|(Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
This is my fourth post on subject of homework. The original post was prompted by reading some conversations on the topic that were taking place online and also some growing frustration with some of the homework I witnessed being assigned to my own kids. In addition, John Spencer had written a few thought-provoking posts on the topic and followed up with the creation of an open Facebook called Teachers and Parents Against Homework.
- The teaching and learning of the specific outcomes should happen at school – with students, teachers, and staff to support. According to the research by Alfie Kohn, “there is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students.” Students should not be sent home with homework that relies on parents, family members or tutors to provide instruction. If the student is not learning this at school, who do we expect to teach it? We also need to keep in mind that not all students have someone that can help them at home – how does homework benefit these students?
- Homework should be meaningful, relevant, and engaging. Students need to feel like they will benefit from the learning and feel they have ownership of the assignment. Student input about assignments can lead to a view that this is their learning, rather than the teacher’s assigned work to be done. Provide CHOICE; there are many ways that students can practice and/or demonstrate learning.
- Homework should be differentiated. We all agreed that the time per day rules/policies (ie. 20 minutes/day for grade 2, 30 min/day for grade 3, etc) do very little to support the individual students. A learning activity that takes one student 10 minutes may take another student 30 minutes. Each student requires learning that is catered to their needs – homework should be differentiated just as it is done during school.
- Homework should be flexible. Family time and play time are so important for students at any age! If a child is involved in activities on certain days and only has a small amount of time with the family that day, maybe homework can be given on a different day. Again, the learning activities need to keep the individual student in mind and we must respect students’ time. Is homework even necessary that day/week?
- Homework should not be part of the grade. Although grades are a topic for another post, one of the worst things we can do to a students is grade them on their learning at home (or worse, give them zeros for not completing homework). Reflect on how much parent involvement there is and how this impacts the homework and learning. Is a student going home to an environment that supports homework or is the student leaving school to look after his/her younger siblings or go to a part-time job to help support their family? Homework must be designed to support learning; the assessment OF learning needs to take place in class when the teacher is there to support.
- Reflect on the purpose of homework. If the students understands the learning outcomes, why do they need to spend more time on material they already understand; if the student does not understand the learning outcomes, how do we expect them to learn it at home? Is the homework “busy work” (ie. worksheets with 40 math questions, argh!) or is it going to actually enhance their learning? Is the particular assignment the BEST way to help the student learn? Is it necessary? Is this homework more important than being active and spending time with the family?
It strikes me as curious on the face of it that children are given additional assignments to be completed at home after they’ve spent most of the day in school – and even more curious that almost everyone takes this fact for granted. Even those who witness the unpleasant effects of homework on children and families rarely question it.
Abusing Research: The Study of Homework and Other Examples A. Kohn
The Truth About Homework A. Kohn
Rethinking Homework A. Kohn
Homework is killing our kids’ joy in education J. Ferry
More Teachers Flexing Around Homework E. Anderssen
What Homework Should Be B. Kuhn
The Destructive Forces of Homework J. Bower
The 5 Hallmarks of Good Homework C. Vatterott
Show Us What Homework’s For K. Cushman
Homework Done Right J. Alleman, et al.
The Case Against Homework S. Bennett/N. Kalish Homework Lady – by Cathy Vatterott Homework is killing our kids’ joy in education – by John Ferry (Vancouver Province Newspaper) More Teachers Flexing Around Homework – by Erin Anderssen (Globe and Mail) Abusing Research: The Study of Homework and Other Examples – by Alfie Kohn The Truth About Homework – by Alfie Kohn