Monday, January 3, 2011

How do I know how much homework to give?

Ms. Dorothy,
As a parent, I've often felt that a teacher gave too much, or not enough homework for my child.  Tomorrow I step into the lead teacher position in a classroom, and I find myself wondering how to strike that balance for the 27 children in my 1st grade class.  Any suggestions?
-New Teacher

Congratulations on taking the lead teacher position!  How exciting for you and for those 1st graders!  

Finding the right balance of homework is always a challenge because our tendency, as teachers, is to be "fair" and give everyone the same homework assignments.  

Homework should be about practicing what is learned in school.  It is rare when a majority of the  class is ready to independently practice the same thing at the same time, so having the same homework assignment for all of them doesn't always make sense.  

Consider the time that will be spent on each task, and the amount of support that each child will need to complete the work.  Whenever possible, make options to extend or simplify the assignment so that it can be catered to specific needs of different children.

Keep in mind the 10 minute rule of thumb for elementary students and think about giving homework that is open-ended and involves some choice.  That way students who are inspired by the topic can get carried away, and students that are able to turn it into something they are excited about can do that too.

Encourage creativity and applaud inventiveness in the way homework is completed, and your students will make projects of their practice.

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