Recently in the news, the debate around students and homework has resurfaced. Some schools are cancelinghomework, while others keep piling it on. The no-homework policy for a second-grade teacher in Texas went viral in August, earning praise from parents, and some educators, across the country who lament the heavy workload often assigned to students. No matter what age or grade level, parents always seem to question workload – they want their child to have as much homework as they remember having, or they insist that no homework is assigned. No matter what is said, someone is going to be dissatisfied.
So what is a teacher to do? New solutions and approaches to homework are consistently being “discovered,” but they differ by community, and even experts appear to disagree about what’s best for kids. While many of you may love the idea of removing homework completely, we understand that this most likely is not a reasonable expectation. So, how can you create homework assignments that have authentically positive outcomes? Below are 8 strategies you can use when assigning homework to do just that.
- Share your philosophy on homework with parents so they have the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns. Parents appreciate knowing the “lay of the land” so they know how to help their student at home. Keep that particular line of communication open so parents know they can ask questions when they need to.
- Many teachers are turning to a “flipped classroom,” enabling students to watch lesson videos at home, leaving class time devoted to answering questions and helping students with their individual needs.
- Be sure your assignments have a clear purpose that is understood by students. If they have this understanding, students are more likely to complete assignments.
- Create homework assignments that apply skills taught in the classroom to real-life situations within the home and community.
- Assign homework that actively engages students with their families to enhance bonding, increase positive time spent together, and demonstrate to family members that learning can occur outside of the classroom.
- Student choice always increases engagement, so create a selection of homework assignments that reinforce skills in focused categories and allow students to choose ones they would like to complete according to their interests.
- Have a well-structured schedule for homework so that students can anticipate assignments. Giving your students an outline of upcoming assignments can help avoid many homework-related problems.
- Be mindful about the amount of homework assigned. Homework types and amounts should be consistent with individual student needs. As educators well know, 10 minutes of work for one student can easily be an hour’s work for another.
By remaining purposeful and communicative about homework and its purpose, teachers can be sure to use homework as just one tool for learning, rather than the end-all, be-all. Relationships with students and parents can soften the messages around homework, and can help teachers maintain and defend their credibility and rationale. Homework doesn’t have to be a necessary evil, rather, it can be an effective instructional tool accepted (maybe even embraced?) by parents and students alike.
Looking for more information or additional homework strategies? Or want to examine the role homework has played in the culture of schooling over the years, and explore what research and educators’ common sense tell us about its impact on student learning? Enroll in Learners Edge Course 5045: Assignment Homework: Where, When and Why and do some deep thinking about how you approach homework, and perhaps you can solve the great debate around, “should students have homework?”
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