The Waiting for “Superman” page on Facebook recently surveyed its followers and asked, “How much homework should high school students be assigned?”
Here were the choices and how they ranked in popularity by answer:
1.) 2-3 hrs per night
2.) Less than one hour per night
3.) Plenty during the week, but none on the weekend
4.) More than 4 hours per night
About half of the 1000 who responded chose 2-3 hours per night. STC School leaders and teachers: How does this compare to what your students receive?
The amount is of course extremely hard to judge by time – what takes one student 30 minutes, may take another an hour. Many of our schools have time built into the actual school day for homework, which also allows for teachers to be in reach for assistance. What other Effective Practices can you share related to homework?
A few downsides to homework for students that make up our network include that no teacher is available to help (and parents may not be available or may not understand the material), the time and space at home may not be homework friendly (the HS student may have to babysit younger siblings), and the overwhelming burden of carrying heavy books (especially on long walks home and riding public transportation).
This question of an ideal amount of homework has to be as old as homework itself, but the answer may be getting easier. Technology can eliminate the burden of heavy books. A laptop, phone, iPad, or other mobile device will probably soon take the place of paper – good for easier data collection and grading, trees, and students’ backs!
Many programs are popping up that not only take advantage of new technology, but also implement a reverse style of homework I first read about from the Khan Academy. Bill Gates has called its methods “a glimpse into the future of education.”
A teacher who used the free online lessons in the early stages shared with the Academy’s creator that she discovered a more effective way to use the videos for instruction. She would have her students watch the videos at home through their laptop or phone and then classroom time the next day would be spent problem solving – what would generally have been assigned as homework. She was suddenly available to help students when they needed it most. This also meant that a student could pause or slow the lecture and move at his own pace, a near impossibility in a live classroom. Teachers can also get reporting on how all students are doing and lots of other goodies. Find out more.
Every school and student is not currently equipped to implement Khan’s new strategy, but including time during the school day is another Effective Practice for improving the viability of homework. STC leaders and teachers, please share your experiences and tips in the comments below.