Each Monday-Thursday night, Room 15 students are expected to read for twenty to thirty minutes from an assigned or independent reading selection (play script, chapter book, or free choice) and complete a homework sheet, usually in math. Students hand-write their list of duties on an Assignment Calendar. They’re also required to get a parent’s signature or initials on the sheet, which indicates the parent has seen the work and is aware of the student’s progress. These initials are required for s student to get credit fro their homework reading.
I attempt to adhere to the “ten minutes per year in school” rule of thumb, so homework is designed to take 50 minutes in all. The math sheet is supposed to review concepts covered the same day in class and should take no more twenty to thirty minutes to complete. We often correct these sheets together as a class, and I scan them looking for students who may need additional help, but they’re otherwise viewed as “practice.” They also serve as the student’s “ticket to recess,” and sometimes they’re used for a fun check-in activity called “Mathketball.”
Additionally, certain classroom work might also be assigned as homework over and above the 50 minutes. If a student has been unable to complete an assignment in a reasonable amount of time during the school day, they’re expected to complete it at home.
I won’t assignment regular homework for weekends, but students who have fallen behind may have catch-up work. I also encourage families to utilize a weekend from time to time for trips to museums, forest hikes, and other stimulating activities.
All unfinished homework is to be maintained in the student’s binder. Completed work is turned in, but only significant assignments are returned to the binder. “Practice” work is recycled or discarded. Our efforts to maintain reasonably organized binders represents a transition to middle school where “binder management” is of significant importance.
Students are encouraged to do extra credit work. I encourage them to create projects suited to their own interests, to bring completed projects to class, and and to share them. We have a bulletin board dedicated to such projects and I show students how to publish their work on our webpage (in JPEG or PDF formats, for example). I’ve found that kids who create projects on their own are often the most fulfilled academically. Their interests also tend to spread throughout the class. For example, one year I had a student create a project loosely based on forensics and fingerprints. (This was long before the days of CSI.) The rest of the class was fascinated. Soon, many of the students were imitating the first, creating similar projects of their own.
I am always willing to modify the homework to suit the individual needs of families and students–please contact me if you need assistance in this regard. And finally, though I believe homework is of significant value, I also believe families need the freedom to set it aside when it creates household strife. If a particular assignment is proving difficult to the point of tears (or worse), feel free to set it aside and write me a note. I’ll try to provide the student with some extra coaching and the encouragement necessary to try again either in class or at home the next night.
If you have any questions about my homework policy, please feel free to call.