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But traditional homework has many defenders, who say it solidifies class learning and fosters good study habits.Before the new school year, we hear from several teachers from across the state, who work in different grade levels, about their hopes, concerns and goals for the upcoming year, from teaching the fundamentals to mandated testing, to creating a positive classroom climate.I guess what I'd first say is I can't speak for the majority of teachers in Merrimack.
Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Mark Mc Laughlin, assistant superintendent for Merrimack, about the new protocol and what it means for teachers and students. For instance, we can't determine the degree to which students have gotten help from outside sources.
Of course it's very important to get help, but the issue is if it's going to be graded, how much help makes the grade an inaccurate reflection of what a student knows and is able to do.
So, how many students come from families with no support?
How many students come from families who provide just right support?
I would say that those with whom I've spoken, some have said that they've seen a dramatic increase in the motivation of students in their class because they are released from the fear of a grade related to their homework.
I've seen others who've said that this hasn't really changed much [with] the practice of students. And if they didn't, this didn't really change much.Certainly, there are folks in the community, including some educators I'm sure, who are skeptical of what we're trying to do and I embrace that.This is not a business where we should put up our hands when people raise an objection, because you know we need to be thinking.Is it really legitimate if they can go online and search for an answer in particular, or maybe get help from a parent and that kind of thing? Well, what about students who aren't good test takers?Traditionally, you know, those students could compensate somewhat by being very diligent with homework assignments, and that would help bring their grade up to a certain point.How many students come from families who provide probably more support than would be appropriate to be able to assess what they know and are able to do?So again it's about really assessing that student's competency on their own and not necessarily the work being checked off done. Some school officials have said that this does encourage students, though, to not do homework since they won't be graded. What kind of feedback are you getting a few weeks into the year?And that's passed in and a certain number of them are right or wrong, but you get credit for having just simply done it, that credit added to an average doesn't accurately reflect really what a student can do when called upon an assessment situation.And then couple that with the fact that it's very hard, almost to the point of impossible, to assess equity in that.If homework is about practicing (or integrating) new learning, much like scrimmages in basketball or football, then it seems reasonable that teachers would provide students with feedback on their homework, and time to use the feedback to get better at what they are doing (and learning).By spending a little bit of time thinking about formative assessment practices while designing/constructing homework assignments/questions, a teacher can get a good understanding of where that student is in their learning, so wouldn’t that make it formative?