Do you assign reading for homework?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Koriemo, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Feb 2, 2016

    As an English teacher, this is particularly relevant to me, but I know it applies to other subject areas as well. On one hand, I feel like students won't do the reading if it is assigned as homework, even if I give quizzes the next day. On the other hand, I don't want to use up all of our class time reading out loud or even giving them time to read in class. I've tried group/partner reading, but that seems frustrating to everyone. I generally combat this by assigning shorter works, but we have to do at least one novel.
     
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  3. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Feb 2, 2016

    I do assign reading for homework. I try to give time to at least start in class, reading out loud, but I often run out of time (and this is with 100-min blocks!). I use the Harkness Discussion method which I got from this blog and which has worked really well this year with my seniors. They have to come prepared with at least three discussion questions based on the reading. Yes, I know there will always be kids who read Sparknotes or who copy questions, but I feel I get better participation and discussion with this method then I do with traditional reading quizzes.
     
  4. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Oh and I won't assign Shakespeare as HW again -- tried it last year and it didn't work!
     
  5. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Feb 2, 2016

    Thank you for linking to that! I am going to try it out. I am working on creating a unit plan for The Great Gatsby. It's a pretty engaging book, so I think I'm going to try to assign reading for homework. I'll give them some time (max 10 minutes) to read in class, so at least they will have some idea of what is going on, even if they don't finish.
     
  6. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Feb 2, 2016

    We would start in class and then had to read at home when I took Sr. English. It was really what we all expected!!
     
  7. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I assign independent reading from a book of the students' choice, but we do not have enough copies of our class texts for everyone to take their own copy home.
     
  8. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    I do, but not Shakespeare, as noted! Right now my seniors are reading 1984. When I assign a chapter for homework, I review it the next day, and then we read the next one aloud during class. I try to mix it up, and I provide links to the online version so the "I forgot my book" becomes invalid.
     
  9. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Feb 2, 2016

    I almost make reading due the next day. In a typical week, I have reading due Monday and Thursday. With regular English classes, I do read some aloud. With my AP kids, I usually don't. This helps because so many of my kids are involved in athletics and activities. Those who want to can take advantage and plan ahead.
     
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  10. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Feb 2, 2016

    One thing I remember from student teaching was that I was always concerned that kids weren't reading. I would assign chapters, give a quiz, and then have a discussion of some sort. I was always hung up on the fact that a certain number of kids wouldn't read but would skate by on the tests just from discussions. I remember my supervising teacher (not my mentor, but the program supervisor) telling me that inevitably, there will be those students who won't read, no matter what we do, but they can still gain something meaningful from the discussions, at the very least.

    (Not meant to mean "oh well they don't read" and give up -- but just to keep in mind that what we do in the classroom is still valuable for our students).
     
  11. TamaraF

    TamaraF Companion

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    Feb 2, 2016

    I rarely do. I read aloud in class, and once in a long while I ask them to finish a chapter at home. I'd like them to read on their own, but so many of my students have IEP's that require everything be read to them, it is just as easy to read to the entire class.
     
  12. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Feb 2, 2016

    I read this link and some of the links it includes but, while I found lots of statements that Harkness was the best method ever, I found nothing actually explaining how to lead a discussion or get students started with this in the classroom. Do you have anything to recommend? Do you follow a format for who talks when or what kind of questions they need to write?
     
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  13. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I am also interested in this, but found the blog a little unhelpful. I'm struggling to see how it's different from a Socratic seminar.
     
  14. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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  15. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Feb 3, 2016

    Try this link which explains her method, which I have adapted for my classes.

    I have been using Harkness with my Senior English classes. Basically my procedure is:
    1) Assign the reading along with three discussion questions. I do a lot of modeling at the beginning of what a good discussion question looks like, and what it is not (factual, definition, etc).
    2) On the day of the discussion, I randomly split the class into two groups: inner circle (discussion) and outer circle (observation). Each person in the outer circle is paired with one person in the inner circle who they will be observing.
    3)The inner circle is given a certain amount of time (I usually start at 10 minutes) to discuss using their prepared questions and any notes. I strongly encourage direct references to the text, including reading citations to support their ideas.
    4) While the inner circle is discussing, the outer circle is completing their observation sheets, which includes noting at least three of their discussing student's questions and comments along with giving positive and critical feedback to their individual student as well as to the group as a whole.
    5) While this is going on, I am tracking student participation. I grade the group as a whole and then adjust individual grades. I add points for individuals who went above and beyond, and subtract points for students who did not meet the minimum expectation (at least 3 questions/comments) or who did not participate (zero points).
    6) The outer circle meets with their inner circle person to share their feedback.
    7) I usually wrap up with a brief full-class discussion in which I give specific feedback on the discussion as a whole and reviewing or clarifying key points.

    This has worked really well for me this year. My students are seniors, but it is a regular, non-honors class. There are things I still want to improve/work on with this method, but for me, it has been the best way to elicit meaningful discussion and participation from the majority of my students.

    I look at Harkness as a formative assessment, and I also use Socratic Seminar as a summative assessment. The two are different because Socratic Seminar, at least the way I have learned to use it, works with smaller groups at a time, discussing one specific topic/question, for a shorter period of time. I can explain that method in another post if anyone is curious! I got it from another teacher at my school so can take no credit personally for any of this :)
     
  16. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Thank you for sharing this article! I found the article interesting, but one thing I noticed was that the author's sample class size was 17. Both my English classes are at 32 (union-capped max capacity), and I am sure many of us have even more! What I like about Empathic Teacher's spin on the method is her idea of splitting the class into two equal groups, and giving both groups a specific job to do during the discussion. This makes discussion work with bigger classes (the reality for most of us!).
     
  17. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I also got really excited about the Philips Exeter Teacher Academy until I saw that it costs $1200... :(
     
  18. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Ok, so it is exactly what we do and call it a Socratic Seminar. That's why I was confused. All of the training I've gotten on Socratic Seminar has basically been exactly what you describe Harkness method as with your class.
     
  19. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    It's true, some people do use the names interchangeably. I think some call what I call Socratic Seminar "fishbowl" which is another name for the same thing. Call it what you like, it works for me!
     
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  20. Clay Morgan

    Clay Morgan Rookie

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    Feb 25, 2016

    I am in a long-term sub position teaching Bible classes in a private school. We do A LOT of reading, but it is primarily in class and coupled with a great deal of discussion.

    Most of the at-home reading, maybe two nights per week, accompanies a short homework assignment, often it is to rewrite the assigned verses in your own words, or something similar.

    The point is to try to establish a habit of regular Bible reading and thinking about what you read. We can do that effectively in class.
     
  21. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Feb 27, 2016

    It all depends upon the academic climate of your school. If you're in a school where the community has college expectations of their kids and parents are actively involved in actually raising their kids, you could assign reading for homework.

    In a school like ours, you don't assign reading for two reasons: 1 - The books never leave the classroom. (Because you'll never see them again) 2 - They won't read the assignment anyhow. (Even if you send home a photocopy of something).
     

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