The author of the September/October Speaking Out article argues that educators must change the way they look at homework. “Homework isn’t a single thing and its applications are far from consistent,” the author writes. “While proponents and opponents of homework battle, little is being done to bring widespread and beneficial change.”

Read the article for yourself and let us know what you think. What conversations have you had with your teachers about giving, and grading, homework? Do you agree with the author that teachers should count summative assessments more than formative ones?

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re: Common Sense and Homework

I have studied the subject of homework for the past 15 years. It is the number one area of conflict between parents and teachers. Just like everything else in education, well-crafted homework assignments directly linked to student learning, yield good results for students while poorly designed and haphazardly assigned homework yields poor results for kids.
Teachers need to be taught how to choose, design, and assign and use homework that is "on target", that is, homework that is directly related to class work and well-designed to support student learning. Different kinds of homework assignments will produce different kinds of learner outcomes. Overuse of one type of homework, or assigning too much homework, is counterproductive and discourages student learning and demotivates students from completing it. Unfortunately, most teacher preparation classes do not cover this in any course work--so teachers are left to figure it out for themselves. Without being provided any accurate information on how different kind of how homework assignments are related to student outcomes, along with no opportunity to discuss it and reflect on it, poor homework quality and quantity is the norm a sites. Different teachers at different grade levels make up their own rules and assign homework in widely varying qualities and quantities further confusing the issue. The whole subject o homework becomes a constant source of frustration for teachers, parents and students.
I think it is helpful to think about homework in several ways. First of all there is the teacher's responsibility for homework, which includes the quality and quantity and assessment of homework. They need specific help in managing homework effectively in ways that will support student learning. Will they assign drills, application, or creative homework? Will they use a variety? Will they offer options to students? Will they give a grade or credit? How will students receive feedback on it? How will they incorporate it back into their instruction? Of course, there is the student's responsibility for doing the homework and submitting it. Students need tips and opportunities to discuss how to do this as well. Finally, parents need to understand appropriate ways to help in the following two areas:
1) There is the process of doing homework. In other words, parents need to understand how to set up their home learning environment to support their child's completion of homework every night, without an argument, to the best of their child's ability. This is a step by step process, any parent can learn.

2) Once the structure is set up, the second part is how to offer appropriate support with different kinds of homework. This does not include doing homework for their child.It does involve knowing how to specifically help students to actively think about and discuss their reading, help them organize their thinking and materials for writing, and coaching them through solving a math problem by asking them a series of questions to help them clarify how to begin and proceed independently. It is about being engaged with their children as learners and demonstrate an active interest in the educational life of their child. And since homework comes home weekly, it makes sense to use it as a springboard for conversations about school and learning. It is a window into what a child is learning. It communicates a lot to families and it's affect on public opinion should not be underestimated.

Since homework does go home everyday or almost everyday, doesn't it makes sense that a school wide or district wide conversation should take place about it based on reliable research and data? It makes sense that teachers should have professional development on how to design and incorporate it into their classrooms as a strategy to support student learning and build a sense of classroom community. Homework should not be busy work--it should be a strategic assignment and actively used to enhance teaching and learning--not simply something to suffer through, do, and check off. When done right, homework becomes a wonderful tool to support student learning, communicate with families, and build classroom community and understanding.

re: Common Sense and Homework

I believe a homework policy as non-relevant to the daily rigors of the classroom. Reporting to class is no different than clocking in at work. However, students are paid in grades and results rather than money. I preach TLC and this is not tender loving care. TLC establishes my philosophy of TEACHING expectations, LOOKING for performance, and CONSEQUENTIAL results. The classroom routine must be designed around 10x2 concepts. Begin and end with review and continuously reinforce throughout. Further, routine must allow for direct and guided teaching methods. Students must exercise learning in constant time-management situations that utilize the concept of being employed and on the clock. Classroom procedures must establish how to complete and when to complete tasks. Classroom time must be used efficiently in order to allow for increased time to teach and practice skills during the school day. When students go home, the learning environment can change daily and results in inconsistent TLC between the teacher and the home.

re: Common Sense and Homework

I'm a 5th grade teacher and still amazed at how punitive elementary teachers can be when it comes to homework. My school has students that lose their only recess 4 out of 5 days of the week because they didn't complete homework. All homework is counted as equal. A few of our teachers even hold the math assignment until 2:55, because they call it HOMEwork. I've always believed that if I can make my 8 hours of school meaningful, homework is unnecessary.