Method 1: The Question Method (March 27 – 30)

30 Mar

I began my homework active research with an idea I got from my vice principal.  During the faculty meeting which initially began my questioning on the purpose of homework, he told me about his homework assignments as a university professor.  For each class, he assigns a reading from the texts.  Students have to come up with a question that they bring to the next class.  Class opens with a discussion based off of these questions from their reading.  I came up with the idea to adapt this to my third graders.  For each lesson I taught students were to do the following:

  • Take notes as I am teaching the lesson (They’re used to this already).
  • Take their notebooks home.
  • Teach the lesson to someone at their house (Mom, Dad, Auntie, Uncle, Cousin, the dog, etc.)
  • As they are teaching the lesson and come across questions, write the question down and have the person initial it.
  • Bring it to class and be ready to share it during the opening discussion.

In my mind, this was a great idea for several reasons.  For starters, they are not having to do rote practice drills.  In my experience, I have realized that I learn something so much better once I have to explain it to someone else.  As I’m explaining and come across something that I do not understand, I discover holes.  These would be the parts where students would write down the questions to bring back to the discussion.  Additionally, it is beneficial in that parents will know exactly what their students are learning.

I began this week by writing a letter to parents to explain the homework change to them.  I printed it out and stapled it in each student’s agenda where they write their homework assignments.  I then had a whole class discussion about the new assignment.  The students seemed excited.

After the first night, I only had roughly five out go eighteen students who brought in their questions.  None of these were initialed by the parents.  Throughout the rest of the week, less and even less brought in their questions.  By today,  no one brought in a question.

Students’ desks are arranged into tables of fours.  I started each day having each table chose one question which they were going to contribute to the conversation.  We would then all write down the four questions and discuss the questions.  This is an example of the notes and questions that came from Wednesday’s discussion:

Questions and Discussion Notes


  • Discussions were actually successful.
  • Some students aren’t so great at taking notes as this is their first year to do it.
  • Most students forget to take their notebooks home.  Sometimes I literally have to go through each homework assignment and tell them exactly what to put in their bags and we’re already in the third quarter.
  • Most students did not bring in their questions.
  • Some students pretended like they came in with a question when in reality they just made it up on the spot.
  • Not one single question had a set of initials on it.
  • I’d be willing to bet that no one actually even taught the lesson like the were supposed to do.

Would I be willing to use this method in my future classes?

I feel like the only way this method may be successful is if I set it in place from the very beginning and explain it to the parents on Open House night face to face.  This method would probably only work in a school / community that has a lot of parental support (which mine did not).  If parents were more willing make their children comply with this method, I feel like it could be extremely beneficial.  Trying to start something new in the middle of the year is typically not successful.  Take R.I.S.E. for example.  The students and parents have been reading and initialing every night since Kindergarten.  R.I.S.E. is a common household phrase within the entire community.  They know exactly what they’re supposed to do and for the most part, they do it.  A new method such as this one would have to be explained in detail to all parties involved before they were able to make it a routine.


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