Sunday, November 18, 2012

Homework debate

Reflection on Chapter 1-2 from “Rethinking Homework”

I find it quite interesting that in my present state of teaching I have been addressing and rethinking homework in my classroom and suddenly this class and resources are available for me to partake-must be fate!  In the past ten years how to use and assess homework has been a challenging topic.  As I analyze my students and their grades, a trend appears of incomplete homework resulting in zeros and decline of grades because of this action.  The trend continues to follow a certain handful of students as I enter each assignment in the gradebook.  I ask myself “Do they not understand the topic covered just because they did not do their homework?” Do I grade on responsibility or knowledge of concepts covered in class? 

Reading the 5 beliefs stated in Vatterott’s book definitely made me rethink homework.  Through my own experiences or in my teaching practices I can relate to all 5 beliefs.  How do we extend learning beyond the classroom if we do not assign 7 grade homework.  Will they expand their knowledge by themselves without it being assigned?  Will the student be successful, in their eyes, with or without homework given to expand their knowledge.  Responsibility and disciplin can also be taught with homework, but again can those traits be tought or conditioned without homework.  Rigorous curriculum I feel may be the most controversial belief.  I sure want my doctor or lawyer doing their homework!  So I do feel it depends on the curriculum in focus when we assign homework.  Good teachers have many  unorthodox ways of presenting and teaching their subject matter.  Homework just seems to be the orthodox way of extending the learning and assessing the knowledge, but does not give reason to "Good Teachers give homework."  
 Behaviorism is also a piece of this homework puzzle.  Culture and society have changed and behaviors that were enforced need to change too.  "Teachers use praise and disapproval which reflects the philosophy that behavior can be controlled by external stimuli.  Disciplin, grades,  attendance policies, honor rolls are some of what Vatterott states in chapter 1."  As we address new curriculum and common core goals and assessments homework needs to also be reformed to fit these changes.  Conditioning of behavior using homework may have to change and create other external stimuli.

I believe homework has a purpose and should be given to enhance or practice a skill in which is needed for future academic success.  But my view on grading homework that simply was not completed has changed since I began teaching. Incomplete homework does not give me an accurate view of what the student does or does not know.  So the challenge is how do I give students  a fair assessment, teach the concept, condition behavior all in the allotted class time.  I truly understand that in a perfect world we would like to accomplish this in the class time given but reality is, it can’t, so homework is assigned. 

Communication and balance I feel is the key to rethinking homework.  A balance of homework is needed to help the student acquire the skill.    A Communication system placed with parents and students when situations arise when homework does not get completed.  A sense of trust needs to be formed for this communication to work too.
As educators of the 21st Century these issues need to be addressed.  Issues of family dynamics, curriculum core standards, State and National testing, College Preperation and how does homework fit into the system and many more will be challenges for us as teachers, administration and parents.  I leave you with this question:  "Did homework help you become the person you are today?" 

1 comment:

  1. I believe it is very important that we extend learning beyond the classroom. Maybe not with homework but with helping that student develop a passion for something. That is when the learning extends, when the student wants to find out more.

    Good first post!