We have been having a discussion on our campus regarding the "meaningfulness" of homework. We all know that it is important for students to get into the habit of working on their own time as they will definitely need this skill as they go further in education. However, the role of homework is what we are beginning to rethink. Many teachers bog themselves down with collecting, grading and returning homework assignments...it becomes a never ending cycle of paperwork. Do the students learn more by this process, when there is no guarantee that the work they turn in is theirs to begin with? The question I have is this: What are other teachers doing to give meaningful homework assignments, how are they assessed and how does one incorporate Web 2.0 tools into homework assignments?

Tags: 2.0, assessment, homework, web

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Have any of you read the book "The Homework Myth: Why our Kids Get too Much of a Bad Thing" by Alfie Kohn?
This discussion reminds me so much of this book. I actually don't think we need to completely eliminate homework, but homework that is given does have to be meaningful. I agree. I think what homework is considered "meaningless" are formative type assessments which could be done in class. There are so many new ways using technology now that we can come up with some formative assessments without having to lug a bunch of papers home. I'd rather be finding new things to use in class rather than spending time giving checks-pluses, checks, and check-minuses.
I find that I am constantly battling with parents on this subject. I think the problem lies, at least in my school, with my parents. Homework has always been the status quo, and parent's expect it every night. I think mostly to keep their children busy at home.
I find that when I do assign homework I assign "read an article/ or excerpt then respond" type homework assignments, usually a question or two. Or I assign a 1 page due at the end of the week. I try not to take up too much of the student's time at home. I've just started a blog to eliminate the wasting of paper.
Terrific Book! I would encourage you to share it with the parents at your school. This google link provides much of the book online.
At the moment 2 things to being done to bring meaning to homework.

1. LFS. Our concentration has been on making our content more meaningful buy first asking meaningful questions of our students. By meaningful questions, we are are looking for questions that students can make decisions on and/ relate to their everyday lives.

2. AIW (Authentic Intellectul Work). At the moment, teachers in the core subject areas are taking courses in Authentic Teaching in their subject area. This is part of a grant we are doing in the state. The idea is with the course and LFS system we will be able to create authentic and meaningful learning experiences for our students.

The idea behind all of this is to make what we do more relevant to the student and make the homework more meaningful as well as it will relate directly to the questions and work...

At the moment Web 2.0 is being used for long term homework assignments where the students will get class time. I've personally created a few rubrics with a differentiated strategy in mind. For example, a menu. In the menu assignment the student decides what grade they would like to get for a given assignment, kind of like choosing from a restaurant menu. Each level of the menu increases in difficulty and requires the students to think about the material more critically as well do something meaningful. Ultimately the choice to do better or worse academically falls on the choice made by the students in this example. For this menu assignment, I gave them a variety of Web 2.0 links and materials that they could use to make the presentation stand out with of course the option of the student doing a traditional presentation. Doing it with Web 2.0, by my rubric, won't give the students anymore points because of home access further differentiating this assignment...
I've mentioned this before here at CR 2.0, but the guy at edorigami took the old Bloom's Taxonomy and rewrote Bloom's Digital Taxonomy. His wiki has tons of rubrics using the Bloom's terminology for Web 2.0 tools. We used the blogging rubric and it really pumped up the kids' blogging!

Sounds like your district is doing some great things.
I'm not sure homework in elementary school in the way we do is ever meaningful. There's a really good book called The case against homework. I'm completely on board. There's no real research that can validate that homework completion correlates to higher test scores. I think you need to instill a love for learning during the day and encourage them to seek out their own findings. How cool would that be if kids just brought stuff to you they heard about or found o their own. Not sure how it translates to secondary school.
It certainly translates to my world history 7th graders. As I said before, I don't assign homework, but I offer class points when students go "play" with history. Whether it is on my website, or at a library, or even when watching tv. I train my students to look for history references in everything.

I am frequently amazed by the kids who come in and say "I was watching X yesterday and they talked about Y!" Kids who would never dream of turning in a homework sheet. They get more out of having an active, searching mind than they ever would with unguided, independent work.

As far as the "the parents want it" problem. In my letter home to parents and at back to school night I explain my homework philosophy. I tell the parents that if they ever want homework for their child I'd be happy to provide it.

6 years in, nobody has asked.
With the History Channel, Discovery and National Geographic on literally around the clock there is always something on TV for us to learn. As I assess students for our district's gifted program one of the questions I ask is "What do you watch on TV?" I get answers that range from Hannah Montana and Sponge Bob to History Channel And Keith Oberman. What young kids watch is telling. haha
Thank you for reposting. I love the blogging rubric. I will definitely use it!
I never used to assign homework, but then my principal said she was going to make it mandatory, so I started.

Reasons I stopped assigning homework: to make it meaningful, it had to actually get done, and most of my kids didn't do it; if only some kids did it, where do you start class the next day?; it required a lot of paper due to lost homework sheets; if kids didn't know how to do the lesson then they wouldn't be able to do it at home on their own anyway; if kids did not know how to do the lesson, why was I asking them to do it again at home?; kids who refuse to do homework just get more and more zeroes and they don't care

Reasons I kind of don't mind giving homework now: I teach special ed students in a day treatment setting who are supposed to eventually return to their local districts where they will probably have to do homework, so helping them learn how to take something out of the class, write on it, and bring it back to class does seem somewhat useful. But, it is a student skill, not a math skill.

Things I have had to do to eliminate all reasons for not turning in homework, to prevent curriculum stopping problems and to avoid setting students up for failure: assign only once a week; have it due the same day each week; make the content completely independent of class work; go over every single problem and let students take notes on the answers; make homework worth as little of the final grade as possible.

And I still average about a 30% return rate.

I agree with pretty much everything said here about homework.

I've also decided, this year, to start something that looks a lot like After School Learning. I like the idea that kids who want to learn at home can do that, but kids who don't or can't don't have to. I don't want kids to stop learning just because they lack the ideas, resources, or motivation to do it. So, I'm offering voluntary homework that will be rewarded in class, but not by grades. Also, I've identified "power standards" from our state curriculum that I will focus on, which leaves some others way low on the priority list. I will create homework around those that students will be required to do, but the most there are for any class is 16, which averages out to 4 per quarter, and kids can turn them in early if they want to.
Love- luv that ideas! I'm all for bucking the system and finding thoe loopholes!



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