Educators around the world are calling into question the value of homework and what types of extended learning are truly helpful. At Allen we value other aspects of life including family time, rest and play. With that in mind, the question we are asking is… how can we organize student learning outside of the classroom so that it is productive and efficient?
Home Learning is presented on a schedule that allows students to control when, and sometimes how, they engage in their learning outside of the classroom. The level of control given to the student will of course vary depending on the age of the child. Teachers and parents play a more integral role in the early years and we allow our older students to own more and more of the responsibility for their learning. We hope this will teach all of our students to tackle the challenges of learning on and off campus with similar vigor. This skillset will certainly help them as they move on to college and the rest of their lives.
It allows students to focus on three critical components of learning:
1- Students can focus on what is being learned as opposed to just doing things/turning work in.
2- Students are better able to own their learning. They can manage their time if they know what is due in advance and seek support as needed. In the process of learning the content and skills they will also learn about themselves.
3- Both of these areas of focus will contribute to Allen students being adaptive learners.
How is it different than homework?
Traditionally homework has been assigned to the entire class and was due, for everyone, the next day. Home learning will deemphasize everyone needing to do the same work as well as work being due the day after it was assigned. Students will know generally a week in advance what is to be done and the specifics of the assignment may be different for each student.
How can you guide your children?
Questions similar to the following may help you have conversations with your children around Home Learning:
1- “What could you be working on to get ahead?”
2- “Are there activities you could work on tonight that will help you at school?”
3- “What are the Home Learning activities that recently have helped you learn?”
4- “What have you learned about yourself as a result of Home Learning?”
Why do some teachers post Home Learning differently?
Different subjects and different teachers have reasons why their platforms are the best for their students. We believe that part of adaptive expertise is that students should be able to find their Home Learning in a reasonable number of digital places.
How does the schedule support this?
In the Lower School, students have the time to interact with teachers in ways that develop a good understanding of the Home Learning experience. Teachers have the ability to direct and redirect student planning efforts which combine school and Home Learning modalities.
Middle and Upper School students have a study hall at least once a day. This allows them to prioritize their learning in terms of what they want to cover at school and what they would like to work on at home. US students have study hall twice a week and drop periods three times a week. This also allows them to determine what they want to work on when.
How far in advance do students know what Home Learning is available?
In the LS, experiences are assigned in ranges including several days, a week, up to a month in advance.
In the MS/US all students know what is coming up at least five school days in advance.
Will students still cover all of the curriculum?
Home Learning will allow students to push themselves regardless of the pace of other children. We feel that Home Learning will help students reach their maximum potential.
How will this affect our family time?
One of the key elements to Home Learning is that flexibility in the schedule allows families to have more time together doing things that they enjoy.
I think I get it… but what does it really look like?
A student who is going to start a new unit on September 1 will have access to those resources a week ahead of time and could dive into the learning prior to it being rolled out in class. That student could also bring resources to the teacher to have an impact on what the whole class will learn. In another scenario, a student who has struggled to learn a concept could opt into further review for a couple of days until they have mastered those concepts. Similarly, a teacher could identify an area of interest and assign a certain group of students a specific challenge that only they dive into because of that passion.
What will be the benefits of Home Learning?
On the student end they will be in more control over when they engage in their work. This will help them become more independent learners. In terms of families, there will be more control over their lives because there won’t be the “what do you have to do for homework tomorrow” discussion at home. It should look more like “what could you be working on for next week because you know we have (fill in the commitment) this weekend”?
Where can I go for more information?
Book- Homework Myth
Another school’s efforts- American School of London
Blog post- Nix homework to help students? What the science says.
Houston Public Media- How homework overload stresses out families8
NPREd- Homework: A new user’s guide