Don’t hate me.
I used to be a bit supporter of nightly homework. My students were old enough to have that responsibility and in my opinion, the extra practice wouldn’t kill them. They expected to have homework for me each night and it seamlessly became part of our daily class routine. I kept reinforcing to my students that doing their homework was the EASIEST way to bring up their grade. I checked it based on completion, not correctness. You do it and do it completely, you get full credit. You don’t follow directions, don’t show your work or don’t complete all of it, you get half credit. You don’t do anything and you get zero points. Easy peasy right? I thought so.
I had students who just wouldn’t do their homework. Hardly every. I thought they were stubborn and just trying to irritate me. I thought they didn’t really care about their grade. I happily gave them zeros in the grade book because honestly I thought they deserved it. Looking back now, I realize that was a huge mistake. I thought I was teaching them responsibility and accountability – I was really just giving them unnecessary stress.
Chances are, at least one of your students goes home to one of these situations:
- A home with great parent/guardian support. Students are encouraged to complete their homework, and often have their homework checked by someone.
- A home with great parent/guardian support where someone in the home is an expert in whatever their homework assignment deals with. You’ll have kids who have parents with English degrees, Math degrees, Art degrees. They’ll have support and from adults who have a lot of knowledge to be able to help them with their homework.
- A home with no parent support. Students go home and aren’t encouraged to do their homework, but they do it anyway… alone with no help from anyone.
- A home with no parent support where they have all of the responsibilities. Some students leave school just to go home to a house where they are in charge. They’ll be the ones responsible for feeding and taking care of younger siblings and/or themselves because their parents work or just aren’t there.
Expecting ALL students to complete the same homework in the same way really isn’t fair. For some students, they simply cannot complete homework. They either don’t have time or just don’t have the support they need. It’s often not their fault.
Of course, homework is necessary. It is necessary to check and reinforce skills. It is necessary to help/encourage students to study for assessments. It is necessary so students can complete classwork, projects, etc.
So, how often should homework be assigned? There isn’t a single cookie cutter answer for this because there are very few cookie cutter classes out there. You need to take a look at your class and see what’ll work best for everyone. Here are some options:
- Differentiate your homework. Send home shorter assignments to students that may have a harder time getting it complete for one of the reasons mentioned above.
- Assign homework on Monday and make it due Friday. This doesn’t mean you assign only one thing for a whole week. You could assign 1-3 different assignments and have them due at the end of the week. This gives students the opportunity to work at their own pace. Some students may only be able to work on homework during lunch or on the bus to and from school. Some students may have sports or other extra curricular activities that take up an ENTIRE evening one night a week.
- Assign homework only when it is really necessary. Did the majority of the class have a hard time grasping what you went over that day? If so, they may need a little extra practice. Is there a quiz the next day and there is a study guide they should complete? If you spent an entire class period on a skill that the majority of or all students really understand, why give them even more practice “just because”?
If you do choose to assign homework occasionally, check out my complete and ready to go editable homework notebooks for grades 6 – 8 and Algebra 1.
So, there you have it. My opinions on homework have changed for the better I think. I’d love to hear how you deal with homework in your classroom! Share in the comments!
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