Homework Help

Hey, on this week’s show we take a look at Homework. Why do we even have homework? What is the theory behind homework? Why are some parents trying to stop homework? Shawn and I discuss whether or not homework should be an every night experience and how much is enough? how much is “too much”? What are some ideas behind getting more homework turned in? Tune in to the podcast for all the answers, but here’s a taste of some of the discussion.

Vicki Quinn is a new teacher who writes about her experience in examining homework. She found that the best came from (surprise, surprise) students. She had started by always giving homework under the belief that it would help students stay focused and learn new skills. However, she soon discovered that the students weren’t participating in class discussions, (why read the stuff for homework if the teacher is just going to discuss it anyway?), and were failing basic comprehension quizzes. She also came to the realization that her 20-40 minutes of homework was combined with other classes to add up to 4 hours of homework every evening. She asked around about homework policies and discovered that there was no uniformity in ideas, beliefs or theories. She decided to ask the students. They also gave her mixed results. Some had no problem with time management or outside activities. Others preferred to do homework during the week and have weekends to relax.

One idea is to make sure that the homework has more relevance. Wormeli points out that students will quickly tire of copying sections (answers) from the chapter. There are a myriad of other ways that students can demonstrate knowledge, or move the information from short term into long term memory. One of those methods is called RAFT (Roles, Audience, Formats, Time). This allows students to take a point of view and “argue” from that point. Wormeli provides an example, borrowed from his article, below:

RAFT [from Rick Wormeli’s “Help With Homework“]

Figure 1.

Roles Audience Formats Time
Joseph McCarthy PTA Comic Strip 1950
Coach Parents Bookmark Preseason
Zoologist Reporters Invitation Arrival of Endangered Species
Dot.com CEO Senior Citizens Card Game 1995

One of the really nice things about this is that a teacher could quickly set this up. It allows for students to take different roles without a ton of time or work from the teacher. Once the students had done a couple, the teacher could provide a couple for each row and then solicit other examples from the students.

Some tips for parents (or to share with parents):

  • Emphasize quality over quantity.
  • Take time to discuss homework completed. Ask your child to explain the key ideas.
  • Ask to see homework that has been checked by a teacher. If students know homework will be checked, they are more likely to complete it.

from the NMSA webpage, The Family Connection, 2004, Vol. 8., No. 1

Tips for Success! [from: http://www.waunakee.k12.wi.us/midlschl/homework.htm ]

  1. Write down assignments. Calendars, planners, or learning logs are great!
  2. Use self-stick notes. Attach them to books needed for homework. Take home everything with a note on it.
  3. Get organized. File papers and divide a binder into sections or designate folders for each subject.
  4. Make “to do” lists. Create a list of tasks to complete during study time. Crossing them off will help stay focused and feel a sense of accomplishment.
  5. Set up a study spot. Choose a place that is well lit, quiet, comfortable, neat, stocked with the needed supplies, and attractive.
  6. Stick with study routine. Consider setting a required work time when your child is most alert.
  7. Set priorities. Make test preparation a priority over other activities. . It is probably best to start with the hardest subjects because they demand the most energy and attention. However, sometime starting with the easy parts may help get started. Short, regular breaks help most people think better.
  8. Be supportive. Expect that homework/studying will always be done well. Keep a positive attitude. Keep criticisms to a minimum. Be a good listener to your child’s frustrations, and help your child set reasonable goals for reading and writing assignments, test preparation, and projects.
  9. Follow through. Encourage your child to review all assignments before placing them in his/her backpack If your child doesn’t complete homework, consider reducing the freedom your child has until grades and effort improve.
  10. Reward orderliness and hard work. Display well-done work in a prominent place in your home.

We also discuss the movement against homework. Most of this seems to be centered at the elementary level, but still we need to be aware that there are some parents against it.
Homework Articles:

Join us next week. Our intended topic is Common Assessment. Drop us your questions at middleschooleducators@gmail.com