Homework… we joined the conversation.

It’s a subject that’s getting a lot of attention right now.  As I researched further, it seems it has been the center of attention of quite some time.

My goal was to start a conversation among our staff about homework’s role and our intentions.  I have no interest in making big sweeping decisions, “All students will…” or “Every teacher will…”  Nor do I have a desire to remove homework from our school.  One goal that I do hold is that whatever we do with/to/for students, it’s done intentionally, with thought, planning and expectations.

I gathered 6 varied articles on homework.  We read a bit of Alfie Kohn, a Washington Post article, a couple from a parent’s perspective, a piece of meta-analysis and another that had a high school focus.  I prefaced the conversation with similar language to what’s above.  We did a typical jigsaw with pairs each reading an article and then talking it through and sharing with the group.  What did we discover?  There are no right answers.  The research we gleaned from some of the readings indicated a clear benefit in high school diminishing significantly as you move down the grades.

The sharing and discussion was fruitful.  Differentiated homework came up.  One teacher took an adamant stand that reading logs ruin reading for students.  Time vs. task was something to consider.  One teacher shared her flipping technique for math homework.  Projects for homework intrude on families and put a lot of expectation on parents’ time and expertise.  An interesting statement about the perceived outdoor/free time that students could take advantage of if they had less homework turned into a conversation about screen time.  Is homework’s role to police children and keep them from video games?  If there wasn’t homework (or less) would children take on more creative tasks or turn to TV more?  Whose job is it to moderate screen time?

I think the time spent reading, sharing and discussing was worthwhile.

We agreed that homework is not to be assigned because that’s what we do at school.  Amen.  We agreed that grade levels could consider homework as a group and come to some agreements.  I made it clear that I give our teacher full permission to treat homework as they see it best benefiting students.  If you don’t get to a satisfactory understanding during the math lesson, don’t assign math homework.  If reading is a focus of your homework, consider alternatives to a reading log or let it go altogether.  But know WHY you are assigning it.  What are the LEARNING OUTCOMES?  How will the homework be USED back in the classroom?

 

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