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From a Mountain to a Molehill: Making Homework and Grading Manageable. Vision 2020 Summer Conference Oklahoma City, Oklahoma July 9-11, 2013. Rick Herrig , Ed.S . Educational Consultant Herrig Enterprises Inc.

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From a mountain to a molehill making homework and grading manageable

From a Mountain to a Molehill: Making Homework and Grading Manageable

Vision 2020 Summer Conference

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

July 9-11, 2013

Rick Herrig, Ed.S.

Educational Consultant

Herrig Enterprises Inc.

Email: [email protected] Follow on Twitter: Rick [email protected]

“Chronic homework noncompliance is an educational, not a Manageablebehavioral problem.”- Goldberg, The Homework Trap, 2012, p. 73

Homework, purposefully designed and assigned, enhances learning. As teachers, administrators, and parents, we need to ensure this happens.

  • What can districts and schools do?

  • What can teachers do?

  • What can parents do?

    Let’s first look at what we should be doing...

Districts and schools
Districts and Schools Manageable

Policy and practice – guided?...monitored?...formalized?

  • Established homework and grading policy defining

    • Staff development commitment

    • Teacher requirements

    • Student – Parent support systems

    • Review procedures of current practice

    • Action research procedures

  • Research driven, recommendations implemented

  • Part of a learning focussed solution

Teachers Manageable

So what can I do absent district or school initiatives?

  • Implement homework and grading practices that

    • Self assessment of belief system and practice – “What am I doing wrong?”

    • Consider homework and brain research findings

      • Inform students of purpose

      • The amount and type of homework should vary

        • according to their developmental level, and

        • home circumstances

    • Has meaning for each student

    • Emotionally safe for students

    • Active and engaging others (primarily peers)

    • Minimizes, or eliminates, grading (10%) - If graded, eliminate penalties for lateness (measure of learning or work effort?)

    • Start with something over nothing

  • Provide student and parent support systems

    • Before, during, and/or after

  • Review procedures of current practice – Peer review

    • By team, department, school-wide

  • Action research procedures

Parents Manageable

  • Monitor, don’t do, homework

  • Provide a set time, location, and duration for homework

  • Foster alliances, build relationships

    • Before and/or during the school year

  • Advocate for your family

  • Research suggests parent involvement should be kept to a minimum and focus on showing interest in and support for the learning goals.

  • To maximize learning, all students should have breaks (recess, lunch, free period) during every school day—whether they have completed their homework or not (apply this to home too).

Let s take a closer look at how one school accomplished this
Let’s take a closer look at how one school accomplished this...

Districts and Schools

  • Formalize the process

    • Collaborative Conversations (Valentine, 7 – 2010)

      • What? How? How Much?

        • Instructional Practices Inventory

    • Examine Current Practices

      • Frayer Model applied to IPI and current practices

    • Continual monitoring

      • Baseline data

      • Progress monitoring and action research

    • Policy changes

      • Repeat 1 – 3 above at implementation level

Examples of what i would support
Examples of what I would support... this...

  • Homework will be assigned when additional study and preparation is needed, not:

    • You will receive a homework packet on Monday; it will be due on Friday. Schedule your time carefully so that you do not have too much to complete on any single evening; but would support

      • You will receive a homework packet on Monday with homework assignments designated for each day of the week. Each morning, you will work in groups to go over the assignment due that day and clarify any confusions. I will monitor the groups to record who completed the homework. You have the entire week’s assignments so that you can schedule your time and work ahead if you know that a specific evening is already busy for you.

  • Grading policies that supported “do-overs” and minimized the effect of homework non-compliance

    • You would get my support publically once, not likely again

What we can control is what we do in the classroom
What we CAN control is what WE do in the classroom... this...


  • Examine your own homework practices.

    • What is the purpose?

      • Practice – feedback, not graded (most frequent reason homework assigned)

      • Preparation (pre-learning) – inform instruction , not graded unless replaces summative assessment

      • Elaboration (extension, processing) - feedback, inform instruction, not graded

      • Checking for Understanding - inform instruction, not graded unless replaces summative assessment

    • Design homework around purpose.

  • Collaborate with like-minded colleagues

  • Adopt homework research recommendations

Research recommendations
Research Recommendations this...

  • Homework should be purposefully designed

    • Crosswords? Word search? Color a map?

  • Homework should not be graded or reduced to 10% (why?)

    • Neatness counts? Non-academic attributes?

  • If homework requires assistance (new learning) it shouldn’t be assigned and graded

    • Signature and description of assistance

  • Apply 10 minute rule/grade level (Cooper 1994, 2000)

  • Assign homework in minutes not numbers

    • Math problems 1 -36, reading assignments 3 sentence summary

  • Assign Anticipation Guides as pre- and post-instruction knowledge check

  • Break down mass practice as distributed practice (over time)

    • Recall prior learning during assessments

Research recommendations cont
Research Recommendations (cont.) this...

  • Differentiate homework

    • Time, learning style, amount, difficulty (parallel task)

    • Math 1-36

    • Allow students choice

  • Allow space on homework assignments for clarifying questions

  • Provide feedback on homework assignments

  • Allow students to use their homework during assessments

  • Collaborate with other teachers regarding homework, projects, and assessments

  • Assign positive consequences for completing assignments rather than negative consequences

  • Homework, or any learning activity, should not lose site of the academic focus

The nclb effect
The NCLB effect.... this...

“It is perfectly all right to teach students curricula over which they will not be tested, but in this day of accountability for results, it’s fool-hardy to test students on curricula they have not been taught and taught to mastery...Teaching one thing and testing another tends to discriminate against the socioeconomically poor and disadvantaged students, since they are the most dependent on the school as the source for their academic learnings.”

-Dr. Larry Lezotte

Closing thoughts….

Rick Herrig, Ed.S.

Educational Consultant

Herrig Enterprises Inc.

Email: [email protected] on Twitter: Rick [email protected]