Sunday, December 27, 2015

Unsolicited Advice about Homework

No one has asked, "Hey Emily, what do you think about homework?" But I'm going to tell you what I think anyway. I've worked for eighteen years in three different grade levels across three different schools in different communities, so I've gained some insight into what works and what doesn't.

My views on homework have been deepened by the experiences of my own children. We've suffered through some poorly designed assignments and ill-conceived packets, but we've also enjoyed carefully crafted homework. (Thanks for the great reading packets and extensions, Nicole!)

First of all, I don't have much patience with the homework/no homework dichotomy. I think that it distracts attention away from the real issue--what do you want kids to do, and why? Teachers need to think of the "work" of school holistically, not just as home and school assignments.

Too often, teachers just assign homework because it is expected, or because they didn't get through everything during class time. Some teachers even seem to think that completion of a chapter means that every problem has been completed, regardless of whether a student masters the concept on page 2 or page 102.

I sat down and made a flowchart to represent what I think about as I plan homework. Notice that I start with two different possible goals. Students can do homework to practice or review a concept, or to extend and deepen understanding. Each one of these goals brings up new questions to consider.

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