Homework? During Break?

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Jan
  • 08
  • 2006

This past week was our first week back from Christmas Break and I noticed that some teachers assigned pretty serious work during the time off. I wonder if that simply sets students up for failure. We all know that the majority of our students (99.9% of them) won’t do the assigned work until the last night before returning. Some of them will forget completely. I’d say a large number would fall into that last category and simply not do the work at all. This is the same reason that I try really hard not to assign work over the weekend. In the spirit of trying to maintain connections between my two worlds of teaching and Web design, I’ll point out that Cameron Moll points out the same idea. Look at “4: Avoid Monday Deadlines.” It’s just too easy to not do the work when there’s no daily reminder and when there’s a natural desire to take some time off during a weekend.

Homework?

And is there a pedagogical reason we are giving the work or is it assigned because it is expected and it feels like the right thing to do? If the work isn’t completed, will the student really be at a loss? If the work is completed, will the student actually be better prepared for the rest of the course? I know that I assign work from time to time simply because I feel like I haven’t given homework in a while and I should. But I fight that urge every time it creeps up and I cringe every time I realize I’ve already done it (UPDATE: An online homework survey will provide some good data for an upcoming book on homework; it doesn’t take long to fill out).

I’m curious if we (teachers) assign work too often. What we’ve found at our school is that students are failing because they don’t do homework. Perhaps if there was less homework, more students would achieve academically. Should that be the reason that students don’t get the credits for a class, because they haven’t done work outside of class? Shouldn’t the credits go to a student if he or she has the skills the course requires? If we’re finding that homework is a huge reason for failure, if we’re finding that the current paradigm of homework isn’t working for a majority of our students, don’t we have an obligation to address that and seriously examine our homework policy?

On occassion over the years, parents have asked me why there hasn’t been any homework for the last 2 or 3 weeks. Going through the credential program at SJSU, I recall hearing from some teachers about a school homework policy that dictates the number of nights homework is required, with some schools going as far as requiring homework every night. To some, assigning homework means that you are a good teacher. Should teachers be considered less adept at what they do simply because they don’t assign homework as often as required? What if the lesson for the day doesn’t necessitate homework? What if there simply is no reason to assign work for the night?

During Break?

Certainly, special circumstances may require some students to complete work during vacations. Maybe they are in an AP course and need to complete the work to prepare for the exam, have missing work to make up, are failing, are doing extra credit, need to polish their skills – there are several reasons why work should occasionally be expected during days off. But for most students, for the majority of the kids we teach, maybe vacations or breaks should be exactly that: time off from school, time to relax and pursue other interests.

I Didn’t Do It

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t do a single bit of school work until the day before we went back. That work I did, about four-hours’ worth, got me all set up from now until the end of semester and even a bit of the beginning of semester two. How did you do? Did you get everything done that you wanted to? Did you grade all those papers? Were they ready to be returned on Tuesday morning upon the resuming of school? I only know one teacher who reached that lofty goal. And I know a lot of teachers.

So if we, as professionals, can’t seem to consistently get the work done that we want/need to achieve, how can we possibly expect our students to do so? But really, all of this gets at a much larger issue.

Do As I Say…

Do we, as teachers, regularly expect more out of our students than we are able to give? Because of the fact that I didn’t do a shred of work during the Christmas Break, I returned feeling like I actually had time off from work and I have been more excited about things, ready to take on the rest of the year. I wish my students felt the way I do and maybe having a 2-week break without work would help make that happen.

When was the last time you completed something you assigned to your students? Every time I assign an essay, I keep telling myself that I should try to complete it at the same time my students are working on it. This is something that I’ve done before (about 2 years ago, I wrote the beginning of most of the essays I assigned to my students that year), but I certainly don’t do it every year.

So if we expect our students to complete large amounts of work during a break (a 30-page packet, read an entire novel, complete a research paper), shouldn’t we have the same expectations for ourselves?

62 comments

1. Ben says:

[1/9/2006 - 9:34 am]

I actually had the same thought about homework over break Todd. As I contemplated our new homework policy for the rest of the year (no late homework, period) I started to ponder as to how much homework I should give. While I didn’t come up with the homework policy (something the school does for middle schoolers), it is good to make students responsible for carrying on their leanring at home. However, I’ve found that the vast majority of homework is busy work that amounts to worksheets, reading quizzes, and take home tests. Throughout the first two marking periods I’ve tried to give homework in at least one of the three subjects I teach each night. While spelling homework is easy, a lot of my other homework was getting neglected, just as you said. Homework wasn’t getting done and grades suffered because of it. While I don’t actually remember any of my education classes talking about the efficacy of homework, or research that was presented on how homework reinforces the daily lesson, I have noticed one thing this year. Generally speaking, the students that do their homework perform better on tests. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been trying to shift away from the dittos and worksheets in favor of critical thinking homework questions and reflective essays.

I have noticed another trend though. Students that perform poorly academically tend to perform poorly on homework, no matter how much I give them. While students that do the homework have more exposure to the material and are generally better prepared for questions on vocabulary, students without the necessary thinking skills don’t seem to build them with homework. I’m anxious to start focusing on more higher order homework to combat this. As for the feeling of “Must give homework every night,” if I’ve managed to get across the learning objective and the students seems to understand it (using assessments or other evidence), then there’s no real reason for the homework other than building good work habits and practicing skills.

2. Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

[1/11/2006 - 11:25 am]

I stopped assigning homework for two reasons:

1) Since I didn’t know who did it, I couldn’t fairly grade it.

2) If you work out 45min/day, you’ll get pretty fit. 45 minutes on Math at the level of Alg II or below is plenty if you don’t waste it.

I don’t condemn homework, but it has to be optional and given as recreation, as candy, for people who want it, not as an obligation.

These comments may not apply to English classes or History classes, where assigned reading will occupy students out of class. Even then it’s improper to grade work done out of class. If you don’t know who did it, you shouldn’t grade it.

3. Todd says:

[1/11/2006 - 4:24 pm]

Ben, I suspect that students who do homework perform better on tests because the type of student who would complete homework is one that cares a bit more about academics. I don’t think it’s because of the completed homework that the student performs better, merely that student’s attitude toward school.

Actually, Malcom, I was thinking specifically of English classes when I wrote the entry. The nightly assigned reading is as often not done as any other assignment. “If you don’t know who did it, you shouldn’t grade it.” Hmmm… That would mean that anything done by a student outside our classroom shouldn’t be graded. I’m not sure I agree with that. I think at some point you have to trust the student. Essay and story writing immediately come to my mind with this. Not all students can write during class; some students don’t feel inspired in the classroom and work better late at night or with music on.

4. Debbie says:

[1/12/2006 - 1:00 pm]

You know, I got back and forth on this topic. Last year, I gave a lot of homework (mostly reading and answering two questions per chapter) outside of class, and few students did it. The second semester, I gave almost no homework and did a lot of in-class work.

This year, I’m giving a lot of different homework. Most nights, my students have some kind of homework, but it’s only 10 sentences to label or 5 words to define or something like that. Plus, in most cases, I give them ample time in class to complete or almost complete it.

It’s getting better. However, I don’t take work home. I do no grading or planning at home because I know I won’t do it. I stay after school pretty late (you know this) doing that stuff. I do write essays or short stories with students, and I do write the keys for assignments the night that the students have them assigned.

But then, as you mentioned, I was one of those kids for whom education meant something. My dad never graduated from college, although he worked in the corporate world for good money, and my mom never used her teaching degree beyond student teaching, and became a SAHM soon after she graduated. I knew from age four that I wanted to be a teacher and that I would be in schools forever. However, I never did my homework at home in high school! I had computer games to program (on the C64) and movies to watch and books to read and people to call and naps to take and IRC to distract me. I did my homework the period before it was due almost exclusively, if I did it at all. I am walking testament that even the kids who care about school can successfully dodge the homework bullet.

5. ashley says:

[2/1/2006 - 11:21 am]

homework is stupid over the weekends!!!!!!!!!!!

6. Ben says:

[2/1/2006 - 7:38 pm]

Um…thanks Ashley? Care to elaborate on why it sucks? :)

Todd, you have a great point about a student’s attitude affecting their test scores. As far as elementary school and middle school go, homework could very well be an option. However, at the High School level I think that homework is a necessary evil in order to help prepare the students for college. My homework and time management skills were severly lacking when I entered college and my first semester grades reflected that. In an environment when almost all work is done outside of lectures and class (including reading and research), there has to be a point at which homework is expected before entering the college setting.

7. sumone says:

[1/30/2007 - 4:34 pm]

i think having hm at weekend is ridiculous
because its the only time that student can actually spend time with the family …hang out with friends
and care about their other life activities…
no teacher likes to work on weekend why do they want us to do so!!???its so stupid

8. Jason Cox says:

[2/16/2007 - 2:48 pm]

students should not have home work at all yo retards!!!!!!!!!!!

9. Jessica says:

[2/16/2007 - 6:25 pm]

homework sucks!

10. Todd says:

[2/16/2007 - 8:18 pm]

Every time anyone leaves comments like these last ones, there’s reason to believe that more homework is needed, not less. These last two comments make you look lazy and uninformed. It’s the same as writing “I don’t want to work, daaaaaaaaaawg!” That’s ignorant and just makes you fit the stereotype of those students who don’t complete their homework.

Articulate your ideas at least as well as sumone did. If you aren’t going to explain, don’t waste my time (or yours).

11. locke says:

[3/14/2007 - 2:16 pm]

http://www.ldsmag.com/ideas/061017homework2.html

http://www.meridianmagazine.com/ideas/061012homework.html

The current norm in today’s schools is to assign homework in every class, every night. The very rare exception is to not give out homework. The author of the two above stated sites, well-known Orson Scott Card, makes a few excellent points in his dual essays. The first is that no homework should be the default. Meaningless homework assignments are often handed out just to keep the kids busy. The exception is homework. The occasional essay comparing two types of authors, the history project where you make a timeline of the civil war. These are two examples of projects that are wholesome and encourage thinking and learning. The second major point is that kids need time to rest. Childhood is too precious to waste doing countless hours of homework. Kids need time to socialize and become involved in after-school extracurricular activities that help the child develop in every way, providing them with new learning experiences and enjoyable things. Enable them to develop their talents, not diminish them by countless hours of neglect as their attention is turned to school work and homework. Far too many family home discussions are centere around homework. The parent becomes the guard, and the child becomes the prisoner; unable to escape from the endless torment of meaningless homework assignments. There should not be any homework in our public schools today.

NOTE: Not every public school, or private, for that matter, fits the above description. Many schools have already realized this problem and thoughtfully adapted. But the overwhelming percentage of places of education does fit this description, far too well. We need to change this. And you can change it. I strongly encourage you to read the above links. Card makes fabulous points and defends them to perfection. Best of luck.

–Locke

12. anonymous says:

[4/14/2007 - 6:07 pm]

Homework has it’s ups and downs. It does help students get ready for testing and gives more practice. The down side is when a teacher (in the student’s view)gives homework during a break. For students they tend to forget and plus it’s vacation. Teachers do need a break with the students instead of grading papers all day. There should be a reasonable amount of homework overbreak. SOmething that isn’t too hard yet is simple enough.

13. sierra jenkins says:

[5/11/2007 - 8:59 am]

I think homework is really dumn when you have to do it over the wekend and we don’t need homework anymore
!!!!!!!!111

14. Todd says:

[5/11/2007 - 3:23 pm]

Sierra, see comment #10. Seriously, you aren’t helping prove your case.

15. Student says:

[12/18/2007 - 7:51 am]

Home work is annoying on weekends for those good students who actually get their work done. For those who don’t, it’s just anothe piece of paper they won’t make a mark on

16. Student says:

[12/18/2007 - 7:57 am]

And another thing, i really don’t mind homework, as long as it truly is helping a students academic ability, and not just busy work. Most teacher understaqnd this but some don’t and as a result assign enough homework for two nights or more on the weekend. I am not stereotyping or ethnicly grouping anyone. All i am saying is that teachers are human, and so are students, and we all deserve a little time off.

17. High School Student says:

[12/28/2007 - 6:43 am]

I’m not a fan of having homework/assignments given over breaks. After working extremely hard for the past few months, and exceptionally harder during the weeks leading up the the end of the semester, a two week break is something I feel people definitely deserve. I understand that there are summative projects that need to be completed, and I don’t mind spending a little bit of time on them. What bothers me is when teachers hand out extra work on top of other assignments that they know we’ll have to devote some time to.

I’m not exactly one to finish everything weeks ahead of its due date, and I have pulled a few all-nighters to get projects done, but with regards to work I have due after the holidays, I have been continuously working on it in order to complete it earlier. I was a little annoyed when, on the last day of school before the break, I was given yet another assignment that could have easily been assigned when we got back from break. Half of the students were not present, and I imagine very few of those who were present will a. finish it, or b. remember it.

As a student, I don’t exactly think it’s fair when students who have been giving their best have to continue working over break. I know that I will end up devoting a lot of time this break to making sure my work is the absolute best I can make it, just like I do during the rest of the school year. Other students who do not apply the same amount of effort during the course of the year will end up applying even less effort during break and they’re the ones who will end up getting the most time to do whatever they please, be it relaxing, or spending time with family/friends…

I understand that work outside of class is necessary in situations, and I do find most of it beneficial. But when it comes time for our “break,” that is what it should be, otherwise it should be called something else. If teachers choose to assign work just before the break, it will be the students that work the hardest and are most deserving of a break that will be spending their time off doing even more work. Therefore, I think that projects and essays should be completed and submitted before the break in order to alleviate stress and allow students to return to school refreshed and with a new, positive outlook towards course material.

18. Paul Phuoc says:

[12/28/2007 - 7:14 pm]

I don’t know about these high school students, but being in college, I miss assigned homeworks. No one is there to tell you to read this section or define these words because it’ll help on the test–it’s pretty darn hard to choose what to study for when a class requires the student to read the 800 page text in 10 weeks.

19. Sarah says:

[1/17/2008 - 12:37 pm]

To give a little bit of my share opinion on this subject. I can understand the both sides those that enjoy having homework during the weekends and those that does not. Both side prove very good points, I like something that high school student mentioned, it says i don’t believe all the people that perform well in shcool study none stop i totally agree with that, but there is a catch to that people like those you mention have either pictorial memories or they pay close attention in class, so they will not have to recepritate the information they once learned. I also agree with the comment that you made Todd about comments #9 it is really a waste of time. I have once learned that there are many different ways to learn and one of them is repetition. Like many of you says homework help some and does work much on others, it is just like female and male we see black and white meaning differently, Some came memorized and other can’t. My story is i grew up in a foreign country and finish my education in New York it is totally two different atmosphere, back home we learn to study and memorized and here you learn through pratice which is much much easier than what i first learned and get to adapt two both ways and they both helps in their own ways. In my opinion i believe a student should conversate more with their teachers or prof. to find a more adaptable way for them to learn faster. By the way love doing homework it improve your skills. The more you practice the more your skills become sharp

20. billy says:

[2/14/2008 - 10:38 am]

I have a very strong opinion about this page i dont think it is good for kids because i dont like homework at all..
it makes me want to die

21. jean says:

[3/23/2008 - 7:34 am]

i was doing an essay on ‘should weekend homework be banned?’when i came to this website for reference..hmm..basically i think that homework is definitely important.but ofcourse it also depends on the amount and time given.Doing homework can help us to practice and get used to the questions easier. As for the time, if we could cope and organise our time well during our break, spending time with friends n families shouldn’t be a problem.

22. Roseanne says:

[10/14/2008 - 4:36 pm]

Useless comments with no subject help absolutely nothing.

Speaking on the subject of homework, I think there should be some sort of restriction put on it. I cried myself to sleep more than once in 6th grade with my math teacher’s homework, which was completely off what we were learning that day. Now, I have no quarrel with the twenty minute math exercises to help imprint the lessons from the class on your mind. I have been taught by great teachers who somehow make learning fun. And then I have had teachers like her, who find no problem with assigning two projects and nightly homework that takes over an hour. There is good homework, and there is bad homework. The most important thing is being able to discern the difference, and assign the one that will help students learn.

23. person says:

[10/26/2008 - 9:46 am]

I think that it is ture that people get bad grades because of homework and homework should take 2hours and get no homework on breaks (at least spelling and bookreports

24. Kristen says:

[10/27/2008 - 6:22 pm]

Teachers think that they are the only subject that assigns homework. They think the work that they assign is all that we have to do. They don’t realize that we have 5 other academic classes that assign homework also! Teachers should not assign homework every night. You know how students are on different teams in school, such as team a or b. Well, the teachers on the teams are supposed to discuss what they are assigning. Sometimes I get 3 quizzes a day. And they call themselves a team! got to go do more homework and it’s 10:21 at night!!!

25. homework says:

[11/9/2008 - 2:03 pm]

i have a question, what do you students should not have homework over vacations. i have to write an essay and both sides have good points, think you can help?

26. homework says:

[11/10/2008 - 3:00 pm]

i meant:

why do you believe students should not have homework over vacations.

i have a good essay so far and a few good points, but any ideas?

27. Todd says:

[11/11/2008 - 8:06 pm]

homework, I took the time to write an entire entry about why I don’t believe students should have homework over vacations. You took the time to find that entry through a Google search or some such. You even took the time to write a comment, then come back a day later to revise that comment for clarity. And now you’re asking me what I wrote because you can’t find the time to actually read it? That’s hilarious! Look no further for evidence of why homework shouldn’t be assigned over vacations.

28. Terry Friedlander says:

[11/23/2008 - 5:28 pm]

As a former teacher in the tumultous 1960 ties, I never assigned homework over the holidays. I would recommend reading books such as from the N.Y. Times best seller list. Writing would be another option but it should be creative and fun. Keeping a daily journal of the vacation time is worth and introspective.
Given that technology and the internet have commanded so much attention and usage, find sites that stimulate the mind verses games.

TRY my website that was launched in July of this year. It is creative writing and if pursued earnestly, it can be challenging or not. ( http://www.piclits.com )

29. Terry Friedlander says:

[11/23/2008 - 5:30 pm]

Excuse my spelliing ( it is tumultuous )

30. Nicola says:

[12/22/2008 - 8:06 am]

I start my student teaching the begining of January and I am currently dealing with the homework debate. Currently I teach an enrichment program to help inner city middle school children learn the skills they need and receive extra attention with the intent on being accepted to the magnet high school of their choice. In this current position I am not allowed to assign homework, and I feel slighted by the restriction.

A textbook I had for a classroom assessment class (Stiggins) suggested no more than 15 min per night. I think that this is reasonable. I am one of the students that skimmed by high school doing homework for one class in the period directly before it. I simply accepted the consequences of not doing it. I also am one of the students that did poorly in a class for not doing the homework, while i had A’s on all the tests.

THe homework assigned should be manageable. No more than 20 min or so to complete. We need to adopt an idea that school does not STOP at the final bell. Parents SHOULD care about their children’s school work. I won’t accept the scorn of a society that refuses to care about the next generation. I currently mentor high school students and I get the comment all the time that I am hard, but it’s worth it because they learn so much from their time with me. ANd that is how I approach both teaching and homework.

Assign homework. But make it reasonable. Over a break I think that reading a novel such as “Night” or “Dawn” and writing a reflection (barely a paragraph) after each section is reasonable. The books aren’t even 100 pages long. I expect students to come to my class prepared and homework is what helps them grow in their skill. I think that reading content material in class is a waste. We discuss it in class and clarify. Otherwise I should not have gone to college and teacher training to just monitor inclass reading.

In short, homework over break? Yes, but don’t give them 10 days of homework. Shorten it to 3 or 4. Don’t feed their habit of putting stuff off to the last minuet. We are suppose to teach not just content but skills in school. Effective time management is a huge skill to learn. Homework is a part of this.

31. Harrison says:

[1/3/2009 - 3:32 pm]

I personally believe that vacation homework pushes the limits. If anything, vacation homework should be limited to extra credit for those students that need a little boost to get a better grade in the class. Instead it seems, that the vacation homework has a big impact on the final semester grade, and those students that needed that extra boost, only fall deeper into not reaching their goals. I am a 9th grader, with the highest grades possible, i don’t deserve this, it’s just that i do the homework which ends up being most of your final grade.
btw, i agree with Todd when he says that he believes the kids that do their homework do better on tests is because the kids that do their homework, tend to care more about academics. This winter break i received a huge packet for one of my subjects. It is 40 pages long and extremely time consuming. The way i find the answers to the worksheets is by looking for them in the textbook and then copying the answers verbatim. This packet does not help me prepare for tests, and i know i will have to do further studying to be ready for my final in that class. There fore this assignment has no purpose to me except for the points that will be given for completing it.

32. Gle says:

[2/1/2009 - 11:47 am]

It is not fair for students who do their hw during the week to get weekend hw
it should be like this:
If you did your hw during the week you will not be assigned hw for the weekend and those who dont do their hw during the week will get hw during the weekend and will recive a zero if they dont so it while the ones who do it will recive what they desserve…

DOes anyone understand my point…????

33. Hannah says:

[4/1/2009 - 6:59 am]

I am a high school student and can see both sides of the argument. I detest having homework over breaks…in fact, I was just assigned homework over my Spring Break. The assignment itself wouldn’t have been a problem except I was gone the ENTIRE week. I just think that teachers don’t realize that most students go somewhere during the break. It’s not like we sit around and twiddle our thumbs, wishing we had something to do. Teachers are just going to have to realize that homework over breaks is completely pointless. It only annoys students, and most don’t even bother to put effort into it…if they do it at all.

34. Phillip says:

[4/20/2009 - 5:34 am]

I think hm is like a robent it will never go away so i agree that there SHOULD’T BE ANY HOMEWORK.

35. Another High School Student says:

[11/1/2009 - 6:28 pm]

This is directed at comment #30 by Nicola. You talk about giving “short” assignments such as reading a novel that is less than 100 pages and writing less than a paragraph over each section. Did you take into consideration that students have 7 classes? So multiply your quantity of homework by 5 (taking into consideration that some classes are P.E. or homework-free electives) and decide if that is too much. Also take into consideration the length of the break, if you want to do that amount of work yourself, and if the work will help keep the students’ minds stimulated and involved in the subjects being taught or if it will just stress them as well as encourage resentment. It is alright to give homework, but in small mind-stimulating quantities that are only for making the student remember the topic. Some students (like me) get stressed about the whole homework situation (I take 3 AP (Advanced Placement) classes, a foreign language, and college algebra). I am a junior in high school. Many of us feel like we are over-burdened which de-motivates us in even starting our homework in the first place. For example, here I am, at about 8:09 pm sunday night, with a 1-2 page essay to write, a posterboard to draw and color on, a math assignment, a test to study for, an outline/rough draft to right for a essay test, which are all due tomorrow. I also have several other assignments that I wish I would have the time to get a head start on. Did I procrastinate? Yes. Why am I procrastinating right now? I am so overly de-motitived I feel like heading straight to bed and saying “Screw my homework, screw all the teachers who don’t have the common sense to understand I have a life outside of school.” But we both know I cannot do this because it would hurt my grade (-_-) . And last of all, why did I procrastinate in the first place? Well, like many other students who procrastinate, we get the due date of an assignment, we think “I’ll do this later, I want to do something that I like that makes me happy =) “. Then later, we get a worksheet (from every class) and once we finish, we either think “I did my work for the night, 2-4 hours is enough” or, “Well after coming home from my recreational activity, (sports or whatever), and then completing my hours of homework (and trust me it’s hours), its already 9 or 11 o’clock, time to go to sleep…=( ” . Then if comes near due date, and we feel overwhelmed by the project that is due along with the other homework assignments, so we feel like “This is too much, I just don’t want to even start.” This is where we get side tracked like me =) . Well that was about five times longer than I expected to write, but now you have an insight of a high school student who is interested in doing well in school. If you read this entire comment, thank you for your time. And please, for teachers like Nicola who are reading this, understand our side of the story, we are only teenagers and we have a lot of other problems going on and our mind and emotions are still devoloping. I’m off to go do what I can in my remaining time, so goodnight and maybe we can find a better alternative for this issue. Also, thank you Todd for writing this article, it has given me something to do and has helped refresh my mind and given me a different insight of homework.

36. Another High School Student says:

[11/1/2009 - 6:28 pm]

Sorry for not paragraphing that lol.

37. Student says:

[11/20/2009 - 9:35 am]

I also agree with a number of people on this forum. Several people have stated that homework is something that students can use to their advantage to help achieve higher grades on tests and things like that. But I also agree with the student types. I especially agree with the idea that students who may care about the grades can still dodge their homework.

Today’s world with tons of technology is a problem in itself. Many classmates I know (I’m a soph. in high school)multitask while doing their homework or some go to the extreme to not do it all. Other time they complain in class to the teacher.

But that aside, I believe that small amounts of homework are good. But one thing must be understood though. A teacher may be giving small amounts of homework, but there are other teachers giving homework as well. This eventually adds up to a tremendous amount. I think that’s the reason students complain and rebel against actually completing their homework.

38. Chris-(Freshman in High School) says:

[1/3/2010 - 11:53 am]

As a student, homework can be REALLY annoying at times but overall it helps you succeed. I don’t really mind homework over weekends, but I do mind homework over breaks. I’m currently on the last day of Christmas break and it’s really a killer trying to concentrate on stuff that I haven’t looked at in weeks. I know I procrastinated but Christmas break is time off to enjoy yourself, and here I’m very much overwhelmed with all of this homework. This is probably the most homework I’ve gotten over break EVER. I approve homework, but not over breaks.

39. Becca (Middle school student) says:

[2/18/2010 - 4:02 pm]

I think that homework is necessary in some situations (such as Algebra). Usually, however, it is not. Students should study on their own time, and written homework should be unnecessary. I personally feel like I spend more time working over weekends than on school days thanks to weekend homework. The worst, though, is when I rush to get a project done in time, and then the teacher gets it back in, say, a few months. I think this is completely unfair. If I do my (hmm… I’ll see if that worked…) homework in time and I work hard, why shouldn’t they?! Homework is fine, so long as it is actually beneficial, it isn’t over a break, it isn’t an exact echo of what we did in class, it is clear that homework has been assigned, and it is returned in a reasonable amount of time.

40. Becca (Middle school student) says:

[2/18/2010 - 4:04 pm]

Also, in agreement with “Another High School Student”, teachers should take into account that they aren’t the only teachers assigning homework when they do so.

41. Alex says:

[3/1/2010 - 3:48 pm]

Funny thing is that my homework for today was to start our introduction on your presuasive essay, fyi im 7th grader.

42. kay says:

[3/23/2010 - 12:42 pm]

i totaly agree there should be no homework on vacation the definition of vacation is a time off of work with homework on the weekends that is not vacation!!!

43. kayla says:

[6/10/2010 - 7:46 am]

i agree to your statement 100%, homework shouold truly not even be given on weekends or breaks because technically how is it a weekend if you have work to do? and isint 6 hours a day and 5 days a week enough for school?
i truly beleive that this should be promoted amongst all high schools, middle schools, and possibly elementary schools. but at the same time i am pretty sure that this policy wont be approved by anybody anytime soon.

44. Joe says:

[10/1/2011 - 11:56 am]

Homework is horrible

45. noah says:

[11/27/2011 - 11:11 am]

homework sucks over break’s !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

46. Anonymous says:

[12/12/2011 - 2:50 pm]

I think students should have homework over any breaks. They would practice their skills so they remember what they have learned in school.

47. Anonymous says:

[2/8/2012 - 5:50 am]

http://homeworksurvey.com/t to assign work over the weekend. In the spirit of trying to maintain connections between my two worlds of teaching.If the work isn’t completed, will the student really be at a loss? If the work is completed, will the student actually be better prepared for the rest of the course? I know that I assign work from time to time simply because I feel like I haven’t given homework in a while and I should. But I fight that urge every time it creeps up and I cringe every time I realize I’ve already done it (UPDATE: An online homework survey will provide some good data for an upcoming book on homework; it doesn’t take long to fill out).

I’m curious if we (teachers) assign work too often. What we’ve found at our school is that students are failing because they don’t do homework. Perhaps if there was less homework, more students would achieve academically. Should that be the reason that students don’t get the credits for a class, because they haven’t done work outside of class? Shouldn’t the credits go to a student if he or she has the skills the course requires? If we’re finding that homework is a huge reason for failure, if we’re finding that the current paradigm of homework isn’t working for a majority of our students, don’t we have an obligation to address that and seriously examine our homework policy?

On occassion over the years, parents have asked me why there hasn’t been any homework for the last 2 or 3 weeks. Going through the credential program at SJSU, I recall hearing from some teachers about a school homework policy that dictates the number of nights homework is required, with some schools going as far as requiring homework every night. To some, assigning homework means that you are a good teacher. Should teachers be considered less adept at what they do simply because they don’t assign homework as often as required? What if the lesson for the day doesn’t necessitate homework.As a student, homework can be REALLY annoying at times but overall it helps you succeed. I don’t really mind homework over weekends, but I do mind homework over breaks. I’m currently on the last day of Christmas break and it’s really a killer trying to concentrate on stuff that I haven’t looked at in weeks. I know I procrastinated but Christmas break is time off to enjoy yourself, and here I’m very much overwhelmed with all of this homework. This is probably the most homework I’ve gotten over break EVER. I approve homework, but not over breaks.
this is not fair because over the breaks we shouldnt have homwork

48. Dave says:

[2/26/2012 - 7:53 pm]

I find it very easy to relate and agree with a lot of the above. I’m glad to be in a district doesn’t decide that every hour not in school equals twenty minutes of homework or something of those lines. 3 hrs. of homework in 6th grade? This may depend on the student, but if that’s what I was in sixth grade, I wouldn’t go through the hell they are asking of me-in fact, it would be the teachers going through the hell my parents would be giving them for asking that I spend(waste) three hours of my free time on meaningless busywork-I mean, how do you accumulate that much homework in one night and have it all be, legitimate, timeworthy material? Heck, over the recent February break, I had no homework at all! Completely fair, as it is time off. From what I’m seeing above, seems like some teachers hear ‘break,’ ‘weekend,’ and ‘time off’ as ‘extended homework time.’ Thankfully, most teachers, including mine, are more generous/reasonable and don’t have the aforementioned tendencies. I’m glad I can thank my teachers when I get back for not giving me homework over break.

49. Dave says:

[2/26/2012 - 8:01 pm]

(I apologize for posting two times in a row)
@Anonymous(4th post above)- This is true…For summer break. Three months is a good time to forget school material, but I’m going to disagree as far as any other breaks, which generally aren’t longer than two weeks. It’s still possible, but I think teachers should avoid teaching new material or a lot of it right before break, and instead reviewing previous material, and taking it slow and easy with new units until school resumes.

50. JoeStudent says:

[11/18/2012 - 8:26 pm]

Homework over the weekend is certainly a topic up for debate, I won’t disagree with that, but I feel teachers shouldn’t increase the amount of homework they assign over the weekend just because students will have those extra days to do it. Many students do important things over the weekend, things that will help them in life just as school does. I have a friend who worked as a stage manager for plays over weekends (actually working with professionals and getting paid. Not some internship deal), which will not only give her valuable life experience, but also be an attraction for colleges. Many people play on sports teams to try to get athletic credentials up for recognition, and countless people are involved in any school’s particular after school activities.

The point I’m trying to make is that students don’t all spend that time when we’re not in school just goofing off being immature teenagers. Some (I’d argue a lot of the more responsible ones) are working to give themselves other edges in life in addition to academics. They use that extra time over weekends and breaks to better their futures, and isn’t that what school is about in the end?

In conclusion, assign whatever homework you feel is necessary and beneficial, but I just wanted to say that there are things you could be cutting into aside from some student getting to sleep in until 1 o’clock in the afternoon, or going to see that movie with their friends.

51. an AP student says:

[11/20/2012 - 3:00 pm]

To be honest I believe homework is necessary in some classes. In a math class it is used for sharpened what you had learned in class. It is VERY nice practice for the test. In an ap class it is super helpful.

For example, I am in AP chemistry. And we are given a huge packet 95 questions with 3 or 4 parts to it. It is great practice for the exam but it also sucks to be doing it when you want to be sleeping or relaxing at a park. There are many students in my class who are probably going to wait till the last minute to complete it. Which shows how prepared they are for college.

So in the end homework does suck. But it is very helpful in the end!

52. Middle Schooler says:

[12/24/2012 - 2:36 am]

Firstly,I thought we were taking about having homework during break and this is MY reason why.Todd you need to see the point of why homework sucks for us students. We do not need it over the vacation because that is our time for family and friends. Also all these comments seem to referring to how homework is fun. Which I think is completely absurd because who would like homework doing you’re holiday. I sincerely think you should reconsider the comment you just wrote readers. As for the people who keep writing how homework sucks than I believe you should probably think of some hard core evidence otherwise it just doesn’t make sense. I do not think homework will help us during the weekend an AP Student for one reason because we are still learning it the next day aren’t we. Also Todd please mind your words we are not ignorant we are just stating our opinion.YOU are being very arrogant by saying that.

53. Todd says:

[12/27/2012 - 2:37 pm]

Middle Schooler, you mention me specifically in that comment, so let me respond.

What comment is it that you think I “just wrote readers” that I should reconsider? You mention that about halfway through your thoughts and I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Maybe there’s a comment from someone else here, but I originally wrote this post way back in 2006.

Speaking of, you clearly did not read this post. You read a bunch of the comments and that’s what you’re responding to. If you had read it, you would see that I do see your “point of why homework sucks for [you] students.” Your 3rd sentence is a point I make clear in what I wrote originally. And something I still believe very strongly today.

As far as me sounding arrogant, the comment you’re referring to is one in which I say that the argument that you don’t need homework simply because they don’t want to work is an argument that sounds ignorant. There needs to be, to use your words, “hard core evidence otherwise it just doesn’t make sense.”

You make essentially the same points I do, but you’re calling me out as if I hadn’t thought of this before. I’m fine continuing a discussion about this, but you have to do your research to find out about the conversation you’re entering. Time consuming on an entry that has as many comments as this one, but still something you should be diligent about before making accusations. We actually agree, but instead of focusing on that, you just called me a few names, make me feel like we’re enemies here, and don’t take the time to find out what I was originally saying. That’s a shame.

So here’s an instance where not doing your homework can get you in trouble. See? There’s a time and a place for homework! Just maybe not assigned by teachers during breaks.

54. AP & IB Student says:

[1/2/2013 - 7:25 pm]

As the name suggests, I am an AP student as well as a part of the International Baccalaureate program. I read your (Todd’s) post and felt compelled to respond because you had mentioned AP students may need work over breaks to prepare for the exam. While I may understand that thought, I have to disagree. I am on break right now, and have been given an immense load of homework. After completing these tasks however, I don’t feel that I have acquired any more knowledge that I didn’t already gain from my time in school. I especially don’t feel that any of the work is going to help me for the exams. It is simply busy work and to be quite honest, from a students perspective, it feels like a punishment for deciding to challenge our intellectual abilities.
We get quite large amounts of work when we’re not on break and I attain more out of that work than I do out of the work given over breaks. Why? I believe it is because we are given thorough explanations and are able to interact with our teachers, teachers that have a better understanding of each student’s way of knowing than a computer or a textbook.
Break work also allows many uncertainties to creep into a students’ mind, and most of this information won’t make as much sense through a series of e-mails with the instructor. In addition, a lot of this work is hardly relevant to progressing in our studies anyways, rather it is work that leaves us in a stalemate with our knowledge. The teachers assign us this work to keep our minds focused, something that I do understand as an important concern. However, with all of the work given to us before and after breaks (the content of which is immensely challenging but also rewarding in terms of knowledge), I don’t feel as though the work is necessary. I learn more in the classroom than I do outside of it. With all of the work given during actual school hours, the need for an break becomes an immediate necessity; and being unable to have that break when most every other student does makes the tasks rather daunting and stressful. It’s also a bit infuriating to think about. If homework is going to be given, I don’t think it should be such a heavy load; one or two assignments [that doesn't have six assignments within it (i.e. part A, part B, part C, etc.)] would be more reasonable.
For the record, I find all of my teachers to be completely brilliant and do believe that I am learning a lot. I just don’t think that there is any gain in break work, it isn’t worth all of the time it takes from me. I would just like to spend time with my family like every other student.
This is merely one student’s opinion and I hope I did not come off as being rude, that was not my intent!!! I just really wanted teachers to understand it from a student’s perspective, or at least take it into consideration. Also, it’s still an annoying thing to think about (the idea of homework over break) because I still have more assignments to finish, and am still unable to have a carefree time with my family. Writing this also gave me an excuse to not do my homework… :P
I know I only wrote to about one sentence of your post, so I understand the irrelevance of it. It just really needed to be said on behalf of students in my shoes!

55. Someone says:

[3/27/2013 - 9:50 am]

I am currently on Spring break and haven’t had a single second of free time the whole time because I have been doing homework. I think that break should actually be a break from school, not don’t show up but still work week.

56. A.A says:

[4/6/2013 - 10:25 pm]

I know this is a bit out dated, but I’m also really torn on the topic. I believe homework assignments truly do inspire some students to work hard. I know the feleing where I would honest to god finish homework assignments with such a prideful feeling.

However, I haven’t had a day like that since high school has begun. I get a couple of days that come close, but never really hit the ball with me.

But then I’d hear news of countries that don’t assign much homework at all, and their students have been doing better than those of us in America. I have no way of telling whether this is true or not.

I wish there was a gray area to this, if there was some how a mathematical equation figured out by some school goddess from above that showed us what amount of homework was the perfect amount. I guess that part kind if depends how much of the teacher can sympathize with a student and the part the can be unsympathetic.

57. Amy says:

[7/8/2013 - 10:33 pm]

Homework over the break is really annoying because it is
usually when students meet up with friends and family. Students also do not want to be stressed over heaps of work because that is the opposite of
a vacation’s purpose.

58. Alexander Irizarry-Camarillo says:

[11/11/2013 - 5:34 pm]

I have been teaching for over twenty-years with LAUSD, and have had to become more flexible in the way that I too assign homework. I teach grade-four with more boys than girls. I decided that since I respect all my student’s
time and their assignments; I would have to be more creative in how and when to assign homework. I especially wanted to work with my boy’s, especially since historically they have problem’s completing homework and turning it in the next day.
The following are the changes that worked for me and my learners:

-I reduced the homework load in half. In fact the assignment would be reviewed the next day in class, so every student had to have it completed or they would complete it as we went through the lesson.
-If I didn’t teach it during the school day, and that day was busy with unwanted disruptions and change; I simply didn’t assign anything. I had announced that during Back-to-School Night during the beginning of the school year.
-It is unspoken, but reading must be done nightly. The reading logs help me monitor their progress.
-I modify for my students who have problem’s with writing. So rather than completing seven questions, I assign the two most interesting ones.
-I don’t make a “Big Deal” out of checking in the homework the next day. Usually, if they missed it they come up to me and ask for an more time.
-Finally, I make sure that every child understands the assignment, and can repeat it back to me. It has worked.

By making these changes I have had a more pleasant homework experience with my students and especially the parents. The tears and fighting at home have stopped, and on those certain days when I need them to hand something back to me the very next day, they do. I feel we each have to step out of our comfort mode and change prior beliefs to make this type of change work. Good luck!

59. Not going to happen says:

[4/11/2014 - 6:34 am]

Sara Bennett, the founder of Stop Homework and coauthor of The Case Against Homework (Crown, 2006), raised hell and ultimately changed the homework policy at her daughter’s school. GreatSchools talked to the lawyer turned reformer about preposterous projects and how children can learn to think for themselves.

GreatSchools: Why did you start an anti-homework campaign?

Sara Bennett: It started when my son brought homework home in the first grade. His first assignment was a reading log. He didn’t know how to read or write, so my husband and I filled in his log for him. At the first parent-teacher conference, the teacher said our son had to do the homework. I didn’t agree since he didn’t yet read.

I was an advocate in my work life, so it comes naturally to me to speak up. Whenever they’d talk about homework at my children’s school, I’d raise my hand and say, “Could you tell me why you’re doing this?”

Then in 2000 there was a big splash about a school in Piscataway, N.J., that stopped homework. And there was a book that came out around the same time, The End of Homework. This all gave me the factual basis that [homework] doesn’t make sense. It takes too much time, and it’s just busywork.

After that other parents came to me and said, “Can you help?” Also, my daughter, who is three years younger than my son, had more homework since she was caught up in No Child Left Behind. The standard became doing two hours a night. At that point, my husband and I were pretty radical about it and felt she didn’t need to do all this homework.

GreatSchools: Did that affect your daughter’s grades?

SB: Yes, she got pretty bad grades. But it was way, way, way too much homework. We had her do the background reading and not the assignments. But we did have her do the big projects so she wouldn’t be singled out.

GreatSchools: What about parents helping with homework?

SB: The first time I knew parents did projects for their kids was when my son was in third grade. They were supposed to make a little doll out of a clothespin that was representative of immigration. My son made the doll by himself.

I was riding my bike through the neighborhood and a parent said, “Hey, how’s your doll coming along?” When I asked, “What doll?” she answered, “Julian’s doll.” I told her that Julian [was] done with his doll. Then she told me that all the parents [were] making their children’s dolls.

It was unbelievable. When the dolls were displayed, my son’s was hidden in the back because it was the only one that looked like it didn’t belong in a museum. I went to the teacher and said, “Julian’s the only one who made his doll. I did third grade 30 years ago — I don’t need to now.” The teacher didn’t get it, but Julian did.

Both my children are artists. I think it’s because we never had our hands in their work [that] they continued to develop and are proud of their work.

GreatSchools: Dr. Harris Cooper’s synthesis of studies on homework indicates that homework does improve academic achievement.

SB: Did he say what it improves? My understanding of homework and achievement is that you will get a better course grade. Of course, you’ll get a better grade if doing homework counts for 10 or 20% of [it]. More than likely, you’ll also do better on the teacher-created tests by studying for them the night before. But that has nothing to do with actual learning. Most kids learn things for tests and then promptly forget them. That’s not real achievement. Real achievement is learning long-term life skills, the ability to be a creative thinker and work with others. Those should be the goals of education.

GreatSchools: One of your claims is that homework turns kids off learning.

SB: There are so many kids I know who don’t seem to be as intellectually curious as their parents were. My daughter went to a school at the beginning of sixth grade where, because there was a lot of homework, she never had time to read. I had her change schools. Her friends who stayed in that school are doing terribly at this point. They don’t like to read at all. They haven’t had time to develop their own interests. This is partially anecdotal, but it’s partially what educators are tearing their hair out over. Students today don’t know how to think; they don’t think outside the box.

GreatSchools: What should you do if your child has too much homework, or that it doesn’t help?

SB: My whole thing is that parents advocate for their kids. And there are different ways to advocate. If you’re going to complain, write an email but don’t send it for 24 hours. Be polite, and I always say less is more. Simply state what the problem is.

Often, teachers don’t think about homework. I had a conference with my child’s health teacher. The kids had to write a book report, and it had to be 12-point font and three pages, no more and no less. My daughter wrote her report, and it was two pages and excellent, but it wasn’t three pages, so she started to pad it. I said, “You are teaching the kids how to pad but not how to write.” [The teacher] didn’t get it.

GreatSchools: Is homework ever effective?

SB: If you are really engaged with something you’ve done at school and want to do more of it at home, that’s effective homework. If you’ve read one book by an author and you want to read four more books by another, that’s effective. To go home and answer questions about science or history, no. Are certain things necessary, maybe a little review if you’re taking a language class? You probably can do that during the school day.

Nobody is saying you should go home, sit down on your couch, and do nothing. But I feel like adults have more downtime than kids. If you go to the orthodontist, every kid is doing their homework, and adults are reading their book or magazine.

GreatSchools: Some say that the anti-homework contingent is led by middle- to upper-middle-class parents who have the luxury of saying no to homework. Whereas, low-income parents who want their children to get ahead expect them to work hard.

SB: If the schoolwork is busy work, it’s busy work whether you’re an upper-middle-class or a poor child. If in a poor school they are sending home books because [families] don’t have books in their homes, that’s great. To send home a worksheet that’s mind numbing — how does that help?

GreatSchools: But what if you want your child to go to the best college?

SB: What does that mean, the “best college?” What makes people successful is to do something they really love. It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity. People are so worried about their kids not achieving, but if people stopped to think, they’d realize: The economy is unsettled; the job market is unsettled. I’m not sure what professions are going to be considered stable. The skills you need are to be a good problem solver, a creative thinker. Is homework teaching our kids these skills?

60. Joshua says:

[4/11/2014 - 6:39 am]

I think in spring break we have over 300 question test in six grade I am in charleston charter math science so please comment back

61. Cyclone says:

[4/14/2014 - 7:20 am]

It’s not homework that’s the problem, it’s the old school approach on it. In Math, a lot of times I feel like I’m wasting my time doing an assignment. I wish teachers would take advantage of internet sources, such as IXL and check whether or not they did it each day as part of their grade rather than forcing them to practice skills that they’re never going to use and they can grow more. Of course students would have to go to the library in order to get it done, but I’m sure they would rather learn something in a way that both automatically checks them and gives them an explanation for it. This would help a lot with test prep too.

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