Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Journal 6: Ten Reasons to Get Rid of Homework (and Five Alternatives)

Journal #6: Ten Reasons to Get Rid of Homework (and Five Alternatives) (NETS 5)
Spencer, J. T. (2011, September 19). Ten reasons to get rid of homework (and five alternatives). Retrieved from

Summary: This post, written by a current teacher, outlines ten ideas of why homework should not be required of students. From issues of students being too busy, to inequitable resources at home, the author gives his reasoning for not assigning homework for his class. This author does not see the value in required work outside of the school day and has presented alternatives to this approach that has been in place for so many years. He also points out that there has been mixed evidence on the topic of the value of homework in terms of raising student achievement. With results both suggesting that it does raise achievement and that it does not, it seems that it may just depend on the kind of outside work that is being required. The author suggests that more social and interactive assignments are better than using traditional packets with pages of repetition. There are many arguments and different approaches that may work better for different subjects, however the author makes a great point that traditional ways of assigning homework should be reconsidered, and especially with the changes in the economy and diversity of our schools, new ideas definitely need to be taken into account.

As an aspiring high school math teacher, I am well aware of the work and repetition that goes into mastering concepts in math, however I tend to agree with the author, that students this age are very busy with lives outside of school and do not need to be stressed about having to do hours and hours of homework each night. I have come up with some alternatives and ways to minimize homework that I think will allow students to get practice, but also not be stuck with loads of problems. Motivating the students to learn can be easier if you do not overload them with too much work.
5 alternatives to homework:
1. Have after-school or lunchtime tutoring/help sessions that the students can attend, or the teacher suggests they attend in order to get extra help on concepts that they are struggling with in class.
2. Encourage students to volunteer, either in the community, or at the school. They can learn from other people and they can share about what they are doing in class. Maybe they can volunteer as a tutor or other kind of peer mentor and help fellow students with work and other things.
3. Offer two options for homework if more practice is necessary for a certain concept or time is not permitting in class. Have one assignment that is just five problems, that the students who feel that they are fully capable can do and have all of them graded for correctness, and then another assignment with slightly more problems, say 20, that the other students will complete and then be given feedback as to their progress. This gives students the choice and allows them to assess their confidence in the concept for that assignment.
4. Encourage students to support the school by attending events, shows and sports games. By supporting the school and their peers, they might find something that interests them that they never thought of before! Then they can share what they did to the class to inspire others to do the same.
5. Cut down on lecture/lesson time and allow for time for the students to do problems in class. It is valuable to walk around and see who is struggling and who is getting it very fast. This allows for more one-on-one or group help during class. It is just important to keep students on task so reminding them that this is the alternative to homework will help.

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