52. Homework.. What are your feelings on homework?

Well, I really have no feelings at all. What I do know is that the latest research does not appear to support the view that homework contributes to the child’s academic achievement. And the reason appears to be obvious: In many instances, homework is nothing more than "busy" work or, in many cases, test-preparation exercises.

What should "homework" be all about? Well, in my opinion, homework should be very meaningful work that the child performs at home, within the confines and the environment of the home. The key word here is "meaningful." In fact, "making meaning," that is, "connecting school to the students’ lives" is one of the key indicators of effective teaching performance identified by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence (CREDE), a research institution located at the University of California, Santa Cruz. How can homework connect to the students’ lives?

By asking students to apply at home what they are learning at school. For example, I found that when children were learning to count, a very meaningful homework was to count the number of lines, or polka dots, or print patterns in parts of their clothing at home. They could extend the counting exercise to their brothers’ or sisters’ clothing. They could count right along with their mothers or other relatives. This type of "meaningful" application of the concept of counting produced excellent results, far better than giving children meaningless "dittos" on counting. Another meaningful homework was to identify the numbers they saw on each house as they walked home, or in the block where they lived. Meaning can become the most important part of homework if the child can find something at home related to the concept being learned at school. For instance, children can keep records of what they eat, or what their brothers or sisters eat for a lesson on nutrition. They can look through old magazines and newspapers –probably provided by the teacher—for RED things, or for letters or words.

Recently, one of my friends commented that her son and herself go through a fierce battle every afternoon regarding homework. The child refuses to work on the "test-preparation" dittos sent home every single day. Mother refuses to let him play until the homework is done. The homework usually gets done after a lot of screaming and crying and after mother and son have argued violently about the homework. The child, by the way, is in FIRST grade. This type of homework cannot possibly be helpful.

Teachers usually understand homework policies as "busywork" for a certain amount of time each day. Dittos of any kind are handed out to students to keep them busy at home for the prescribed amount of time. Homework of this type is NOT helpful. MEANING must become the most significant part of HOMEWORK.



For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


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