I came across this comment posted by a teacher on Edutopia in response to an article, Making Homework Meaningful. I thought it had some interesting and wise ideas, so I contacted the writer and asked permission to republish her comments. The writer is a second year, eighth grade science teacher. She is also a parent. With her permission, I am copying her comments. At the end, I will offer my own video taped comments explaining why I liked her post, and what I think we can all learn from it.
I teach five classes of eighth grade science per day. The issue of
homework has been one of my greatest challenges this past school year. I
talked to teachers who gave an abundance of homework and those who gave
no homework at all. I tried to find a medium and decided to issue all
homework at the beginning of each week. I posted homework on Monday
mornings and it was due on Fridays, before the end of the school day. I
figured that this would give the students ample time to complete the
assignments. However, out of nearly 130 students, less than half would
actually turn in completed homework. I found this disheartening.
I asked students why they did not feel the need to turn in homework
and explained the effect on their grades. I also held one-on-one
conferences with the students. This worked for some but not others. Many
students thought that as long as they passed the class, it was okay to
skip out on doing homework. Students that showed determination were the
ones to always finish assignments on time and complete all homework. On
the other hand, there were students that never turned in a homework
assignment but completed all classwork. I tried getting parents
involved, through phone calls and e-mails. Again, this worked for some.
I then decided to give homework choices. The students were allowed to
choose from one of three to four assignments to complete. I tried to
create assignments that would appeal to different types of learners;
those who liked reading, writing, researching, visualizing, creating,
etc. The students could choose from any assignment as long as it was
turned in by Friday. More students began turning in homework, but not
the quantity that I would have liked.
I have also thought about whether or not homework is necessary.
Sometimes, I feel as if it is helping those that try and hurting those
that do not. I have observed another science teacher that never gives
homework, and her students (as a whole) performed very well on
assessments. I am certainly glad to come across this posting.
By Angel Daniels-Ray, Eighth grade science teacher from Sumter, South Carolina.
Kenneth Goldberg is a clinical psychologist with 35 years of professional experience in dealing with many different psychological issues. He is the author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers and currently works in his own private practice.
Visit the website
Read book reviews of The Homework Trap
What is The Homework Trap?
A Roadmap to Success