Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why I Don't Give Homework

I think I just heard a few people gasp! How can you not give kids homework? How can students learn and get educational practice without homework? Let's first decide on a definition for homework: "Homework, or homework assignment, refers to tasks assigned to students by their teachers to be completed mostly outside of class, and derives its name from the fact that most students do the majority of such work at home." Okay, homework are specified tasks in which students are supposed to complete outside of class. What is homework really? It's just extra practice that aids the student in learning and firming up specified learning goals.

I gave homework the first month and a half or so. It was okay. I just assumed that teachers had to give homework, after all, I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't get homework. Homework is just something you have to give as a teacher and something you have to do as a student. Although, after a month or so of giving homework here is what I found to be true:
• The kids who need homework least (A and B students) will do it.
• The kids who need it most (D and F students), won't, or else they'll do it halfassedly, gaining as much credit with the least effort possible.

If homework is just schoolwork done at home, then what makes it more valuable than schoolwork done at school? I've just kind of redefined homework. With all of this being said, I still give homework to my students; however, I give them plenty of time to get it done in class. The process for giving homework and students finishing homework is a management issue. For example,if your class is slow to start and quick to finish, if your transitions are labored, or if you waste time disciplining your class, then you won't have the time to get through forty problems or my students wont have time to do the necessary practice that will lead to no work outside of the classroom.

So, my students get homework. As a matter of fact my students probably get more homework then anybody else in my school. They usually have 3 to 4 things for homework every day. They usually have 2 ELA (English Language Arts) assignments: one out of our ELA book and the other I designed based upon the English state standard we are working on. They usually have 2 mathematics assignments as well. They usually have 15-30 problems out of our math curriculum and I have another assignment I have designed based on the particular math state standard we're working on.

My students are starting to understand two things about me: I don't waste any time throughout the day and I expect them to work like their hair is on fire. If I don't waste time and if they work hard that means they've gotten in the necessary educational practice (homework) and they've got no homework because they worked hard to finish it. Plus, studies and research show that teachers that take advantage of every educational minute throughout their day tend to move their students where they need to be.

So, I kind of give homework. Hypothetically, my students should not have work to do at home. They should work their butts of in class to finish it all. Every day, done or not, my students are required to put their homework in their homework folder. They are required to take it home and bring it back every day. This fulfills two needs for me; this instills the responsibility aspect that homework teachers and fulfills parents needs to see their childrens homework (finished or not).

Every day is a learning experience. I'm just glad I have others in my life to bounce ideas off of. The most amazing part about this "no giving homework" thing is that parents seemed to respond positively to it. Either they like it or they don't have the guts to tell me how they really feel. Some students don't like it because it requires them to work their butt off during the day. In that respect, I'm teaching them life skills. WORK HARD! I would say the most common word I say to my students is "WORK". If someone appears to be daydreaming or screwing around I just give them a really disappointed look and say, "WORK!" They need to work. They need someone to tell them to work. They need someone to tell them how to work. They need to learn that hard work pays off. This year is the year they learn all of that.

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