Homework: Menial or Meaningful?

In my World and US History classes, 135 students averaged a 56 percent homework completion rate after they were assigned 10 Listenwise assignments and 11 CommonLit assignments that complemented my history instruction over the Fall 2018 semester. These stories and texts were specifically chosen to improve academic vocabulary and understanding of Social Studies content. The titles and results can be seen in this spreadsheet.

Because I teach gifted and high-achieving students that take all Honors or Advanced Placement classes, I understand that time management is their biggest challenge. I set up my homework deadlines to be consistent, each Listenwise assignment took approximately 15-20 minutes was due on Wednesday and each CommonLit assignment took approximately 30-40 minutes was due on Friday. This gave students choice in setting their priorities and planning their work schedule. Each assignment was worth ten points, representing 210 points out of the 2,000 points students could have earned over the course of the semester.  My district recommends that homework should not exceed 15% of a student’s grade. These assignments represented about 11% of a student’s grade.

Five of my students chose to write about homework for their final exam. Do you see any themes in their work? The performance task prompt follows below.

In your analysis, define what effective, high-quality homework is, include your homework completion rates, and thoughtfully assess how homework contributes to your education. Support your suggestions with research and data.

homework debate

While some research advocates eliminating homework, other scholarship makes a case for quality homework. In addition to the negative effects on students’ overall wellness, parents are concerned that homework may cause their children to lose a love of learning. Write your own History of Homework based on your educational experiences at JFK’s Medical Magnet and use evidence from the three research articles to help your teachers design a productive homework policy that helps gifted and high achieving students thrive.

Can you describe assignments that have challenged you to demonstrate what you have learned in class, inspired you to try something another way, or helped you achieve proficiency/mastery with a certain skill or topic?

One thought on “Homework: Menial or Meaningful?”

  1. The research is fairly clear that for gifted and high achieving students in high school that homework is one of the best things a teacher can do – this would be especially so for 12th graders and probably a top 10 for 9th graders. (This is from Hattie’s list of effects- homework is quite nuanced and fluid- works better as kids get older and works better for better readers. There is certainly a case for dropping homework for those who are years behind grade level in reading or math fluency.)

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