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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

The Great Homework Debate

The Great Homework Debate

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Hello Walden Group! I have done a lot of reading and a lot of talking to other teachers as well as parents about homework - how much to give, what to assign, packets vs. daily work, how much is too much or too little, etc. I'd love to hear back from fellow educators about what they do for homework. For example, I teach second-grade and I send home a packet that is differentiated for each student. It boils down to basically one page of math, one page of reading comprehension, and one spelling/word study per day plus 15 minutes of reading. It is sent home on Monday and is due Friday. I don't send home a lot of writing because it seems to be a flashpoint for battles between student and parent more than the other subjects. Does that sound appropriate, too much/too little, or should I modify it in some way? I am curious to hear from everyone about what they do for this, as homework tends to be pretty controversial in a lot of districts and among teachers/grade levels.

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jamie mesman-davis's picture

Hi Everyone- I teach a high school elective class. I know and understand students take my class as a repreave from their vigerous core classes and I try very hard NOT to assign homework. If students use their class time wisely then they should have little to no homework. However, in each class I do give them one big homework assignment and I give them one month to turn it in. Throughout the month I remind them, give them weekly pointers on how far along they should be,periodically show examples, check for understanding and question, I am available at lunch and after school..... This year was the first time I have had students try to turn it in late and I had one parent e-mail me very irrately about "How dare I, as an elective teacher, assign homework." I was very shocked by this attitude and wondered if other elective teachers experience this kind of behavior?

Andrea R.'s picture
Andrea R.

I teach 7th Grade Literature and I too give work to span the entire week. I don't do packages, but maybe I should! I see nothing wrong with your approach and I think the amount of homework is appropriate. I have a question though. Do you find that the parents prefer that to daily work? That is a very interesting way of giving homework..I like it.

Irene B's picture

I try to keep homework to minimum. I like to include thirty minutes of daily reading and a few math problems and that is all. I started this trend after realizing that most of my students were not doing the homework themselves, instead their parents would do it for them.

Theresa W.'s picture
Theresa W.
Third grade teacher in Marion, SC

Hello Walden Family
I am a third grade teacher who teaches all subjects. I have had issues with homework since my first year teaching. This is my third year and some parents want a lot of homework for their child and some want a little. So what do you do? Well, I assign 15 minutes of reading with a reading log every night, a 5 minute timed math sheet, and studying of science and social studies study guides. Not all of my students do this but I give a homework party at the end of every month for those students who brought their homework in every day. That worked the first two years, this year, it has not been that successful yet.

Theresa W.'s picture
Theresa W.
Third grade teacher in Marion, SC

Our homework policy is 10 minutes for each grade. So 2nd grade should have about 20 minutes of homework. This helps prepare them for the work load in 3rd grade.

Tammie's picture

I think that your idea for a weekly packet is a great idea. It is minimal work to be completed over the course of the week and seems like just enough to keep the kids refreshed with what they are learning. The only thing that came to mind was that some kids might struggle with keeping up with it over a nightly basis if they do not have a parent or guardian at home to keep them on task. I personally believe that homework is not always necessary and if it is used, it should not be more that fifteen minutes and should only be used as a review. Kids spend all day in school engaged in learning activities. Just like we need our time at night, they do as well. I am curious about the success rate in your class with students turning the homework in fully completed and on time.

Kim's picture

The parents in my class seem to like the packet over daily assignments because most of the kids that attend my school are heavily involved in after-school activities. With a packet, they can do extra pages on Monday if they know that they'll be at soccer/ballet/gymnastics on Tuesday. Most of my parents are VERY involved with their child's education and are really good at supervising homework so it doesn't get put aside until the last minute.
As far as turn-in rates, typically I have 17 to 18 kids (out of 20) turn it in on Friday. I'll accept homework on Monday if a parent lets me know ahead of time that they need the extra days. Usually I have only 1 or 2 students who are either always late or just don't turn anything in.
It's been interesting to read the posts - I love the idea of giving little to no homework because the kids work so hard during the day. For my own two kids, it can be such a drag for them to have to do homework when they just want to relax after a busy day at school.
I'm thinking about modifying my homework to have just reading and a little bit of math, then giving suggestions for websites or workbooks for those parents who insist on having a lot of homework.
No easy answers here!

Michelle's picture

This is a tough question to answer because homework is a touchy subject. However, I believe that the only real homework you can send home is the homework you know they do right. With math homework you cannot send them home with a packet full of the same work because then they are doing the same problem and if they are doing it wrong they are teaching themselves how to do the work wrong and that is what they will always do. With spelling you can send it home so they can work with their parents or guardians and they have it right in front of them to show them how to spell it correctly. So, I would say don't give out the packets of information because most of the time the students teach themselves the wrong way and believe they are doing it correctly.

Heather Preciado's picture

There are three reasons that I give homework: to review the day's work, to show students that learning extends beyond the classroom and to teach responsibility. Most students need to practice what is learned in the class that day so homework is given to reinforce the lesson. Students need to understand that we don't just learn in the classroom, and homework is the beginning of that understanding. Homework also teaches responsibility. If a student can remember to take the assignment home, along with the appropriate materials for that assignment and remember to bring that assignment back at the proper time, then the student is learning to be responsible. My current class has very little parental involvement, so students are learning responsiblity on their own with a little help from this teacher. I'm hoping for 100% homeowork turn in one day so we can celebrate.

Heather Preciado's picture

I agree with you about doing homework the wrong way. When learning spelling, I have the students write the missed spelling words from their pre-test 5 times each. So many students write the spelling words wrong 5 times. Anyone know of a better way? I teach 5th grade.

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