A second grade teacher in Texas sent a letter home to parents announcing she would not be assigning homework telling parents there was no research supporting homework and “…encouraged parents to spend their evening doing what she says has proven to correlate with education success – eat dinner as a family, read together, have children play outside and get students to bed early.”
Is homework an essential element in the teaching- learning process?
One side of the equation is the teaching side; the teacher – the writer, director, producer and actor in a play with run of one day – creates the “play,” the lesson, a forty minute period or other fixed set of time to “transfer knowledge and or skills.” The creativity of the teacher, the motivation, the activities, the questions, hopefully results in student acquisition of knowledge or skills.
However, how do we “measure” the learning side of the equation? Teach five spelling words each day Monday through Thursday and a spelling test on Friday, a “do now” at the beginning of each lesson, exit slips, all tools to measure the success of a lesson.
Let me be clear: mindless homework is a waste of time, and can be counterproductive.
Homework should be a link: one day’s lesson to the next day’s lesson as well as reinforcing the day one lesson; preparation for the following day’s lesson.
Homework can serve as an assessment of the previous day’s lesson.
Is it useful to give homework if the teacher does not assess the work and give feedback? BTW, this issue is at the front and center of the homework issue. After all, what difference does it make?
In our increasingly cyber world homework can take place online – easier for a teacher to review the submissions.
Homework should be creative, it should not be rote, and to use a student’s favorite word boring.
We think we know a great deal about the teaching side of the equation – Danielson rubrics, student engagement, the quality of questions, the complexity of questions, “arrow of recitation,” (questions moving from teacher to student to student to student); what we’re unsure about is the “learning” side of the equation. Of course we can ask students, and, some teacher assessment methods include student comments.
I am extremely fortunate to interact with my second grade granddaughter: she loves to read, she likes to write stories and especially to draw. How much has she “learned” in school?” How much has she “learned” from her parents? That never-ending nature-nurture debate.
Creative homework assignments can motivate the following day’s lesson, they can be exciting for the student, and just as we assess the quality of the lesson we should also assess the quality of the homework assignment. During common planning time teachers can share homework assignments as well as share the actual homework submitted by the students.
Ill-conceived homework should not drive out creative homework assignments.