Ms. Larissa Green » Why do we have homework?

Why do we have homework?

Are you doing your homework?

I know you’re not just watching cute cat videos on the Internet, right?  That cat was totally doing homework.  That was drawer was full of ‘relevant research’.

Why do we have Reading Logs?

While some educators may argue that homework should only count for a small percentage of the grade because students won’t do it, I argue that it should count for a substantial part of the grade so students will do it.  

In my classes, homework is an essential tool for learning the English language, and for students who are already fluent and skilled in English, it further increases their English vocabulary, background knowledge, and writing skills.

There is no magic trick I can perform, no SDAIE (Specially Designed Academic Instruction (in) English) technique I can use solely in the classroom, that can replace the fluency, vocabulary, and English skills students gain from reading regularly. 

Since I cannot let students sit in class and read independently for 15-20 minutes every day, when we only have 50+ minute periods, they must read at home.  And since it is high school, they are reading with purpose.  They must seek out, connect to, and discuss important ideas in what they read and be able to thoroughly explain them.  When students have to think and write about what they read, reading is no longer a passive activity.  That is the purpose of the Reading Log assignment.  

The 10 Minute Rule (No, this isn’t about the hall pass.)

According to the guideline of the 10-minute rule, the optimum amount of homework students should have is 10 minutes of homework per grade level. 9th graders should have 1 ½ hours of homework per school night.  Not per class, but total.  10th graders should have 1 hour and 40 minutes of homework per school night, total. 

Please note that for students who have learning disabilities, are acquiring English, or need to remediate their skills in certain subjects, 15-20 minute homework tasks may take longer.  And that is perfectly okay.  The main benefit of homework is that students who need additional time are not going to be rushed out of class with only part of their work done because the bell rang for the next period.  They can take their time to think and read at their own pace.

Although reading is an indispensable skill for every part of the curriculum, the onus of 'reading and writing skill' development has long been placed primarily on English classes.  This homework creates opportunities for success for Sp Ed and EL (English Learner) students, and it provides an external motivator for my GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) students who need varied, self-directed, deeper reading and writing opportunities to hold their, often flagging, academic interests.  

Most, but not all, of my Honors students enjoy reading books on their own.  So, while reading is a faster process for Honors students and not so much about building reading fluency, the Reading Log is a way for them to have self-directed study and choice in their learning.  They receive credit for thinking and writing about books that interest them while incidentally increasing their vocabulary. They will also have Accelerated Reader quizzes on the books they read to check their understanding of the texts they choose.

For my English Learners, reading English books at their reading level (determined by STAR testing) is an excellent tool for building vocabulary, English syntax skills, and reading fluency.

Reluctant readers will find that the only way for reading to be less difficult and boring is to practice.  The ‘movie in your head’ does not turn on until you can get past the decoding part of reading.  The only way to pass a hurdle that should have been jumped in Elementary school is to keep practicing.

Reading is a gateway to the imagination, and imagination is a vital skill for the 21st century work place. 

I know students rather play on their electronic devices or hang out with friends than study History, complete Algebra problems, study Chemistry, or read for English class, but homework is a required part of secondary education.

Reading Logs are not the only homework, as writing assignments started in class may need some time at home for completion or vocabulary needs to be studied, but they are the weekly staple of homework.   

When students are in college, they should plan for 1-3 hours of homework for every hour spent in a professor’s classroom.  The majority of learning in college takes place on the students' own time.  If I do not prepare my students for that, I am not preparing them for reality.

It is critically important that throughout the educational process, students build up their endurance level for extended periods of reading, writing, thinking, questioning, and solving problems.  This cannot take place only at school.  

All students need to be college and career ready by the time they graduate from 12th grade.  And that does not only mean that they took the A-G classes.  It means they are actually ready for the rigors of 21st century work, which does not end just because it is 5pm, and college has classes that are not over just because the professor finished the lecture.  We think, work, create, and problem solve at home.   


Research Support:

“Duke University researchers have reviewed more than 60 research studies on homework between 1987 and 2003 and concluded that homework does have a positive effect on student achievement.

Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology and director of Duke's Program in Education, said the research synthesis that he led showed the positive correlation was much stronger for secondary students --- those in grades 7 through 12 --- than those in elementary school.

"With only rare exception, the relationship between the amount of homework students do and their achievement outcomes was found to be positive and statistically significant," the researchers report in a paper that appears in the spring 2006 edition of "Review of Educational Research."

Cooper is the lead author; Jorgianne Civey Robinson, a Ph.D. student in psychology, and Erika Patall, a graduate student in psychology, are co-authors. The research was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

While it's clear that homework is a critical part of the learning process, Cooper said the analysis also showed that too much homework can be counter-productive for students at all levels.

"Even for high school students, overloading them with homework is not associated with higher grades," Cooper said.

Cooper said the research is consistent with the "10-minute rule" suggesting the optimum amount of homework that teachers ought to assign. The "10-minute rule," Cooper said, is a commonly accepted practice in which teachers add 10 minutes of homework as students progress one grade. In other words, a fourth-grader would be assigned 40 minutes of homework a night, while a high school senior would be assigned about two hours.”

 (  accessed: Aug. 29, 2014)




Ms. Larissa Green was recognized by LAUSD as highly effective in the following focus elements of the LAUSD Teaching and Learning Framework  (2013-2014):

1a2: Knowledge of Content-Related Pedagogy

1b1: Awareness of Students' Skills, Knowledge, and Language Proficiency

2a3: Classroom Climate

3c2: Purposeful and Productive Instructional Groups

5a2: Use of Reflection to Inform Future Instruction