Friday, June 29, 2012

Student Response: Homework Routines

Homework Mindset
I've been listening to the debates about homework, and last year I employed many fluid systems to respond to families' and students' differing needs and desires related to home study.

Next year, I'll continue to provide the online, weekly study menu known as the learning action list, and I'll also employ the traditional, successful homework folder for daily parent-teacher-student check-in and response.

After many considerations including a family survey, last year's collegial PLC discussion about feedback, students' scores, and  my goals for next year, I realize that the folder system is a good system for many fourth graders and their families as we foster patterns of academic responsibility.

Some of my colleagues are religious at the start of the year about home study routines, parent response and student responsibility, and after close observation and discussion of their efforts and results, I want to try this system.

Families and students come to us with varying experiences and abilities to support home study routines. Students also have a wide range of after school activities and events from those that are mostly at home alone to those that go to full-service after school programs. Our efforts have to respond to that wide spectrum.

Hence, next year, home study will include the following attributes:
  • Homework folder.
  • A daily, parent sign off sheet noting that a child has completed his/her assignment.
  • Straight forward, nightly assignments that students can complete independently in a short amount of time. 
  • Paper and online homework lists.
  • An expectation that students read for 20-30 minutes each night independently or with a family member.
  • A fluid menu of home-school study extensions, projects and opportunities for students who want to do more.
  • Daily review of student folders, parent questions and a call home to students' families when homework is not complete in an effort to both better understand and foster students' scholarly habits.
  • Greater effort to help those that struggle with homework due to a myriad of issues.  Some colleagues consistently offer their lunches to these students and call the time "working lunches."  
While the homework debate continues, I recognize that homework at its worst ends up becoming a parent-child battle at a time when families should be enjoying time together and students should have the time to learn and investigate areas of life that they choose.  At its best, homework or home study provides students with the chance to practice scholarly routines that will serve them well in the future.  I will continue to work towards striking that balance in a responsive way as noted in last year's homework letter.