#modphys 19/180: Rethinking Homework

I had read Alfie Kohn’s deconstruction of homework a few years ago, and adjusted my practices somewhat, but when I arrived at my current (IB) school I followed the party line and started assigning plenty of homework to my math and physics students. Our student handbook asks students to be ready for “3+” hours of homework every night from their six courses.

Three hours of homework every night?!

I tried to be lenient, extending deadlines and minimizing what I asked. Now, with the new curriculum for IB physics, I don’t need to assign long lab write-ups. But I still feel the homework I have been assigning has been a heavy burden with marginal benefits. Kelly O’Shea wrote about her efforts to kick off homework, concluding that a better question to ask is, “how do I want my students to spend their out-of-class time?”

Tomorrow I will assign my first take-home-and-do-it-alone assignment to the grade 11 physics class. I will require that it be handed in, complete, before students write a make-up test on the Constant Velocity Particle Model. I will also provide feedback to other students who wish to hand it in.

On that note… time to go write a homework assignment!


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