Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Scott Elliot, an educational journalist who blogs at "Get on the Bus", recently blogs about attending a workshop about "testing and teacher quality." At the EdWonks 30th Edition of the CARNIVAL OF EDUCATION, Scott submitted his post about this workshop, blogging that "both presentations were excellent, but for now I just want to throw out one fascinating tidbit about homework."
Scott wrote, "Kathleen Madigan, a teaching expert with Advantage Schools, told us one of the most important things for parents to pay attention to is homework. Here's what she said:
-Kids who simply have homework assigned to them tend to score better on standardized tests.
-When teachers assign AND collect homework, kids scores go even higher.
-When homework is assigned, collected AND corrected, kids scores are as much as three to four times higher.
-The more feedback a teacher gives on a corrected homework assignment, the better for the student. Teachers who show their work, demonstrating how the problem should have been done correctly rather than simply marking it wrong with a comment will raise the student's standardized tests scores."
It is great for us teachers to assign meaningful homework, be able to collect it, grade it and provide meaningfulnful comments. In theory, this is the way 'it' is supposed to be.
A basic homework requirement for students at our school (at least those taught mostly by the former academic team I was a part of ), are assigned to read over and study what they did in each core class recently, read their AR book for at least 30 minutes, do whatever assignments they received that are due soon, work on any projects that are not immediately due, but are soon due, and to organize their school materials. Most of us core team teachers assign homework that is due in a day or two. Some of the work I assign is simply looked at to see if they did it. Some of it is more intently read and evaluated for correctness and format.
However, reality rears its ugly head. I teach 172 Seventh graders. The vast majority of them are classified as being "basic" or below. I do not have time to grade and provide comments or corrections for each and every assignment I offer my students. And unfortunately despite everything us teachers tell our students, once the students work is returned, that's it for THAT work. It disappears into the black hole of their backpack, gets shoved someplace into a three ring binder or lost or thrown away. Many of our students, unless they are forced to do so, will not pay attention to any comments. Yes, teachers can assign corrections homework to be done, but there are a myriad of problems with this also. Many students won't do it outside of class.
Some strategies I have used to combat the above teaching realities include assigning homework that is a small chunk that can be easily read and commented upon to provide some feedback for my students, such as quick write activities, two or three comprehension questions for a small chunk of standards based text or Social Studies Skills activities (graph/chart/map analysis, two to three paragraphs of text with reading comprehension or spelling questions; stuff like they will encounter on the standardized tests). We also go over the work in class, either just after the work is returned to students, or as part of a review activity prior to a quiz or test. Part of a students "Daily Homework" is also to correct any errors on any work that is returned to them. This is assigned, but not easily monitored by me unless I collect the work again. And sometimes I do collect it again, in the form of student packets. Letting the students know there is a packet due also helps them keep track of their work. I can also see at a glance if they are correcting the questions they got wrong. Unfortunatelyatly, the vast majority of them do not correct their errors. Some, usually those in the "far below basic" category, seem to be uncapable of keeping track of their work. Do any of you who teach in grades 7 - 12 keep folders in your classroom for THESE students? That is one possible way to keep their work together. But, will it help teach them the need for some basic organizational skills ?
I believe most teachers do as much as they can to provide 'meaningful feedback' to their students. If the teacher is not providing such feedback, then it is the students, their parents and the school administration who need to get involved.

What do you do about homework? Does the amount of feedback depend upon how many students are enrolled in your classes ? Does class sizes impact how much work you collect ? Let us know! Thanks for reading my blog, and as always, I welcome your comments!