Help! Mother of a 7th grader

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by mrachelle87, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Sep 9, 2006

    My son is a 7th grader in a new district. I just started working there this year, and I am not familiar with his new teachers. I taught in my old district since I was pregnant with him. I had served on committees with the teachers in his rotation and had no problem contacting them with problems. The Supt. in my new district is always stating that we need to focus on the positive, and to keep each other lifted high.

    I have concerns over the homework that one of his teachers is given each night. She sent home four pages (front and back) with over 50 questions on each side, for homework this weekend. This is the norm. His class are block scheduled, so there is lots of time in class. The pages this weekend will be graded together for one grade. The problem is that she assigns a chapter for the pages, but the answers are never in that chapter. We spend hours on the computer researching these problems. My husband and I feel that we are both taking a Geography class. If we don't help him, he will not finish the pages. I have talked to a few friends with children in her class and a few that have had children in her class. There are very few A's earned, and they tell me by the end of the semester she will have over 100 grades posted. Right now he has a 92% in there, and according to the parents I am talking with he has one of the few a's. How do I handle this? I believe in homework, but this is just too much...he does have other classes with homework in them.
    HELP!!!
    :confused:
     
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  3. lisap

    lisap Companion

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    What type of class is he getting this much homework in? Can you get any more info on what happens during class?

    I teach in a block schedule and most teachers (at the high school) give less homework. The practice is done in class and more lengthy things are given as the homework or projects. Math does give more work but more topics are given and assessed more often during the class time. Is there any way that you could talk with her or shadow her class (when your son was not in there) just to get a feel for her style of teaching.
     
  4. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    7th grade overload

    It is geography. The homework is really making the whole family frustrated. He spends 1 to 2 hours every night - Sunday through Saturday, and maybe up to 4 additional hours during the weekend. On top of being on the schools livestock judging team and football team, the kid is exhausted. (And so am I!)
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 9, 2006

    I'm 7th grade math, after a career in mostly 11th and 12 grades.

    The standard rule in my college prep school is to aim for 20 minutes per night per subject. So even Seniors taking Intro to Calculus and Physics are getting about 2 hours of homework per night, no more.

    Maybe you should talk to the teacher: find out whether the workload is due to your son being inattentive in class. (Probably not, but it's a polite way of getting around to the subject of just how much time it is taking.)

    If talking to the teacher doesn't help, I would hit the AP or dept. chairman. No child should have to work that hard to be successful in school; certainly no 12 year old.
     
  6. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Tired 7th grade mom

    My husband also teaches in the district. He has talked to the AP and we have informally (just at social events) talked to the Supt. We get the feeling that this is her style and she has been doing this for a while (and no one is going to ask her to stop.) I am very new to the district, and have already made waves with my team on the stupid meeting (weekly) to discuss such important matters on whether we need 10 or 12 reams of black construction paper -- or if we would like to teach bears or clowns next week. I am regretting moving my children into this district. I do believe that the teacher uses her time wisely in class, but her homework has been added onto over the years and nothing has be culled.

    My husband and I are arguing over the grade. I think that we as parents need to step in and say our child will only do 1 hour maximum homework each night and if that means he makes a low b instead of an A -- so what! But my husband disagrees and has kept the child up until 11:00 p.m. or so on several occasions. Help!!!!
     
  7. PurpleTweety

    PurpleTweety Companion

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    Sep 9, 2006

    Keep a record. Record every assignment, how long it takes and how many of the questions were not related to the text and had to be researched elsewhere.
    I had a university professor like this who simply had unrealistic expectations. I had several courses with her, but one that was particularly uncreasonable. I asked for a meeting with her and presented my records. She was more than a little shocked when she saw them. However, my records did result in her talking to the other students and discovering they had similar stories. Although things did not change overnight, she did modify some of her expectations and things did get a little better.
    I think sometimes teachers forget that it takes a student who is still learning a lot longer to do something than it does them. Sometimes, they just underestimate how long work will take. I would say keep a record for the entire semester, but after two or three weeks, I would take in a copy to the teacher and discuss it with her. (If you want to avoid making waves, maybe your husband could go in as the parent instead of you.) If nothing changes, you can make the choice whether or not you want to take it higher.
    I have to say I agree with you though. If things don't change after talking with her, your child is much better off with the B and some sleep. I'm all for kids achieving the best they are capable of, but making themselves ill in the process should not be part of the equation.
     
  8. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    It sounds like she's copying worksheets for homework without really paying attention to what's on them. Does she mark off points for incorrect answers, or does she just eyeball them to see that they're completed? You would think if she's assigning that much work, she can't have time to go over each and every answer for each student, and perhaps your son can start guessing more often.

    I've got to say, 50 questions on any topic is too much for homework. I'd be surprised to see 50 math questions or 50 reading questions, and geography is no different. Why aren't the students learning these facts in class instead of having to teach them to themselves? I would be very concerned.

    100 grades per semester? So 200 a year? That seems like a whole lot. I teach honors 10th grade English and I believe that my expectations are very high, but I only end up with about 130 grades at the end of the year, about 65 per semester. We are also on block scheduling, so this means that class meets about 100 times a year, so that is more than one grade per day.

    If we look at this like a math problem, I would definitely say that your son should reduce the amount of work he does and aim for a B. Let's say he has to work 2 or 3 times as hard to earn an A -- it's diminishing returns for time and effort spent. I'd only say it's worth if it an A will change something for him in future years. Will it get him recommended for advanced classes next year and therefore honors and AP classes in high school? I doubt it will make a difference, and usually you can override the teacher's recommendation anyway.

    Are there any other geography teachers? Often with teachers like this, there's a tacit understanding that when the parents threaten to make a stink, the child's schedule will be rearranged. We have a few teachers like that in our school. Year after year I hear that assignments are unreasonable, everyone is failing, he loses their work and then gives them zeros. To hear him talk about it, he is holding them to "high expectations." Obviously the operative word is "unreasonable."
     
  9. rhassinger

    rhassinger Rookie

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    I'm not so sure that this is an unacceptable situation. Some classes are challenging, others are not. I am remided of a class I took several years ago in pursuit of my masters in computer science. It should have been easy for me (it was C++ networking) and I had scheduled a weeklong visit to a conference in another state; I brought my laptop and was going to work on the assignments in the hotel. Well the class turned out to be so insanely tough that I spent all of my free time in the hotel room whacking away at the assignments. When I got back, I had to take several days off from work just to hole up in a library and work on the final project. I aced the course, but it was **** hard. It was refreshing too, because I had some classes that I could hardly study for, just show up for exams and get an A. I got my money's worth from that class, at $2200 a pop. So why are you complaining if a teacher is working the class hard with lots of homework? I would thank the teacher for being so challenging, and ask why all teachers aren't like that. If it's driving the family crazy then something is wrong. Perhaps the way the homework is being completed is inefficient. Are these things to look up (e.g. name the country that is on the eastern border of Bulgaria)? Get Encarta, you can find out facts like that in 10 seconds each. Sorry if this sounds harsh, I just think that complaining about the workload for a class is like complaining that an expensive restaurant gave you too much food, or that the bank is paying you too much interest on your deposits.
     
  10. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Sep 11, 2006

    Mom again

    If we were talking about a college class, I might feel different. We are talking about a 6/7th grade class. The homework that is assigned is just plain busy work. The questions do not go with the chapter. There are too many and they take up to much time. And for the record, we use high speed internet and I have bought a top of the line encyclopedia software for this class and the answers are not always available. If it was a simple as looking at a map and telling what is north or south, it would be different.
     
  11. rhassinger

    rhassinger Rookie

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    Whether it's a college class or preschool, you and your son are consumers of an educational service. I can tell you from being the recipient of these kinds of comments is that the last person I will feel sympathy for is the one who complains about too much work. Even worse, some kid's mom complains about too much work. Jeez. Some teachers will put a lot of effort into making sure the workload is well distributed, but then they get one request for an extension and they panic and give in. A solid, prepared teacher will not give in, and I expect that this one will not either. So my advice to you is to suck it up and enjoy it, your son will be a lot stronger for it, regardless of whether he gets an A or B.

    Tell you what... If you have a copy of this homework as a document you can send me, then send it on over and I'll see if I'm actually shocked. I'm not sure I believe that it is what you term busywork. Not all answers are in the text, and depending on how well you know how to use google and what kind of "top-of-the-line" encyclopedia you picked up, your son may be going about doing it far less efficiently than he could.
     
  12. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    I think it's appropriate to ask the teacher if it's normal that he's spending that amount of time on her assignment. She might not be expecting it to take that long and be able to give you some tips. Most teacher I know have told parents "Most assignments shouldn't take longer that (x-amount) of time. If your child is spending far longer than that on a regular basis, please contact me."

    She might *not* realize how long it's taking. Or she might and not care, but it's worth asking.

    Standard rule for homework I've always heard is 10-15 min. per grade per night... so for a 7th grader, that's less than 2 hours a night, TOTAL, not per subject.
     
  13. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    My son has other classes with other teachers and spends less than 45 minutes (max) on the homework in their classes. I am not the only parent that is complaining. I have heard several others, some are also teachers. She is a wonderful lady who loves her job, but the fact that she told us (the parents) that she is spending until 11:00 or so each night grading papers at school should be a sign to her. She says that she feels that the students need this much work to retain the knowledge that she is lecturing on in her class. I have no problem with the work, but with the number of questions that are poorly written. When I asked if my son was above, below, or at level in her class, she said above. My point is if he is above, making one of the few "a's" and has support at home---What about the child who has two working parents that has no support at home? I have no problem with homework, but I have always been led to believe that it should be something that a child could do 100% on their own. My son has a 94 or so average on the tests in her class. He is capable of doing the work, but it should not cause him an ulcer.
     
  14. rhassinger

    rhassinger Rookie

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    OK so now you say they're poorly written too, in addition to being not in the chapter and just plain busy work. So what do these questions look like? Come on, throw some hard ones at us! I'm really interested.
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Wouldn't we need to see the textbook to see whether they're "hard ones"???

    "OK, so now you say...."? The original poster is not trying to start a debate, just to find the information she needs to best help her child. She IS helping him; he's maintaining an A in the class. But in my opinion, the kids should be capable of getting good grades without major parental help; they've already passed the course. If I were the original poster, I would have a real problem with the tone of those words!
     
  16. rhassinger

    rhassinger Rookie

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    I would love to help the original poster, but she's not helping me help her by continuing to whine ambiguously. No I don't need to see the text, only the specific questions. If she would just post the questions, I could see how difficult they are to find using common software and the web. She's also ambiguous about what software and web search methods are being employed. Depending on what is actually going on during these family-help-the-kid-do-his-homework sessions, they may merely need to teach him how to fish, after which he's done with the homework in one tenth the time. But not if they don't know how to fish first.
     
  17. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    I haven't noticed any "whining"by the original poster. Furthermore, if the students need to know how to find the answers in material other than what is provided, the classroom teacher should be providing information on this.
     
  18. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I agree. What if a student did not have a home computer to help in researching the answers to the questions that are not included in the text?
     
  19. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    rhassinger, you are fairly new here and may not be aware of the rules. All education forums are to remain professional both in content and tone. No direct criticism of another member is appropriate, nor are derogatory remarks. If you are frustrated with a thread, you may want to refrain from participating in it.
     
  20. mnteacherguy

    mnteacherguy Companion

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    Homework needs to be purposeful. It should not be used as a punishment or be overwhelming for the student. I teach math, and students often complain daily about the homework. I aim for 20 minutes (8th grade) of homework per night, but I often give students time to work in class. I seriously question the professionalism of any teacher that gives over 1 hour of homework a night in MIDDLE SCHOOL. These are 12-14 year old KIDS, and should be treated that way. I know you have spoke to the adminstrators, but I just thought I'd voice my opionion
     
  21. mshutchinson

    mshutchinson Comrade

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    I agree with a lot of what this guy is saying, it's just too bad he has such a nasty condescending way of saying it. The mom isn't whining, she's frustrated, worried and stressed out. If she turned here for support, why should we bash her?

    Mom/OP - do post some of the questions, or even scan the worksheets as images so we can really be of use. It may be an issue with your son or your methods of finding the answers. At any rate, it can't hurt to get a real opinion based on as many facts as you can provide.

    I'd also suggest saving up the 'evidence', then approaching the teacher- before the boy starts losing hair.

     
  22. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Speaking of "fishing," it's a shame the teacher feels the need to give so much homework that the family can't go "fishing," quite literally, for FISH!
     
  23. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    No homework tonight. Over half of the students did not finish the four pages from this weekend, so she gave them another night. The ones who did (my son did without help from me or dad) were given the night off. Which meant he could spend extra time preparing for a vocabulary test in English.
    I did not have to do anything. Apparently another parent contacted her on the fact that the questions were not in the book. She asked the students where they got the answers, and my son told her we ask jeeves a lot, we use WorldAtlas.com, the Library of Congress, and google. He also told her that I bought a program that dealt with geography. He said that she was shocked that so many of the questions were not in the book. Apparently she had used the edition before this book in the past and had not checked to see how many changes the editors made.
     
  24. rhassinger

    rhassinger Rookie

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    I apologize for what sounded like an attack, I certainly didn't intend for it to come out that way. It's just a little bizarre to ask three times for some simple information that should be right off the top of one's head (what do the questions look like? what software?) and the queries are ignored and replaced with more ambiguous complaining. It's like trying to ask a four-year-old what happened. :confused:
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Again, OUCH! "A four year old"????

    Perhaps she was busy with her kids and didn't have the chance to take a look for a concrete example??

    And I still think we would need a look at the text. I can post a precalculus question on matrix multiplicaion. If I've taught the info and it's in the text, it's a fair question. If I haven't covered it and the info is not in the text, it's unfair. We cannot assume that each kid in the class has internet access unless we've given them laptops and paid for wireless service. Nor can we assume that there's a parent who can spend time on the homework every night; many are working the night shift to pay bills. So I think it's unreasonable (not to mention unsafe) to ask a 12 year old to somehow navigate the internet (which he may not even have access to) alone.
     
  26. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Sometimes we post a question or feel the need to get something off our chests...and the last thing anyone needs is to have fellow teachers/friends of the forum to criticize or badger us with questions that make us feel intimidated or worse than we did before we posted our problem. This is a friendly forum...a place we can go when we are upset...so try really hard to keep things positive and upbeat when someone is having a hard time. Advice is welcome...but it has to be palatable.
     
  27. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Alice and Grammy hit the nail on the head. Do you understand better now about the conditions of posting on the forums, rhassinger?
     
  28. hhennigan

    hhennigan Rookie

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    I like the idea of recording the amount of time your child spends on homework a night and present it to the teacher and if that fails you can move up the food chain. I understand there are teachers that are set in their ways (I work with one) but I hope they are still reasonable to "cruel and unusal" homework load. When I went to college the rule of thumb was 10 min of homework per grade level total for all classes but this may be an out-of-date rule.
     
  29. teachingmktg

    teachingmktg New Member

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    As a high school teacher, I would like to say that unless you teach kids in middle school or have kids in middle school, be careful about the advice you give this woman.

    I teach 14-18 year olds, and I have children ages 9-17, and I will say that from what she has described, the homework from this particular teacher has reached the excessive stage. The problem is it sounds like this teacher has been there a long time and isn't about to change her ways, so I would agree with those who have stated that a letter grade, especially in middle school that won't count towards a graduating GPA, is not as important as sanity.
     
  30. teachingmktg

    teachingmktg New Member

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    Sep 13, 2006

    One more note to those who have suggested that a sign of a good teacher is a pile of homework...

    Some teachers assign homework because they lack the creative ability to teach. They're compensating for the lack thereof and for the sake of appearances. Homework makes a great crutch. -- "If I give the appearance of having a lot of work to do, I will be seen as a great teacher." I know that will be an "ouch" for some to read, but it is true none-the-less. Don't get me wrong... homework is useful when used appropriately to enhance learning and increase retention, but is useless when used as a crutch for poor teaching style. And I am sorry, but when mounds of homework consistently come home from the same teacher, that's a red flag in my book. This is from a teacher who has been in the field for more than a day or two.
     
  31. kamteach5

    kamteach5 Rookie

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    I would like to know how this teacher even begins to grade these papers. Unfortunately we are preaching to the choir, the teacher is the one who should be reading these posts. It is frustrating to be an educator and have children who have teachers whose teaching styles we disagree with. I used to meet regularly with my sons 6th and then 8th teacher (same woman) about the curriculum she was teaching. He would beg me not to talk to her but I was so frustrated at the lack of challenging and valid academic lessons I did anyway and she would say, "Well you have to read 20 minutesm(or give some other assignment) because John's mother thinks you are not being challenged." Anyway mrachelle87 you will have to document what is happening and schedule an appointment and as professionally as you can be discuss these concerns, then you may have to got up the ladder. I have certainly had to answer and deal with concerns that parents of my students have had and this teacher should to. Hang in there and good luck.
     

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