Welcome to the monthly Teacher Talk blog hop!
This month I thought I’d address a topic that everyone has an opinion about: homework.
If you have Parent/Teacher conferences after the first grading period, homework is usually a hot discussion topic… too much, too little, too easy, too hard, not done, never done, graded, completion grade…the list is endless.
As a teacher, I work hard to make homework meaningful and effective. Homework can help me speed up the pace of a class, reinforce difficult concepts, or provide extra practice that students need.
I tell my students that homework is like practicing the piano or running plays in football or basketball. It’s like swimming laps, running at a set pace, or dribbling a ball through cones. It helps develop skills, confidence, and accuracy through practice.
But there are two things about practice:
- Sometimes it’s boring.
- It’s liberating. We don’t get graded on practice. It’s practice. Not Carnegie Hall, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, playoffs, or the World Cup.
Now, I’m as big a fan of Vince Lombardi as the teacher in the next classroom, but I’m not sure his quote of “Perfect practice makes perfect” applies to children and their homework. I do believe that students should do their best and not just go through the motions…but I also believe that practice is full of mistakes — and we know that we learn when we make mistakes. So, sorry Vince, I don’t expect my students to have perfect homework practice. Thoughtful, intentional, deliberate — yes. Perfect? No.
The next twist in the homework discussion is how it’s graded.
I use a weekly scorecard for homework. Students record their daily homework scores (we check together as a class), and then at the end of the week, they pick their favorite grade for me to record.
This works for me since I tell students they have multiple practices to learn a concept, and it helps students see weekly progress. What does the scorecard tell me? I can see how students are doing on the homework — are their skills improving? I can differentiate assignments when some students “get” the concepts and others need more practice.
When a student has 100% on the weekly homework, but does poorly on the summative assessment, that tells me something as well.
I like using a scorecard because it takes pressure off students to get everything right all the time. There is room for a bad day or an assignment that has been rushed through.
I don’t use the scorecard for all homework assignments — some, like drafts of an essay or a completed graphic organizer, are one-time assignments. But for repetitive practice, like learning a grammar concept, or new vocabulary or spelling words, a scorecard works great.
I love flipping my class! It gives homework a whole new feel! If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to do so. The advantages are huge:
- students can watch your video multiple times
- you can prepare your students for the work you’ll be doing in class the next day — less time talking, more time worksing
- work in class is more meaningful
- longer “thinking time” for students to grasp concepts
- no homework to grade!
- students who don’t watch the video or who are absent, can watch it during class time
- it’s fun!
It works in ELAR classes as well as math and science classes. You should give it a try.
I could go on and on about flipping…but that will have to wait until next month’s Teacher Talk!
If you’d like to try using homework scorecards, they are a free downloadable item on my Teachers Pay Teacher’s store. I also have a flipping product called Prepositional Phrase Poems and Flipping the Classroom that you might be interested in.
Looking more awesome goodness? Check out the other posts in our Teacher Talk blog hop!
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Until next time, enjoy your students!