Monday, November 2, 2015

The Homework Debate

Principal ponderings...

To assign or not to assign, that is the age-old question.  The discussion of homework is one that often gets pushed down on the list of priorities.  But it is an important conversation to have.  Homework is just one of those things that has been around in education for a very long time. My parents told me stories about their homework.  You and I had homework when we were in school.  And now our students have homework.  So it is one of those things that fits into the category "we've always done it."  What we know about teaching and learning is always evolving and changing.  We have changed our expectations.  We have changed how we do things in the classroom.  But why has homework not changed?

I have been reading lots of blog posts and articles lately about the homework debate.  There have been studies done that have determined that homework is not necessary and that it has no impact on student learning.  There have also been reports that elementary students are getting three times as much homework as what is recommended.  And there are also lots of discussions about how homework impacts situations at home, causing anxiety and stress for students and parents.

Take a look at some of these articles and posts:

I have lots of my own thoughts and questions about homework.  We will be discussing this topic possibly at an upcoming staff meeting or in team meetings.  I ask all of you to take some time to read over one or more of the articles I listed or search for your own...there are a lot out there!  Think about what you have been doing for homework with your students.  Think about how you utilize homework.  Think about the purpose of your homework that you assign.  I am not asking you to change anything, I am simply asking you to think about what you have done, what you are doing and what the benefits or challenges are in regards to homework.

Should we keep doing what we've always done?  Or should we think about changing our practice?

Currently reading:
This week, I have been enjoying reading more of the graphic novel, El Deafo.  This book would make for good discussions with students about fitting in and accepting friends who are different.
My MCBA book choice this week is the I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001.  I imagine I am going to have a harder time reading this than the 4th graders since I lived through this.  My neighbor at the time was one of the TJX employees on one of the planes.
I checked out some new audio books to listen to on my daily drive.  The one I will start with is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  This is the only book I have ever abandoned when I was a classroom teacher.  I was reading it to my second graders, and I just couldn't get into it so I told them they could borrow to read on their own, but I was going to stop reading it.  The other day, I saw a FloRo student reading the book and I asked her about it.  I decided I needed to give it a second chance.  Especially since Kate DeCamillo is one of my favorite writers!

Events this week:
**Hope everyone remembered to turn their clocks back!  Goodbye driving home in the daylight!
Monday - Latin Class @ 3:30, Mandarin Chinese @ 3:30
Tuesday - optional follow up staffing meeting @8:30 with the superintendent, Dr. Rodriguez visits FR for the morning
Wednesday - Staff meeting @ 3:30, Liz's final SEI Admin course!
Friday - All School Assembly in the PAC @ 9:20 - The Ned Show - Character Education

Great things I noticed last week:
  • On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend the DESE Fall Convening where I went to sessions about developing a shared understanding of quality practice (check out this video library that DESE has put together, we might use some of these for discussion), effective use of PLCs, and reviewing the new Educator Effectiveness Guidebook for Inclusive Education.  And then I went to my 3 hour SEI Admin course.  Slight information over load that day!
  • Thursday was one of my favorite days of the year...Dress Like A Favorite Book Character Day!  There were lots of students and teachers showing their spirit!
  • Love this message that I saw a student post in the shared lit room! #growthmindset from the mouths of babes! 
  • I caught Mrs. Smith getting mummified!  
  • It was a full moon this week, we had a half day, it was the day before Halloween, it was the end of the day on a Friday...yet I walked into Mrs. Mills's classroom and students were all lost in their books!
  • I had a great chat with some 4th graders who were checking out the MCBA recommendation board.  One student was helping another student add her book rec write-up, and then we just started talking about what we had already read, what we wanted to read next, which ones we liked...and more 4th graders joined us on their way to the bathroom.  Loved every second of that hallway discussion!

Check it out:
A parent shared this interesting read with me about how the typical parent-teacher conference is changing:
Why we have to keep going, we have to keep teaching even during the most difficult times:
I'll leave you with this thought...

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