Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Perfect Homework - 4th grade and up

The research is actually pretty clear. Students gain very little when they do homework. Actually, according to a meta study by Hattie (1992) that reviewed 110 experiments on homework, it only raised achievement by 1%.  What a lot of trouble for little gain.

How much time do you spend grading homework? How much time do you spend putting together homework packets and planning out your homework for the week? I imagine that you would prefer to spend your teaching time doing something that will raise achievement by more than 1%. Is there a better way?

What does raise achievement? 
  • Taking notes raises achievement by about 35%. 
  • Teaching students summarizing strategies and having them write summaries also raises achievement by 35%. 
  • Reinforcing effort raises achievement by 20%. 
  • (All of the statistics were taken from Classroom Instruction that Works.)

Here is one idea for combining all three strategies. Teach students to take Cornell Notes.   Click here for instructions on how to take Cornell Notes. I would highly recommend that you let students know what they should write. The more guided your instruction - saying things like, "Make sure you write down . . ." the better the achievement will be.

Then, for homework, have your students write the summary part of their Cornell Notes. By writing the summary for homework, you will be assigning one of the most effective learning strategies. You will also be giving students an opportunity to review what they learned in class, helping them retain that information into long term memory.

You might want to use sentence frames for writing the summary. At the very least, you would want to write a few summaries together as a class and model how to write the summaries.

In class the next day, start your lesson by calling on 1 - 2 students to share their summaries. After sharing, give the student specific feedback reinforcing their effort. Also have 2 peers give the students feedback. You should be able to walk around during this time to see that everyone has completed their homework. You are giving positive recognition for effort, having peers also give positive affirmations and finally, reviewing what students have learned one more time.

  • Papers for you to copy? None
  • HW packets for you to prepare? None
  • Time to grade? You will not be grading them beyond completed or not completed. It is not worth your time to grade the homework. (Remember that 1% increase in achievement.) You will be giving positive feedback to students on their effort and specific feedback verbally during class. Students will never know when you are going to call on them.
  • Research? Instead of assigning homework that has a small chance of increasing achievement, you are asking students to spend time doing what is effective in learning new concepts and ideas.
HOL online classes I offer:

FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life   

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