Every summer when I have a few minutes to sit down and think about my year, I always ask myself what worked and what can I do better. I find that every year I'm being asked to do more with less time, so I'm constantly looking for ways to get the most bang for my buck.
One area that is a topic of conversation every year with students, parents, teachers, and administrators is homework. I had a parent last year tell me that she heard I was a "hard teacher". When I asked her why, she said that I expected too much from my students and gave too much homework. I chuckled out loud about this because my teaching partner and I plan everything together, even homework, and give exactly the same amount. I guess it's all perception, but really?
So, I've been rethinking homework and my expectations for my students outside of the classroom. One thing I do know, is I'm still going to give it because I believe it creates life-long learning skills such as responsibility, time management, and critical thinking. I do agree that the homework needs to be applicable and connected to what we are learning in the classroom, in addition to quality. I also believe that students should be given a choice on how they show their learning because we all learn differently, and they should be able to choose when they complete it. Children and families are pulled in many directions these days, and I personally don't want to add to the chaos that might ensue with an over-abundance of homework.
My solution to my on-going dilemma is a homework grid which addresses learning each week, but offers choice, challenge, and critical thinking. I'm also doing away with my reading log. I'm a little nervous about this, but I will still let my students know that I expect them to read every night. As a teacher, I always know when students aren't reading, so I will address these issues individually as they become evident.
Here is a picture of my Homework Grid. I would love to know what you think and if you plan on using it. Let me know if I can add or change any part of it because like my students I'm still learning and changing each day. I still learn something new, and I hope that I will always be able to reflect and rethink about my teaching to become better at it.