School Wide Homework Policy

27 Mar

So, this whole idea came about one day during a faculty meeting when the vice principal announced a committee comprised of parents, teachers, students, and administration who would be collaborating to develop a school wide homework policy.  This spawned a debate over whether or not homework should exist and if so how much is necessary.  In our school, families have multiple children living in one household who are spread out among many different grades.  In addition to that, many of them have children who are in the same grade with different teachers.  Parents were complaining that one child would have a lot more homework that the others or the ones in the same grade would be learning totally different concepts.  This is the policy which was created by the committee:

Homework Policy

Now, some of this criteria was already being met by my typical homework assignments.  However, some were not.  This really got me thinking about whether or not I agree with all of it.  At the point when this was given to me, a typical day of homework looked like this:

1. Practice multiplication flashcards

2. Math Worksheet

3. R.I.S.E.

4. Langauge Arts Worksheet

5. Practice spelling and vocabulary words

For my average third grade student, this would have probably taken around an hour to complete (That’s if they decided to do their homework that day.)  The worksheets were usually very similar to something they had seen in class during the lesson.  Going off of the Homework Policy criteria, here’s how my assignments measured up: (Beside each criteria in parenthesis, I will write whether I agree or disagree and why)

Homework IS:

  • an assignment in any curriculum that is reviewed before being sent home, and limited to 1 page per subject area that should be completed within the suggested time below. (Agree – Sometimes it is easy to plan a homework assignment that goes with a lesson yet when the lesson changes, you may forget to change the homework assignment.  I write the homework on the board every morning, so if I don’t end up getting to something that I had planned and it’s on the homework, the student will be confused when he or she gets home.)
  • assigned daily except the last day of the week.  (Agree – I have always given homework every day of the week, even weekends.  I did this in imitation of my mentor teacher who will be the teacher of my current students next year.  I try to do things similar to the way she does so that the students can have consistency for next year.  Personally, I do think that homework over the weekend is unnecessary.  Students need time to relax and recuperate from the busy week.)

When I polled teachers to see how many of them give homework over the weekends, these were the results:

 

This data makes it appear half and half.

Candace said, “I teach third grade with an average of hw 2-3 nights a week averaging 30 mins to an hour. It’s hard enough to get the kids to complete he during the week, which is why I would never assign hw on the weekends. There is not much parent support in the community where I work.”

This is also true at the school where I teach.  I also like that she does give homework, but only a few nights per week.

Virma said, “I feel my kids still need time to relax and enjoy the weekends. I do advise parents to review the high frequency word flash cards daily with their child, so that is something they could do on weekends.”

Good point!  Students need time to be kids and enjoy themselves.

Lauren said, “I voted yes, but it actually just depends. If I need to, then I do. I don’t base my homework on the day of the week. It is based on what needs done and what they need more practice on” and Joseph said, “It depends also. On usual weeks, my Algbera II class has HW over the weekend because the curriculum is more intense than my Geometry class.”

I like that these teachers assign the homework only as it is necessary and not just to give it.

  • challenging, yet can be done independently.  (Totally agree!)
  • corrected on the same scale for all students, monitored for understanding, retaught, and returned.  (Disagree – Of course it makes sense that all of these criteria should be met.  However, it is unrealistic.  There is not enough time in the day to correct, record, reteach, and return every homework assignment.)
  • the same within the grade level classes.  (Disagree – Once again, this is unrealistic.  We would literally have to meet everyday to discuss homework assignments.)
  • a review for a test or quiz.  (Agree)

Homework is NOT:

  • work that hasn’t been completed in class
, graded
, or done by parents.  (Indifferent – While many of my couleagues feel that homework should not be unfinished classwork, I think that it is alright on occasion.  Since I do feel like it should not be finished during recess, this could be a motivation for students to complete assignments in a timely manner.
  • entirely different within the grade level classes
.  (Agree – As stated before, it would be impossible to meet as a grade level and align homework every single day, I do feel that it should be as consistent as possible.)
  • more than what the child can do within the suggested time below.  (Agree)

I polled teachers to see how long their students spend on homework each night.  These were the results:

 

This data shows that students are spending somewhere in the ballpark of thirty minutes to an hour each night.

Virma said, “I teach Kindergarten and give my students a packet every Monday to be turned in on Fridays. Some parents will have their child do 1 or 2 pages a night; others will finish it in one sitting.”

I really like this idea, because students still have to complete the homework, but they don’t have to do it on a certain night.  Some may do it all just to get it over with.  Some may space it out over the week.  Some may wait until the last possible minute.

Tiffany said, “On a typical Monday-Thursday night I would assign the following:
-30 minutes of reading (student choice, recorded on a reading log and initialed by parents daily)
-a spelling assignment- a preparation activity for the weekly spelling test
-math assignment – OPTIONAL (most nights the only math homework the students would have would be the classwork assignment they had if they were unable to complete the classwork in class).”

I like the way that Tiffany makes the assignments optional.  This constructivist approach makes students and / or parents responsible for their own learning.

  • more than 1 page per subject area
 or assigned if it has not been taught that day.  (Agree-ish)

After analyzing this, I started wondering just what is the purpose of homework?  Am I assigning too much?  Am I giving it just for the sake of giving it?  After speaking with the vice principal, it became clear to me that I was only doing it because that’s what I had seen every teacher before me do.  I really began to wonder if the daily hour of homework I was assigning to my students was even necessary.  I decided that I will explore different methods of homework assignments over the next few weeks and see what is most beneficial for my students.  Wish me luck!

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