Homework is a controversial issue. A lot of research shows that especially in lower grades, there’s no link between assigning homework and higher rates of academic achievement. Still, other research insists that if homework is designed purposefully, it can be the constructive experience students need to solidify new learning — Not to mention, it can help to close the achievement gap across class lines. Research aside, teachers and parents have a lot of opinions that have made homework a political pursuit.
As an in-school teacher, I like to assign a little homework. Reading daily is a given, and otherwise, the only things that get sent home are tasks that students have the means to do effectively on their own. More practice from the day’s math lesson, finishing up a writing assignment started in the classroom that has clear directives, that sort of thing. Homework can either be an empowering experience or an occasion that invites disinterest and self-doubt. I’d prefer to have my students return to the classroom the next morning feeling good about what they were able to do on their own.
I also only assign homework that can be reviewed, or at the very least acknowledged, once we’re all back in class. Finishing a writing assignment is an easy one — Learners will need that stepping stone to continue the next parts of their piece. Math books typically get left open during gym or music, and when students return, they see a mark on the page that shows that I am in fact paying attention to their independent efforts.
So, the criteria for assigning homework during remote learning remain the same: 1) Can students do this effectively on their own? And 2) Will we have time to incorporate it back into future lessons? Obviously, it’s all the circumstances that have changed.
A lot is going on at home for many students right now. At best, students are attending their remote or blended learning arrangements with consistent attendance and a clear head while an adult keeps an eye from another room. More likely, students have frequently changing schedules, little foresight, and a number of distractions that keep them from being the attentive learners they were in the 8–3 classroom. If assigned homework at the end of a digital pod, will students have the presence of mind to complete it in a beneficial way? If they’ve completed it, will it add to their understanding? Probably not. Personally, this is one reason that I’m holding off on doling out homework.
By my second criteria, most of my pods are only meeting once a week right now. There’s a lot of French language learning andEnglish writing to squeeze into the one hour we have every week, and I’m not confident that using any of this time to review assigned homework would be additive to how we would otherwise be using our 60 minutes. Certainly for pods meeting daily, I would reconsider — More time each week means that homework review might just be constructive.
For now, I’m voting no on homework.
As an afterthought: Consider that there may soon be a world where online learning is the standard, and its attendance isn’t the consequence of a world turned upside-down by a pandemic. (Online school was well-established in some circles before the catastrophes of 2020.) What if we find ourselves in 2025, recovered from a recession, free of COVID, and kids tune into their classrooms from their homes as the new norm?
Under this reality, we get to reassess the question of homework assignments. Returning to the same criteria as before, is this a reality where students will have the presence of mind to get their homework done effectively? And will they be held accountable for the homework they turn in once everyone comes together? If you answered yes to both questions, homework might just be a good idea to support your online learning.
e to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!