Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The dog ate my homework

School is back in session and you can hear the moans and groans when we begin to mention homework. Last year Lisa invited everyone, both parents and teachers, to begin a conversation about homework. What is the purpose for homework? Why do we assign homework? Should there be any homework? This conversation is one that we hope will continue. The more we reflect on our teaching practices and procedures, like homework, the greater impact we have on our students' learning.

We are not into the full swing of our routines in the Forest Class, but this will provide an overview of how homework usually goes in our class. In Forest class your child will have independent reading each night from a self-selected book and homework from language arts and math. Typically, students will be assigned homework Monday through Thursday. 

In our conversation as teachers we have concluded a few things about homework and reasons why we continue to make assignments to be completed at home: 

  1. Homework should be authentic and connected to themes and lessons being taught in the classroom. Assignments that extend the learning beyond the school day are more meaningful to our students. It makes sense to send students home with their writer's notebook (a.k.a. "best friend") to create their own "best list" and worst list" while sitting in the comfort of their home. 
  2. Home is the perfect place to build and practice their reading life. We encourage students to read from self-selected books at their "just right" level each night for at least 20 minutes. Each student will keep a reading log to track their reading life throughout the school year. The reading log will serve as a tool for students to keep track of the books, volume and consistency of their reading life. 
  3. A child's third and fourth year of school is the ideal time to begin building organization skills and responsibility. Homework provides an avenue to practice planning and organizing their work with guidance from teachers and parents. 
  4. Homework should not keep a child from play time and family time. Homework should have a time limit. If you find that your child is working on homework for longer than 45 minutes each evening please let your child's teacher know.
We hope these thoughts have helped provide some background to our thinking about homework. We invite you to participate in the conversation. 

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