Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Open thread

Discuss what you like!

Update: On request, let's make this both an open thread and a spot for talking about parent's reaction to teacher conferences (for those classes that had them this week).


kanne said...

How much homework is too much homework in grade school?

Our 4th grader spends over an hour (sometimes well over an hour) on homework each weekday night. The problem is usually projects layered on top of "regular" homework.

hschinske said...

That definitely sounds like too much. One of the things I most bitterly regret in my daughter's education is that I didn't make more of a fuss about the fourth- and fifth-grade homework levels -- to establish either that she needed more support in learning executive function skills, or that the amount of homework was too much for even the most organized kid, or both.

Helen Schinske

Maureen said...

I have heard that the rule of thumb is ten minutes per grade level, so a 4th grader shouldn't spend more than 40 minutes. The best teachers my kids have had have told them just to stop when they reach that limit and to tell the teacher that it was too much.

It seems to me that the time limit should be age appropriate, not work level appropriate, so that even if the 4th grader is doing 6th grade level work, they should stop at 40 minutes.

kanne said...

We are trying to advocate for our child, but the teacher is reluctant to have different standards for individual students.

I think it's hard because she sees that he's doing well academically and appears "fine" in class-- but doesn't see the meltdowns that we see at home. We want a child that is academically prepared for middle school, but not burned out at 10 years old...

Meanwhile, down the hall, word has it that another 4th grade [Lowell] teacher gives almost no homework.

kanne said...

Does anyone know if that "10 minutes per grade per night" is any kind of school or district policy? Or is it just a general teacher guideline...

hschinske said...

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/policies/c/C12.00.pdf says

A range of time allows teachers flexibility in assigning homework. The following minimum/maximum minutes for homework are per student, not per subject:

(1) Grades K-2 - 5-10 minutes/day or 20-40 minutes/week

(2)Grades 3-4 - 10-20 minutes/day or 40-80 minutes/week

(3) Grades 5-6 - 20-40 minutes/day or 80-160 minutes/week

With the approval of the appropriate administrative supervisor, schools may exceed the maximum minutes for homework.
The middle school policy is here: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/policies/c/C13.00.pdf

and the high school here: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/policies/c/C14.00.pdf

Helen Schinske

kanne said...

Thank you Helen-- wow, it's interesting to see those policies! I wonder who the "appropriate administrator" is (to get permission to exceed the recommended homework time)?

So my student's homework is way out of whack with the policy-- what's he is doing per night is what is suggested for the whole week!

a mom said...

On the flipside, is it OK that my second grader almost gets no homework? He comes home with a math worksheet 1-2x / week that he burns through in about 5 minutes (at most). When asked at our conference about this, the teacher pretty much shrugged.

If I felt like my son was being challenged throughout the day, I would be almost ok with this amount of homework -- but a part of the conference discussion was about his poor handwriting and how he doesn't finish assignments in class. The teacher thought it would be fine for him to work on these things at home, but gave the impression that she wouldn't direct him to do these things or check his work.

I left our conference feeling pretty underwhelmed.

robbie said...

Kanne - There are 3 4th gr teachers at Lowell: Schilperoot assigns almost no HW, so yr either talking about Perkins (way too much HW IMO and not always clearly communicated) or Jacobsen (I'm not sure about her HW load). An hour is way too much time, esp on a reg.basis. Its stressful for the kids. But Ms Perkins (e.g.), who has been at Lowell for 10 yrs, wont re-assess her HW policy unless she hears concerns from multiple parents - critical mass is necessary to effect change, esp w/a seasoned teacher. Many parents seem concerned, but unless we're all direct w/her about needing HW guidelines/priorities/cutoff time (40 - 45 min max per nt), I doubt we'll see any changes. I feel like pple have complained amongst themselves incessantly about this, but are they direct w/the teacher about the issue? Perhaps a mtg w/Mr King would help, as to establishing school-wide policy in these matters.

This brings up a major point I've noticed at Lowell - the sometimes radical differences in classroom activities, curriculum taught, and HW levels, across the diff APP classes in each grade. The differences have become more obvious now w/less classes for comparison - eg, in Lowell 4th gr, yr either in the easy/fun class (Schilperoot), the more work but still fun class (Jacobsen), or the really tough/strict class (tho Ms Perkins has the reputation of being an excellent teacher, and she really cares about the success of the kids; apparently her kids are WAY prepared for 5th gr.). The lack of a written curriculum is prob an issue, but I've never seen such variance among classes in my childrens other schools.

I know there's some kind of unwritten rule about not calling out teachers by name, but I'm not sure why, or how else to deal w/these kinds of issues. It would be great to hear more about experiences in individual classrms. Anyway you need to know yr not alone, although parents whose kid had tougher 3rd gr teachers are happier this yr, so its all relative.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Perkins does assign a lot of homework, probably too much, but apart from the quantity I thought it was about the best I'd seen. I really liked the Wordly Wise assignments. She also gave much more written feedback than most teachers do. In general I think she's one of the best.

Ms. Jacobsen's homework was clearly stuff that had been repeated for many years (the geography assignments were way out of date -- asking for the capital of Czechoslovakia rather than the Czech Republic, that kind of thing). The amount was not burdensome and she was good at getting my reluctant writer to utter on paper. I wasn't wild about the long-term projects.

Anonymous said...

Speaking from our past experience with 4th grade - I can tell you that our child had Schilperoort - and received little (if any) math homework the entire year. In contrast, we had friends who had Perkins and had an enormous amount of math homework.
I can't say that it had a huge effect on the 5th grade year - our Schilperoort kid is not "further behind" as a result of that year.
I vote for less homework - they will start to get plenty of homework in middle school.