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Teachers Of Reddit Weigh In On Mandatory Homework

mandatory homeworkMandatory homework used to be a common part of the education system. Back when I was in the system, it wasn’t unusual to lug five or six heavy books home and have to tackle it all in one night while missing something good on television. Things have changed quite a bit, however, as you’re about to find out from the Teachers of Reddit. It all started with this question on the popular subreddit.

“I’m just curious where you all stand on homework… it always seems as though there are the teachers who are very adamant that homework is absolutely 100% necessary, no ifs, ands, or buts and there are other teachers who feel as though homework doesn’t serve much purpose in the curriculum or to the student, so it shouldn’t be assigned at all.

“And, of course, there are the teachers in the in-between.

“So, I’m curious what your thoughts are of homework? Is it necessary? How often to you assign it? What kind of assignments do you give to the students? Should it be used to reinforce what was taught or used to introduce new ideas so students can come to class prepared with questions and ideas to discuss?”

Here were eight of the best responses.

1. “I have two categories of homework — graded and ungraded. The ungraded stuff is completely ‘optional’ but if you do it then you can resubmit the graded homework as many times as you want. This reinforces to my student that ‘If you need practice, then you need TO practice. If you don’t, then don’t.’ Our homework is much more problem-solving oriented than information-oriented. The kinds of stuff that it’s tough to evaluate on an exam with limited time but also pretty difficult to cheat on, since using resources and discussing is part of the problem-solving process. Homework is also only a small [part] (20%) of the grade, so doing it helps, but not doing it doesn’t do too much damage if you can perform on the assessments.”

2. “In my experience, one kid does it and the rest copy. I see it in passing period where I work. My students even talk about it. As much as I would love for them to actually practice, most just don’t care enough to do it.”

3. “I like it as a tool for continued practice beyond the classroom, but as far as doing actual assessment on it I don’t because I don’t know what the student was doing with it at home. Did they work on it independently? With a tutor? With a parent? I can’t evaluate homework in that sense, but I find it really handy for practicing things we’ve done in class.

“I give homework once a week and they have a week to complete it. It tends to be a math problem or worksheet centering around what we’ve done during the week. Sometimes I give writing prompts, or Science work as well. We also use two online reading and math programs that students can use at home so I don’t give out any reading books to them since they can use that. … I will check off if a student has returned their homework and will make a comment about it in the learning skills section of our school board’s report cards. Like, ‘so and so always comes to class prepared with their agendas and completed homework’ but no actual grades. I also add comments on content-based things so they understand what they are doing!”

4. “My school operates on a 6 day cycle. This year, I have lost 16 hours per section of instructional time to ELA and mat. (Yay Common Core!) So, I had to change things up. Every Day 1, my students get a reading assignment that has something to do with science. It may not be what we’re studying at the time, but it is science related. It is due on Day 6. That’s about all the homework I give. I’ll occasionally give a worksheet or something if it lends itself to extra practice or extension of what we do in class. But, I grade those things very lightly. The readings, however, are graded pretty tough. It’s an article with 10 questions that you have a week to finish.”

5. “I use it as a way to get them to practice what I’m teaching them. They get two assignments, always on Monday and Wednesday, the ‘lecture’ days. Tuesday and Thursday are almost always lab days with a little catch up and quiz on Fridays. That being said, they get two days to work on the practice; Monday due on Wednesday, Wednesday due on Friday.”

6. “To me, the purpose of homework is to provide an extended practice to reinforce what was taught. It should not introduce anything new on its own, especially at the middle school setting where I teach (introducing and exploring new ideas takes place in class, where I can facilitate and support).

“It is necessary but it is not emphasized and weighted as much as classwork and assessments. I assign it daily (I see my students every other day), and I aim for around 10-15 minutes of work.

“As another redditor has said, I don’t know how the homework is getting done: themselves, in a group, tutor, copy, parent help or did it for them, etc. It should be done independently though. So I hope that I can build their skills and confidence so that they are willing and capable of working independently.”

7. “It’s useful for reading and math practice. Otherwise it doesn’t serve much of an educational need. I assign homework because parents at my school have thrown fits in the past about a lack of homework. So I assign some short enrichment activity once or twice a week. I only take a completion grade for it.”

8. “I work at a school that has done away with mandatory daily homework. The decision was made after looking at [the] student’s daily schedule. Many had athletics until 5pm then if they are in band or robotics UIL they have practice from 6-8:30. If it is later in the week then they have games that last until 10pm to 1am depending on travel time.

“Homework happens if the students don’t manage their classroom work time and don’t finish the classwork.”

In Summary

As you can see mandatory homework isn’t as “mandatory” as it used to be. With busier extracurricular schedules and a lack of trust that the added work is doing any good, more teachers have started to consider it as a “participation grade” or something that is weighted so lightly that it can’t have a serious outcome on your grade, provided that you are doing what it takes to learn the material.

[Image via Squarespace]

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's work appears regularly here at 4tests.com and across the web for sites, such as The Inquisitr and Life'd. A former high school teacher, his passion for education has only intensified since leaving the classroom. At 4tests, he hopes to continue passing along words of encouragement and study tips to ensure you leave school ready to face an ever-changing world.

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