Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Homework?

"No Homework" from Flickr by SA_Community
Thanks to some thought-provoking blog posts I read this summer, I have coupled my move to a full self-paced, mastery-based flipped classroom with a desire to eliminate homework for my ninth grade world history class. I thoroughly thought through my rationale and got administrative backing for my no-homework (well, very little homework) class. Parents were enthusiastically supportive when I explained that I believed it was my job to carve out the less meaningful parts of my curriculum to make room to do the critical thinking that is so much a part of history class in the classroom and not at home in the form of homework.

The first six weeks went well - students had two small homework assignments that they needed to complete in the first week of school, and most got these done in a relatively timely manner. I did a small simulation Friday that necessitated a reflective piece for all classes. Unfortunately, this needed to be done at home - reflecting in class on Monday would have been, in my opinion, less useful than reflecting more immediately. (Yes, I’m aware that some students may have done the homework on Sunday night, making this argument somewhat less relevant.)

I was intrigued to come to school today: how many of my students would do the homework over the weekend? I had heard from other teachers that my freshmen hadn’t shown a great motivation to complete work outside of class, but I had asked for very little out of class work from them. Well, I got my answer: 58% of my students did their 10-15 minute reflection over the weekend.

This was the only homework I had asked my students to do over the last month. Looking back, I should have tried harder to fit in the simulation earlier in the week and allow my students time in class to process what had happened in the simulation. I still stand by my no regular homework stance: if my students use their class time well, I don’t anticipate my students doing out of class work until late October. And I think that is how it should be.