Homework – that dreaded word….. Is it important? Is it useless? I’ve always felt that homework was an integral part of the a child’s education. I still do. After seeing this article published by Edutopia (Homework vs. No Homework Is The Wrong Question), I’ve grown ever more confident of my opinion.
When I was able to teach English for 90 minutes a day, I didn’t stress much over homework. For me it’s always been some form of independent reading, reading comprehension practice, and vocabulary practice. When I moved to a new school and I only had 60 minutes (if I’m lucky), I began to depend heavily on homework to make sure that we are able to cover everything.
I love how the author of the Edutopia article asks, “What do we believe should happen after the end of the school day to help ensure that students retain what they have learned and are primed to learn more?” How many of us have seen the image below?
I just don’t have the minutes during my class time, so it becomes a staple of my homework.
My homework definitely varies. In the beginning of the school year, students had two days of basal reading and two days of independent reading. But, it was really difficult the next day in class when students hadn’t read the text! After a few weeks of seeing my students struggle with the reading, I began creating videos of the reading to assist them. Most of my videos are done in class, and the homework is an extension of the concept.
About halfway through, I changed it up…..again! Ss would read, listen to, or watch the text video in class on Monday (first read) and then they watch the “concept” video at home. That worked a whole lot better, because they’d get a “second read” in class and then we could discuss it, because I knew EVERYONE had had at least one read.
With vocabulary I began alternating roots and affixes with vocabulary units that would help improve students written vocabulary (a way to improve the “voice” in their writing). The first few weeks, most of the kids were bombing the test! So I began adding a vocabulary homework component – just a way for them to practice. It helped…..scores drastically improved!
In addition to assigned homework, other activities are totally optional. I just provide incentives for those students who complete them. What they are able to come to terms with themselves is that if they take the initiative to do the work, they see an improvement in their grades which makes them more likely to continue to do them.
I do like this question that the author’s poses, “Maybe what we need is a new word for all this. Instead of “homework,” how about “continued learning” or “ongoing growth activities?” I’m going to try it out next week (no homework this week because of standardized testing) and let you know how it goes!
Until the next time,