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.