Monday, October 7, 2013

The Homework Dilemma

After 12 years of teaching, I still don't have the answer for this one...

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about homework.  It seems like many teachers have been grappling with this part of school lately.  I really don't know what I should do.

In my classroom right now, here is where homework stands:  Students read for 20-30 minutes each night.  They fill out a reading response via Google Forms once per week.  They actually enjoy doing this (so I've been told).  This reading response needs to be completed before Friday morning.  In addition to that, I give either one spelling or math page each night.  All homework gets feedback.  Homework is not part of a grade in my classroom.  It's meant to build responsibility, reinforce concepts learned in class, and to make sure students read.  Does it actually do any of those things?  I honestly don't know.

Here's my dilemma:  I have no evidence that the homework I give benefits my students academically.  However, I do believe it may possibly help build responsibility in that it gets my students used to having to turn in homework for next school year when they will head to middle school.  I know they will have homework next school year from frequent conversations I have with the middle school 6th grade teachers.

As a fifth grade teaching team, my grade level partners and I  decided to give no more than 50 minutes of homework each night.  None of us particularly care for homework.  My students rarely complain about homework.  Parents in my fifth grade classroom have never asked for more or less homework.

I asked my students today how long it takes them to do homework, including their reading.  Most said less than 40-45 minutes each night.  I'm open to decreasing the homework load, but am not open to decreasing the reading requirement.  I do firmly believe my kiddos need to read for at least 20-30 minutes each day at home to continue to build their literacy skills.

As of right now, I'm going to continue giving homework as that's what my grade level partners and I agreed upon.  However, I think we may need to revisit the conversation soon.  I suspect they may agree.  My grade level partners are talented and open-minded educators. I feel extremely fortunate to plan and teach with them each day.  Whatever is decided will need to be decided as a team.

When I approach the homework conversation again, I want to do so with a little more insight of what other teachers do.  I want to know what other teachers think about homework.  What do you do?  What do you believe?  Why do you feel one way or another about homework?


  1. I strongly agree with you on this one! Responsibility is important skills to teach our students, but half of my students' homework comes back with lack of effort. Most of the time the lack of effort results in careless mistakes and doesn't really tell me if they are understanding the concept that need to be practiced. Plus monitoring daily homework cuts into instructional time and becomes too much to manage.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Ian. As you know, I've been struggling with this for a while. I'm still struggling with it. Since I wrote this post, I've significantly decreased the amount of homework I give. I still give it, but much less than before.


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