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NYC Helpline: How To: Get Started
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NYC Helpline: Manage Your Classroom
NYC Helpline: How To Get Started

Conducting a Homework
Survey by Judi Fenton

As a parent of a high school and an almost middle school student, I’ve been noticing that the homework teachers give is not always as clearly understood by our students as we may think it is. We assign homework that we believe students should spend a certain amount of time doing, but often that ends up taking a longer (or shorter) amount of time. We also tend to unintentionally assign work they cannot do independently.. My high school daughter is a perfectionist, doing every assignment slowly and meticulously, often staying up past my bedtime. She wakes me up to ask me if she did something correctly or to help her find on-line research sites.. Many educators find that her attention to detail is sorely lacking in many students, who complete homework as quickly as possible, if at all.

I advise the teachers I work with to find out how students do their homework. If you do some research, there will be a greater chance that students will be able to (and want to) complete the work that you assign as homework throughout the year.

At the beginning of the year let students and their parents know that you are trying to figure out the appropriate amount and level of difficulty of the homework you give. In order to do this, have students complete an assignment log that asks:

How much time did you spend on this assignment?
Surprisingly, we usually see a wide range here, indicating that, as in our classrooms, some students work slowly and some work quickly. You may wish to specify how long students should work on certain assignments, so that they don’t completely stop doing the homework because it is too onerous. You also can differentiate the homework you give based on how long you expect students to work on it. Students might get some sleep and be more alert in your class!

What supports did you use to complete this assignment?
Ask: Did you need help from an adult? How much help? Did you use your text book? Other books? Did you use any on-line resources? Did you work with a friend?

Determine how independently you wish to have your students complete their homework.. There may be some assignments that you want students to collaborate with peers or family members on, though probably, for the most part, you’ll want them to be able to complete homework on their own. Ask them what resources they needed and then use the information you gather to create your assignments, specifying the resources they should use for each assignment.

Always keep in mind that the homework you assign should not be an after-thought.. It should have a clear purpose, whether practice, processing and solidifying knowledge, or advance preparation to study a topic. It is a good idea to communicate your purpose to students and parents so that they will understand how homework assignments contribute to the work that is being done in class.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me.


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