I believe homework is a terrible waste of time – as it is applied. Many school districts have a policy that teachers will assign homework. Many parents think a teacher is good if he/she sends home a lot of work. This is wrong, in my opinion.
First, let’s look at whom homework affects. The teacher assigns it and grades it, the A-B students will do it, the C student may or may not do it, the D students probably aren’t going to do it and the F students aren’t going to do it. So the target audience -D-F students – aren’t going to do it and their grades get worse. The people it is designed to help are hurt and those who do it just do more work and improve their grades. And, the teacher does more work that could be used better.
I don’t assign homework. Now, my students do work at home. Is it homework? No. It is work they decide to do at home to get a better grade. I’ll explain.
Because I teach Social Studies, there are a lot of notes. At the beginning of the semester, I give them chapter one’s note-taking outline. It has a lot of words and a few blanks. I go over everything in class and they fill in the blanks. Under my ‘participation point system’ the student gets points for raising their hand and giving the answer. Many figure out that if they find the answers in advance, it their book – at home – they will have an advantage. They decide to do work at home.
When we finish a chapter and take a test, I give them the next note-taking outline. However, as the chapters progress, there are more blanks and fewer words. But, more students are working ahead. They learn that if they preview, they gain knowledge. Actually, they gain points in their minds, but they do learn the information while searching for the answers.
Why are they so concerned with the notes? Well, I allow them to use their notes on all quizzes and some randomly selected tests. They discover the notes are useful and the more complete they are, the better their grade. Even the D-F students get into it as they see I am ‘letting them cheat’ on the tests.
Some of you are saying, I’ll bet they share. Well, they might and what are the chances if I give them homework they wont copy it from someone else or just buy custom papers like we do. But, I usually take up their notes when they take the test and give it back the next day with their graded test. If, someone in third period loaned his notes to a friend in 1st, ‘Mr. 3rd’ has no notes. After the first test, this is not a problem. And, if I see them sharing notes in class, they both get a zero and a write-up for cheating.
Finally, we do worksheets and some other assignments in class. If there is a time limit or we run out of time, the affected students have the option of turning in the incomplete work for a grade or they can take it home to finish it. They decide to do work at home.