Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Doing the steps and not going anywhere

If I made an actual step every time my teacher said "step" in two classes I observed today I could have had a nice walk.
I don't see them learning, I just see them stepping. Everything is done for them and when they make mistakes and do procedure incorrectly, she says "Oh, you just forgot to ______________". No, they didn't forget. In order to forget, you must have known it at some point.

It seems to be a common practice to have students work on their homework in class. This, I believe, is an American construct. I find it useless, but people feel attached to it (also, which part of the word homework says that the work is supposed to be done in class?). I saw a teacher give kids and upward of 20 minutes to do their homework. About 75% of the students, if they even bother to attempt the homework, are out of their seats and ready to head out the door within 5 minutes. Now, there is all this talk about not having enough time to go through the material that one is required to cover, but there seem to be so much wasted time. Am I observing an extreme case, or is this practice common? Here is a questions for all the teachers out there: How do you feel about homework time, how much do you give and is it really beneficial?


Dan said...

Wasted time is a serious concern.

This idea that I'll assign you homework but give you time in class "to get started" is one I bought into for awhile. Able now to step back a bit, I played that game because it made planning easier. I could plan some, get a huge assignment ready, and then appear magnanimous by letting them fill the time for me with practice.

I plan more efficiently now and send home less homework.

Darren Kuropatwa said...

I agree with you entirely. The face-to-face time I have with my students is incredibly precious to me. I can't get enough of it ... or rather, they can't. (Well, maybe they can; let's say shouldn't. ;-))

There's a big difference between guided practice and homework. I've seen many teachers do as you describe. In my class, I start right on the button (usually with an introductory problem or three) and go until just after the bell.

I don't know how other teachers are able to adequately cover the curriculum by giving their students time to start their homework in class. Like you said, homework is to be done at home. My students get about an hours worth each night -- usually 20 questions.