At the EML, they decided that homework is best used for …
- … between-class work to bridge the gap between today and tomorrow.
- … structured, independent work to free up in-class time for social or extended learning. (cf. these guys.)
- … study-skill development, for learning how to learn and study math and develop a productive disposition.
Her demonstration assignments required no more paper than what they were printed on and they were further scaffolded by …
- … a student contract to the effect that this is a serious class and you will need to complete this work to be successful.
- … a teacher contract designed by the students to the effect that the teacher will bring the heat every single day. The practical result of both contracts was largely symbolic but DLB said it set a powerful tone for the course.
- … homework kits containing scissors, tape, and other necessary supplies.
- … explicitly labeled problems. Three varieties.
- Independent practice. Skill development, reinforcement, and reflection, designed to be completed without help. In fact, students were told not to get help.
- Preparation for new work. "Go as far as you can." This was work they hadn't been fully taught, designed to teach tolerance for difficult work and a productive disposition toward math. Students didn't finish the majority of these assignments.
- Work to be shared. This was to improve home/school communication, to develop a student's ability to narrate her own work. "Share what you're learning with someone in your home."
The EML (which, it must be said, hardly resembles a student's experience in a traditional classroom during a traditional school year) posted a 100% homework submission rate. I'd soften my stance toward homework even further if I could a) get someone to teach me how to create these assignments and b) get several members of my department on board to distribute that creative work.
I would love to have a conversation about this attitude towards homework at HCHS. When Dan says, "a) get someone to teach me how to create these assignments and b) get several members of my department on board to distribute that creative work." I definitely have b) in my department, and I think I have people to help me with a) in my school. Now how to make the conversation happen?