Let’s Do Our Homework About Homework

To begin this conversation, here’s Beyond the Apple’s video,

To homework or not to homework, that is the question.

In some areas, teachers have a choice about whether or not to assign homework; in other areas, there is no choice.  If you choose to assign homework or are expected to assign homework, here are some things to consider:

  1. Equity

There’s an assumption that once homework is assigned, it’s up to the student (or the student and parent/guardian) to complete it. That’s an assumption that challenges equitable practice.  Dr. Justin Tarte provides questions to consider equitable homework practice:

  • Does the student have a parent/guardian who can provide assistance?
  • Does the student have time to complete homework?
  • Does the student have a vested interest in completing the homework?
  • Does the student have the language and the background knowledge to complete the homework?
  • Does the student have a place to complete the homework?
  • In addition to your homework assignment, how many more homework assignments is the student responsible for?

2.   Effectiveness

For homework to be effective, it must add value to student learning, so consider these questions:

  1. How is this homework assignment tied to prior learning?
  2. Is there variation in the format (written, illustrated, recorded, observed, etc.) of homework?
  3. How does this homework connect lesson content to the real world?
  4. Is this homework designed to be completed independently?
  5. Are differentiated versions available for students who excel or students who struggle?
  6. How will you mark the homework and provide feedback?
  7. How will your feedback enhance student learning?
  8. How will you use student results to inform your instruction?

3. The Tricky Bits

Next, here are some questions to consider when dealing with some of the troublesome aspects of homework.

  1. Is there a consequence for incomplete homework? If so, is the consequence equitable?
  2. How will you handle the “bookkeeping” of late homework?
  3. For how long does a student have to submit a late homework assignment?
  4. If the homework is completed incorrectly, should it be reassigned?
  5. How will you handle a parent who questions the value of homework and asks to opt out?
  6. Is there an option for the parent or student to comment on a homework assignment’s level of engagement and/or difficulty? How will you respond to comments about homework that is “boring”, “too easy” or “too difficult”?

Clearly, homework is a complex issue. Perhaps we should move away from the homework as “school work part deux” format and toward an “explorations and applications of learning”.  Vatterott’s Five Hallmarks of Good Homework provide a good start. Have a look, let us know what you think, and contact us at Beyondtheapplecontact@gmail.com

For more professional conversations about education, please visit:Beyond the Apple . . . Reframing Conversations in Education .

About Beyond The Apple

Beyond the Apple provides everything a Professional Learning Community needs! Designed to follow Beyond the Apple's Tenets of Adult Education, our videos re-ignite the excitement of professional conversations among educators in the classroom, university, colleges and professional training. Our free teaching and learning resources provide a follow up with more information that is current, research based and practical.
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