Showing posts with label homework. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homework. Show all posts

Monday, July 8, 2013

Reporting Period and Supporting students

Everytime a reporting period goes by we have discussions with parents about how students are travelling.  A recurring theme is the support required by students and whether they are receiving their entitlement of support.

There is a community expectation that students will receive homework.  In most cases homework does not have a return on investment.

If you are a parent, right now you are likely to be having a conniption..... but hear me out - I too was a supporter of homework once but except under some quite specific exceptions I would argue that it is rarely appropriate in a low SES school, increasingly so in upper secondary.

  1. Students lack academic support at home to complete homework.
  2. The spacing between learning and practice is too short for measurable effect.
  3. It takes 10+ minutes out of every lesson to manage effectively.
  4. When given it is rarely done well.
  5. Repetitive practice based resources reduce motivation for low ability students.
  6. It causes unnecessary friction between parents, teachers and students.

There are types of homework that I would encourage:
  1. Any form of regular reading
  2. Preparation of notes prior to testing
  3. Use of engaging online resources
  4. Delivery of instructional resources via video
  5. Revision resources driven by student inquiry
  6. Rote learning of tables, number facts and exact values required for trigonometry
  7. Assignment work that is being graded

There is a difference between the two lists.  One has cause and effect (I do this and I benefit from it) and is possible without significant assistance, the other is I do this (stuff I already know) or can't do this (and have no way to get help) and have little in the way of explicit benefit.  Regular homework all too often falls into the latter category.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the response to video instructional resources that I have written as they are universally watched by students.  I can't explain the effect (as they're not mindshatteringly interesting) but they do most closely relate to classroom teaching (as they are closest to teaching practices) and are in their preferred mode of learning.

SLNs have provided additional help with students gaining access to each other to get help with revision materials and access to teaching staff out of hours.  Online tools like mymathsonline and mathsonline also play their part.

That's not to say our students don't study in their own time.  I make myself available three days a week after school for an hour (along with most of my stupendously wonderful staff and support people), and in doing this we ensure students spend in excess of the expected study time.  It's effective, collaborative, targeted and supported.  It's optional (I tell parents to not force students to come if they do not want to - I don't have resources available for behaviour management) and we have had a clear quarter of the students in the school seeking assistance and not resenting it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Support for regular homework in primary school

Here's a study of the blatantly obvious:,,24115399-2702,00.html?from=public_rss

Apparently, if you establish study skills during primary our students are more likely to be academic. If you have a work ethic, you are more likely to succeed. Duh!

I'm sorry about the primary rant.. I'm still fuming from the comments made at the PD session. I promise to go back to supporting my primary brethren and the great work they do tomorrow.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Impact of parents on student results

Yes, a teacher has a big impact. I maintain that the impact of parents on the net educational result is by far higher. Impact of social networks is fairly high too. Let me build a scenario.

Student A goes home, sits at the kitchen table whilst mum is making dinner. She gets stuck, asks mum and both sit and discover the answer together. Student completes their homework and mum checks the next day that their answer was correct.

Student B goes home, sees mum making dinner and goes into the bedroom. Student gets stuck, pops online and asks a friend.. after a bit of a chat she gets on with her homework.

Student C goes home tries to do their homework alone, gets stuck and then competes with thirty other students for 3 minutes of attention the following day at school for the teacher's help. Student falls behind students able to complete their homework.

Ok, it's simplistic and is not how it really works. It does show how a student that has help at home is advantaged over students where parents are not assisting. Parents keeping up with students in their learning is very important. Let's be serious, if a student can do it, a parent with their wealth of experience in most cases can too.