I use homework in a very specific way. At the beginning of each week students know they are to select a task from what we call the "Challenge Center". These challenges are, in fact, homework as they are completed outside of the classroom. Though rather than focusing on daily practice based off of that day's instruction, student's utilize the material they learn as the week goes on to slowly complete their challenge. I mainly use this as a differentiation tool to offer parallel tasks to the students, and also give them a sense of choice in their assignments. It has been very effective as they learn both self-discipline and time-management having to plan how they manage their challenge, and it reduces pressure on due dates as they have many days that they can ask questions. The challenges are designed in a way that brings all of our big ideas together into one assignment, rather than strictly doing practice exercises. This way students do not run the risk of practicing the wrong thing, and also synthesize their knowledge and make connections between ideas.
Additionally, I use these challenges as a rewards system. If students are well-behaved or complete classwork early, they are rewarded by giving them time during class to work on their challenges. F every day they turn it in early, they are also awarded one additional point.
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I think homework can be valuable when it directly relates to practicing a skill learned in class. I think that too often we expect children to do learning/instruction based homework which can be time consuming, confusing, and frustrating for them and their parents. They spend so much time at school during the day that it seems like saving time at home for minimal review and practice is the most beneficial.
These are some interesting perspectives as well:
Homework has positive impact on learning, researches show. However, homework brings positive impact when the assignment reinforces class work, is doable by the student without outside help and doesn't exceed 1.30 to 2 hours daily. And, NO holiday homework. Holiday homework is a project, like reporting on a visit to a national park, spending few days with a native community etc.
I expect students to be able to earn an "A" without homework. Absences are about the only reason I expect homework.
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