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Reconsider & Reimagine Homework

reimagine homeworkAfter over seven hours in school, Isabelle, my eight-year-old daughter, is exhausted. We used to engage in homework battles with her.

Now that she’s in second grade, homework assignments are mostly optional. The homework I insist she completes — because research shows it benefits children long-term — is nightly reading. While there are a few other things she must do every night, Isabelle is free to play with her brother and relax after school.

In late 2017, four members of the TWT co-author team hosted a mini-series about homework. It reflected our concerns about homework trends and reflected our thinking about homework based on our own research and study. The posts helped readers re-imagine homework, think about underlying assumptions about homework, re-invent nightly writing assignments, and involve family members with writing at home. You may click here for a roundup of our posts in case you missed our mini-series. I know there is research that has shown some homework in secondary grades can be beneficial. What teachers need to keep in mind, though, is that homework (as we wrote about in our series) does not create a level playing field and should not be something teachers “count on” as something critical for learning and/or grading. There are too many other variables out of teachers’ and kids’ control.

After writing that series, I wish I could say there’s been sweeping reform about homework across the U.S.A. in the past 14 months. Unfortunately, many families across this country are still having their family time wrecked by homework.

If I was the kind of person who believed in resetting things only on January 1st or on the first day of the school year, then this post would’ve been better timed if I had written it in early December 2018. This would’ve given teachers (or schools!) time to reconsider their homework policies and start 2019 anew by abolishing homework in their classrooms. However, calendars don’t have to dictate changes. If the one little word (i.e., reset) I’ve chosen to guide me in 2019 is any indication of my beliefs, then I think we can always rethink how we do things when kids’ best interests are at heart.

If homework isn’t working for you and/or your students, then consider alternatives right now. If you need help getting started, here are three steps you can take today:
2) Click on this updated list of resources to help you think about the impact of homework on children and families.
Here’s a sneak peek at some of the newest additions to the resource list:
3) Reach out to me (by leaving a comment on this post) or to one of my co-authors — Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski, Lanny Ball, or Melanie Meehan — who co-authored the homework mini-series if you need someone with whom to bounce around ideas about what you might do next.

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Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

7 thoughts on “Reconsider & Reimagine Homework Leave a comment

  1. a lot of homework is simply busy work. I say reading for sure and then how about draw a picture of what you read and write about it in a notebook. I often think of how much a teachers time is well dare I say it, too much time wasted because are the kids benefiting. I don;t think its the best use of time.

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  2. I work in a district that just changed the homework policy in our Elementary Schools this school year. Students are highly encouraged to read every night (independently and/or being read to). In addition, there may be some occasional, curriculum-based homework (like homework from a session in the writing workshop units). Some teachers have also created a monthly menu of optional choices – some of which include, “take a trip to the park and look for ….”(maybe something science related, etc) I am thrilled with this new practice and proud to work for a district that’s not afraid to review, reflect and change it’s practices. Now, if only I could influence the district where my own children go to school… 😦

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  3. Great post, Stacey. I wholeheartedly agree with your points. About five years ago, I had a complete “reset”in regard to my own homework philosophies and I’m proud to say that as a school we took on this conversation in more than one PD session within the last year. Due to our professional conversations, we’ve “reset” homework in our school, focusing on joy, family time and the love of reading. Although it still might look a bit different in every classroom, we came together to “reset” homework expectations for all. Our process was professional, research based and thoughtful. I’m proud of the changes we made for the benefit of our students and their families. We created a professional development module to get us started that I’d be willing to share ideas from if anyone needs a place to begin.

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