I agree with a lot of the points made in the article. In my own experience, I often flew through my homework for the sake of getting it done and had no need to do it in the first place. It was simply busy work that prevented my from enjoying time with my friends and family at night. I also understand the challenges that come with teaching in high-poverty areas. Many of the parents of my current students are immigrants from Central America that never received an education themselves. They cannot help their children with their homework either because they cannot read it or do not understand how to do it themselves.
This raises the argument once again: should we have homework at all? What is the real purpose of homework? I think that instead of sending home worksheets every night just for the sake of having homework, we should rethink what homework should be helping students to do. While I am unsure that writing off homework all together is practical in every classroom, I definitely think that there is too much meaningless homework being given. Instead, home should be a place where students apply what they have learned and extend their thinking. Optional practice assignments, as mentioned in the article, are a good way to ensure that all of your students are given the opportunity to try practice problems if they would like to but does not force it upon students who do not need the busy work.
These are some creative and fun ways to engage students in class through their homework. While I am not sure that pop quizzes are an appropriate alternative to homework, many of these ideas give students the opportunity to become more engaged in their own learning AND the learning of others in the class. There are ways to integrate technology into many of the alternative assignments that could prepare students for their place in a 21st century world, such as group work through technology mediums. It also helps students learn how to express their knowledge and understandings in different ways. Some students may find that acting, drawing, or giving a speech are more appropriate ways for them to express how much they understand about a topic.
In the classroom I am working in, the students receive packets at the beginning of the week that contain their homework for the entire week, due on Friday. Most of the homework is monotonous worksheets that have them repeating things that they have learned in class; however, some of the items have them apply their learning in fun ways. For example, they will do a color-by-number that incorporates addition which, for a first-grader, is much more interesting than staring at a sheet full of addition problems. In my future classroom, I hope to go beyond worksheets and use homework as a time for students to be applying their learning to real-life contexts and using a variety of skills for sharing their learning with myself as well as their classmates.
The points that this article brings up, as well as the comments from other readers, are truly fascinating. Do we really need homework for our students to be successful at learning the material? This article is not written from an abstract theory that has never been implemented in the real world; it is written by a teacher who has had experience assigning homework as well as not assigning homework. This case study raises many questions about the usefulness of homework all together. It was also very interesting to see the argument that followed in the comments made by many readers. Some people are captivated by her idea and want to capitalize on it; others have tried this same strategy in their own classrooms and found success; yet others are still not convinced that eliminating homework is correct or plausible.
At first, I agreed with the skeptics. We have always had homework in our classrooms; if it was useless, why did it persist for so long? However, I began to realize that many things that have existed in classrooms for centuries have been found recently to be not very effective. Rote memorization, teacher-centered lectures, and the absence of inter-disciplinary teaching have all been replaced by more appropriate teaching models. Is homework next? I hope that in my future classroom, I will be able to limit the amount of homework I send home with my students. If it does not serve a specific and important purpose, why make my students do it? I want anything that my students do outside of school to serve an important purpose and advance their learning in meaningful ways. While I am uncertain if I will be able to eliminate homework all together, I would surely like to try.
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