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Homework - The Big Debate

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Homework - The Big Debate
Old 06-02-2017, 04:07 PM
 
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Hi there.
There has been a big debate of late on the value of homework for elementary school students, as much research has shown that homework has little or no value, and is even detrimental at this age. Check out ascd.org's article on the case for and against homework if you haven't yet read the research.

Anyway, we have a new admin for next year who is on the side of no homework at all to very little homework. I have always assigned very little homework, as I believe students should be graded on those things over which I have control, i.e., in class activities. Many of my colleagues disagree, and still assign the "10 minutes per grade level" amount of homework, plus reading and doing math facts. This has created a continuity problem among our grade levels, as students progress from grade to grade. I am having a hard time justifying little homework, when my students' test scores are not what they should be (our district separates high achievers from low achievers, and I always have a class of low achievers).

I'm curious, what kind of homework do you assign for 4th grade, how long is it, and if you assign a lot of homework, do you see a rise in test scores? I feel very conflicted. Thanks!


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Old 06-02-2017, 05:06 PM
 
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In previous years, I've sent home a fluency passage in reading and math basic fact fluency sheets each week to be turned in on Fridays. This past year I did not do this. End of year data showed that the students still increased their reading fluency and their basic fact recall with what we did in class. So I will not be sending home those practice sheets again. They really aren't necessary.
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Old 06-02-2017, 09:05 PM
 
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We do give homework but not a lot. They have Saxon math problems almost every night and usually the only ELA homework I assign is IXL practice which can also be completed in class. I encourage them to read each night, but they do not have to do a log or anything so it isn't really an assignment. I would rather have them do SSR in class so that I can see them read. The only Science/Social Studies homework is usually just reviewing for quizzes.
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Old 06-03-2017, 03:00 AM
 
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I actually remember homework starting in 4th grade when I was a kid.

Whether it's a good thing or not depends a lot on the assignment and the student.
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4th grade homework
Old 06-03-2017, 03:55 AM
 
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We give:
20 min per night reading
occasional math
occasional science projects

It's basically to practice skills and to finish assignments. There are always a handful of students who do not do it, but majority do. Parents have mixed feelings. I find you can never please everyone on this hot button issue!


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It's not graded
Old 06-03-2017, 04:31 AM
 
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We don't assign much. I'd say on average we assign 20 minutes of reading M-Th which they record on a log in Google Classroom. Some will require a certain number of minutes on Dreambox.

We aren't allowed to grade homework up through grade 6 and I think that's a good thing. They are assessed on their performance in school.
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Welp....
Old 06-03-2017, 04:40 AM
 
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The issue with homework...

The kids that really need the practice/project never do it for various reasons. (some reasons out of his/her control)

The kids that don't need it, it's a race to get it out of the way. My cousin had the older kids do the younger kids homework when they were on the road during sports season. I know more parents who sign off on reading logs, and they know not one page has been read. If there is a quiz on the book, read the liner notes and pull up a could Amazon reviews.

"Family Science Projects" need to DIAF. It's great for engineering dad who will burn a whole weekend up micromanaging his kid's project. I know people who pay siblings to knock those out or recycle them from the year before kid.

My DD had supposedly 1 hour of homework/day, which in reality was 2 hrs in fourth grade. I don't think it did much except burn up a chunk of our evening with work sheets and nonsense.

I'll take the 1 hr+ homework over any *Happy Family Bonding Time* project. Art, Social Studies, Math, Science...all of it winds up being micromanged and done by the parents OR MIA parent does nothing and Buff comes school with his solo attempt. It was awful to see a trifold board with batteries operated twinkle lights, next to the kid that taped 4 sheets of lined paper taped together and scratched out his work with a pencil and two crayons. (DD's school would publically display all do at home projects).

Realistically, if the kid has been a total PITA monster for your whole day, is he/she really going to sit down and read 20 minutes, whack at a spelling/math sheet? Do you have to account for the homework (grade it)? Is it worth the hassle from parents wanting to know why long divison is now taught this way, and how it is wrong?

For 4th grade, I was cool with the spelling words, math drill sheet and suggested reading. All the rest of the stuff I dont think added a whole lot.

The word science fair fan be swapped out for any do at home project, as far as I am concerned. This is coming from a home with two working artists.

My suggestion is don't make more work/hassle for yourself if you know less than 60% won't bother doing it.
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Tawaki.....
Old 06-03-2017, 07:42 PM
 
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that is a great tri fold.
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:21 AM
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Yay!
Old 06-04-2017, 10:23 AM
 
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This is great! Unfortunately I work with a group that requires several at home "projects". If I go against it, I will be roundly criticized. I am thinking, however, of having the kids work on them in class instead of doing them at home. Not sure I have the strength to be such a maverick!
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In class projects...
Old 06-04-2017, 11:07 AM
 
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My DD has had teachers who would tell the kids to work on the plans AT HOME. They would send a letter home that the parents could help plan, but the plans must be able to be constructed AT SCHOOL. Also gave a list of supplies available in the classroom.

This was engineering dad could help out, but not wind up throwing a $100 into a 3rd grader's project.

Her teacher would do the projects in steps. So Monday everyone had to be this far along. Tuesday this far..etc...You can control the debris wave better that way.

Maybe your kids' projects won't look as *pretty*, but you'll know who did them.


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Old 06-07-2017, 05:35 PM
 
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When I first started teaching, I would assign a reading log and practice worksheets focusing on state testing standards. I thought this was what was expected by the parents and administrators. I even sent home grammar worksheets.

After a few years, I stopped all that except the reading expectation. I do NOT send home reading logs, but I do encourage the kids to read for fun and spend time with their families.

As a fourth grade teacher I have had lots of push back by parents and other teachers. I have teachers who feel my class is too easy because they don't have lots of homework. My students only have homework if they don't finish in class, or are absent. Even this type of homework is limited as I feel it is better to have the kids to work with me instead of expecting parents to teach.


This year I even had students tell me how they thought this year was a lot less homework, and one wondered aloud if she had learned anything. I keep copies of reading and writing assignments which I give to my kids in a growth portfolio I hand out the last week of school. They are always amazed at how they have progressed. I asked the student who questioned the lack of homework and the student said they did learn tons of stuff. The student even admitted to enjoying to read now.

Every once and a while I start feeling maybe I should institute homework, like I am not a good enough teacher if I don't, but then I remember how much my students learn without having to sit at the dinner table and counting down to the time they can be free.

I have read the research about homework, and I even supply this research to other teachers and parents when requested.

As for the low achievers getting homework, I have found they are the ones who absolutely do NOT need it. I find they are the ones who traditionally do not have the home support to make homework effective. I would rather put these students on a path of reading for pleasure and supply as many books as I can to them and their household. I encourage all my parents to read with their kids, have their kids read to them and vice versa.

I know homework is a touchy subject, but I always try to remind myself of how important it is to put the needs of the kids first, not their parents' homework demands or the other teachers.
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Homework should reflect learning needs- Pros
Old 06-15-2017, 02:14 PM
 
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Homework, as ALL things in life, has both its benefits and drawbacks.
PPs have made great, valid points and I can understand the frustration it can cause when not properly assigned or if homework is not reflecting the learning needs of students. IMO, however, QUALITY homework is important.

This article pretty much sums up my views on homework as an educator AND parent:

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/resear...e-youki-terada

With my students, I employ the 10 minute per grade level rule. As a fourth grade teacher, I assign work that should take students NO LONGER than 30-40 minutes to complete (10-12 math problems that reflect our daily focus skill and review skills, a short reading assignment that can also be utilized as reading log time, and optional spelling practice from a choice board. My students/ parents CHOOSE when/if to read the recommended 120 minutes per week; I supply research to help parents understand the benefits of reading AT LEAST 30 minutes daily, though I do not require it of their children- I inform them that I do of my own.) Furthermore, I ask parents to communicate with me if they find that it is taking their child longer than 30-40 minutes to complete HW as this points to other problems that should be investigated and addressed.

With my own children, I have found that if you approach homework with a positive attitude from day one, are consistent, and there to support/help your kids when necessary, homework issues RARELY arise (both of our children, who have received nightly homework since Pre-K, are now in middle school and largely self-directed with questions perhaps about vague directions or wanting an Algebra problem double-checked or desiring to share what they're doing). That being said, we DO NOT allow our children to play video games, watch movies, etc. on school nights. They are encouraged to engage in physical activity, read, and participate in group sports and clubs. Our children even complete math problems, read daily, and engage in independent learning activities over the summer to ensure that they are not victims of "Summer Slide". In fact our eldest elected to complete the equivalent of an entire year of math over summer break, even on vacation, so that she could take Algebra in 7th grade.

My worry is for the children who do not garner the necessary time management and prioritization skills for which homework allows practice. Additionally, just as cleaning/ tidying their rooms and helping with household chores diminishes family time, responsibility, personal accountability, and pleasure related to task-oriented accomplishment provide opportunities to prepare for life as fulfilled adults and productive citizens.
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Old 06-16-2017, 07:21 PM
 
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Our district is all about college readiness. Kindergarten and first grade need to write in their planners to prepare them for college, but homework has no value. Everyone will have more quality family time without homework. Families might even have time to eat together if they didn't have to read for 20 minutes with their first grader. Really....... School districts need to stop blaming teachers for poor student performance and require time and effort from students and parents to educate children.
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Principal's requirement
Old 06-17-2017, 04:36 PM
 
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Principal is anti-homework. Going to be interesting.
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Homework Debate
Old 06-20-2017, 01:53 AM
 
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We recently switched from 50 minute classes to an A/B block schedule. The two biggest reasons being to allow more time for science projects and social studies videos and to reduce the amount of frustration of students not completing daily homework. We were told that the amount of class time would be the same every six days - get everything done that you used to do. It was stressed to all teachers that, within that 90 minute block two or three times a week, we were to allow time during class to complete what would have been homework. In addition we were to add project based learning activities and increase use of technology and meet STEM requirements. (One teacher still gives homework, including over weekends and holiday breaks and this seems okay.)

I teach middle school ELA and the most I have given for homework is 20 minutes with a reading notebook entry and study for spelling/vocabulary assessment at the end of the week. Vocabulary and spelling practice is also set up on Quizlet if students wish to practice - fun and no writing involved. Our administrator has stressed that reading books is not important anymore - real people in the adult world do not read books - it is okay for students to choose to read anything they want at any level. I have found that many middle school students choose the path of least resistance and read books significantly below their reading level, including picture books; some will read only comic books and extended comics marketed as graphic novels (not real GNs or even based on real novels some of which have several pages without any text/word balloons at all). I checked out some of the books my students are reading and the Lexile levels ran around second grade level.

I only see students a couple days a week to conference for reading workshop. I tried asking students to read independently and respond using google docs/classroom, but I cannot tell who is really typing the responses. Some students simply copy a line or two from a book and post. Predictably, my reading scores when down and I have been called to account to explain why. I am totally frustrated with the lack of understanding/concern of administration. The "reading specialist" ordered book sets for our classes next year and I found I will be receiving a set of books heavy to grade 3 reading Lexile and multiple copies of comics such as Garfield.
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