Homework is one of those topics that consistently baffles teachers. Every few years, new research comes out arguing the merits or pitfalls of assigning homework. Generally, I think that any teacher could make the case for or against assigning homework, depending on the circumstance.

I assign homework every night in my class, except for the weekends; that time is for family. I don’t assign much. I usually tell kids and parents that if you’re taking over 30 minutes to finish the assignment, pack it up and ask me for help the next day. But I am thinking of ditching homework altogether. Jo Boaler and other teachers have convinced me that homework can do more damage than good.

But what’s so bad about homework? I did lots of homework growing up. I’d like to think that there is a connection between hard work and results. The homework I completed in my youth probably has something to do with me being a hard worker. Besides, high school and college classes give lots of homework. If I don’t give my students homework in 7th grade, am I setting them up for failure in their future advanced courses?

My homework past
At the beginning of my career in Chicago, I taught 7th- and 8th-grade math in a system where students took a test and applied to get into selective high schools. I was the only teacher responsible for the math education of 180 students who were all trying to get into the best high school possible. Not only did I assign nightly homework, but I assigned a weekly review packet as well. I felt proud that I could motivate my students to complete the volume of work I assigned.

eSchool News' columnist has great advice for rethinking your homework strategy

Here in Rhode Island, the first thing I noticed was that the students had much less work than I was used to assigning. But all of my students go to the same high school. I realized how crazy things had been in Chicago; it was not age appropriate for 12- to 14-year-olds to be competing to get into the best schools.

Rethinking homework
In my current push to start teaching more with video, playlists, and GoFormative, I began rethinking about the role of homework. But why change? I’m a successful teacher and I don’t get many complaints about the homework I assign. Why change what’s working?

About the Author:

Raymond Steinmetz teaches seventh-grade math at Portsmouth Middle School in Rhode Island. He and his colleagues can be found blogging about blended learning in the classroom at BlendedLearningMath.com and BlendedLearningELA.com. Follow him on Twitter @blended_math.


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