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But if the reading passages on a test cover topics like life in the Arctic or the habits of the dormouse, that student’s test score may well not reflect what she’s learned.

The research relied on by those who oppose homework has actually found it has a modest positive effect at the middle and high school levels—just not in elementary school.

sat down with Bempechat and Erin Bruce (Wheelock’17,’18), a new fourth-grade teacher at a suburban Boston school, and future teacher freshman Emma Ardizzone (Wheelock) to talk about what quality homework looks like, how it can help children learn, and how schools can equip teachers to design it, evaluate it, and facilitate parents’ role in it.

Parents and educators who are against homework in elementary school say there is no research definitively linking it to academic performance for kids in the early grades. Bempechat: I think teachers assign homework in elementary school as a way to help kids develop skills they’ll need when they’re older—to begin to instill a sense of responsibility and to learn planning and organizational skills.

And psychologists have identified a range of strategies that help students learn, many of which seem ideally suited for homework assignments.

For example, there’s something called “retrieval practice,” which means trying to recall information you’ve already learned.

The optimal time to engage in retrieval practice is not immediately after you’ve acquired information but after you’ve forgotten it a bit—like, perhaps, after school.

A homework assignment could require students to answer questions about what was covered in class that day without consulting their notes.

That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success.

If we greatly reduce or eliminate homework in elementary school, we deprive kids and parents of opportunities to instill these important learning habits and skills.

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