Friday, April 5, 2019

The Homework Debate - It's A Bit More Complex Than Yes or No?

I am curious about the value homework? What about you?

I know that many of my students and my own children are sometimes overwhelmed with the amount of homework they have on a daily basis. I don't think that all homework is bad, but I also believe that there are many homework activities that have little or no value. 

I decided a few years ago that homework is no longer part of the Path To Success in my classroom. I don't even use the word with my students. When I occasionally ask my students to do something outside of class I've taken to calling it an "extended learning opportunity."

Although  I have drifted away from all required homework for my AP Environmental Classes over the last several years, there are a few things I ask my students to do outside of class. (These are all optional, I don't check or give points for anything that is done outside of our classroom.)

Don't get me wrong, I don't think that learning should end when the final school bell rings. Curiosity is always important! I just believe that it should be optional for my students to engage in my class outside of the time we are together each day. I always hope to inspire them to explore something connected to our classwork outside of class. 
Here are a few connections to how I try to engage my students outside of the classroom. 
  • I  ask my students to engage in our textbook 15 mins a day. This is not required, just a suggestion. I don't try to catch them not reading using graded closed notes assessments the day after I suggest reading. We do engage in formative quizzes with EdTech and summative open book quizzes to check our learning and engagement in the textbook content. 
  • I sometimes ask them to finish up some classwork if we are running short on time. If it is something that I am grading for points, I only grade what was completed in class. I don't penalize if they don't get to it at home. We always talk about the value of learning more and I will often ask them to reflect on what they did at homework with a quick Pear Deck entry slip the next day.
  • I ask my students to be curious and take some time out of our classroom to make connections to their daily lives, news, and social media. We spend some time at the start of the year talking about the power of being curious. I'll come back to the power of curious questions whenever I can during the school year. I will also occasionally ask them in class as an entrance slip or exit slip to share any connections they've recently made outside of the school day to our content. If they don't have anything on a given day, no penalty.
  • The one thing that I still struggle with is the time my students put in when we have a summative test or final exam on the horizon. I will give them study tips for an upcoming assessment with the goal of taking 15 minutes a day making connections, but many of them still cram for hours the night before. This bother's me and  I've often thought about eliminating summative tests. I do not encourage my students to study for exams, instead, I always emphasize I'd rather we know what they didn't know and fix it after the assessment.  I am a huge fan of retakes and redos of all types after any summative assessment. I am still trying to figure out how I can do summative assessments without adding to the homework my students already have. 
  • An unintended consequence of no homework in my class is that my class often moves down the student's priority list. If given time to work on something in for my class or something worth points in another class, most students will focus on the points no matter how interesting I think my activities might be. 
This is my homework story. What does homework look like for your students? What values do you place on homework? Does the rise of digital make a difference in what you think?

Bonus: If you know me, you know that I can't explore something without creating something as part of my exploration. I've added some of the resources connected my homework explorations to this document. Let me know what I am missing?

Please share your thoughts about homework in the comments below or tag me on social media?

1 comment:

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