Too much homework...

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by stampin'teacher, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. stampin'teacher

    stampin'teacher Cohort

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    Sep 8, 2011

    I just got approached by a couple parents who said I have been giving too much homework...

    I am new at this school, but last night for homework they had:
    -Read ch.2 of their book (5 pages), answer 2 questions, and illustrate a scene from the chapter
    -1 page in their Spelling workbook
    -1 page of math & practice math facts

    Too much for fourth grade???

    If I really am giving too much, please let me know. But this seems to be a workload that a fourth grader should be able to handle.
     
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  3. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    How long do you realistically expect all that to take? It seems to me that a lot of kids would need more than an hour.

    That is a lot for kids who have a long day in school, then after school and family activities.

    Illustrating the scene seems like busy work to me. I'm not an elementary school teacher though.
     
  4. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    When I taught 3rd grade, we used to tell parents they should have about 10 minutes of homework per grade level. First grade: 10 minutes, 2nd grade 20 minutes, and so on. I agree with Mollydoll, that does seem like it would take a kid more than an hour to complete.

    Are there other 4th grade classes at your school? If so, do that they give a similar amount of homework?
     
  5. mb_teacher

    mb_teacher Companion

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    We have our students read 20 minutes per night and then complete whatever work they didn't complete at school.
    Honestly, I rarely give homework. With my kids, they don't have the home support, so it never gets done.
    To get these "homework" things done, I assign them as centers work during small group time. I can keep track of it easier and I know it's getting done. PLUS, they have the added benefit of being able to ask a classmate if they are having trouble.

    I would probably cut down on the homework as well. It doesn't seem like a lot to us, but having nannied for years before I worked, I know that those pages can add up to stress and lots of time not being able to be a kid.
     
  6. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I am wondering about reading all of Chapter 2-it seems like that should be done in school. The only homework I give is practice I know students have done before, and can be successful at.

    Math facts are great for homework. More practice that we don't always have time for at school. Spelling is another good homework candidate, for several reasons. First, with a list, I can be reasonably sure students will do the task correctly. Second, parents LOVE spelling homework (well, parents who love homework do). They (usually) know how to spell, and they don't have to remember how to find a common denominator.

    Assigning reading at home rarely works, because I can't be sure students are reading thoroughly and completely (the exception being independent reading in an AR book). The same goes for science and social studies.
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    My school also follows the 10 minute per grade level rule. However, everyone is also expected to read for 10-20 minutes per night (who knows how many kids actually do this) as part of their homework, so there really can't be much else. I had 4th graders after school last year and they usually had some sort of math practice sheet, some small spelling practice thing, a general "practice math facts", and the 20 minutes of reading.
     
  8. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I agree, it does seem like a lot. I have my kids read for 15 minutes. It might take some of your kiddos longer to get through a chapter. Typically, I give 1-2 work pages a day of language arts (they typically have about 5 questions per page), and math twice a week. My kids also get hw from Spanish class, and some other special classes.

    As a mother, I think my daughter has way too much hw, and it takes away from family time. They spend all day at school and shouldn't be expected to spend all night on hw.
     
  9. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Reading 5 pages, answering 2 questions, AND illustrating a scene could easily take the average child over an hour and a half to two hours. Top that with spelling work and math work and you're looking at over three hours of homework. I think it's too much. Children need down time to recharge and rest. I think the reading should be done at school too and I agree that the illustration seems to be busy work. If it's absolutely necessary, have them do it at school. Sending home spelling and math pages is enough and maybe add 20 minutes of reading for fun.
     
  10. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I teach 4th grade and we usually assign a math page and silent reading at night. Sometimes we send science but we give them all week to get a few pages done. I think yours is excessive for children who have been in school all day and need to let loose some steam.
     
  11. OneBerry

    OneBerry Comrade

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    I student taught 4th grade and we had a system where each day of the week meant a different subject for homework. For instance, Math homework was assigned on (and only on) Wednesdays. There was no homework on Fridays. If you are interested in making a change, that would be something you could try.
     
  12. **Mrs.A**

    **Mrs.A** Comrade

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    I teach fourth and I give my kids a packet each week (1 page a night)and some nights they will have an extra math worksheet, but it's not a lot. I require 20-30 min of reading.

    If it were up to me, I wouldn't give homework...I would have them read.
     
  13. stampin'teacher

    stampin'teacher Cohort

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    Ok, I should back track a bit because some items weren't well explained.

    With the reading- they typically do not do any reading at home, but yesterday we were so caught up in discussion about what we read the day before, that we didn't get to finish reading the chapter for that day. Their illustration was of an important even in the chapter they read, and was used as practice for when they are involved in literature circles.

    Their math worksheet was about 6 problems of basic multiplication review. No new ideas, but review from what we've been working on all week.

    I do appreciate this input greatly. I co-taught 4th grade at another school for three years prior to this year, and the homework format was exactly the same, but they had even more work. For example, they would read their chapter AND answer the questions using bullet points AND short answer. This would then be used as a foundation for book discussion the next day. That is just their reading work...

    Anyway, it's good for me to know how to adjust their work, as this school is different than my previous. I now see that the expectations of 4th graders at my old school is atypical.

    Now I'm thinking that any reading or assignments with reading should be done in class (which kinda stinks because I really liked focusing on discussion/reflection during class), and maybe just a spelling page and math page for homework.
     
  14. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I use to teach 4th now I teach 5th. I think if you just skip the illustration and possibly make it 1 question instead of 2 then you'd be close to the 45 minute time frame that is usually suggested for 4th grade. Check with your school or district to see the homework policy time frame. Every public or private school I know has rules of how much time in homework should be given in minutes or an average student in your class. For 4th grade, I never gave more than 2 written assignements. Your 3 might be pushing it a bit. I understand your desire to push for a bit more, but you might be better off keeping within the district limits and then pushing for quality.

    Kevin
     
  15. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Just read your current post. I think assigning reading at home can be a good thing. I think the best way to handle it is with short mini quizzes (I usually give two 5 question quizzes/week which can be graded quickly and lets me know if they are reading and understanding what they are reading. I assigned 8 pages when teaching 4th, 12 now that I'm teaching 5th. (This group is very good about doing homework so 12 works for this group.) I don't give assigned reading on the weekend, but some use this time to get ahead, so they have less assigned reading during the week.

    Kevin
     
  16. stampin'teacher

    stampin'teacher Cohort

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    Part of the dilemma is that this school does not have a specific policy on homework. My current school and my previous school are both private, and my previous one had a heavy focus on academics (as you can see based on the HW they had), and this school is a polar opposite, making for quite the adjustment.

    If only their could be a happy median.....
     
  17. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I'm answering as a kid who had WAY too much homework in elementary school: it SUCKS. A lot of it was busy work, a lot of it was piled on from the gifted programs, but we still had to do the regular classroom homework too.

    I resented all the days I couldn't go outside and play. I resented the evenings I couldn't do fun things with my family. I resented having school all day, homework all evening, then bed, and do it again.

    And, I was a really good, well-behaved kid who worked quickly and always finished class work early. I didn't dawdle around.

    So my opinion on homework for ALL ages is very firm: it better have a REAL, well stated purpose. And it better respect their time.

    Also, consider the slower kids. Assigning a lot of homework will do one of two things to them: chain them to a desk all evening causing them to miss out on a lot, or they will get frustrated and stop doing it.

    When I assign homework (in high school), I try to factor in their other classes, why I really want them to do it (maybe if I planned better, we could cover the same objectives and demonstrate mastery in class?), and I try to gauge time needed by monitoring how long it takes my lower middle of the class.

    I also tend to think that it is mean to assign things for the next day unless it is a routine thing that students can plan for.
     
  18. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    If there is no requirement, I think 45 minutes is an appropriate amount of homework for 4th grade. I think there are real problems if you give too much or too little homework. If you are consistent with 45 minutes with things such as you indicated such as 2 of the following math, spelling, and assigned reading, I think you'll do well. There will always be a parent that will say you give too much or too little--I've never been able to please them all. I've taught inner city and also in a very wealthy area. I know the difference in expectations, but I gave about the same in both areas. I think all children can benefit from homework in the correct amounts. I think you are on the right track. Good luck.

    Kevin
     
  19. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I can agree with Mollydoll...I remember in 6th grade (6th grade was elementary still in my district) I literally had 4 hours of homeowrk many nights. I was a high-achieving student, and generally got work done quickly. If I was taking 4 hours, I can't imagine what others were taking. Students spend SO many hours in school a day, we can't expect them to pile on hours at home too.

    A couple of years ago I found a similar situation at a place I tutored at. I had 3rd graders and there was one girl who came to the program (it was free and open to anyone, not just struggling students) who was extremely bright. She didn't need much help, but would often sit next to me while I was helping some of the other girls and complete her work and then have me sign off on it. She took 2-3 hours to complete her work, and like I said was extremely bright. My poor struggling kids simply couldn't keep up. Not saying that you are assigning hw to this extent, OP, but just pointing out the other side of HW. When you think of how long it will take, think of how long it will take for your lower students, and keep that in mind.
     
  20. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    I work for an after-school program. I am in charge of the 4th graders and the amount of work you give your students is the same amount my students have. Our program follows a schedule and we give the students an hour-hour and half for homework. This is done in a classroom setting where they are required to be quiet and they receive help from me or their classmates if needed.

    Honestly, it's kind of a lot. Some of my kids don't get it all completed in that time (especially those who are struggling) simply because they really need one-on-one help and I can't help 24 students at once. I think that instead of giving them a worksheet in each subject every night they need to be given one worksheet in one subject every night (and be required to read/log). This way, they can really focus on the math issues they may be having vice versa with grammar/spelling and bulk up their reading comp. skills. I feel (and I know their parents feel like this too) like there's so much to do that sometimes we are not sitting down and really honing the essential skills that need to be acquired before they move up in ability level.
     
  21. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    45 min may not sound like much but to a parent with multiple kids, there is only so much time each night and not all nights run seamlessly without interruption. Some kids take longer than others. I have one of those kids. Also adults tend to underestimate how long it might take for a child to finish. Anything more than one subject and reading per night is simply too much. That should be limited as well. If a project is assigned, remove other homework until the project is completed. I don't mind my children having homework time but it needs to be meaningful. It's the first few weeks of school. We have zero extra curricular time. I'm currently staying home and even then, I'm lucky if my children get a full hour of down time before they have to go to bed.

    I thought about this during summer college session. I was in class all day and doing homework all night. It wore me out and I'm an adult.

    So 1 short sheet per night and reading is more than enough. Reading alone takes half the allotted time anyways.

    Edit to add: I appreciate different schools have different cultures. It's great that you asked around to seek feedback based on something a parent said. Sometimes we adjust, sometimes we can't.
     
  22. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I personally believe that students often don't have enough homework-- I think it teaches them persistence and that if they work hard, they will achieve their goals. In 4th grade I might have spent 2-3 hours on homework but I also struggled with a reading disability, speech, and had a hard time in math. The lessons I learned early on to keep working to do well has made me a successful teacher.

    But anyways, perhaps you can have a different subject every night plus pleasure reading. Monday: Math, Tuesday: Science, Wednesday: Writing, etc. Provide a few examples of the lessons you've covered the last few days on the homework.

    As a person who changed jobs from private to private: do what the school community expects of you and check in with your supervisor/admin about it too. Some parents could be trying to test you so that's why it would be helpful to get an admin's point of view. If you are giving too much, cut back-- you don't need drama from parents in a private school.
     
  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Some students thrive on a lot of homework, but many more do not. I think that 3 hours of homework per night in elementary school is way, way too much. Kid gets home at 3:30 or 4, works on homework until 6:30 or 7, has dinner, and then it's practically bedtime. Forget about sports, church, spending time with family playing board games, or even just unwinding after 6-7 hours at school--there's no time! Honestly I think even an hour of homework at that grade level is too much.
     
  24. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Not to mention, that much homework takes away the ability for kids to find their own interests.

    By middle school, I started skipping my hours of homework in favor of reading books on Egyptology and teaching myself hieroglyphs from Gardiner's Grammar. I also started working part-time in a used book shop as soon as I could get a work permit.

    2-3 hrs of homework is ludicrous and not beneficial.

    Even in college, when I spent that much time studying, I wasn't also sitting in classes for 7-8 hours! Maybe I had classes for 2-4 hours, then would study for 3-4 hours (or not, as I needed).

    There is a saturation point past which it becomes drudgery for the sake of doing it, with no real net gain.

    My parents took me to museums and parks all the time. In elementary school, when I had all that homework, sometimes we couldn't drive to DC and go to the Air & Space museum because I had to do silly spelling assignments (I could spell and pass the tests without all that work).
     
  25. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    My son has a light start up this year so what does he do with his spare time? He is composing lyrics for new mascot songs. He joined a new school and apparently he is interested in the new mascot. I was teaching him how to use PowerPoint last night and he was showing me what computer skills he already has while he browsed for pictures related to his topic. He decided he needed a new folder and he made a homemade envelope to put cut up pictures in. Definitely they need time to follow their interests.

    (I know this is off point from the original op but he was too darn cute this week to not share. Yes this has been a full week project! I suspect this weekend he will send the whole time outside and at the park but I enjoyed this side trip.)
     
  26. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    One quick thing that I firmly believe about homework is that homework should always be practice. Therefore, homework should be able to be done independently in grades 3 and up. Parents shouldn't be stressed out about teaching children concepts needed for homework completion. Homework needs to be done by the child, and a parent could be there for a quick "3-5 minute quality control" at the end. Difficult work should be saved for the classroom where the teacher is available for help.

    Kevin
     
  27. sjnkate

    sjnkate Rookie

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    At the school I teach at we give 10 minutes of homework per grade level as well. I believe that homework should be a review of work done in class, it is not intended to teach a new concept. If the majority of students are struggling, I take it as a sign that I didn't teach the concept well enough before giving the homework assignment.
     
  28. sjnkate

    sjnkate Rookie

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    :agreed:
     
  29. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I teach 4th grade and I normally assign no more than 30 minutes of homework (usually less) and independent reading. We begin with 15 minutes and work up to 45 minutes by the end of the year.

    This will be our first full week coming up so it will be less to start, just a math practice sheet and reading. Eventually I'll alternate between science and social studies homework. The only writing homework they usually get is if they don't finish something in class.
     
  30. a_apple_z_zebra

    a_apple_z_zebra Rookie

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    If it were me, I would choose between reading the textbook chapter, completing the two questions, or making the illustration. Would you consider having the students read the chapter at home and then playing a quick game the next day or integrating it into a morning work type activity to quickly determine if they read the material?
     
  31. yarnwoman

    yarnwoman Cohort

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    I think it depends on your school. At my school students in 3rd - 6th have the following guidelines:
    Up to 75 minutes per evening 5 nights a week for homework
    Up to 45 additional minutes per evening 5 nights a week for reading/study time.

    So for example, 4th graders will have the following for homework on most nights next week:
    Math: 25 - 30 problems
    Spelling: one activity (ex. put your words in alpabetical and reverse alphabetical order)
    Vocabulary: one activity (cut and paste - match the latin based word to its definition)
    Practice your recitation
    Finish all unfinished seatwork/classwork
     
  32. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    I would be upset if my daughter had to read a chapter because they "ran out of time" at school...if you run out of time, you need to just move the lesson to later and plan differently next time. Not to mention the fact that there are single-parent families with multiple kids, kids who play sports or attend clubs, etc. I think it's too much.
     
  33. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree.

    I used to have a poster. Here's what it said:


    "Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
     
  34. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Whew... this has me thinking about the amount of homework I give for kindergarten.

    Monday is math... So they have a math activity 4 questions, reading 15-20 minutes, and practice sight words.

    Tuesday/Thursday is a language activity and sight word activities and reading 15mins

    Wednesday is a reading activity related to their nightly reading 15mins and sight word activity.
     
  35. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    While I teach 4th grade and think that most kids could complete this work in about an hour, I think that is too much.

    A little choice reading and some math review is almost all I ever assign.
     
  36. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    In my opinion, that is a lot for a K student.
     
  37. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Yeah I will edit it some. Although the sight word practice I incorporated it throughout their regular reading. Find your sight words while you read. Count how many times you read it... etc.

    I typed up several games they could play with sight words to make it fun for practice throughout the week. For example hide the sight words around the room and tell them to go find them. Play a matching game where they find the match and read the word.

    Maybe the 15 minutes of reading is to much... 5 minutes of math practice, 5 minutes of sight word practice, and 5-7 minutes of reading. I have only printed 1 copy of homework so it can be tweaked.
     
  38. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I have the parents read to their children 4 days a week. Then later when the students are getting better at reading, I send their guided reading books home and tell parents that they can choose to have their child read to them and have it count towards their reading stars. So then the parents and students tend to do a bit of both. Often by the time I start this, the students are so excited about wanting to show mom and dad they can read. I don't put minutes on it. As long as they read 4 books a week (either parents or child), I count it.

    I have word bags and sample activities they can do. Parents and child can decide what they want to do but they need to complete it at a few times a week. I really don't keep track of this completely as much as I just monitor how well they are progressing. I can usually tell when students aren't doing it and I strongly encourage them to do so if I notice it.

    Math can be short and sent home a few times a week as well.

    So summary:
    Read a book 4 times a week (can be weekend by the way, none of it is due until the end of the month, though I collect them weekly)
    Word practice 2-3 times a week
    Math 2 times a week

    I do like your word activities. Those sound fun!

    So basically kids should read every night and do one homework. Reading can be done by parent or child or even sibling! I often tell students they can have their sibling read to them or read to their sibling! Most of this is just encouraged at this age. We do have a reward system for the reading, but the rest of it, I encourage and ask about it, etc. but at this age, I'm not going to hound them, etc. They are five. I do see a difference when children do it but playing and having family time is just as important.
     
  39. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Yeah good ideas. I will most likely edit it and take off the times... I do have to kind of remain consistent with the other prek/k grade level. We all have the consistency that they will all read each night, sight words, and have math, language, writing activities 1 night a week.

    After conferences this week some of my parents are ready to see addition homework already and are ready for me to amp it up! So here goes... I'm wondering when the complaints will start. Going to find a good balance with the homework though and try to keep it under 15 minutes total.

    Not to mention in my prek/k class I have different abilities with where they are... several are reading in the prek group and kinder group... So I wont have the traditional practice sounds and say your ABC kind of homework with them.

    If I had my way... there would be Zero homework, lol. But so many parents are asking for it, and our P is requiring consistency within grade level as much as possible.

    (sorry for the ramble... you know how teaches can go on and on).

    Thanks for the great ideas... I will come down and save them from long homework tasks.
     
  40. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Sep 17, 2011

    I would require zero homework too. At this age, kids need to play. They had a long day. I understand what you mean by staying consistent with the grade level. Some of what I give is a reflection of that as well. I basically got around that by assigning a bags with flexible tips and I just encourage them to do these things, or create their own, and let it go. The reading stars I had to do but I told parents they could do them on the weekend or whenever they could during the month. I let parents do what works for them. Some wanted more. I helped them see that the tips were designed to take as little time that night or as much time that night as they could do. I had a parent send me a picture of a family word night they developed with a game instead of following the tips. That's the entire point! I loved it! I used that picture to give further tips such as introducing space between words that we were working on. I had a parent go to the library a few times a month for reading days. I had a parent ask to do some of it on the weekend. Personally as long as students were getting practice, I was okay with it. Families need to be families. Often I was impressed at what they came up with!
     
  41. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Sep 17, 2011

    As a 6th grade "core" teacher, I have my students for three periods/three subjects. The only homework I assign is a "Reading Response Journal." Students are responsible for writing a short paragraph about the story/chapter they read that night.

    My students have another teacher for math and another teacher for science. I believe both teachers assign homework, so I don't like to overload them.
     

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