNOT help their student with high school chemistry. That would be a key difference between a high school teacher and an elementary teacher.

    As a parent I've had times when I thought my kids had too much and times when I thought they did not have enough.
     
  14. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Oct 17, 2010

    Our districts policy, and pretty much every district I've heard of through friends who teach in other towns/states, is 10 minutes per grade. That said, my 4th graders should take no more than 40 minutes to complete homework. I send very little written homework, but there is studying to be done every night. I work on teaching my kids to break studying into small chunks so they don't end up cramming the night before a test. I do, however, send home projects. This year we have done 2 so far. One is a family weather project. The students, with family support, create a very simple floor plan of their home, locate safe exits, safe rooms for tornadoes, etc. The other is a family heritage project. The students, again with family support, find some small way to celebrate their family. It can be something that has been in their family for years, or it can be something new. It's tied to a reading lesson we do. Every single year I get tons of great feedback from these two projects, especially the weather project. So, while I do encourage family support, they are not "cutesy" projects designed to force family to spend time together. I would never send home something I didn't truly believe would help the child. The town I used to live in was partially destroyed by a tornado several years ago. I can't tell you how many families told me they feel they survived because of that project. They actually had a safe room picked out, had an emergency kit, and they were prepared.
    I think homework definitely has a place in education. I don't send home homework like we used to have (writing math facts every night, etc), but in ways, I don't think it would hurt. I did that homework, and learned my facts. We aren't supposed to send that type of homework now, and the kids reach 5th, 6th, and higher, and still don't know their facts. Sometimes the old ways are not wrong just because they are old.
     
  15. cali*teacher

    cali*teacher Companion

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    Oct 17, 2010

    Hahaha!!I kind of like that sort of thing, because I just personally enjoy doing it, but I will keep that in mind too. Those are things that can be done in class as a lesson.

    One thing is a teacher will say this is 40 minutes worth of homework but that of course is subjective depending on each child's abilities.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 17, 2010

    That's why my high school kids are told to close the math book after 20 minutes of real, concentrated work.

    There's no reason why a 15 year old should ever be up until the wee hours of the morning doing homework.
     
  17. cali*teacher

    cali*teacher Companion

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    Oct 17, 2010

    Well, I wonder if a district says so much homework, and I don't have a choice, if I could do the end of the day thing, if I would have the freedom to do that. I just think children are already in school 6 hours a day, they learn quite a bit. It think it can be really frustrating for a lot of children, and parents, the amount of homework they have to do. They need to get out and play, be active, have important time with the family, etc.
     
  18. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Oct 17, 2010

    I've never heard of a district requiring you to send homework, but remember, reading and studying are part of that. So, if you are are required to send it home, suggest things like others have said, 20 minutes of reading, etc. That way you are sending it home, but it's not a "busy work" time filler. Other than spelling practice (which they have a choice on) and the occaisional math page, the only written homework mine have is work not completed in class. After specials they have between 5 and 10 minutes before going home, many work on homework then.

     
  19. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Oct 17, 2010

    We have our first graders read 20 mins each night. That is our "required" daily homework. The kids are reading good-fit books, so they don't need parents to sit down with them to do this daily homework.

    We also send home a sheet at the beginning of each math unit explaining the goals of the unit and activities they can do at home to support the learning at school. They are encouraged to do 3 activities each week, however nothing is ever turned in.
     
  20. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Oct 17, 2010

    I am not huge on homework. The homework I give is to practice what we learned in class. I don't use the practice books that come with our curriculum in class; instead, I assign those as homework. So, I give 1 to 2 pages of practice book homework a night (most of them have only 4-6 problems per page, so we are talking homework that does not take a long time), math twice a week (which consists of one page, front and back, a lesson per page to practice at home), and reading for 15 minutes every night (as well as practicing high-frequency words). I see teachers who assign projects for homework, and I think it is ridiculous for the most part. I do not give what has been referred on here as "cutesy" projects. I believe a project is a learning experience in itself (if it is valid and worth anything), and therefore should be done in class. I am very big on project-based learning and authentic assessments, so in my opinion, if you send a project home, it more or less gets done by Mom and Dad, which means I cannot evaluate true student learning. I hate when my daughter comes home with homework that is obviously busy work. It seems like some teachers just hand out homework for the sake of handing it out.
     
  21. stargirl

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    Oct 17, 2010

    To me, homework is about reinforcement and practice, as well as learning to be responsible. I give a short spelling assignment each night, a fluency passage to practice over the week, and a few math problems each night. It really shouldn't take the kids more than 20 minutes or so. Ironically enough, I have had parents complain that I don't send home more homework/independent projects. But my goal is for the kids to be able to do everything independently, except when they need help to study for a test/memorize basic math facts.

    The only long term assignment I give is a book report, but I have it broken down so that the students choose a book by a certain date, read it by a certain date, complete/turn in a rough draft by a certain date (which I hand back with corrections) and then hand it in on the final due date.

    When there is a test assigned, I try to send home notification along with a study/review guide around a week prior, so that it can be broken down to a short study session each night.
     
  22. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Oct 17, 2010

    My district has a policy.

    I believe it is under 30 minutes K-3

    45 minutes for 4-5

    60 minutes for 6-8

    90 minutes for 9-12 (And if the student is in AP classes, 120 minutes)
     
  23. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    Oct 17, 2010

    Believe it or not, in my preschool class a few years ago, the parents of the 3 year olds were complaining about the lack of homework. Since most of the students were ELL, I finally started pasting the following into a notebook every night, just to keep the parents happy:

    "Spend 20 minutes reading a book to your child in English. Ask two questions to be sure your child understood what you read.
    Title:________________
    Author:______________"

    It felt pathetic, but it kept the parents happy, and the kids were hearing English a little more often!
     
  24. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Oct 18, 2010

    I'm in agreement with your basic philosophy. I also agree with most everyone who explained their P.o.V. Another thing to consider is the area that you teach in. In a more affluent area, where the parents can put their kids in extracurricular activities like piano lessons, dance class, various sports, etc... I gotta think that it's totally different than if you teach in a more urban area.
     
  25. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Oct 18, 2010

    I do an occasional project, but I try not to make it too much work. In September it was an "All About Me" poster, in October a family flag for our family unit, and next month they will have to disguise a turkey for Thanksgiving. We also have a school-wide calendar to keep track of reading minutes.

    I like the idea of minimal homework no matter what the grade. I remember having hours and hours of homework in middle school and high school. It just gets to be too much, even for a teenager.
     
  26. Miss84

    Miss84 Comrade

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    Oct 19, 2010

    I would love to not give out so much homework, but I have too many parents requesting more of it! So I send out weekly packets that correspond to what we are learning during the week.
     
  27. PowerTeacher

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    I used to be a big advocate of homework, but I have to admit, the research just does not support using it. Dr. Kohn's Homework Myth is a pretty convincing read, and other studies that corroborate his findings are becoming more common place.

    I also like Rick Wormeli's point on homework: Practice does not make perfect, but it does make permanent!

    If I send the kids home with homework and they have not truly mastered what I am teaching them then they learn it incorrectly and it takes a lot longer to unteach and then reteach them than it would have if I had just focused on the information in class.

    Now, my kids do sometimes have homework. I give them an objective sheet with our expected learning goals at the beginning of a chapter. They choose how to demonstrate the learning goal. We work on them in class, but if they need to finish them at home I expect them to work on them there too. I do not assign homework as such, but I do expect the kids to know when they need to do the work at home to stay on track.

    As a parent of an ADHD daughter who had a hard time with math, I can attest that math homework was no help at all, and drove her to hate math more deeply.

    This year her 7th grade math teacher does not assign homework. My daughter gets more done, understands more of what she is learning, and enjoys her math class much more than she ever did when she had teachers that assigned homework every night.
     
  28. cali*teacher

    cali*teacher Companion

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    I agree with and relate to your post PowerTeacher. That is awesome about your daughter. I think for some kids, as I've talked to other parents about their and their children's frustrations with excessive homework, and I'm talking elementary level, it makes them (the child) almost hate school and get overly stressed. That is not good, and something I want to avoid.

    When you all say district policy, is that pertaining to LIMITS on homework assigned, or an actual REQUIREMENT that that specific amount of homework be assigned. And again this allotted "time" seems to be referring to the child that has mastered the subject and able to fly through the homework with ease, but this doesn't take into consideration the varying levels of abilities of students. Again, what takes one child 40 minutes might take another child 2 hours.
     
  29. cali*teacher

    cali*teacher Companion

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    Oct 19, 2010

    I agree
     
  30. cali*teacher

    cali*teacher Companion

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    I had to delete two posts because I quoted the wrong post, woops, lol
     
  31. nasirahc83

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    Oct 25, 2010

    This is quite an informative thread. I try to give my students homework in math and Language arts/reading and also spelling but now I am thinnking this maybe two much. My homework should not exceed no more than 15 mins since I am a second grade teacher.
     

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