I have linked up with Jen Bradshaw of Teaching, Life, and Everything in Between and others to do a book study on "Grading Smarter, Not Harder" by Myron Dueck. What an interesting book! Chapter two focuses on "uniform homework" which the author notes is homework that requires the same answers from every student as follow up or review to something that's been introduced in class. He is not referring to projects or more in depth assignments that require work from home time. Dueck proposes eliminating ALL "uniform homework."
- More "you" time
- More authentic planning time
- Student data is more accurate as you've removed the behavioral/compliance component
- Confuses completion with understanding
- Decreases intrinsic motivation- Why do it if it's not graded?
- Inflated grades for students with parents who help
- Deflated grades for struggling learners and students with challenging home environments
- In class quizzes that are a condensed form of optional homework the students can use for review. Students are also provided options for retakes for improved mastery.
- Homework profiles- Categorizing students in one of nine categories based on homework practice vs. classroom performance.
- In-school assistance during ISS, lunch, or after school with administration.
- Flipped classroom using technology to engage students in the basics and then extending these ideas in the classroom.
The barriers to homework completion are wide and varied! In my personal experience, the environment was the greatest barrier. Little brothers and sisters running around hootin' and hollerin', lack of parental routines, distractions from video games and other fun techy stuff, and the million other things that are way more fun than reading that silly old book for 20 minutes! For my students with parents struggling financially, it was sometimes a food or electricity issue. It's not much fun doing your homework in the driveway under the streetlight.
- Where do you get the TIME to create the charts, compare homework practice to classroom performance, create the optional homework with mini quiz and secondary quizzes, grade these quizzes, and do your time in the cafeteria, ISS, or after school? Again, from the elementary perspective, with multiple subjects on my plate, this all starts to sound overwhelming. I can't imagine doing this for hundreds of students either and maintain your classroom instruction as well. The implementation is probably tricky, but once you get it streamlined, the benefits are clear.
This is definitely a book that makes you think about your practices and consider some alternatives that may really open students to more authentic learning experiences. A worthy read!