Homework

I believe in a student’s need for independent learning time related to subjects that are a required part of a student’s educational journey. With that being said, I struggle mightily with the concept of homework as I have it defined in my brain.

Definition in my brain

Something is introduced in class, examples are given and discussion is had. Then, students move on to the next item for discussion, or class or subject area. At the end of the day, after extracurricular activities, or church or a snack and maybe before dinner, or after dinner, or after gaming time or at some time during the non-school time of the day, a student is expected to organize their thoughts around all that they did during the day and either finish or start a learning objective that they experienced at some point during that day. They should commit that after-school learning to at least their short term memory, and then be prepared to discuss it in class the next day or turn some artifact of their learning in for a grade (probably to never be discussed again or maybe recalled at a later date on an assessment). Repeat.

Deep breath…deep breath…

Why?

Because they have to know it. They have to pass a test to graduate. Texas Graduation Requirements

Because if they don’t spend time in recall and committing a new learning objective to short term and then long term memory, then when they are a doctor performing surgery and an artery ruptures they won’t know what to do. Medical Mistakes

When they are designing the bridge and miss calculate a basic, simple step in the equation, the bridge will collapse when three cars are just at the right place at the right time on the bridge. Architectural Failures

I get it. I understand.

However, I hope we all know that the overwhelming evidence suggests that the success of a student in accomplishing a completed, correct homework assignment and turned in the next day is a direct relationship to the expectations of that student’s parents and the structures that are in place at home. Students that lack support structures at home often do not complete assignments or if they do complete them, they do not make it back to school the next day.

…the success of a student in accomplishing a completed, correct homework assignment and turned in the next day is a direct relationship to the expectations of that student’s parents and the structures that are in place at home.

The list of obstacles that many students have to overcome is quite large. They have a job. They have household responsibilities when they get home. They don’t have electricity. Their apartment is very loud and distracting. There are drug related activities happening in their home. The list is endless.

Enough of my rant. The following is a limited list of my opinions on how we might mitigate the effects of poor homework performance by students.

Engage students with motivating work

  1. Dave Burgess says it best. Empty Kids into The Gift Shop

gift shop

  1. Lexi Law gets it! @lexilynnlaw BlogLexi Law

Structure time for homework completion

3. After school programs can provide the structure for homework success. SEDL and The Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project

4. Parent education for providing the optimal learning structure at home. Care.com

Homework Alternatives

5. Homework quizzes. NEA

6. Creative grading. Mathy Kathy

I think we all want students to be successful in school. We all want learning to be meaningful and stick with the students. Designing learning objectives and the corresponding instructional strategies is therefore essential if we want all of our students to be successful. If we continue to assign routine homework that has little intrinsic value for students, then we should expect only those that have external motivators (parents) to meet our expectations.

stop

Don’t let your students read any further.

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