Revising Homework

Over the last few, well, years, I have been really contemplating homework: Why do we give it?  What good is it doing?  What level of quality are we getting back?  Who is taking it seriously?

In short, I have come to this sad realization that homework seems to be a more of a hassle than a help.  Kids want to be kids when they get  home, families have many activities to do, and let’s face it, I don’t want to correct papers that come in with poor quality when I know students are capable of better.  This is not to mention all the homework that is NOT passed in.  Talk about hassle!

This has become a frequent topic of conversation among my teacher-friends both in person and online.  In just the last couple of weeks, I have read from some teachers in my PLN how they have revised their method of homework, I’ve spoken with teachers in my school who are giving homework an overhaul and I’ve met with my own fourth grade team of teachers on countless occasions to discuss the effectiveness of homework and alternatives to the traditional method.

So what do we do now?  Traditionally, students have a page in math (an EveryDay Math Study Link) and a paper in spelling or grammar.  (And considering this teacher is not too fond of worksheets, that puts things on a negative side.)  Students are also expected to read for at least 15 minutes and practice their math facts.  Now that is the only part of homework that I think is consistently beneficial to students.

With all the options and alternatives that are available, I’ve decided to get started and revise how I “do” homework.  This, in and of itself, is going to be a process and I will have to just do it and trust it!

This week I took a big plunge and decided to get students working 100% online at home.  They have been introduced since the beginning of the year to three websites I plan to use throughout the year: Big Universe for literacy, Study Island for math, and Spelling City for, well, spelling.   We’ve looked at all three “places”, practiced logging on and playing around and now, they are responsible for some online assignments.  I sent home a letter today outlining for parents some of my expectations and visions for the use of these tools at home.  I’m excited to get this to be part of students’ nightly routine and am looking forward to see how and where this all goes.

Tomorrow I’ll be attending an interesting meeting with my school principal.  She has invited teachers to meet with her to discuss homework.  Just last week, I shared with my principal a letter written to parents by @looksforsun on her approach to homework this year.  I love this letter and it was what has lit a fire under me to look into revising the way I do homework.  Things are happening…

There are three things I know about homework:

1)  I want homework to be a natural extension of a student’s learning in school.  That will make it meaningful

2)  At the core of work done at home, I want students to read material they enjoy and practice their math facts.

3) I want homework to be, dare I say, enjoyable.  It should instill a sense of responsibility in the students without stressing out the parents or teacher.

It will be interesting to see how my thought process unfolds on this journey.   No more dragging my feet, I am diving in feet first.   I invite you to join me.  Please comment here and let me know what your thoughts are on homework.  What works for you?  What doesn’t?  What have you revised?  What do  you wish you could?

And after you leave a comment, be sure to visit this post about Richard Lakin’s approach to homework that was driven by Guts and Love.  Richard’s (@Thanks2Teachers) story from his book Teaching as an Act of Love truly inspired me and I’m sure it will do the same for you.

~EMP

Subscribe / Share

Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of www.theinspiredclassroom.com. She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and is currently enrolled in a C.A.G.S. program through Plymouth State University with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and leads an arts integration PLC (PLaiC). Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
Elizabeth Peterson tagged this post with: , , , Read 393 articles by

8 Comments

  1. Cari says:

    Elizabeth,
    Thank you so much for writing this! Now that I am not only an educator, but a parent of a 1st grader, this is something I think a lot about too. I completely agree with you and can’t wait to hear more about how your new approach to homework is going. I will be sharing this with the teachers I work with and my son’s school.
    Good luck.
    Cari
    @caribegin

    • admin says:

      Hi Cari – Thanks for your comment. I agree that becoming a parent changes your views even more about HW. I cherish the time I have with my kids and although they are only 4 and 5 now, I foresee all the after school activities, etc and am weary of what will come when they have loads of homework too. I’ll be posting more about this week and homework soon.

  2. Brady says:

    We use an online community called My Big Campus – unfortunately, however, 80% of my students lack internet access!

    • admin says:

      Brady – What do you do about the students who don’t have internet access? I have a couple of students where this is an issue, but not 80%!

  3. Hi Cari – Thanks for your comment. I agree that becoming a parent changes your views even more about HW. I cherish the time I have with my kids and although they are only 4 and 5 now, I foresee all the after school activities, etc and am weary of what will come when they have loads of homework too. I’ll be posting more about this week and homework soon.

    Brady – What do you do about the students who don’t have internet access? I have a couple of students where this is an issue, but not 80%!

  4. I love it when I see more teachers looking at homework with a critical eye and evaluate its role in learning. I recently wrote about it: http://stumpteacher.blogspot.com/2011/09/my-issues-with-homework.html and think you might find some similar feelings.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I’m glad to hear that you are using VocabularySpellingCity with your students! Have you ever used any of our lists from our Teacher Resources section, such as Math or Science Vocabulary? We value feedback from parents and teachers, and encourage everyone to e-mail us at info@spellingcity.com if they ever have a comment, suggestion or success story to share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe without commenting

Find arts integration resources in eformat and print in our STORE!

Subscribe to Our Feed

Enter your email address:

Our posts will be automatically delivered to your email by FeedBurner

Want to search by topic or month? Go here for a complete listing of our Tags and Archives!
Teacher Art Retreat 2014 Technology in the Classroom posts
Arts Integration posts
Help Your Struggling Reader
Teacher Art Retreat

E-News

Sign up for our Email Newsletter!

* indicates required
Interest Groups
Are you ready for the next Summer Teacher Art Retreat ? Be sure to check out this great PD experience for Creative Teachers! Teacher Art Retreat
Steam Conference 2014