What are we grading?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by dendrite, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    I wondering: Is there not homework policies that are implemented by the schools. In 3rd-12th grades in our district, students get pink slips for missed assignments (including homework). On the 3rd slip they have detention or some type of ISS, where they must complete the work.
     
  2. Grammy Teacher

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    Using my own self and my grown children as examples of how much homework we all did, very little in high school. We all graduated because we had teachers who were discerning enough to look past the pieces of papers. We are all successful adults with college degrees.
     
  3. Mamacita

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    If a teacher had no sympathy for Johnny's life, the teacher wouldn't care if he did his homework or not. Teachers who don't care make it as easy and effortless as possible to get good grades in school. It is because we care that we want our students to work hard and succeed.

    Of what value is the gift of a good grade? It means something only when it is earned.

    On that same train of thought, self-esteem is of value only when it is earned. Awards for 'being there' are a joke and any kid knows that. It is their parents who are apparently fooled.

    Too much homework (more than an hour, for lower elementary) is a bad thing. Before any complaints are made, though, maybe a parent could ask the teacher how long it takes the other children; if your child takes a lot longer to do an average slice of homework, maybe your child needs to be evaluated. What some children can do on the bus ride home, other children might need an hour or more. It is impossible to accommodate everyone, so what do we do? Tiptoe around the slower ones?

    My children were allowed to play only after their work was done. That included homework and chores. Did they feel slighted, overworked, put-upon? Was their childhood cut short by a cruel Cinderella-type adult? NO. Even as children, they understood how life was meant to be. Laura and Mary Ingalls spent HOURS on their homework, every single night, after their chores were finished. Did they feel pressured, overworked, abused? Were Pa and Ma bad parents? NO. That was how it was supposed to be, for good students who obeyed the teacher and did their assignments.

    Other kinds of students, of course, existed even back then, but they were not in charge. Nor were the parents who enabled them.
     
  4. Tigers

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    I do not believe anyone has suggested giving students grades. No gifts, save the gift of understanding which is displayed by taking out homework that is unecessary and basing the lions share of the grade on mastery of content.
     
  5. Mamacita

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    And how is the teacher supposed to know if the student has mastered the content if the student chooses not to demonstrate such?

    And what about the value of doing one's assigned tasks even if one would rather go out and play or watch tv?

    Also, UNNECESSARY homework is never a good thing. Homework that is not brief practice or something to demonstrate proof of understanding, is not good homework.

    HOWEVER, the deliberate choice of disobedience is not a good thing, either.

    Any evaluation that does not include ALL types of assignments, including willingness to work, is not a thorough evaluation.

    Yes, I can spell. But my word that I can is not good enough. I must prove that I can, via various different kinds of means. If I choose not to show my teacher a proof, the teacher has no choice but to assume that I am not able to do it. Or that I'm an uncooperative brat. Pick one.

    And speaking of spelling. . . .
     
  6. MissFrizzle

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    Mamacita,

    Wouldn't a good teacher be assessing students on a daily informal basis? Homework is just one part of that assessment.
     
  7. Grammy Teacher

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    No one in my family was given the "gift of a good grade." Every one of us earned our degrees and came out on top. We were fortunate enough to have teachers who knew what we were made of without the need to pile on the homework. They valued family life and knew that we were no longer farmers living on the prairie with Laura I. and her family. They knew the fast pace of today's families and the many issues at some homes. I don't believe anyone has suggested we "tip toe" around the slower children. Showing compassion and understanding is a strength not a weakness. A reasonable person knows the difference.
    I'm glad when children are able to get all their work done and still have time to play. Many do not have that opportunity because they struggle. So, let's not put all children in the same pile.Homework is a nightmare for some and an impossibility for others.
    I am a good teacher and to indicate that a GOOD teacher HAS to bring her work home is ridiculous. Many and probably most teachers do have work to bring home. That's what TEACHERS do, but bear in mind that not everyone is a TEACHER! My husband does not bring his work home, nor does my neighbor or my best friend, etc, etc. YOu have chosen that career so I think you should stop making these general comparisons .
    How can teachers find out if their students know the "content" of what is being taught? What makes you think that they can tell by homework? If anything, that is NOT a good indicator. A good teacher can tell if they know their abc's by direct observation.
    Handing in their "homework," the amen to what kind of person they are to become??? Nonsense! I wonder how many thieves and evil doers in society handed in their almighty homework!
     
  8. CindyBlue

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    Mamacita, I agree with you wholeheartedly. As a math teacher at the high school level, I see, daily, the lack of conceptual understanding of kids who don't get the practice they need to understand very complex concepts because they didn't do the homework. Some of the subjects I teach have more homework because the concepts are complex and need more practice, some have less. (I try for 30 minutes a day, but in calculus, it can sometimes take that long to do just one problem!) In my observation over many, many years of teaching, there is a direct correlation between homework done and concepts understood, with only the rarest exceptions. I have the hardest time around grade-time with parents who just don't understand this. They are incensed bacause their child earned a low grade, when all along he hasn't been doing the assigned work, so didn't get the in-depth practice and study he needed to understand the material and thus pass the tests. (Incidentally, math is a pretty honest subject for observing this correlation, because either you get the anwer right or you don't, and practice makes the right answer more likely than no practice.) The kids that I can convince that it's not how smart you are, it's how hard you work, and how much practice you get, usually end up doing much better than they ever have done before. At some point, the American school system needs to really push this idea...most of the schools in Japan and Europe do. Hard work and time invested can overcome lack of innate ability in most cases. But so many of our kids are so full of the type of "self esteem" that comes from pats-on-the-back instead of from succeeding in a venture due to their own hard work and effort, that they simply won't do the work - it's "beneath" them - and then again, why should they? Someone somewhere will give them the A or B without the work! Where I am, the administration lets kids transfer out of classes where the teacher holds them accountable into classes where the teacher wants to be nice, or doesn't want the grief from administrators or parents, and therefore will give the grade just because its easier. Those of us trying hard to hold the line to what we know is fair and right have no end of hassles, from yelling parents to administrators pressuring us to inflate grades and sanctioning us when we don't do as they want us to do. Bottom line...the kids need the homework. Their day ends when their job is done, and that's when they understand the material and have completed the assigned work. My day ends when my job is done, too, when all my lessons are planned, and the papers are graded and the professional journals are read and the committee meetings are done and the gym is decorated for the dance and my team's workouts are written and done and the kids go home etc. etc. That's life. If we educators would instill this idea and practice from the first years of school, then as the kids progress through high school and to college and become adults, they'd be much better prepared for being personally responsible for doing their jobs, and the transition from school to work might not be such a shock.
     
  9. Grammy Teacher

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    How would you handle this situation?
    High school student doesn't hand in homework assignment due to family problems the evening before. What do you do in a case like that?
     
  10. Mamacita

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    I did indeed choose this career path, and I knew I would be bringing much of it home. While I am in the building, my focus is on the students themselves. I do the grading at home. Elementary teachers have breaks during the day when their students are with specials, etc, but at the secondary level, we have one prep and it is often filled with conferences, subbing, etc. In all those 26 years, I seldom had any time to grade or write during the school day. If I didn't bring it home, it couldn't be done.

    Of course, not all jobs require work at home, too. Perhaps things are different at the lower levels. But at the higher levels, say, grade six and above, students have obligations to fulfill and if they choose not to fulfill them, they get the grade they deserve. These things are earned, and things are earned by working for them.

    Is there such a thing as ANY kind of job that doesn't have inviolable requirements that might seem tedious and boring at times? Do the people who signed on for these jobs have the option to pick and choose only those segments are are fun?

    I'm sorry, Grammy, because I usually agree with you. But a 'student' who actively chooses not to obey the teacher and do the required assignments is not a good student. He might know the material, but he isn't cooperative, obedient, or hardworking. He might be an intelligent kid, a genius; he might know more than the teacher knows about the subject. But unless he proves that on paper, he ain't gonna pass my class.

    With little kids, teachers can evaluate in many ways. One classroom of kids ain't all that many.

    At the secondary level, teachers often have two hundred kids or more, in groups of 35 or so. We have to have the paper trail.

    Life is full of choices, isn't it. Every student has the choice to be obedient and do the assigned work. Some take advantage of it. Those are usually the ones who do the assigned work later on, in business. And I suppose it is also true that even a person who scorned any assignment he didn't care for in school, will change his ways completely once in the world of actual work. If he graduates.

    You see, a diploma should be a guarantee of literacy and work ethic; I firmly believe that an employer has the right to expect these things from anyone with a diploma. Anything else is a disgrace and a scam on the world of work.
     
  11. Mamacita

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    Family problems the night before? I've had students who did homework in emergency rooms, courtrooms, mental institution, waiting rooms, and in their bedroom while sirens and screaming and insane adults lost their tempers. This is more common than not.

    However, a simple explanation of extraordinary circumstances is usually a good excuse for an extension.

    When my father was dying, my kids and nieces did their work in the hospital waiting room in between visitations.

    I graded papers while in labor. My husband graded math homework while he sat beside me.

    What's the big deal? We are given work to do, in this life, if we are fortunate, and if we are diligent, we do it.

    Yes, there are emergencies. Good teachers take those into account. Good students do, too.

    I suppose it could be a coincidence that most of my worst students had the most emergencies, my best students worked through them anyway. . . .
     
  12. MissFrizzle

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    Graded papers while in labor... that's definitely a first I bet.:eek:
     
  13. kinderkids

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    You must have had one of those long drawn out labors. My kids all came in under three hours and I had hard labor from the start. Grading papers during that????? Yeah, right!
     
  14. Mamacita

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    Labor wasn't hard for me. I had my daughter in five hours (that's when I graded papers) and I had my son in twenty minutes, total. In ancient times, I would have been back out in the fields a few minutes after.

    Had him while my husband was parking the car.

    I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from the hospital, both times.
     
  15. Mamacita

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    Look, I'm not superwoman and I'm not cruel. I simply believe that decent people fulfill obligations, and we need to teach that very important skill at an early age.
     
  16. Miss W

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    Okay, I have to step in here. I have one planning period a day for 40 minutes. During that time my kids go to specials. During that time I am often calling parents, doing conferences, checking on student progress with other teachers, working on various paperwork for students, copying, getting supplies ready, etc... I rarely get to work on grading papers or working on lesson plans (for the 7 different subjects I teach) during that time. The only other time I have with out students is my 30 minute lunch break, where I am also usually doing things that I do during my planning time.
     
  17. Mamacita

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    You probably have to take things home to work on, too, then.
     
  18. mediha

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    Firstly, l agree with BONNEB.
    Secondly, homework is very important about teaching well.
    But it shouldn't be too much. The word ENOUGH is important.
    Or the kids are bored with the subjects and school.
     
  19. Grammy Teacher

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    Well, this has been quite an eye opener.
     
  20. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    Always. I'm working on my master's right now and I try to relay to my kids that homework is important. I also use it to teach them that learning is a lifelong process.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2007
  21. Grammy Teacher

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    That's because you're "teachers."
     
  22. Grammy Teacher

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    What is an example of extraordinary circumstances that you would find acceptable?
     
  23. Mamacita

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    Grammy, you teach small children. They are not going to have the requirements and workload that older students have.

    But I taught secondary students, and now I teach at the college level. If they do not do their research papers, various types of essays, and projects at home or in the library, where are they supposed to do them? In the 45-minute class?

    And I would much rather have my children doing schoolwork than watching tv, any time. But that's just my opinion.

    Many families delegate the hour after supper for homework or reading; I think that is an excellent idea. After their work is done, THEN they may play.
     
  24. Mamacita

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    Serious illness, funeral, trial, probation meeting (although, those probation officers are very good about making sure homework and assignment obligations are met!), fire, flood, CPS intervention. . . .
     
  25. Mamacita

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    We all know musicians and artists and writers and all kinds of people who have no job, but it's NOT THEIR FAULT. They have to wait for inspiration before they can start. They KNOW HOW to write, sing, sculpt, etc, but they're waiting for their muse.

    They're angry because they have no money, but they won't earn any until they are good and ready, and feel like it.

    Worthy ambitions.
     
  26. Grammy Teacher

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    Here's the deal. I teach small children who grow into big children. I see them out and about and we talk, their parents and I talk. The kids are over loaded with homework. It is a major issue.
    I have successfully raised children of my own. Do you know how much impact homework had on them?
    Would I rather have children doing homework or watching t.v? There is nothing wrong with watching t.v. Just because you don't watch it, doesn't mean there is no value in it as a past time. I don't think I need to elaborate on the need to monitor what children watch.
    In an ideal world, it would be nice if every family in our care lived by our standards, but they don't. Just the fact that you mentioned doing homework "after supper" indicates to me that you are living in a bubble. Countless kids go home to not only no supper, but no parent. Viewing families as you do and children as you do just disgusts me. We are not all the same and we do not all fit into your little mold. I don't care if this whole post gets deleted or just mine. I am just plain sick of wasting my breath trying to instill a bit of empathy into your heart and it's not working. I rest my case on this thread. I am tired of casting pearls.
     
  27. Mamacita

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    Grammy, one of the first papers I have my (remedial, I might add!) adult students write is about their memories of school.

    Out of any random twenty papers, at least fifteen, sometimes more, will be about the fact that if only they had been expected to produce something while in school, they might have learned more and not been forced to work in factories all their lives, only to be laid off or let go when the economy floundered.

    I have adult students who can't spell, who can't write a complete sentence, who can't measure things, and who have never been held accountable for any skill in all their lives, except the factory line skills that are no longer of any use in their lives.

    Essay after essay, paper after paper, about how "if only a teacher had meant business" cross my desk. I would gladly share them with you. I think maybe a person doesn't know how much a school experience affects their lives, until a person is quite a bit older.

    My students now regret being allowed to get through school with few obligations on their part. They wish they'd been taught work skills, and skills that would help them understand deadlines, and directions.

    They tell me, in their writing, that at the time, it was cool not to have to do homework. Now, they wish they had the discipline of forcing themselves to work when they'd really rather not.

    I also have a LOT of adult students who were labeled "SE" in school, who now say that being allowed to do less work than the others was the worst thing that could possibly have been done to them. Paper after paper, lamenting the fact that just because a kid takes longer to do the work, shouldn't have meant the kid didn't have to do it anyway.

    I am not heartless, Grammy. If I were, I would let the students slide by. I care too much to send them out into the world like that.

    Yes, some students struggle. Yes, some families are wuthless. But if a child has a work ethic, he/she can somehow get by, anyway. And children with the kind of parents who choose not to do that, can still learn it, in school, if they are allowed to. And if they choose to.

    It breaks my heart to see you describe me in this way. If I let these things go, my job would be a lot easier. But I care too much to do that. I care about these students enough to make them work when they don't want to, so that when they're adults, maybe they will have the skills to do something besides simple factory work, or, if they choose that, to do something ELSE when the factory closes down.

    Don't call me heartless. Heartless would be letting children move on and on and up and up, without the skills and work abilities.
     
  28. Research_Parent

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    My apologies for the typo...
     
  29. Research_Parent

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    Sorry, but my post is merely a summarization from what the "studies" show...its a meta analysis of years of educational research on the topic.
     
  30. cutNglue

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    :D I remember doing office paperwork while I was in labor too. I DO have long labors (16-33 hrs-3 kids).

    I feel Elementary homework encourages parent involvement. Helping kids practice new skills also creates incidental learning moments. We have spelling homework nightly and alternate grammar/math homework (15-20min). For two weeks we skipped spelling homework. We still did our spelling practice and activities. Their grades fell. Parent involvement/extra practice DID help.(Before anyone bashes about the validity of spelling: Our kids can't do phonics and this is a second language to them).

    Later in life some people can learn to develop good work ethics without homework. I still believe, some obviously disagree, that it is still good practice to prepare them with the skills ahead of time.

    Analogy: In general good parents foster good adults. Some fail regardless of the parent (in decent numbers). Some bad parents foster good children (in decent numbers) and many will adopt their traits. Does this mean it doesn't matter if the parents are good or bad? It does matter! I know it's not the same, but the decent numbers comment doesn't really work.

    Overloading homework/bad homework IS just as bad. To NEVER give homework because it has no credibility... I'm with Mamacita on that one. Homework is beneficial.

    To challege what is right vs. wrong, my opinion is homework matters but learning half the crap we have to learn is irrelevant, such as Literature. Is that beneficial to me? I don't think so. As an adult, I do know it is exposure which is beneficial, but if you want to talk about the ills of the hallways, move past homework and go straight to irrelevant content for $200 please. I'm sure half of you will wildly disagree with that. That's my point. Just because you find it irrelevant doesn't mean it is wrong or invalid or that it wasn't deeply beneficial to some students.
     
  31. Tigers

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    I do apologize for my spelling, when I type, my fingers move and my eyes are a word ahead. I hope all of you can excuse any errors, I too shall excuse yours (including dangling prepositions). I say this softly because I know all too well how much of a grammar aficionado
    some of the teachers are, and while I do believe myself a competent person, in no way do I pretend that I am perfect.

    Anyway, I believe we are talking about the children who know the material. I cannot believe that students can not show mastery of content in homework alone. Unless, of course, your teaching time is lecture. Hey, if that is how you teach...all the more power to you. I know this, there are a great many successful teachers who have gotten rid of drill and practice. You can give children meaningful work that is cross subject. Moreover, (I know this will send some people for a loop), children can learn new things through quality homework. Again, if you want children copying words from the dictionary... My point is still the same, There is work that is differentiated, so students of all levels learn; there are more important things than school; a student who shows mastery (that is can demonstrate knowledge of a subject in front of professionals) should not fail because he/she didn't want to waste their time with something irrelevant (and, YES, it is indeed irrelevant for last time I checked the subjects that we teach are what we grade. Unfortunately, there are many of us who feel we can place a judgement on our students life skills when the teachers have a limited knowledge of their students life).

    Deafinately Smart, your analogy, in my opinion doesn't quite fit. Though it is very logical, and sound in itself. You are ultimately equating good parenting to doing homework. Even if we are to assume that in this equation this homework was specifically drill and practice homework, I could just as easily say the reverse, equating those good parents to not doing homework and providing for their families. It is all relative to one's opinion of the choices and how we prioritize these.

    Some of us are responsible, and I guess I am just a lazy good-fer-nuthin'. c'est la vie. I am a happy one...I can't imagine any of us are disagreeing with quality meaningful homework. I don't think even this should account for too much of the grade. In my mind homework was always a gift for boosting those kids grades who couldn't pass the test...but they tried really, really hard.

    Mamacita, I don't know if you or your family were ever given a break, but don't discount them. I guess we look at the world completely different from this specific argument. Thank you for returning to the discussion, I do read intently the words you write. I always enjoy your responses, dangling prepositions and all :) So, please suffer ye, my spelling and grammar errors.

    And by the way, when I didn't turn in my homework, I didn't expect any breaks...just a big fat donut in the grade books. But, if you were trying to teach me fractions and I knew intergrals, then you chose to fail me because I passed the tests but didn't turn in your homework the jokes on you. If I took your class in high school bottom line is that your home work doesn't put food on the table. Imagine yourself in the situation where you could feed your family or do some mundane task that didn't pay (remember your job does pay). I believe the more responsible thing is to do the work and forget the papers. That is just me. I sincerely hope anyone who disagrees with me is never put in that situation, because it would not be worth your suffering to know that I am right.
     
  32. cutNglue

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    I wasn't really equating good parenting to good homework. I was really trying to say that just because a decent number of people do or don't do something doesn't mean the majority is the same. It wasn't the best analogy. Either way, it doesn't really matter because opinions are too strongly opposed to see the other side objectively.
     
  33. Tigers

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    Don't misunderstand... I do see what you and many others are saying. I see your points. I simply feel that if we are trying to grade work ethic there is a better form of homework we can give. Parent involvement is great, if you think that giving homework means the parents are going to be involved, you are wrong. I agree that there are many parents that will involve themselves more when homework is present. This is not always the case. But, that truly isn't of huge importance to me anyway. I am for teachers designing homework around thier children. We want to take every child as far as we can in the limited time that we have them. I believe that there is a better way to do this than to assign drill and practice homework because it teaches "work ethic." Perhaps that is because I believe that homework and work ethic are not as intimately related as the actual child and work ethic.
     
  34. Tigers

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    If you are trying to improve or teach work ethic you need to work on attitude, and not just give the child walls against which they keep ramming themselves, all the while, going "tut, tut, tut," they are going to fail in the real world.
     
  35. Grammy Teacher

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    Jan 12, 2007

    When I was in school, there were things going on at home that were not conducive to learning. I was an emotional wreck inside. My parents weren't available to help with homework. Perhaps that is one reason I don't agree with grading homework assignments...or at least cutting some slack.
    Mamacita, you know I have always admired you( and I still do,) but you have struck a nerve with me...a very tender nerve.
    I am not looking for sympathy or apologies, but rather some spark of hope that if your students, children or grandchildren fail to live up to your homework standards for one reason or another, you would not treat them so harshly.
    I can see college courses requiring quite a fair share of homework, but anything below that and they are just kids.
     
  36. mrmathematician

    mrmathematician Rookie

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    Jan 12, 2007

    Grammy Teacher, What type of homework could you assign in Pre-School anyway (practice coloring?) ? I think there is a difference between kids and young adults. In high school, we are preparing the "young adults" for the real world (where things are not always easy).
     
  37. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Your question doesn't even deserve an answer.
     
  38. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Jan 12, 2007

    At any age, when a new concept is taught that day, why is it a bad thing to ask the child to demonstrate understanding by answering ten questions at home? Fifty? NO. But ten? Or five? This would give the teacher an idea of who is understanding and who is not. A child who already knows quantum physics could answer five or ten questions without serious genius fatigue.

    Many students do fine within the classroom, but it is when the student is alone, without the teacher's help, with a few examples of the concept and a few questions/problems before him, that the child can demonstrate whether or not he can do this without help.

    I have never believed in a heavy load of homework. All through my posts here I have been an advocate of a reasonable and sensible load. No two students are ever alike, but often in the classroom, their work is the same. OUTSIDE of the classroom, on their own, trying to remember the lesson, children show us that they really do understand, or not.

    No child should have to devote an entire evening to homework. Sometimes, a child will have an assignment for many days and put it off until the night before; that causes some families to think, "unreasonable load." And some students are just incapable of doing the work, period.

    Even though I adore you, Grammy, I do not think we owe each other anything but respect for standing up to our own beliefs, and for staying friends in spite of our differences. Sometimes, we must just agree to disagree.

    I did have my own two kids in my classes for three years each, by the way. It was a very small school. Grades 6, 7, and 8. (We were a middle school, and all three grades traveled, had lockers, PE, shop, home ec, combination locks, etc.) Every time the bell rang, they moved to another room. It took some of them a long time to be comfortable with that concept, but after considerable doing, they all eventually did fine. I call that practice, and that is what homework is: a kind of practice. Even those students who did the combination lock right the first time still had to keep doing it as a life skill, for three years, in our building.

    I keep saying that homework in the lower grades isn't good, but junior high and high school? A little each night or so isn't going to break the bank. Too much? The teachers need to get together and agree to stagger it.

    To learn to do anything well, we must practice. Some people need more practice than others. Some need practice in organization, following directions, and memory skills so they turn things in on time.

    As for parental involvement. . . . aside from trying not to bother the child while he is working, there really shouldn't have to be much. Parents are not supposed to answer the questions. The child is supposed to do that. A guess from a child tells the teacher far more than a correct answer supplied by an adult.

    My homework standards are not and have never been harsh, Grammy. I merely expected my students to follow directions, and that is a combination of respect for an adult and a desire to demonstrate knowledge.

    Older students. Not tiny children.

    My hat is off to the teacher on this forum who is teaching research skills to her students. I applaud the math teacher who expects proof of knowledge from her students, acquired on their own, working independently.

    To find out that a student is not able to work independently is also something homework can tell a teacher.

    Peace, all. Chill, yo. I ain't all that; none of us is.

    None: singular subject, requiring singular verb.
    Is: singular linking verb.
    "of us" is a prepositional phrase, in this case an adjective phrase. No part of it will ever be the S or V.
     
  39. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Jan 12, 2007

    MrMathematician is correct.
     
  40. Tigers

    Tigers Habitué

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    Jan 12, 2007


    This statement seems... I don't know...

    Anyway, I do not believe grammy was talking about preschool. Back to the real world... The unfortunate truth is that many students live in a real world much more harsh than ones their teachers have seen or dreamed. Think twice if your reason for giving homework is, "well, the real world isn't all roses."

    Beyond that, Grammy has made very valid points. She speaks with experience...I listen quietly and with contemplation.
     

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