Homework: Yay or Nay?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Backroads, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I'm thinking of cutting out homework next year. I plan to find out my school's policy on homework, see if homework is actually a requirement of our charter or funding or anything like that, and generally see if I need to give out homework.

    I feel that even with all my differentiation and focus on what we're learning my homework is still just done to be done and many of my kids just do it at school (especially those from non-English-speaking families). I can't quite get Words Their Way to elegantly lend itself to homework so even spelling lists seem silly. Plus I keep seeing research and articles against homework and the like.

    Now, I like announcing what we're learning about in school, but I guess I'm feeling a little jaded with homework.

    So, my question, how many of you in the elementary ages give out homework? Why or why not? Any insight will be greatly appreciated.
     
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  3. mkbren88

    mkbren88 Cohort

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    I used spelling city for my words their way and it worked out well! I find most parents like having some form of homework to stay connected to the classroom. My son is starting Kinder next year and I'm excited for him to have homework and to work with him at home.
     
  4. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    During my last year, I started to carve out 30 minutes at the end of the day for homework prep. This was time I could get them started and make sure they were working ok, so that when they went home they were on the right track. I couldn't eliminate homework, but I could help make sure it was at least started ok. I would let them work for a few minutes on one subject, then move to the next (so they weren't finishing all of science, but not understanding math at all).

    Something like that an option?
     
  5. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I'll look into Spelling City!

    And I see that sentiment, parents wanting to be connected, and definitely understand it. Thanks for your thoughts!
     
  6. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Quite possibly an option especially with this new end-of-day schedule I'm experimenting with.
     
  7. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Regardless of if you have them do other hw or not, make sure you at least still require independent reading / read with an adult!
     
  8. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    I give homework because I think it's beneficial, but I keep it minimal because realistically I know not all my students will complete it or have support in completing it.

    I teach first grade, and I have a simple one-page paper that I give students every week. It notes any special events and has homework choices that parents can log every day. Students are required to read 15 minutes every school day (they write down the name of the book) and do 5-10 minutes of one math activity. The math choices are to practice counting, add/subtract numbers in a certain range, skip count by certain numbers, and tell the time on an analog clock. The back of the homework sheet has a number chart, a picture of a clock, and some math game ideas.

    It has been much easier to do this than to send new worksheets home each week, and because it ties in with our 1st grade exit outcomes, it has been helpful in getting our students to know their basic math & reading skills. Parents have had zero complaints about this system, whereas before I would occasionally have parents complaining worksheets were too hard/easy.
     
  9. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    missrebecca, I love this idea!
     
  10. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I give homework packets. I was thinking about possibly changing to a weekly report or writing assignment. I do feel like there is value in the homework and that the kids get a lot out of it - if they're doing it correctly. Sometimes we go over it in class if I see a number of students were confused with the previous night's homework.

    Homework is definitely expected at my school, though.
     
  11. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    I teach kinder. We don't have to give homework, but I do for most of the year. My homework is very simple. I send home 4 sight words every week, some handwriting at the beginning of the year, and then at semester I start sending home phonics readers. This last six weeks of school I stop sending home homework. many of my kids play ball of some sort. That is two nights of practice and two nights of games per week. Sooo who would do it? Not many so I just stop giving it.
     
  12. otterpop

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    I also taught at a school where I would get around 8/30 students bringing back homework. I still sent it home... but only because I had to. If there's not parent support, I'm not sure there's as much of a point. I couldn't have kids missing too many points, which would have meant 22/30 students got poor grades, so I ended up not grading it most of the time.
     
  13. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Up to this year I have never really given homework.

    With the new common core I will be giving nightly math practice. I will be using Khan Academy to monitor and assign the work.

    Likely it will consist of 5-10 problems each night.
     
  14. otterpop

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    Do all of your kids have computers though? I'd love to assign something like this. Usually, though, there are around 2 kids in the class who don't have computer access. Will you assign something different, or is that not an issue?
     
  15. Pashtun

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    They will all have school chromebooks. I am not sure how many will or will not have access to internet from home. I know almost all will have access, there will likely be a handful without it.

    However, I have several options set up.
    1. paper homework
    2. you may come in 30 minutes before school starts each morning to do the homework.
    3. You can use your 30 minute recess to do it.

    Next year, will be a no excuse, homework will be done year.
     
  16. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I give very little homework. I send plenty of graded work home, so parents are aware of what the children are doing in class. I have found that many parents cannot help their child with 5th grade math, especially if their child is not doing the traditional method. I spent more time answering parent emails about homework than anything else. If parents want things to do at home, I recommend daily reading, and some educational websites we use at school if they have internet access.
     
  17. otterpop

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    That's how I am now... well, I don't force them to do it, but basically, if homework isn't turned in, the student is going to fail the class (unless they get 100% on everything else, which is very unlikely if they're not completing the homework).

    I feel okay with that because of the level of parental involvement where I'm at. If a kid isn't turning in homework despite all of the support they have at school and at home, then they just aren't putting in the effort.
     
  18. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Also, Pashtun, you are SO lucky to be 1:1 with technology!
     
  19. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I will send hw for kids on my caseload ONLY if the gen ed teacher wants it/is willing to let the kids do differentiated work from me rather than whatever the gen ed kids are getting. I'm not going to give students who already struggle extra work for me on top of their regular homework.

    When I taught 3rd, I sent home a weekly packet with one reading activity, one math activity, and one writing activity. I sent it home on Mondays and collected it on Fridays, so that families could space out the work in whatever way worked for them (doing a lot one night and none at all others, or a little bit each night, etc.) I graded it for participation only and the points I gave for it were so minimal that it wouldn't really impact grades- since the amount of parent support really varied, I didn't want to grade kids based on how much their parent could help with homework. I also did a little sticker chart incentive for kids that brought it back each week. I was at the poorest district in the city and I had about 70% turn in the homework each week. We had a presenter once that said to not give up on sending homework just based on the fact that many in our low SES district can't or won't turn it in- even if only half do the work, think of the benefits for that half.
     
  20. readingrules12

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    I give HW, but I give less than most teachers for the grade level I teach.

    While I can understand the temptation to not give any HW, you may want to consider HW packets (once a week) or giving only a small amount. I know when I taught younger grades, I tried HW packets twice and generally liked it.

    I do think that we are people of habits. Having students bring HW home, work on it, and return it is an excellent habit to build. This to me is worth having HW. I know there are negatives to giving HW, but I think this one benefit makes it worth it.
     
  21. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I like giving a weekly homework packet. I don't make it too much... a kiddo actually sitting down and doing it probably won't spend more than 5 minutes a night... but it helps build in those study habits. If it happens to reinforce academic concepts also... great!
     
  22. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Good to see you are taking time to examine HW versus surrendering to it due to tradition and mandate. A problem with scrutinizing HW is most educators have never experienced what it's like without it. They were brought up with HW and it is a fixture of school life. It's just something you do, end of discussion. Mention doing away with HW in some circles and be prepared to duck.

    The Homework Myth by Alfie Khon is an interesting read. I concur with Kohn's findings as they align with my experience when I didn't assign HW. Students learned more, faster and retained skills/concepts longer. Their attitude towards school was more positive. No HW created less stress chasing after students and contacting parents which, in turn, allowed for more time to plan lessons.

    Somewhere between no HW and HW there is, perhaps, a truce. Kohn suggests assigning HW which can ONLY be completed at home. Examples might be a project where students find the area of three rooms; interview three family members; read with an adult etc. The "can't be done in the classroom" approach fits nicely with high school and long-term projects like community service.

    Have you ever had the experience of checking HW only to find it was done all wrong or mostly wrong? How about a note from parent stating Name couldn't do it? How about a note stating HW couldn't be completed due to Grandma's birthday or soccer practice? How about (love this one!) a note stating Name got into a fight with a student who accused you (teacher) of being a terrible teacher. During the fight HW was torn beyond repair. All of these incidents have one thing in common. Homework is done at home and the teacher can't be there to monitor it. If it's done in class the teacher can monitor, check for understanding, provide help, ensure standards and often correct it on the fly. If the goal is learning - that is the goal, isn't it? - wouldn't it be better to focus on how much is learned not how much is done?
     
  23. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I did not like The Homework Myth book very much, it was a disappointment for me.

    Six months ago I would have agreed with you on homework, though I will admit my views are changing. As readingrules stated, it has a lot to do with helping students set up good habits and self-discipline. Not sure why, but this is the year where I am really realizing that 33/35 students every year are very smart and capable of learning all of the standards to a very high level. What I personally see separating the high achieving from the average, is academic behaviors and habits. This is what is leading my change in my approach to homework.

    I will be going to homework next year for the first time, I'll see how it goes. But my main reason for doing it is self-discipline and developing a habit that will lead to more success in the future.
     
  24. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    I send a weekly packet home. It generally contains one reading comprehension, one math, one language and one science/social studies based assignment.

    I have a boxed off area for parents to write and strengths or struggles that the student had for the work. A few parents will write notes there but not many. It's really nice for me to see what the kids struggle with at home so I can make sure I monitor how they do on it during class.

    I don't grade the work other than for completion.
     
  25. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I like this!
     
  26. otterpop

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    I think homework, like discipline and curriculum, is something in which the right choice can vary greatly between different schools and populations. I haven't read the book, so I am not sure if this applies, but I am very wary of any author or researcher who claims to know the secret to successful teaching.
     
  27. yellowdaisies

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    I am definitely having the same problem with the 5th grade math!

    My school is not in favor of much homework at all, which I love. At my last school, I had to give more homework than I was comfortable with, but I didn't have a choice. My main goal is that they independently read at home. I also send home math homework, just a few practice problems - usually less than 10, and sometimes only 3 or 4 depending on the difficulty. I am rethinking this for next year - I want to make sure I'm sending home something meaningful. I do still want to send math practice home, though.
     
  28. Feiraz

    Feiraz New Member

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    I still believe that homework is useful for the learning process...
     
  29. Feiraz

    Feiraz New Member

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    I still believe is effective for a learning process
     
  30. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    Once, a coworker said something about homework that really made me think: "Homework really tells you more about the kid's home environment more than his ability."

    I won't say I'm 100% anti-homework, but I have noticed that my kids with a difficult family life rarely do homework. My kids with two college-educated parents never fail to have it done.
     
  31. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I disagree a little bit. It does tell you something about their home life, but not like you describe it, at least in my opinion.

    To me it tells you which students are developing self discipline, regardless of family circumstances.

    Which parents are prioritizing a time to do homework. I see this from uneducated, to educated, poor uneducated, rich uneducated, families with a work ethic...etc.
     
  32. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I agree.

    The most it does is support the biased belief of the meaning the teacher assigns to uncompleted homework.
     
  33. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I assign some homework. More in my advanced classes than my regular ones. I almost always give at least two days to complete homework. I almost always have 100% of my kids do homework. We have a school policy that if they don't do their homework, a teacher can assign an after school detention. That seems to help.

    I don't typically assign homework that they can get "wrong" like practicing a specific grammar skill. I assign current event articles to read and respond to fairly often. They do a good job with them. I don't usually assign much outside reading with my regular students. I do assign some with my advanced classes.
     
  34. otterpop

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    What does this look like for you?

    Do you print out the article? Do they bring back a response on a plain piece of paper, or a printed worksheet? Do you give specific questions for them to answer?

    I'm just curious, because I like the idea. :)
     
  35. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Sorry if I'm stepping on any toes -- I do this a bit (and want to do it more extensively next year) using a couple different tools:

    Scholastic news -- it has several short articles that are always pretty current and high-interest, and they have an online part that I can print off "close reading" questions that have them think more thoroughly about the article and write about it. I used this a ton the past few weeks in prep for the ELA SBA, and think it worked extremely well (I had them follow the RACE format in responding to each, focusing heavily on text evidence)

    Newsela - I think I mentioned this in a thread you had posted before, so sorry for repeating it if so, but it puts out new articles every day and you can (for free) have your students go on and do responses typed next to the articles for you to look at, or print them out and give your own questions. Didn't do as much writing responses to these, but want to possibly do more of that next year.
     
  36. dgpiaffeteach

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    I print an article (love newsela as I can change the reading level). They have to annotate it. We model that a lot early on. Then they have to write a 250+ word response to a prompt. I love pro/con articles. The kids get into them. We model, model, model so they get it.
     
  37. otterpop

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    My thanks to both of you!

    I have used the online version of Newsela. I will look more into RACE - I have heard of it, but never taught it.
     
  38. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I can't remember who exactly I heard it from this year, but it just felt like an easy acronym to remember, especially in the year when students are really having to begin to heavily integrate text evidence into their answers. Earlier in the year, it was a lot of just restating and answering, but as the year went on, we focused more on integrating evidence (proving the answer), and then after they became successful with that, we added on the explaining how that evidence connects to their answer. So I introduced the acronym, and did talk a bit about the whole thing at first, but then slowly built it up throughout the year. I look forward to starting right at the beginning of the year next year so next year's students can make even greater strides and we can then look into how we can respond in the same way but in a more creative manner.


    (being a first year teacher...I'm sure I didn't do it the best way...but most of my kids have mastered being able to identify and utilize evidence in responding to a question about an article)
     
  39. otterpop

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    That's the nice thing about being a first year teacher - and getting it over with, haha (I'm a first year teacher, too). I'm excited about the changes I'll be implementing next year.

    Like I said, I like giving homework. Right now, I give weekly packets. I do like the routine and I do feel like it's really valuable. I use the packets mostly for review. However, I dislike all the copying and paper I use. Perhaps next year, I'll get kids into a routine of doing an article response. I like that idea. I also think something like a monthly book report would be good. Either way, I do want something to be checking daily.

    For the book report, I have considered telling them what's needed, and then having them track what they're doing to work on it each night. So, they would tell me what homework they decided to do and whether they're on track. I would initial each day. For example: Day 2 - read pages 2-16. Took notes. Day 16 - bought supplies for diorama. This would take a lot of training... but it could be good?
     
  40. Mr. Nobody

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    Apr 30, 2015

    The primary grades at our school give out homework every night and on weekends. The students receive an assignment in the core subjects (math, reading, social studies, science) each night, and 1 assignment in art and health each week.

    We also give out weekend homework.

    Personally, I think it's too much, but it is the way things have always been done. It is too late in the year for me to make a fuss, so next year I plan to speak up and ask my team if we can cut out weekend homework. Academics are important, but the children need a chance to rest.
     

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