Method 3: Consistent Assignments Only (April 2 – 5)

6 Apr

As I have written about in earlier posts, a typical homework day before I began this project 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

I have already determined that no matter what, team homework or team no homework, I absolutely agree that students should read every day for at least twenty minutes no matter what.  There are a couple other things that need consistent practice as well.  It is also good that these things be done at home too so that parents know where their children stand.

In third grade, arguably the most important aspect of math is learning the times tables.  Students must know these before they get to fourth grade or they will be lost.  This year, I had students practice their fact drills at the beginning of every math period for five minutes. For the most part, they knew them pretty well.  However, by when I student-taught in fourth grade at the beginning of the school year, the majority of students did not remember them anymore.  These must be practiced on a regular basis or they will be lost.  To help my students study,  created multiplication flashcards from zeros through twelves for every student.

Another important skill in any grade is spelling and vocabulary words.  We had spelling and vocabulary tests every two weeks.  This gives students at least fourteen days to learn twenty words.  Every two weeks, it was obvious who had been practicing and who had not.

For this week, I tried giving students only these homework assignments:

1. Practice multiplication flashcards

2. R.I.S.E.

3. Practice spelling and vocabulary words

My Part-Time Teacher, Ms. Chelsie, took data on who completed homework this week using this method.  Of course, practicing flashcards, spelling words, and vocabulary words cannot be monitored.  So, the following data consists of who did R.I.S.E. for the week:

Homework Method 3

Looking at this data, I can see that the majority of R.I.S.E. assignments were completed during this method.  This is probably due to the fact that homework time was shorter.  Perhaps students are more willing to do their homework when they only anticipate that it will take a short amount of time.

Pros:

  • Students have more free time to spend with family or enjoy extracurricular activities.
  • Students are more likely to practice these rote drills since they do not have to spend their time doing worksheets or other assignments.
  • Parents are still able to see where their child performs on some of the most essential elementary level tasks.

Cons:

  • Parents are only seeing these skills and not the benchmark skills that are being learned in class.
  • Students have lost the flashcards over time and do not bother to replace them.
  • It is hard to monitor whether or not the students are studying the multiplication facts, spelling words, or fact drills until it is the time of the test.
  • Students are only concerned with completing the assignments that have to be handed in such as worksheets.

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

Absolutely!  At this point in my research, I am leaning towards feeling that homework is not necessarily beneficial to my students.  It is somewhat pointless and I seem to only give it sometimes just to follow the routine of giving it.  However, I do strongly agree that each of these things (reading daily for twenty minutes, practicing fact drills, practicing spelling words, and practicing vocabulary words) are assignments that come with several benefits.

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