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The principal of Gaithersburg Elementary in Maryland decided to ask students to spend only 30 minutes in the evening reading.
She saw the impact on her own children and vowed to curtail what she assigned her students.
“As a result of their experience, I vowed never to assign more than 30 minutes of outside reading enrichment for my students,” Stone recalls.
One option is changing the paradigm of assigned homework to infuse hands-on, student-led engagement with class lessons as a way of piquing student interest in the material.
And instead of simply limiting homework to the teacher/student/parent sphere, allowing students the opportunity to show off exceptional homework to a larger audience can give them a further incentive to put in their best effort.
“Students have not had that daily homework practice in any subject that keeps the concepts ‘alive’ and moving in their brains, so that means that much of the practice time and teaching time and testing time had to come during the class time each day,” Linder says.
Still, other districts across the country are taking second looks at the practice.At the start of the 2013-14 school year, the Fentress County School District in Tennessee announced that it would enforce a district-wide ban on graded homework assignments.Administrators explained their decision by pointing to the large majority of students who lacked at-home resources to help them with their homework.Angela Downing, an elementary school teacher in Newton, Massachusetts, has found great success in displaying excellent student homework on the walls inside and outside of her classroom.By doing so, homework becomes disassociated from the standard teacher-student relationship and gains a whole new level of importance that draws students into the assignment.Tammy Linder says that teachers haven’t had the amount of teaching time they usually need to enforce classroom lessons and concepts.With the heavy focus on standardized testing already in schools, losing precious out-of-school homework time drastically diminishes how long teachers can devote to thoroughly covering a given subject, as well as the depth and amount of topics they can cover in a school year.The Great Homework Debate Some educators aren’t fans of the new policy.Tammy Linder, a sixth grade teacher at Allardt Elementary School, is one of them.“Our new motto for assignments is ‘review and preview.” That means that homework in the district now constitutes an ungraded review or preview of current course work that’s the students’ responsibility to independently complete.Spelling words, vocabulary practice, and study guides for testing all fall under this purview.