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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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Betsy Payne's picture

Hi Kim,
It sounds to me that your homework is reasonable. I teach a multiple subject 6th grade class at the elementary level. I give homework Monday through Thursday evenings. They have a spelling contract that is given to them at the beginning of the week and is due on Friday. They also are required to read for 20 minutes and write a short response about what they read with parent signature. They also have a math practice worksheet. Occasionally I will give them a social studies report to do, but I give several days to complete it along with having time in class to work on it. So far, I haven't had any parent complaints about giving too much homework.

Chris's picture
Seventh grade science teacher NJ

Hi Everyone,

As a seventh grade science teacher, I've read many of your comments and have to admit that I don't really assign homework. The completion of homework in our district appears to be an issue. In years past I would be lucky if 30% of my students did their homework. Most of my students get homework in language arts and math, they look at science as secondary, as does our district.

What I do is assign quarterly assignment that need to be completed at home. At the beginning of the marking period the students are given their assignment, directions, timeline and due date. As the marking period goes on I remind them the due date is approaching and where they should be on their assignment. When the assignemnt is due, they will usually have to hand in a paper, posterboard and some type of presentation. The presentations can be live, video or you tube. This has seemed to work for me and the children enjoy it.

Rachelle's picture

In my second grade class I too give a homework packet on Monday that is due on Thursday (we are a 4-day school). I include one day each of spelling practice, math, reading fluency, and 15 minutes of reading every night. I have a cover sheet that the parents have to sign saying that they have reviewed their students work. I don't really grade down for late work or missing signatures (but they don't know this). I just want the parents and students to get used to the idea of nightly homework now, while they are still young, and the price is less expensive. Any practice for the students is beneficial to their success. When I ask for the missing or late work, I always have it by the next Monday. Sometimes they just need that weekend to get it done.

Jane's picture
4th grade teacher

Hi fellow Walden colleagues. In our district, they ask teachers to give 10 minutes of homework per grade level. I teach 4th grade so I give one math and reading sheet, followed by a reading log and spelling log. Their reading log is different throughout the week along with spelling. I believe homework should be a review of the weekly skills covered. I don't like to give packets in 3rd or 4th grade because often times, students will try and complete the packet before certain skills have been taught.

Mary Martin's picture
Mary Martin
Eighth grade English teacher from Aiken, South Carolina

You're right that there are no easy answers as far as homework goes. I have parents complain either way--not enough or too much. As an 8th grade English teacher, I assign 30 minutes worth of independent reading Monday through Friday, but I have cut back on assigning much more than that. It is a struggle to get most of my students to even turn in assignments, much less complete quality work that has value.
I like your idea about giving suggestions for websites or workbooks for parents who feel their kids should be doing homework.

By the way, I have my students read independently and fill out a reading log, but does anyone have any suggestions as to how to better monitor their reading?

Lauren Goldstein's picture
Lauren Goldstein
1st Grade Teacher from NJ

This is a classic problem that I feel every teacher has. You can't always please everyone. In first grade my students bring home a book at their level each night and 1 math sheet with about 5-6 questions on it. I do feel students need homework at this grade, but no more than 15 minutes worth. The homework should be practice of what was learned, nothing too confusing. I do have parents that want more or more challenging work in math. For these students, I will send home a challenge packet on each Monday. The challenge packets have similar concepts but with more higher level thinking.

Tim Ward's picture

Hello Walden University Group,

I teach 9th grade history. I am trying to create a sense of self motivation within my students. I assign daily readings, in which students are supposed to read and write a summary. The summary is not turned in on a daily basis, but sometimes I do check notebooks to make sure they are keeping up with them. In addition to this I will assign 2 or 3 actual homework assignments per week. The students never know whether the assignment will be graded based on correctness, or just completion. I feel this approach keeps most students on task, but some students still refuse to do any outside work.

Hannah Ruth's picture

I agree with Irene B. I teach first grade and the only "homework" my students have is reading nightly to meet their AR goal, as well as working with their spelling words. I have found that when I send homework home a few studetns complete it and return it. While others don't return it or the work is done by their parents. Instead of sending work home I try to give my students enough time in class to practice the skills they are learning. If more time is needed I am lucky to have an aid in the afternoon who is able to work with those students.

April's picture

I teach 6,7,8 language arts. I generally give homework on a nightly basis, except for weekends. My homework tends to be a reading assignment, a writing assignment, and a spelling assignment. Since my classes are 80 minute blocks, I give at least 20 minutes of independent work time. This gives the students with extra-curriculars time to get work done, and if they have any questions, I am there for help.

sherry gaines's picture

I teach KIndergarten at a Title 1 school and send a homework packet home evey Friday with about 4 pages on litercy and 4 in math, along with a readin log where they are to read 15 minutes a night. This is due the next Friday, and then we send home the next homework packet. I definitely see a pattern in who returns homework and those who do not (awe get about a 60% return) and this correlates to the multi- language fmailies we support. Although we are able to translate the homework into spanish, there are many other languages we are unable to translate it into. Although homework in not required, we send it home because we have many families who request to have activites to work on at home that correlate with our daily studies. SInce homework is optional, the majority of our curriculum and learning skills are taught in the classroom where students can learn from whole and small group instruction along side their peers.

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