Interview over email…
1. What are some controversies re: homework implementation/methodology?
Homework has been a hotspot for a few years now. It is usually in regards to how much homework is beneficial versus too much homework. Some students are sent home with packets of work each night which can take a few hours to complete. From my experience homework is something that is generally not policed in schools aside from if you have to have it and whether it allowed to be graded.
2. In your experience, what form does hw most often take? (Worksheets, reflections, etc.)
From my experience as a teacher and as an observer of other teachers most homework takes the form of practice worksheets.
3. Overall, do you go over hw in class?
- if yes, do you find it impactful compared to when you do not?
- if no, why is that?
I do not go over homework in my class. The reason is some students will complete the week’s homework on Monday, some on Thursday and about half the class does not complete homework.
4. How many days a week is hw assigned? What is the typical window for completion?
Homework is assigned everyday. They receive a sheet on Monday with questions for each day and it is due Friday.
5. How many hours a week would you say you spend grading? Grading homework specifically?
I usually spend 4-5 hours a week grading class assignments and about 1 grading homework.
6. What are your thoughts on the homework controversies? Thoughts on the level of hw for kindergarten onward, in elementary, and the amount of work expectation placed on students outside of a classroom?
Homework has a place in our education system. I believe the level should be increased as the students reaches certain milestones in the education system. In lower elementary the homework should really focus on the foundations the student needs. An example would be reading appropriately leveled books for the student. Once a student hits 4th grade in our education system it is assumed the student has learned how to read and is now ready to read to learn. (For example students have classes dedicated to informational texts instead of just basic reading and math.) So reading in the lower level should be something that reinforced at home through homework. As a student gets older and starts to learn about scientific concepts as well as more intricate math problems that needs to be reflected in the amount of homework given to reinforce the ideas.
Overall homework serves to reinforce the material taught in the classroom but it also gives the students and opportunity to bring their parents into their educational life. Homework can spark conversations about topics learned in class between the student and their parents and can help build on what was taught at school.
7. Who is the deciding factor on quantity of homework, you or the school? Is there a minimum? A maximum?
In our school it is the administration who decides. Every year they have changed the homework policy. Four years ago it was a policy of you must assign homework but you are not allowed to grade homework. It has changed to you can grade homework but only as an effort grade in our gradebook, next it was you have to call it homelearning it is not called homework anymore and you can grade it. I believe this is the current policy as I was not informed of any updates at the beginning of the year.
8. What stands as the biggest obstacle when it comes to hw completion?
The biggest obstacle is the motivation and attitude towards school of the student when it comes to homework completion. The homework I assign is not difficult and I often inform the students of exactly where to find the answers in their readings. Additionally at the end of class a few times a week I give them time to complete the homework. So in my opinion the only standing in the way is the motivation and attitude of the student.
9. In your classroom, how much of a student’s grade is impacted by hw?
In my class the homework can only help if a student does not turn in homework I do not put in a zero for the student instead I let the assignment sit. Which means the pool of points that student has is smaller but it is not counted against them. Homework is 4 points a week so about 36 points a quarter or one quiz grade if completed.
10. For student and teacher, what is one benefit you see of hw? What is one drawback?
One benefit I see of homework is it can create conversations between child and parent about the topics they are learning in school. A second benefit it reinforcing the ideas taught in class.
One drawback is not on homework but rather how students complete homework. Homework is meant to reinforce what was taught in school. The subject matter taught in school is something that should be on their level. For example in science we talk about the Law of Conservation of Energy and that law is written in terms a fourth grader should be able to understand. So when I assign a question asking students what the Law states often I get these long answers that students googled and are copying down. These are often at a high school level or beyond and contain words that through my experience with that student I know they do not know. So when this occurs the homework loses its purpose.