What is your philosophy on homework?  I have been doing some research where some schools are instituting a no homework policy.  How do you feel about this?  As a math teacher, I feel homework is necessary for students to master the skill being taught.  Homework is also a good way to instill a good work ethic in students.  Homework, however, needs to be seen as meaningful to the students and not just busy work.

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I can see an argument for homework in math but I am hard pressed to see the value elsewhere. I know for me homework was always a burden that I rushed through without any thought, analysis or reflection. I did it merely for the sake of doing it. I'd say most homework assigned today still fits that pattern.

Since we know some kids won't do it, and some kids can't do it, we assign work that is weak at best and offers very little return for the investment. Frankly, I'd rather just have an extra 10 minutes in each period of that day than expect the kids to do an hour + of undirected work at home.
Thanks for your thoughts. I see your side of things, but how do we change our assignments so there is a return in investment? How do we get kids to invest in the assignment? I think one way is to make it meaningful in "their world." GIve them assignments that relate to their lives. For instance, a colleague of mine was thinking of having students create facebook profiles of historical figures. I thought this was a great idea, but would need to be monitored and on some other forum besides facebook (which is blocked at our school, thank goodness). It is these type of assignments that would make students excited about learning and maybe they would WANT to complete their homework. What a great thing that would be!
Hi Kaila, I also agree with you that it is indeed important and necessary to arrange some HW for students. And I prefer to do prepare the HW in the form of an online one. That means I will notify them to complete the work at a designated web address where I've already put some tests or assessments. Cheers.
What grade level and subject do you teach? I teach high school math and feel bad creating online only homework because not all students have internet access at home. I do not want them to feel like they are at a disadvantage. How do you handle this? I have created a website on www.classjump.com, where I post the homework as a reminder for students and parents. This seems to be working out well. There is also a message board, but I'm not sure how I could use it for math. Some of the English teachers are utilizing this feature, but again how do you hold those without internet acess at home accountable? It just doesn't seem fair.

Is your homework strictly assessment practice? Do you have students do projects and/or real-life applications?
I assign homework 2 or 3 times a week. I teach ELD and am trying to get my high schoolers ready for the English component of the high school exit exam. The English essay is quite difficult for them so regular writing activities are a must to help them to be become decent writers. For those who have literate parents at home (even if not English speaking), they do a fairly good job. The problem is that I have kids who live with other siblings because their parents are in Mexico. These kids have very limited skills in reading and writing in their own language so there is not much to transfer over to English. For these kids, homework is started in class so that I can make sure that they know what I expect. I also let them come during lunch where I have bilingual former students tutor them for community hours. So far, it has worked out well.


How about trying this, video your lecture on youtube, teachertube, etc. and have them watch it at night then have the students do the homework in class so it is teacher guided. My problem was when my daughters were in high school if they got stuck in math, especially higher level, they had no help. If you wish to instill work ethic then assess on work ethic, ask this do you want them to do or know it? If you want them to know it how will you assess they do?
Wish I had come up with this concept but it is copied, if they don't have access to the internet at home have them watch the video before class, or before they go home. They could even get together with each other. Remember this if a student has enough friends they will get their homework done.
I don't really see how your students could get an adequate amount of practice without homework of some kind. With my classes it is a little different I teach high school technology classes and all of my students work is done in the classroom so that I can help them when they have a problem.
As a student, I don’t enjoy homework and sometimes I think it’s a waste of my time, but I can see how homework helps as well. Maybe homework should be optional- if you feel you know it, don’t do it. Plus, the teacher’s there to help, which is probably a better resource than a textbook or previous assignments.
Interesting quote. It definitely makes sense. We, as teachers, should provide them with the tools to learn, but essentially they need to learn on their own. Learning is a lifelong process. Homework is a way to help achieve that. I often stress the importance of critical thinking skills when teaching tough math concepts. Some students may not need to know the exact method or skill we are doing but the analytical thinking they are doing is important in the real world.
But sometimes it’s overkill. The quote’s true to a certain extent. I know some teachers who assign homework just for busy work, and they don’t even take the time to grade it and provide their own feedback and I know some teachers who truly take the time to assign the right type and amount of homework needed to gain understanding and independence. Basically, if a teacher is going to assign homework, do it because it helps the student.
A great question, and one I am not qualified to answer properly for math, being that I am not a math teacher.

One thing I am not seeing here in the debate is how homework can negatively affect a student's home life, namely when the total homework load is consistently heavy. Lets say the student goes to school from 8-3, is involved in a sport or activity from 3-5:30, then goes home. Let's say travel home and dinner consume 5:30-7. If you have a "light" load of 30 minutes homework in each of four classes, homework takes until 9 if you get right to it. My issue there is at what point does homework begin to interfere with being a part of your family?

I do agree with the sentiment that homework MUST be meaningful. But let's say that 20 math problems are given as homework. The kids who can do the work with no difficulty may get it done, but its irritating to do something over and over that you already understand. The kids who don't understand, or worse are doing it wrong, may drill a wrong procedure into their heads, or get so frustrated they give up. One of my favorite bloggers, math teacher Dan Meyer (blog.mrmeyer.com) said he typically only gives two problems as homework, and the kids choose which one they want to do. One is at a difficulty level right down the middle for the task, the other a more challenging problem for those who want to push themselves. I am not sure about how he scores the problems, if at all.

In some ways this also makes me think about our traditional grading practices and whether we need to completely rethink those, perhaps along the lines of what Ken O'Connor proposes. I am currently reading his book "How To Grade For Learning K-12" and it is making deeply think about my grading practices.
Thanks for the thoughts. I am proud to report that I do not assign an abundance of problems for the reasons you mentioned above - if they do it wrong, then they have that skill embedded in their brain, but the process is wrong. I assign no more than 15 problems and have assigned as few as 2. It just depends. I did not consider the family aspect of homework though. Its definitely something to factor in. Homework for my class should typically take less than a half hour.



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