Sunday, December 6, 2009

Homework Addendum...

I'm adding a little more about homework today, as I found a gift from a student of mine from a few years ago.  This student wrote the above out and framed it for me as an end of year gift. (This was a 7th grader...)

I thought it apropos in the wake of my previous homework post.

I questioned what I wrote in the earlier post as the responses rolled in both here and on Twitter; but I don't think I've changed my mind much about how I feel about the differentiation of homework practices.  I agree with some of what others have written, where sometimes homework is necessary as a continuation of classwork, or as part of an ongoing project, or in preparation for classwork.

What I was discussing was more about 1) rote activities that were not much more than busywork, 2) homework counting a "too large" part of a student's grade, 3) students not being valued for what they've learned because they didn't show it in the preferred way of the teacher, and 4) the need for teachers to inject some choice into homework practices (differentiating that the way they would any other learning practice).

I don't disagree that teachers feel accountable to teach life skills and job skills and responsibility, but there has to be a better balance, particularly if kids are failing because of homework only, and especially when they can demonstrate that learning is occurring.  Some kids may be motivated by grades, or motivated by the possibility of a low grade, but that doesn't mean that what works for most will work for all.

There's no easy answer here, but I think as long as we're searching for improvements and doing what's best for kids (by understanding their individual needs), then we're heading in the right direction.

Thanks to those that responded in the previous post and on Twitter. This is a discussion that is very necessary.


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