Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

March 22, 2011

What role does homework play in your curriculum? Is it part of the summative assessment, assigned a grade, or a percentage of a grade?

 #Edchat 03-016–2011 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Thank you to Catlin Tuckers for this week’s summary of what was quite a fiery #edchat discussion. The subject of homework is one dear to everyone’s heart, parents and learners included so there were many pros and cons and I’m sure you will agree that Catlin has captured the flavour of the discussion very well! Catlin is a regular at #edchat as well as providing a great deal of value for educators across the online education world. Thank you Catlin for a great summary. Find out more about Catlin in her bio at the end of the post.


A dominant theme at this week’s edchat discussion seemed to be that we may be assigning homework because we have always assigned homework and that we haven’t necessarily really looked carefully at the why, what and how of homework. Most people felt that homework had to be relevant, interesting and useful and that it was ok NOT to give out homework. We also felt that other options could be explored such as learners designing their own homework tasks or assigning tasks for each other. Another powerful argument was in favour of learners exploring the subject themselves and deciding where they wanted to go with it. Although some people felt that homework was useful and should be given everybody agreed that it had to be well-designed and well-thought out and as much planning should go into homework as into the rest of the school day. (Berni)

 Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  • Homework is necessary to reinforce understanding of concepts covered in class.
  • Homework must be interesting, relevant, and fun to be effective.
  • Boring homework does not get done.
  • Students should get a degree of choice in their homework.
  • Valid learning takes place beyond the classroom without homework.
  • Homework is an invasion of other interests, family, work, etc.
  • Homework may make it more challenging for second language learners and low-income students to be successful.
  • Use technology to make homework more engaging.
  • Use homework as formative assessment.
  • Defining the purpose of homework.
  • Is grading homework necessary or even helpful?
  • Homework develops life skills (i.e. organization, time management, discipline, etc.)
  • Flip the traditional teaching model so information is presented at home and practice happens in class.

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 

With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.

jleung10: Loved asynchronous HW part of my MEd. Involved conversation around topics with teacher feedback, flexible time to accomplish.
meganlearner: I don’t think that hw has 2 look the same 4 each student. Can be open-ended assignment that they can tailor to them
cfanch: Need to get to a point where students “always” have homework (even tho not assigned) – in other words they review their day’s work.
jessiekrefting: Not everything that can be counted can be assessed & not everything that can be assessed can be counted
michellek107: HW could & perhaps should be used as a formative assessment to guide the teacher not2grade the students
stumpteacher: Teachers that think kids will be motivated to do HW if graded are wrong…kids are motivated by meaningful work
schoolsEDU: Personally think homework is about practice and getting better as opposed to right, wrong, and quantity.
stumpteacher: Bigger issue for me is a kid’s grade driven down for not doing HW. Is that not a reflection of behavior and not learning?
tomwhitby: If we plan our curricula thoughtfully, all that practice could be done during the school day.
davidwees: Steps to reduce homework footprint: 1-Don’t assign busy work 2-Give students choice 3-Treat as ungraded
jleung10: effort up for discussion in grades if the grade is a measurement of student mastery? Effort muddies the mastery waters.
remi_collins: My fear is that run out of time to teach it in class so unload it on kids and parents and call it homework.
George_Haines: I think our instant gratification culture is infecting our common sense about practice.
2footgiraffe: Been training my students to Learn how to fish – instead of stealing fish from classmates (cheating)
virtual_teach: When my students were assigned boring worksheets, they didn’t do it, but when assigned as necessary (videos, bring items in) 100%
stumpteacher: Does HW set up children from low income, non-traditional, or non-english speaking homes for failure?
lysmekah: is it impossible to believe that in their spare time students ARE learning? just engaging with life and others learning happens
patrickbohnet: Differentiate with Technology! Find your students learning style either multiple intellegences or visual, auditory, kinesthetic!
HHG: What if homework’s purpose was to engage families and allow kids to make meaning of the content within safe relationships?
chris_reuter: My students are creating their own homework, Blogging for fun, searching for youtube clips to extend classroom discussion, etc
leahmacvie: Homework should be more about discovery. If lecture and HW were flipped, this could be facilitated
CTuckerEnglish: Making the “value” & real world applicability visible to students is 1st step in encouraging students to value HW
stumpteacher: So a certain degree HW is not respectful of the family time that many families need/want after school.
Matt_Gomez: I know I have assigned decent HW when I am excited to see what they bring back
virtual_teach: we should be filling our day w/such exciting things that they WANT to do more at home!
davidwees: The kids who didn’t get in class went home and if they attempted the homework, did it poorly, reinforcing conceptual errors.  
erinneo: I am not anti-homework. I am anti-waste time and energy on things that don’t matter.
QZLPatriotHawk: Homework to me has a valuable place, but the purpose has to be defined. Why am I assigning this shld b asked each time assign given

I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:

Should student access to technology be a right? How can teachers teach 21st century skills without universal access to technology?

To follow the complete discussion see here 

For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared:

Catlin Tucker teaches English at Sonoma County’s Windsor High School and online writing courses through Axia College. Named Teacher of the Year at Windsor High School, she complements her in-class instruction with an online learning platform called Collaborize Classroom in a unique blended learning curriculum. She is the San Francisco Examiner on Education, writes a Blended Learning blog and is currently writing a book on the subject. Catlin earned her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles and English Teaching Credential and Education Masters from University of California, Santa Barbara.

New to Edchat

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat. 

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