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TEACHERS.NET GAZETTE
NOVEMBER 2000
Volume 1 Number 9

COVER STORY
Yes, you CAN write a book and teach at the same time! This month's cover story by successful author and teacher Marjan Glavac explains how he was able to get published directly from the classroom.
COLUMNS
Effective Teaching by Harry Wong
Promoting Learning by Marv Marshall
A Chat with Alfie Kohn
Jan Fisher Column
4 Blocks by Cheryl Sigmon
School Psychologist by Beth Bruno
ARTICLES
Write A Book and Teach
Interview with Joe Pickett
Wake up Sleepyhead!
When We Care for Children
Teaching about Native Americans
Early Childhood Interventions
A Veteran Teacher Looks at SFA
Developing Homework Policies
Visually Impaired Experience in School
REGULAR FEATURES
Web News & Events
Letters to the Editor
Poll: What About Homework?
Archives: Alfie Kohn
New in the Lesson Bank
Upcoming Ed Conferences
Humor from the Classroom
Help Wanted - Teaching Jobs
Live Events Calendar
Gazette Back Issues
Gazette Home Delivery:


Homework Chat with Etta Kralovec this month...
Appearing in a live chat this month on the topic of "Homework": Etta Kralovec is an independent scholar and teacher trainer. She lives in Bar Harbor, Maine.

co-author (not appearing for chat) John Buell, a former associate editor of The Progressive, is author of Democracy by Other Means. He lives in Southwest Harbor, Maine.

Etta Kralovec, co-author (with John Buell) of The End of Homework will appear for an online chat at Teachers.Net on 11/15 at 8pm EST. This book has received a LOT of attention from the national media. The New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, Redbook, NPR, and The Today Show have produced stories and interviews about the homework issue as the result of the book by Kralovec and Buell.

"Homework appears to disadvantage children by assuming they have a 'quiet, well-lit place to study,'" the authors contend. "If we all need[such a] place to study far away from the TV, we know a perfect place that meets those requirements. The schoolhouse."

Mark your calendar and join us in the Conference Room Conference Room on November 15 during the ***8pmE*** time slot for a discussion about the homework controversy with author Etta Kralovec.


Best Sellers

The End of Homework : How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning
by Etta Kralovec, John Buell

$16.20 from Amazon.com
More information
 
Ending the Homework Hassle: Understanding, Preventing, and Solving School Performance Problems
by John K. Rosemond, John Resemond

$8.05 from Amazon.com
More information
 
Everything You Need to Know About English Homework/4th to 6th Grades
by Anne Zeman, Kate Kelly (Contributor), Moffitt Cecil (Illustrator)

$8.05 from Amazon.com
More information
 

Chatboard Poll: What About Homework?
by Kathleen Carpenter (Contributing Editor)

Teachers.Net Educators Respond With Their Opinions About Homework

We asked:

Is homework a useless activity which engages children in what amounts to busywork and puts unnecessary stress on today's families? Are there reforms needed in the use, type, and amount of homework assigned? How much homework should students have, or should it be banned entirely?

Educators responded:

PA Teacher: Homework, in my opinion should consist of activities that foster healthy and worthwhile personal and family habits and routines, such as reading, writing, family discussions, playing games with family members, projects, learning about family and community histories, developing solutions to problems that are often part of every day life. I do not think that this time should be spent isolated from family, doing pages of drill and kill. With a little bit of thought and planning, teachers can look at the objectives of the lessons being taught and develop activities that will involve one or more of these healthy habits, address the objectives, and involve human interaction. This is not only good for the students, it is actually easier on the teacher. I don't think that I know of any teacher who actually enjoys correcting stacks of papers every night. I do know that teachers enjoy hearing students tell, both orally and in writing, about what they did and what they learned.

When it comes to homework, I believe in the "Golden Rule." I never enjoyed drill and kill as homework when I was required to do this, so why would I expect my students to willingly jump to the opportunity? I don't believe that anyone remembers much from doing things that are distasteful, beyond how much stress it caused. I do believe that people remember the things that they've done with their friends and families.

We don't allow students to socialize much during school hours and then we send them home to isolate themselves from the people they live with while we wonder why the kids of today display malformed social skills. Kids are people too, and people are social creatures, we need to foster rather than impede this fact.

I will add here that this is my view about homework and the elementary aged student. High school and college homework may be a different matter, but I don't think that it always has to be different. For example, one of my nephews teaches General Science and Physics. He has his students working on a long term project right now which involves creating uses for the hundreds of pumpkins that are soon to be unwanted by most of the people in the area. His students are coming up with wonderful inventions and uses. In so doing, they are involved with interacting with their friends and families and at the same time reinforcing, extending and applying their knowledge gained through their Science lessons. This is just one small example. Teachers are creative and I know that they are capable of coming up with many wonderful and engaging activities that support learning and will be remembered forever by their students.

Teacher of Gr. 7 U.S. History: If HW is used incorrectly, the answer is yes. If used correctly the answer is no. Yes there should be reforms. No, it should not be banned entirely.

I teach 7th grade United States History. Homework is an essential part of my curriculum. My homework is never unnecessary, ambiguous, or given as "busy work." I plan it out carefully, it is an essential component of the instruction. Eliminating homework will set up college-bound children for disaster...they must become independent learners, and homework will help achieve that goal...for the non-college bound, homework will help establish good work habits and attention-to-detail. As to this "family time" issue...when I was a child, and now as a parent...homework time is family time...the television is turned off...we sit around the table doing together, our homework, whatever that may be...for me sometimes it is balancing the check book or paying bills, or actually designing lessons for my classes...my child completes or works on his homework from school...I do not see a difference between family and homework time...we are together as a family...doing what needs to be done.

Teacher "Z": I agree with previous posters in most things. Homework should be specially planned. I would mostly ask for projects done over longer periods. They should involve practicing of writing skills and deducing from data. Kids should go further than their textbooks! Today's families are under so much stress that homework seems to me as an oasis of clear logical thinking. It is great when it can be incorporated into family time. Use, type and amount of homework differ greatly between teachers, so any reform would put some people into greater stress. And you suit your homework toward your kids in class. They are individuals. How much homework? If it is nice, much. As kids I teach are middle schoolers, they should work at least three hours per afternoon (in all subjects combined). Less should be ridiculous. The rest of the afternoon/night should be spent in various activities and nap/sleep.

CA Teacher: I would love it if the families of my students would sit around the table w/the TV/Stereo off and do homework........ however, I don't think it happens in most of the homes where my children live. It's difficult to send more creative, interesting assignments to homes where no one speaks English, the parents work 2 or 3 jobs (and therefor no one's home much of the time) or where there is a problem w/drugs and alcohol. When these assignments are not done, I find it difficult to punish the children for what is, in reality, the fault of the parents! I no longer send the more creative assignments home--- I only send work that the children can do fairly independently. Is it worthwhile? No! I'd really like to not send anything at all-- but school policy says I have to send something! At least now, if homework is not returned, I can take the child's recess away w/out feeling horrendously guilty.

Teacher B.C.: I'd love to not have to give homework. But, unfortunately, mathematics seems to require practice for most people. I also would love to give long term projects. As a matter of fact, I gave one. Four out of sixty students turned it in on time. A grand total of fifteen of those sixty turned it in at all. Maybe it's because the parents didn't know the basic algebra that we were studying. I can just imagine my pre-calculus children talking to their parents about what they're doing in trig. It's not going to happen. Most of the parents of my kids haven't even graduated high school.

I remember, many, many moons ago when I was in school. Yeah, back in those awful eighties and early nineties. Every night, we had family time. It was called dinner. We sat around the table, no TV, no radio, and talked. Then, my parents took my youngest brothers (just like they did with us) and helped with their homework.

If we need to get rid of homework to encourage family time, should we also get rid of football? Cheerleading? All extra- curricular activities? Even better, get rid of schools and have everyone home school. Then every time would be family time. Okay, so I'm being a little extreme, but I like to do that.

PA Middle School Teacher: Homework needs to be done for many reasons.

  1. Practice
  2. Study for tests
  3. Memorization
  4. Long-term project management
  5. Outside resources
  6. Independent learning
  7. Reinforcement of personal responsibility
  8. To complete work from the classroom requires additional time for some students.

I teach in a parochial school. Don't have the new-fangled technoresources that many have. I must teach students to be self- reliant, to have an approach to situations that have a product. I expect them to be responsible in turning in assignments. I have students, the same students every time, who don't have their work done. But I'm not going to stop assigning homework because these kiddoes don't care, parents don't care. I don't assign arbitrary things. My intent is to prepare students for high school and college. Not giving homework isn't going to help them at all. These days it's so easy to opt out of building *character*. Our schools are so rampant with students who are characters.

K.W. makes a point to which most teachers can relate: I just want to respond to the poser who asked, "What adults come home from a long day at work only to do homework?" I AM A TEACHER AND SADLY ENOUGH I HAVE HOMEWORK EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. HA HA HA . JUST THOUGHT THAT I WOULD SHARE THAT.....

 
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