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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Homework - Been there, Done that!

Some teachers give a lot!  Some teachers give a little! Some parents expect a lot! Some parents expect a little!  Homework! It's one of those controversial topics which is constantly being discussed by educators, administrators and parents alike!

Just this week I spoke with a parent about how she could help her child with the homework.  It then occured to me that perhaps I needed to rethink the type of homework being assigned.

According to Cathy Vatterott, homework "shouldn't be about rote learning. The best kind deepens student understanding and builds essential skills."   Was I giving this type of homework?  My goal for the remainder of the year will be to make homework a more meaningful experience!

Homework has been around for quite some time, but it seems that in the last decade there has been a greater push for students to continue the learning process at home.   The History of Homework mentions how the "launch of Sputnik changed education."  It also seems that homework was even to blame for acne, eye strain and other ailments.

A recent article in the Education Leadership Publication states that homework should be purposeful, efficient, offer choices, completed without help and is enjoyable or interesting.  Homework should allow for the differences of each child.  By offering choices the student is able to take ownership of his/her learning.

Teachers often feel obliged to give homework due to the policies of their district.  If it has to be given, it would be best if the homework is meaningful, reinforces concepts being studied in the classroom and engaging.  Check out: Homework Done Right by Janet Alleman, Rob Ley, Barbara Knighton, Ben Botwinski and Sarah Middlestead.  

In all likelihood, homework isn't going to go away.  Parents and teachers can help motivate children by following these 8 tips provided by News for Parents

For more information check out the Homework Debate resources provided by Cybraryman or the Flipbook below which has information provided by the Department of Education.

How do you feel about homework?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section!

Homework Help Resources:
Common Sense Media:  Online Math & Science - Games, lessons, videos
Discovery Education Student Resources: Homework help, Games & Interactives, Step by Step WebMath
Homework Spot Topics broken into levels for Elementary, Middle & High Schoolers
Scholastic's Homework Hub: Organize, Prepare, Practice and Research are some categories to help a student work on homework.

Blog Posts regarding Homework:
Before you Assign that Homework: by Jeff Delp


  1. A few years ago I revamped how I do homework, too. I require MUCH less and include a lot of student choice. It has made a tremendous difference in my classroom - happier student home lives, happier parents, less fighting with students about getting their work completed, happier student/teacher relationship.
    Making changes is one of my favorite things about being a teacher! I look forward to reading about the changes you make!

  2. Hi Amanda,
    Thanks so much for adding to my post. Like you I require less homework now than I did many years ago. Part of the reason is that I am a parent of 2 children. Many nights it was a struggle and battle to get it done.
    Recently I have added some choice to some of the assignments. Still, the choices involve worksheets. I think perhaps I will see what other ways I can give students a choice. By giving choices it allows for the students to take control over their learning as well. I'll be contacting you via twitter to see what your choices look like.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. You can see what I assign if you look at the Homework tab on my class site:

    I almost never use a worksheet. Generally my homework is: 5 min vocab activity (student choice from menu) and flexible reading log. I add one 5 min math, science, or ss task if we need it. For instance: Draw and label the parts of a river OR create and solve 3 multi-digit multiplication problems.

  4. Seems like issues of homework are in the air (again!). I too am looking to really revamp what I do this year. Enough is enough. I'm looking to change for the sake of the kids, parents and myself so that homework becomes an enjoyable, learning experience at home.

    I look forward to following your journey, Nancy. Here's where you can find mine:

  5. Early in the year, I received a frantic email from a parent about how her ADHD child was not writing homework assignments in the student planner. Every night there was a fight about the planner.

    I phoned the mother. I articulated the importance of homework as being the reinforcement of skills learned in class and the practice of good home study habits (habits they need for middle school).

    I suggested the mother not focus on the planner. I post my homework assignments on my class website so that all students have access (even if they forget to write down assignments).

    I suggested mom and daughter decide on 50 minutes of time per night where the daughter sits and does the homework. A computer screen can be open to the assignments page. Also, she should praise her child for bringing home materials needed for homework.

    Homework doesn't need to contribute to family tension :).

    Janet |

  6. Another great resource-laden post, Nancy! Thank you for all the information about homework. I must admit, I am on the side of the teacher who gives very little homework. My students have nine different subjects a day (of course, that includes art or P.E. and music), and they have 5 or more different teachers. Imagine if all of us gave them homework!

    I wish I could say that I always give homework that is "purposeful, efficient, offer choices, completed without help and is enjoyable or interesting." I can't always say that, but I, like you, am going to pay more attention after reading this.


  7. My Sis is an Elementary Teacher an I'm really appreciate what she does to her pupils.

  8. I think teachers should have a schedule for homework such that if the English teacher gives homework today, the math teacher does not! This will make it easy for kids to get their homework done!


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