Thursday, November 5, 2009

Year round school

On last month's post for this topic, Anonymous recently left this comment:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Year round school":

"After recently touring a charter school which has always been yer-round, I am giving this more thougth and I must say I like the idea. Western PA in particular has a population high in thinkers of status quo as the only option. We seem to want the best outcomes but are unwilling to change our lifestyle to get it.

Funny story. A few years ago the PPS superintendent was fielding questions from parents about the amount of PSSA prep during a school day. The methods of getting ready varied from building to buildin and finally one Dad explained that he told his kid NOT to work on a PSSA Prep packet given as homework. The packet was given on a Friday and those hours between Friday at dismissal and Monday at first bell apparently should be off-limits for any learning. I find that the best work I do to help my kid with homework happens on weekends when we are less hurried and have the opportunity to take a rest and tackle it with a clear head. Call me crazy! P.S. I am bothered by ZERO comment count."

Posted by Anonymous to PURE Reform at November 5, 2009 9:11 AM


Mark Rauterkus said...

New Zealand wanted to beef up its rigor in its schools. More homework was part of the mix, of course. It backfired. New mandate came. Now, none of the public schools in New Zealand give out any homework at all. Zippo.

Would be nice if all the academic work was done within the school day since the day is seemingly getting longer and frequent (i.e., year round).

Questioner said...

CAPA reportedly has a longer day and block scheduling so that most "homework" is done during the day. Maybe this would work at other schools as well.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, if the kid hasn't gotten the concept, it's unlikely that the homework will teach it to them if the class didn't. If the kid has the concept, they probably only need a bit of practice.

That said, I think that homework should be MINIMAL in elementary school and after school programs there should focus on enrichment -- games (counting, developing strategies), story times, time to play in a guided environment. All the things that kids who lag behind in school don't get enough of at home!

Middle school age kids should be able to do some homework each day for math (repetition does help concepts to stick in the head), reading and special subjects. But, it should take an average child less than an hour to complete, and teachers should communicate so that bigger assignments don't pile up together. After school programs should provide some reteaching as needed and guidance in developing good homework habits -- sitting down, thinking, using the information that's given, asking for help after all those steps. The other time should be ACTIVE, CREATIVE or PRODUCTIVE.

Theoretically then, students are prepared in high school to manage better on their own -- seeking out help as needed when they need reteaching, planning their time, etc. Teachers should continue to make sure that the huge science project, the social studies research paper, the English paper..etc. are spread throughout the year, not all bunched in two weeks that coincide with concerts, championship games, etc.

Or you know, something like that.

deegazette said...

The point of my original post might have been lost. Let me say here, anonymously, of course, that I favor homework on weekends. Not hard homework, mostly just practice. A grammer packet is a good idea at the middle grade level. Hard homework during the day as described by Questioner is an excellent idea. Afterall, how many times has a parent lamented not being able to help his kid with math and how many times has a kid scrammbled to get a to a computer to type a paper?

Anonymous 5:26 sparks an idea. How about games going home with kids as their homeowrk? Send Apples to Apples or Clue or Scrabble home as an assignment?

Questioner said...

Games sound like an enjoyable way to develop habits and patterns of thinking, but it sounds like what is most likely to come home these days are standardized test practice packets.

But maybe the absence of anything near the level of PSSA progress contemplated a few years back should prompt rethinking of this approach. If you cram too many test practices down a kids throat, most will get so sick of them that they will find it difficult to summon the focus and interest necessary when the real test comes around. For this reason many students often do best on their original SAT attempt- or show improvement that is very small in relation to efforts to improve by taking practice tests. Other (more interesting) ways of practicing the necessary skills must be identified.