Six A-Ha Moments That Can Take the Sting Out of the Word “Homework”!
Whether you are a teacher, student, or parent, there is something about the word “homework” that causes people to cringe. Too much, too little, it doesn’t get turned in: these are just some of the issues around homework. When I have helped students in “Homework Club” or in a non-profit after school program, I have found that sometimes kids have a hard time remembering what they learned earlier in the school day. They look at their homework, and they just don’t know how to do it.
Last week when I gave a presentation about Success at the Core to the Mount Baker Middle School staff, teachers shared their frustrations about homework with me. Kids weren’t getting it done, grades were suffering, and everyone was discouraged. It was against this backdrop that we landed on one Teacher Development strategy, “Reviewing Homework,” as we toured SaC resources.
Together, the staff and I watched the strategy’s featured video called “Student to Student Assessment.” As we discussed the video after viewing, here are six “a-ha moments” experienced by the Mount Baker teachers and me:
- We loved how the teacher, Barbara Cleveland, has established a collaborative homework review process in her math classroom empowering students to review homework every day.
- When you watch her students in action, it is clear that they have been taught and have practiced their roles using a protocol.
- You hear students sharing their thinking with solid communication skills.
- What happens if a student didn’t get the homework done? They’re asked to participate in the review first!
- The teacher only assigns three problems for homework, but the expectation is for students to think deeply about their approach to solving these problems and articulate anything they didn’t understand.
- Peers offer feedback and guidance to advance the learning.
The teacher uses this strategy as a means of formative assessment. As she moves around the room and visits each group, she learns which students have a clear command of the lesson and which concepts and processes need more time and attention. Homework in this class really counts – not only for the kids but also for the teacher.
If I were a student in Mrs. Cleveland’s class or had a child in her class, I would know the purpose of homework, how it was integral in the learning process, what would happen with the homework every day, and why I should get it done. In that case, maybe the word “homework” wouldn’t be so bad.
Take a look at the video and let me know what you see. I’m eager to hear.