As a teacher, what is better -- in class work or homework?As a teacher, what is better -- in class work or homework?

130 Answers

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I tend to think the work we do together as a class is the most important, but if students aren't reading and interacting with the world of books and writing on their own, it is very difficult to accomplish what we hope to in class.  I just hesitate to place too much emphasis on homework because I think there are too many demands on our students' time already.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Teachers need to use a combination of in-class work and homework.  You are never going to get everything done in class.  But you should not let students do everything at home, because you can't control the environment or how original the work is.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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While I remember having lots of homework as a high school student (early 90s), my children (7th and 8th graders) do not. I also, as a teacher, do not assign much homework. I have a few reasons for this.  First, when my children actually have homework, I find it relatively difficult to remember how to do some of the things they are working on.  I cannot tell you how many times I have called a fellow teacher, in a field outside of mine, to help ME with my childrens' homework.  Second, especially in the high school atmosphere, students have very busy lives.  Work, extra-curricular activities, and social activities take up much of our children and students' lives.  Lastly, I find that work is completed better if it is actually done in the classroom.  Students can ask questions and get immediate answers.  While some may disagree, I believe that homework is something to be completed if they could not complete the work in class.

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bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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I generally prefer classwork to homework, because then I am available to answer questions and help students when they get stuck.

I am intrigued by the new philosophy from companies like the Khan Academy.  Their idea is to "flip" the traditional classroom model so that the lectures are watched at home through video links like Youtube, and then the homework is done in class so that instructors will be available to help.  This solves the problem of the student who goes home and gets lost and does it wrong and is twice as confused when he gets back to school the next day.

I will start to implement that next year in my classroom partially, because the idea makes sense to me. Just think of all the reteaching time we could save if we could catch misconceptions in the classroom right after the first question on the topic!

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fernholz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Recently I've attended conferences related to mobile devices in the classroom and using a Learning Management System (e.g. Moodle). Teachers are really moving into online learning within the classroom. It seems like students benefit more by viewing the lesson at home through a LMS and then having homework help in class by the teacher/assistants, etc. No one in my school has tried that, but next year we are doing a 1 to 1 iPad initiative for our 4th grade students and they'll do more online learning-viewing the lessons at home, communicating through Moodle, homework in school.


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mitchrich4199 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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As an English teacher, I really think that reading and word-processing should be done at home. Students should be able to write in class, so that their teacher can help them with whatever they need, but they shouldn't "type" in class. That is something that can be done at home.

As far as reading goes, I think the students should be able to read now and again for big chunks of time - at least 25 -30 minutes, depending on the interest and maturity of the kids. That is something that has to be gauged by the teacher.

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academicsfirst | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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As a math teacher, both classwork and homework have equal value.  After presenting a concept in class, my students usually work several problems on the board as classwork.  Then, if time permits, they begin their homework.  The goal, however, is not to finish the assignment before leaving.  It simply gives students  time to ask a few questions after they have started their homework independently.

I think that homework is a MUST in any subject.  It gives the student an opportunity to "digest" the material that was presented in class.  It informs the student, parents, and teacher of the student's long range understanding of the concept(s).

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joe30pl | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Well, grade level is key. Personally I've never been a fan of homework. If you have enough time in class, I say finish up the lesson in the room.

I say leave the homework to the projects and outside reading

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catd1115 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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As a teacher, what is better -- in class work or homework?

As a teacher, what is better -- in class work or homework?

Definitely in class work. My classroom is the primary place for the students to be learning the content I have been assigned. In the classroom they have the benefit of my knowledge as well as the ideas and cooperation of their peers. In addition some of the basic resources that are available in my classroom (dictionaries and reference materials, computers, even art supplies) just are available in the homes of many of my students. While homework is a useful tool, I think the more we become determined to do our job in the classroom, not relying on their parents or that time outside, but doing my job in the time alloted, the better teacher I become. I want my students also to be well rounded and they need their time at home to be with family and friends and participating extracurricular activities. I think it is a bigger challenge for teachers to teach their content without relying on homework, but I think it makes for better teaching and learning.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There is a fundamental difference in purpose between homework and classwork.  I believe that class time is a precious scarce resource, and anything done in class has to be carefully chosen.  I use class time for assignments in which I want to guide my students, or when I want to be able to provide support as they work independently.  I also use classwork when I want to give students the option of working together or helping one another. 

Another reason for using classwork is to ensure that it is the student’s own work.  In class, you can control the access to resources and watch the process.  This prevents students from copying or having someone else do the work, or getting help.  If I grade an assignment, I want to know the conditions in which it was created.

I think homework should be used for activities that need extensive resources, or that require more time than can be taken in class.  Homework should be practice, and should be able to be done independently.  Homework that a student cannot do on his or her own defeats the purpose.  It only reinforces errors and creates negative feelings and stress for the student.

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tolchowy | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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I believe the best learning occurs within the classroom environment.  Students can share knowledge with one another and help one another to greater understanding.  Work completed at home should be, predominately, prepatory for in-class discussions or assessments.  The other use of homework is for practice of skills.  In class students are taught to do a skill and then they are asked to practice it at home at night.  Real learning, though, happens in the classroom where students have access to a teacher to aid their learning and to challenge their thinking. 

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rcoats14 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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At the elementary level, students should have the opportunity to practice during class with the guidance of a teacher.  After a skill is taught and practiced with the guidance of a teacher, the students can be asked to do the skill independently.  Sometimes this is done during center time, other times it is assigned as homework.  With homework, it can be difficult to know if the student is actually the one who does the assignment.  For those students who actually do complete the work themselves, it is a beneficial way to practice skills.

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tresvivace | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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I agree that this decision depends on the grade level; it also depends on the level of engagement of the class, the project or activity, and the ability of the class.  Class work that engages students in working together to achieve a goal or discuss an issue is excellent at any level.  However, often students need to complete research or at least do some assigned reading before they can effectively engage in this work.  In some classes, it makes sense even to supervise reading or writing, but as students progress, they will need to do some of this reading or writing outside of class.

I am aware that some writing instructors require all writing to be done in class, at the very least the rough draft, in order to prevent plagiarism or other kinds of cheating.  Certainly some writing should be done in class so that that teacher becomes aware of the student's writing ability or even sees how some students struggle to begin an essay.  But requiring all written work to be completed in class prevents students with a flair for writing or an interest in being creative from doing their best work.  They may need time to linger, time to daydream, and time to hesitate and start over before they can do their best writing.  I know that as a student I would have hated having to complete all my essays in class.  (I am referring to high school and middle school here.)  At the college level, of course, it just isn't practical to have students complete their writing in class.

My writing example is only one small example; there are many more depending on the subject matter and often depending on the school and the class.  The answer to the original question depends on a myriad of factors.  It is crucially important for the teacher to know his or her students well and to know what they are capable.  We should certainly hold the bar high and expect students who are capable of doing so to put in time outside class.  But we also need to understand the needs of those students who need our help and who need the nurturing environment of the classroom in order to even begin the work.

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aquirk27 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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I prefer class work over assigning homework. Traditionally, I have discovered that the students who truly need to practice for improvement of their comprehension and skills neither utilize the time, nor the opportunity to seek such an improvement. These students simply copy, or attempt to copy, the answers provided by those students who do not necessarily need the additional opportunities. Even when I assign complete synthesis-level work, students still manage to exhaust significant energy attempting to modify another student's work in hopes of passing it off as their own. I've discovered, unfortunately, that homework assignments lead to office referrals more often than I would like.

I also believe that class work is not only advantageous for students, but is also an optimal time for teacher assessment and evaluation. Much can be discerned by simply watching the facial expressions and body language of a student attempting to work through a grammar exercise or literary analysis. A teacher can read the cues from the boy or girl in need and use that time as an opportunity to provide him or her with much needed individual engagement.

Lastly, class work allows teachers to create a forum-based instructional atmosphere. When students are allowed to work in cooperative environments (similar to real-life), they are provided with learning opportunities that are unmatched elsewhere. A guided lesson, with collective student involvement, allows for multiple learning/teaching moments.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The issue of classwork or homework must turn on the level of difficulty the course itself presents. For gifted or advanced placement students, a certain amount of self directed study is paramount to success. In those instances, a substantial amount of homework should be assigned; but it must not be "busy" work; it must be directed towards a meaningful learning experience that can augment lessons taught during class.

For less motivated or less gifted students; homework serves little purpose other than "drill and practice." Such work quickly becomes boring, and it is easy for kids to procrastinate. Also, there is not the opportunity for interaction with the teacher should questions present themselves.  In such a situation, homework should be kept to a respectable minimum.  Under such a circumstance, failure to complete homework or failure to submit correct homework should not on its own be grounds for failure.


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