Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homework? More like "1st Period"-work

At our school, the typical student will take 7 courses for the entire year.  If that student has AP Stat with Mr. C on their schedule, this means that a student has 6 classes in which they will have homework.  6 other classes with one hour of homework assigned each night means approximately 6 hours of homework.

Some careful accounting as to how those 6 hours that could be spent working on homework are actually spent.
Hour 1: Facebook
Hour 2: Call of Duty
Hour 3: Facebook
Hour 4: Facebook
Hour 5: Facebook
Hour 6: Being a 17 year old....and throw in a little Facebook

I don't think that I"m very far off for the general population of high school students.  Knowing that this is the truth, just why do we assign homework again?

Where do those hours get made up?  During the 6 hours they are in school, simply because that is how  you earn the points for homework completion.  Do it in AP Stat, show it in Pre-Calc, consume points, repeat tomorrow morning in AP Stat.  And it's Trigonometry Worksheets.  Is my AP Stat class really less exciting than trig worksheets?  Not a chance, but the homework "points" are more exciting as they appease the grade monger in all of us.

I'm all for allowing my students to make a choice about what they will be working on in class, as long as that choice involves learning.  Consistently in my 1st period class (and each other class that I teach), the choice is made to fill in some unknown quantities for some triangles that nobody cares about (not even the teacher that assigned the homework) Why are you assigning homework if it's getting done in AP Stat?  Can't they do that work in your class?

I don't assign homework.  I don't plan on ever assigning homework again.  I plan on assigning worthwhile assignments that students can make the choice to complete at home if they want to make it even more awesome.  I plan on doing things that are valuable in class so that students do not need to work at home.

Imagine if your job gave you a minimal amount of time each day to complete everything for the next day for your 6 different classes and your boss told you, "Just do the rest of it at home."  Oh, wait.....

Well, anyway, back to my 46 minute planning period :)


Rick said...

Students need to practice what they learn - at least my students in college need to practice. I guess it's possible the pace is slow enough in HS to given them time to learn and then give them time to practice to mastery. I wonder about an AP class, however, which should be at least half like a college class - even though I know many are not. How do I know? Students coming in with multiple AP credits are not much more prepared than those "poor" non-AP students.

Sorry for the snark, but I really don't see how an AP course cannot require practice time.

Christiansen said...

The practice time I require is done during a time when I value it...during actual class time.

I think quality practice time is essential, and that's what is done in my class. There is more than enough time to allow students to practice during class where they can have an individual conversation with me.

If I sent them home to practice something they understood incorrectly, they'd be practicing doing it incorrectly.

Rick, I appreciate the comment and I always love a snark.

Moose said...

Rick, I'm a college student and I can really see just how bad it can get. If anything, professors are even more out of touch in their teaching than high school teachers. So I'm stuck in most of my classes with the professor reading a PowerPoint out loud for 45 minutes a day, 3 or 4 days a week.

We get assigned lots of homework, and more and more professors are resorting to WebAssign where they can assign 10 problems that take 5-10 minutes (or more) EACH to solve, and we have to do 2 or 3 of these sets a week. We learn almost nothing in lecture because of how obscure the teachers are, so we're stuck putting in random answers until something fits in, and we use that for the next problem.

What about the exams? Those of us (like myself) who get the C's are the lucky ones.