Thursday, April 18, 2013

Homework--Let's Reflect

Okay-this has been a pet peeve of mine this year, especially, with having my own son now in school getting homework.  If anything, I want this blog post to make you think.  I'd love to hear your thoughts too!  I was thinking of turning it into a linky, but wasn't sure what would be out there yet.

Homework-what do you do?  I've done it all.  Homework packets, "themed" days for work such as Math Mondays, etc...  No homework.  I've even had kids complete special projects at home with their family, such as decorating a scarecrow, or turkey, etc... but found it was more of the parents doing the work than students...

Reminder----I'm a first grade teacher!  While you may not teach that age, I still challenge you the same below.  :)

Okay-off that soap box.  Onto my other.  When you assign homework, is it meaningful?  For ALL of your students?  Or are you giving them all the same thing (such as a spelling worksheet, where a few students may already know the words from the beginning---so the paper is just "busy work"?)  Do you give 50 problems of math, or 5?  Think about this.  If they can do 5 correctly---does doing 50 really matter?  (Now, I'm not talking about those kiddos who struggle and need LOTS of practice--but even still--they can't do the 5, does not being able to do the 20-50 problems really prove anything that you didn't already know?)  Are you assigning kids who are advanced MORE work than others just because they can do it?  (For example, just because they can read chapter books---is assigning 3-6 chapters to read in just ONE night beneficial for being more successful in the classroom?  More than just reading 1 chapter and discussing it the next day?)

I wish that this blogspot could be a little forum tonight.  I'd LOVE to hear other ideas and bounce them off of you!  I've grown a lot over the past 10 years of teaching---and I never believed it when people used to tell me---that things and perspectives change once you have kids...  were they ever right?!  Of course, I like to always challenge people's thinking----so maybe that wouldn't be a good idea!  lol  :)  I was guilty of giving busy work.  It was all I ever knew!  It's what I did as a kid.  But, we have been introduced to this new thinking this year, and I can't disagree with the thinking.  Less is more---that's what really stuck. 

I challenge you to look at what you are currently doing and reflect!  Are you giving busy work--which, by the way, YOU have to take time to correct!   I am not officially assigning homework this year, other than to read each night for 10-20 minutes.  I do not have parents fill out charts.  I don't need them to.  You know who is reading and who isn't.  {Correction, I do have them assigned to read to the class 2 times a month---so they are preparing for that---more details about that in a post coming up soon!}  Of course, if I taught a grader higher than first, I would be finding ways to assign homework to keep the kiddos accountable and to teach responsibility.  The only thing I hold my students responsible for this year on a daily basis is having their folder at school.  Now, since having my own child in school, I realize more and more that it isn't the first grader's fault when they forget things---however, I do still have chats with them to remember to keep it in their backpacks each night, etc.  So that I can start that foundation of being responsible. 

Do you have an engaging and new{er} way of assigning homework?

PS-I've changed my blog settings so that only followers can comment.  I was getting WAY too much spam that I needed to change this.  Hopefully it will work okay! :)


  1. Great post! Homework is a pet peeve of mine as well! I have not been able to come up with a solution either.. I can see both sides! I don't think the homework I am required to give is very beneficial (spelling practice and 1 math page reviewing that day's skill). I do think it teaches responsibility though.

    My kiddos wrote persuasive essays on whether or not they should have homework and they came up with some AMAZING reasons! One girl researched on her own and found multiple articles explaining how homework has no impact on student learning/achievement!

    Lots to think about!

    The Center Based Classroom

  2. Two things to keep in mind as you ponder these idea: Who do you think should have the final say about what goes on in the home at night? The teacher or the parent. Food for thought number 2. Did you ever have a course called homework or a professional development program on homework?

    Kenneth Goldberg, Ph.D. The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers.

  3. I don't like assigning homework, but my district mandates it, even in kindergarten. What I'd love to see is for my kids to go home, play--really play--with their parents and other children, go on walks, talk with an adult, read and be read to. In my neighborhood, this rarely happens. It's not a safe neighborhood. Kids often aren't allowed to even play in the yard. Neighbors aren't trusted. Parents don't own books. Most of my parents actually ask for homework. I think they see it as one way they can play a role in their child's education. My class is very small, so I do vary the homework for each child. Usually math and reading practice.


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