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Homework... For what it's Worth

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Nobody generally likes to get homework. I never really cared much for it when I was in school, but I still did it, because I didn't want to get a bad grade.

What's the purpose of it though?

For me, I look at it as a follow-up to any lesson or topic we've been studying. It may be further practice, or it may be additional reference. It may ask the student to use knowledge gained from the discussion in the classroom, and sometimes it plainly asks the student to use the procedures practiced in class and utilize them away from the classroom.

There is only so much time in the classroom to cover the material. I generally have about 45 to 60 minutes for each subject in a given school day. Some days we review previous lessons, correct assignments, or dive into new topics. This takes up a majority of the time.

I do, however, usually give 5 to 10 minutes of class time to work on the assignment before they leave the room. I can honestly say though that many students do not try to get as much done as possible before they leave or before we move on.

I have always been one to suggest also that students do their homework right when they get home. Why? Well, in a logical sense, the material will be fresh in their minds, and they will be able to recall what we discussed in class better. If they wait until later evening, they will not be able to recall as much of the discussion, and the assignment will take more time.

It is also policy in my school that students in a grade do not receive more than their grade level x 10 minutes of homework per night. So, since I teach sixth grade, they shouldn't receive more than 60 minutes of homework. If I had to estimate, I would say that I give about 20-30 minutes per night, but I try not to give any on the weekends.

I do believe that homework is important, and allows the student to further enhance their education, when time is a factor.


At 3:15 AM, Blogger Abbas said...

I believe that there's an important diffrence between students who are doing their homeworks by heart with other students who are not willing to do it.
Why do we all try to convince others that doing homeworks is useless and or harmful!?
They say "Practice makes perfect".
If we leave the students on their own all they've been learned in classes will be forgeted easily.
Because learning is a long term process and materials should be transfered to long term memory for best recalls.And transferring the data from short term to long term memory happens when repeated and repeated and repeated.
I hope i could've explained the importance of homework.
By the way you have a wonderful blog.I'm a Mamamouse regular visitor and write from miles away(From Iran).

At 9:11 PM, Blogger K said...

So, is homework still important if less than 30% of your students complete it and turn it in? What educational purpose does homework serve? Can you tell if a student mastered a skill using classwork only?

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Tachizuno said...

You raise a point there k, is it still important if only 30 percent do it?

Well yeah, but apparently not to them.

I can tell if a student has mastered a skill using classwork only, but I also cannot achieve as much by relying on that alone.

If I used mastery as a guide, and only used classwork, most units would take much longer. There isn't time to do that with the requirements set aside these days.

Take math for instance. My state has 56 strands that I need to cover for my grade level of different areas. Some take more lessons than others to cover the multiple avenues.

My personal thoughts... at the upper elementary level into middle school... life's full of choices... they can choose to do the work or not. Many do not, and constant pushing by me isn't enough to get them out of the routine. Although I do make progress many times.

Some valid questions though...

At 12:42 AM, Blogger Abbas said...

Thanks for your respectful concern!
I wish that you are not one of those who judges a book by it's cover anyway!

At 3:47 AM, Blogger Kirsten said...

I have noticed something interesting about homework - many parents judge you as a teacher based on the homework you send home. I was very lucky in my first year out that a parent liked me and wrote to the district education director to tell him how good I was. Of course I was very flattered, but it was interesting to see what she based this on: I gave out homework in the first week of school, and she saw my car there early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
Many parents see a teacher who doesn't set homework as not a good teacher, even in the younger grades of primary school.

I teach year 4, and I usually send home number facts and spelling words for students to practice, and a few other problems to do. We do have a problem getting students to do homework at my school, but my system is that on Friday afternoons students who have finished all set tasks get free time (games, time on computer, etc). Those who haven't finished their weekly homework activity do it then.

At 7:11 AM, Blogger M. Kingan said...

I am a believer that homework can reinforce what is being learned. If a parent looks at the homework occasional it also will help them know and understand what is being taught to their children. An interesting point as right now there has been some debate in my area newspaper about homework being given to the kids. I am dumbfounded that some parents actually complain that their children are assigned homework. I think maybe those parent should try teaching and see how much they could do without assigning homework.
One of their major arguments being that the kids have extracaricular activities that take up their time and they don't have time for homework.
My two sons are very aware that those activities (and yes they are active) are just that "extra" and if their grades drop they are not allowed to participate. What ever happened to that point of view?

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Countess Demetria said...

When I was in school I hated homework. I had such a hard time in school. I really needed help understanding how to do a lot of the homework, but I didn't have help.

It really hurt me that homework counted so much towards my grade. The medication I was on then impared my ablitiy to comprehend things.

A lot of kids need the extra help at home to be able to understand and do their homework.

Unfortunately I did't get that help and was out of school too much because of medical reasons to understand all that I heard in class.

I ended up giving up on homework because I couldn't get it!

I am glad the medication I was on then, isn't used for what I was taking it for. It is NOW used as a traquilizer!


At 5:39 PM, Blogger Mama Mouse said...

Homework was an important part of my schooling ... and I always had to do it right after school ... unless it was Friday, in which case it could wait till Sunday.

Our own children had homeowrk and were made to do it when they got home from school.

I think I learned my most valuable lessons by doing it at home ... with my mother helping me on occasion.

Parents NEED to help their children with homework and not just let the job be done by the teachers. Schooling should be a team job .... the main lessons are taught at school ... the part where it is drilled into your head is reinforced by putting into practice at home what you learned in school.

I don't think that the problem today is that children have too much homework ... I think that they have too little. But then I'm from a totally different generation than most of you.

At 7:39 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

Thanks for the insight on homework. I'll make it a point that my fifth grader do his directly after school from now on.

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Kris said...

Do your students each have 6 teachers assigning 30-60 minutes of homework each night? That would be 3-6 hours of homework per night!

I think homework to reinforce or learn concepts and skills taught in the classroom is important.

But I can remember as a student, that much of the homework I did seemed to be busy work to me. I remember the tedium and montony of doing problem after problem designed to reinforce a concept I had mastered in class after doing it twice. Of showing all work in writing for problems I could easily do in my head. Copying vocabulary words and definitions of which I already knew the meaning. Filling in blanks in sentences copied straight from the textbook.

I did my homework as quickkly as I could so I could get to whatever favorite book I was currently reading.

As a home educator, teaching one-on-one, I have the ability to assign as many problems as it takes for my daughter to master a concept. Once she has it mastered, we'll skip workbook pages to get to the next concept. If she needs extra practice, I find free worksheets on the internet and we keep at it until she gets it.

I think the value of homework to the student depends on the purpose. I learned the most from project-based homework or writing assignments that reinforced critical thinking skills and application of concepts previously taught.

Reading assignments also helped me learn and master concepts. I'm a visual learner and lectures without written words rarely stuck.

But drill work and copy work just seemed like a waste of time to me.

Repetition causes my brain to turn off or to go some place else.

And as far as "practice make perfect", maybe sometimes the learning comes through the journey and setting perfection as the goal is not always the best way to succeed. What we learn on the way is sometimes more important than getting there.

This is turning into a ramble.... so sorry.. I wish all teachers had your attitude and your committment to your students. You seem to do a really great job!

At 9:01 PM, Blogger Tachizuno said...

The rule for my school is 10 minutes per grade, for a night. So not exceeding a total from all subjects for sixth grade of 60 minutes. I usually give 10-30 minutes.

Today, I didn't give any, and yesterday, it was just studying for a test, which most did, because they did very well today.

People learn in different ways. As long as I can see something, and try to remember it, I can usually do it. Drill and practice works for most, but for some it doesn't matter, and others it is a waste of time because they have it right away.

Thanks for posting again Kris, and thanks for the compliment. I try my best to do a good job, and I feel I always have the best intentions.

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Betty said...

I think that homework is valuable and that students need to do some work at home. It keeps the parents involved with what their kids are doing. However, some kids spend an hour working on homework that other kids can do in ten minutes. Then, homework becomes stressful for the whole family. Teachers need to strive to keep homework assignments short, especially for younger children.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Pittan said...

I don't agree giving homework just for the sake of giving homework. That is why I am against compulsory homework. It should be given because there is need for it.


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