Homework Debate

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Bloom, Jul 27, 2013.

  1. Bloom

    Bloom Companion

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    Jul 27, 2013

    I am SO on the fence about this topic... have been doing research and re-evaluating my thoughts on this topic since I am about to start with my first classroom. While I am new to teaching I am not a youngster...in my forties and after having a professional career and then taking time off for children have decided to go into this amazing profession. Have a lot of thoughts on this matter, but want to hear from some seasoned professionals about their ideas and experiences. I am not talking about just giving out worksheets to give homework, but really want to know thoughts on benefits and negatives on meaningful homework from those who have been there....
     
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  3. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    We are a project-based school with no official homework policy. We are also a high poverty school and lots of our children don't have access to materials, time, or help to do homework.

    So...I assign optional homework for the children and parents who request. I usually assign a short term project about something we are studying in class and I allow them to present their project in class. They receive extra credit.

    I try to make the projects varied and interesting to encourage as many students as possible to participate.

    I ask my children to read as much as possible and try to keep a well stocked classroom library for them.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    My homework gives students an opportunity for additional practice and reinforcement of content which has been well taught. It helps students build skills of time management and responsibility. It strengthens the school-home connection.:2cents:
     
  5. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Homework loses meaning if their is not authentic feedback. I personally do not believe that homework teaches responsibility. I do not believe homework serves the same purpose or context between elementary school and high school or college and maybe middle school.

    I only give reading with AR quizzes as homework for my 4th grade class. I give suggestions for homework often, but I do not pretend to collect it or grade as complete/incomplete. All opportunities for students to learn the content is designed into the classroom, where I have control over the learning goals, expectations, and environment.
     
  6. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    This is exactly how I feel about homework! :thumb:
     
  7. Bloom

    Bloom Companion

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    My feelings on homework are similar with respect to their reinforcement of content and practice, as well as practical skills of responsibility and time management. I always had homework and my children (ages 8-24) always had homework. I see the value in what they and I did and, as a parent, it gave me a chance to see what my children were struggling with so I could help them gain competence in those areas. For my children (although not always A students) there was never really a difficulty in completing homework. They could get through it without much assistance from me and some of my kids were so competent that I only needed to periodically check to make sure they were being neat and thorough.
    Last year, I co-taught in a classroom and while I had my thoughts on this issue, it was brought to my attention by my co-teacher and a parent, that some students come from multiple children families with work, extra-curricular and economic constraints which make homework difficult. Take a family who has three children who do not have successes in academics...if all of those children have homework and need parental assistance to complete and they also have extra-curriculars (where their strengths might be) it would be incredibly difficult for a working parent to be there after work schedule for an hour of homework a child, dinner and extra activities. It really opened my eyes to the fact that my experiences are not necessarily the norm.
    While I believe in the importance and value of meaningful homework, my teaching position will occur in an environment that will consist of mostly working families trying to make ends meet. I am trying to weigh my homework policy. Is it important enough to burden the family structure? Do I penalize children for situations outside of their control? Part of me says that this is within the child’s control (it is their homework) and they will only face more strict requirements as they grow and enter the work force, etc., but part of me says that if they are struggling and need help from a parent who may not be there, I should not penalize them? Can I demand agenda checks and completed homework from a child whose family may not be prepared to do such work. I have been a stay home mom for a number of years and there are days in which I was too busy or forget to do such tasks…
     
  8. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jul 27, 2013

    To me there is one main benefit from homework, and that is to practice what has been taught in class. Students benefit from practice ONLY IF they are practicing something correctly. A child who purposely puts down wrong answers in math homework because the teacher isn't going to check it, will probably do more harm to himself or herself than not doing the homework. If you are going to assign homework you need to see that it is done correctly.

    The other thing about homework is consistency is key. I'd figure out how often you have homework each week and stick to it.

    I do think homework gets a bad rap because some teachers give way too much of it. While there is research that homework can be a benefit to students, I have never found any research supporting large amounts of it. Much of the research says that about 10 minutes x grade taught is often a good estimate of an acceptable amount (example 4th grade: 4x 10min. =40/min. homework/night.
     
  10. Bloom

    Bloom Companion

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    Thanks Pashtun for the article...very interesting!
     
  11. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    Jul 27, 2013

    I've been battling with homework for years. Some parents want less, some want more... last year my kids were such a wide range that I was sending home 3 versions of the homework packet each week, and putting them together took too much of my time.

    My IEP kids last year got a bingo board for homework, filled with activities that helped connect and reinforce what they were working on in class. They had to choose 5 activities, but could do more. I liked it so much that I'm going to do that for everyone this year, which should *hopefully* eliminate the need for me to make multiple versions of the hw.
     
  12. thatgirlyouknow

    thatgirlyouknow Rookie

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    Jul 27, 2013

    I have homework M-Th in my class and check it on Friday. It's always the same, super simple, but I find that it helps with reading comprehension.

    I teach English II at a high poverty school and the Thinking Comprehension Homework requires almost no resources. I saw it on Scott Foresman's website: http://6thgradescottforesmanreadingstreetresources.wordpress.com/tag/comprehension-thinking-sheet/

    and adapted it a bit to fit my high schoolers. The first few weeks are touch and go with homework, but once they see how little it actually is and how it affects their grade in the long run, I have around 90% buy in at that point.

    All they do is read 10 minutes per night (a library book or a book they have at home) and fill out that night's Thinking Comprehension blocks. It takes almost no time and these are kids that just don't normally read anything. They keep it all in a homework folder and when the time comes for them to do their essays, they have a compilation of HOTs information to reference. :)

    The best part is, I don't even pass anything out. There's a folder with the template on my wall that is always full of the HTC sheets. I just remind them on Mondays to get a sheet on their way out.
     
  13. thatgirlyouknow

    thatgirlyouknow Rookie

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    Jul 27, 2013

    Oops, just saw this was in elementary. Sorry! Haha. But I'm sure Scott's original could be adapted for lower grades. :)
     
  14. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Jul 27, 2013

    I like that comprehension sheet! Thanks for sharing! :)
     
  15. thatgirlyouknow

    thatgirlyouknow Rookie

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    :D You're welcome. Message me and I can email anyone interested the sheets I recreated.
     
  16. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Jul 27, 2013

    Unfortunately, as a 1st grade teacher, I have found that the kids who complete homework are the kids who have parents who are a) involved in their child's education
    b) home to enforce it

    I have found that the kids who would benefit most are the ones who don't get it done. :-(
     
  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm high school, so keep that in mind.

    One problem that I see with our students, especially our AP and pre-AP students, is that they don't know how to manage their time outside of class when it comes to homework. Even if you don't teach AP or pre-AP, I'm sure you know that there's always a very, very heavy homework component. Many of our students are simply unprepared for that homework component and end up struggling with it or failing because of it. From the position of someone who sees these students several years down the road, I feel like I need to mention that the purpose of homework at the lower levels is not just for skill review--it's also for preparation for further and more demanding homework in the upper levels.

    Just something to think about.
     
  18. thatgirlyouknow

    thatgirlyouknow Rookie

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    ^^^this.
     
  19. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    But assigning homework does not teach students how to manage their time outside of class. It does provide an opportunity for PARENTS to teach their kids how to manage their time outside of class.
     
  20. Preschool0929

    Preschool0929 Cohort

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    Jul 27, 2013

    I do a monthly reading log and an optional homework calendar. The reading log goes home at the beginning of the month and the kids who bring it back filled in at the end of the month get a small treat. The homework calendar is monthly and goes from Monday-Thursday. It's all creative projects or simple assignments that can be completed in 5-10 minutes. They don't have to come back to school, but I like parents to know what we're working on and easy ways to carry over that learning at home. I teach at a Title 1 school with extremely low parent involvement, but I've found that even the parents who work 3 jobs and struggle to make ends meet still want the best for their child, and are willing to do a quick activity with their child, rather than struggle through a worksheet.
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I don't think that's necessarily true. I'm sure there are things that teachers can do that will help students manage their time spent at home on homework. Even if parents can't help with homework or time management, that doesn't mean that we should just avoid the whole issue. When these students take pre-AP or AP classes, they won't have the option to avoid homework, even if their parent can't help.
     
  22. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I agree. There is quite a difference between a 1st grader and a 10th grader.

    However, we can disagree. I don't see homework as teaching time management unless you are their to help with the process. IMO, this falls on the parents at such a young age. I also don't believe in the prepare to prepare to prepare for something. Sometimes the best way to prepare for "something" is when it is authentically time.

    When AVID came to our district I want to say it was 6th grade and up, 5th grade was a preparing(modified) AVID. Our school decided to start in 4th to "prepare" them. IMO, it was very inauthentic.
     
  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I am not advocating pretending that a 1st grader is the same as a 10th grader. Maybe we need to be mindful, however, that a 5th grader will soon become a 9th grader, and his 9th grade teachers are going to be making some pretty serious demands on his time outside of school. If this is the first time he's ever been expected to spend any real time outside of school working on "real" homework, then he might find himself in a world of trouble. High school is a completely different animal than either elementary or middle school. I see students every day who enter school thinking that they're going to get to do the same things they've done all along. Unfortunately, that isn't going to work for most students and they're going to struggle tremendously or fail outright. I think that our students would be better served with some advanced warning and preparedness.

    Again, just something to think about.
     
  24. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I completely agree. This is my point. They are in many ways completely different animals.

    Caesar, in your district they don't require homework in the elementary schools? I'm surprised by this. I could be wrong, but my overwhelming belief is that most districts require homework in elementary school.
     
  25. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    When did I say that?

    My point about them being different is not that they are so different that you can ignore one completely. They are different but they are sequential. The things you learn in elementary by necessity translate into high school. If you don't learn it in elementary, you're going to have a rough time in high school. Simple as that.

    In any case, I'm sort of done arguing. I just wanted to present an alternate viewpoint from someone who works with these same students a few years later. If you don't care or whatever, fine. Do what you like.
     
  26. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Sorry you consider it an argument, I considered it a discussion.

    I asked about the homework in your district, because if they mandated it, it doesn't seem to have made much of a difference...something to think about.
     
  27. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    It's difficult to have a discussion when you present your arguments in a sarcastic sort of way. If you want to know about my district's homework policy, just ask. You don't need to do the fake shocked thing.

    The truth is that I'm not sure if my district mandates homework at the elementary level. If they do, it's probably similar to the sort of mandate that many teachers here have expressed, something like a time limit per grade or something. I agree that whatever homework policy has been enacted by my students' previous teachers hasn't been successful. That's part of why I wanted to add my voice, because I have information that many elementary teachers don't have, given that I work with these students several years later. Pardon me for trying to fix what I see as a problem.
     
  28. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Excellent point. :thumb::thumb:
     
  29. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    So in the spirit of discussion. If your district mandates homework in the elementary grades, and it is not working, do you think there may be merit to the idea that it is not preparing them for homework in secondary?

    I am not stating this as a fact, it is something to think about.

    I believe the context of homework in elementary and secondary is different, as you said "it is a different animal". Many times homework serves a different purpose in secondary and college than it does in elementary.
     
  30. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    It's possible. I think it's more likely that the nature and quality of the homework being mandated (if it is even mandated, and I'm simply not sure) is what's impacting their preparation.
     
  31. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    There have been a number of homework threads lately, so we have a lot of examples to pull from.

    I would ask for examples regarding the quality, I am not sure this is it. I do 100% agree that it is the nature of the homework that is what is not working, but I am not sure this can be changed, primarily due to the differences between say 4th graders and 9th graders.

    All you secondary teachers correct me if I am wrong, it has been a while since I have been in college and high school.

    Homework in college and secondary are very similar. Often times, class time is used to talk about a new concept or "something" to be learned.

    So for example, in a literature class you would use class time to talk/debrief about themes, connections, style, "whatever". Homework usually consists of reading the chapters at home(majority).

    Writing. Lesson on grammar, writing about the theme. Homework would be more based on actually writing the paper.

    Math. Learn about a new concept. Quadratic equation. Talk about it, do a few examples, ask questions..etc. Homework is there to practice them. Majority of the time practice happens at home.

    IMO, in elementary school, the students are too young for this. All of the above secondary "homework" has to happen in class. "Typical" homework in elementary is many times just more of what was already done in class.

    Alot of what happens for homework in secondary is required for class the next day. If a student doesn't read the book for lit class, doesn't actually do the writing for "writing class", doesn't actually do the math problems, the next day in class the student would be lost.

    In elementary, this doesn't typically happen. Students are being guided, "taught" how to do the above in class. I believe it is developmentally.
     
  32. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I think homework in elementary should be very limited. No more than thirty minutes plus reading time Monday through Thursday with none at all required over the weekend.
     
  33. thatgirlyouknow

    thatgirlyouknow Rookie

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    In my experience, what seems to be lacking (in my district, anyway) is the level of importance put on homework. I taught 6th grade for a year and literally no other teacher in that grade gave homework because "the kids just won't do it." It was a weekly struggle between me and my students because "Awww man, Ms. D! You the only one giving homework!"

    My daughter is in the 2nd grade and has yet to bring home anything to actually do. My niece, who is a year older, has had homework some years and some not. There's so much inconsistency.

    I don't know, maybe it's just where I'm from, but around here, most teachers don't give homework because the students won't do it, it's a struggle, and this just perpetuates the problem.
     
  34. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I've said this before, but all I ask in grade 1 is for my students to read with someone regularly and I send sight words home to practice. My little peanuts work hard all day and hopefully go to bed at a reasonably early time. What little down time they have after school should be for relaxing and playing. About twice a year I send home a project that requires family involvement and have always had a great response from families.

    When parents request homework it's not because they want to their child to excel academically, it's because the child is bored at home and the parents don't know what to do. (I'm not speculating... parents say this to me every year!) In those cases, I direct them to my class website which has links to interactive sites for my students to practice a variety of skills.
     
  35. Sm2teach

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    Jul 28, 2013

    I agree with this. And I always grade homework, though it doesn't always go into the grade book. But neither does all the class work we do.
     

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