Its H day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge! My H stands for Homework. Yes, that lovely part of all schooling that makes student groan!
As a teacher, I have had many experiences with assigning homework with most of them being negative. My first year of teaching middle school math, I assigned my first homework assignment to the students about 2 weeks after school began. It wasn’t a difficult assignment. It consisted of about 5 problems that we had practiced that day in class. Honestly, I didn’t think much about the assignment until the next day.
The following day when I asked everyone to get out their homework, I was astonished when NO ONE had it. Wait. I mean, NO ONE did it AT ALL. Not one or two students who forgot– oops!
I am NOT exaggerating when I tell you, NO ONE had done ANY of it. WOW. At first, I thought maybe there was some kind of community emergency. A tornado? Flood? So I asked my students why they didn’t complete the assignment. Their responses were all very lackadaisical and honestly, they really didn’t seem all that concerned about not returning to school with their homework in hand.
After that first class, I was disappointed but was still hopeful about my other classes. However, the same thing happened with the rest of my classes that day!!! Out of all three classes, not one student had one darn thing to turn in!?!?!?!
As a teacher, I know that it is imperative that we reflect on our teaching. We must think about what worked and what didn’t to see how we can better address the things that didn’t quite worked the way we planned. So when I reflected about no homework being turned in, I decided to look at the research about homework done by people much smarter than I am and I asked my fellow teachers in the building about their experiences with homework and the percentages they regularly saw of students turning in assignments.
The research was split down the middle (as I expected). If you would like to read up about the Homework vs. No Homework debate, click here
However, my fellow teachers were not split in their experiences. Most of the teachers in my building had very similar stories to mine. They very rarely had more than thirty percent of their students who turned in homework on a regular basis.
So all of my experience & research begs the questions:
Should I even assign homework, if it seems to be of no benefit to my students??????
And, if I chose not to assign homework, how do I monitor their mastery of the topic???
I decided to discuss this with my students first. I will commend them for their honesty because they told me, without hesitation, that homework was not something they worried or even cared about and would probably never remember to turn in. So I decided to go on a hunt to find alternatives to homework.
Honestly, my attempts to find valid, researched based methods of replacing homework did not give me many options so I am constantly on “The Hunt” for new ideas concerning individualized practice for my students. I think most teachers are always on “The Hunt” for something about student learning, so that is okay. I won’t give up.
So I have decided to share what I came up with for all those teachers out there who struggle with this problem!! Please, please share your ideas with me!!!
1. Practice During Class
Right now, we are on block scheduling (72 minute classes) so I have the benefit of planning individualized practice the last 30 minutes of class. The students are given problems (after instruction) to practice on their own while I go around the room and help students who need extra help. Side note: next year we are going to regular scheduling so this will no longer be an option for me.
2. The Video Connection
I assign videos for my students to watch (from sites like khan Academy) during their homeroom or impact classes (these are study hall classes) that explain the concepts we are currently learning.
3. Daily Review the Following Day
When my students come into class, we do a Daily Math Review (DMR) that allows them to practice previously learned concepts and I include at least two questions that pertain to the topic we worked on the previously day.
Those are just a few of my ideas to help when homework doesn’t work for your class. How about you? Have you ever experienced a similar problem?
If so, how did/do you handle it?
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the rest of the alphabet in the A to Z Challenge!!!