Señor Wooly and others (Elvira, Annabelle, etc.) differ with my post on homework, which I also posted on CI Liftoff, a site that Tina and I started a while ago in an effort to have a safe place to say things. I guess this PLC remains the only safe place to speak freely so I will post my response to those people here, just to be able to post it somewhere. Those new to the group here need not read this, since there is a lot of history here, not all nice.
Here is what Jim W/Senor Wooly said:
Brutal honesty can be a good thing, but it’s a dangerous game you’re playing. Why? Because unsolicited brutal honesty alienates the very people who need to hear your words the most, and also because, in the quest to be the person who “tells it like it is”, it becomes very easy to simplify a problem to the point of mistruth.
Do I agree with your message? Absolutely. Do I think that any teacher who ever assigns homework can be easily categorized into one of your four bullet points? Hardly.
There are a ton of amazing, hardworking, fearless teachers out that who give homework every night. And they don’t need to be told that they’re crappy teachers. They need a kind, guiding hand who can show them a better way.
My response that I probably won’t post on FB, but originally intended to respond to those people:
This is to those flaming me above – Jim and others. O.K. flaming may be too strong a word. Mildly flaming. Whatever. I’ve been teaching since 1977. I don’t care if people’s sensitivities are offended when I make obvious off-based cockeyed generalizations. I make them anyway. Of course my comments are flawed. I am flawed, deeply, and I write not from any consideration of Señor Wooley’s and others’ feelings, but out of passion for what I have seen in my endless years in the field – suffering children – waves and waves of them, year after year, being given homework that they can’t do, that they don’t want to do, that weighs their young hearts down and that, above all, don’t respect the equity piece. So get off my case, is my general comment to you. And I would add in here that the flames coming out of the mouths of Karen and Terry for the past year and a half – not allowed on Liftoff because Tina and I won’t let those two and others on (our group here is closed, theirs are open, so there is no hypocrisy) – need to stop as well. Let me say this now. It’s o.k. You are adults. You can handle it and rightly brand me as weird and off base if that is what you want to do. I AM weird and off base. But is there room for that? One of the above experts – and I proudly say that I am no expert if they are the (self-proclaimed) experts, recently went down to Atlanta to present to 150 teachers on my Big CI Book without having read it. Sound good? As Krashen said to Terry he is a troll if Tina and I are trolls. I have zero concerns about what you and those who support you in their comments above think, Jim. Your nuanced thoughts about my thoughts accomplish what, exactly? The above is what I think about homework. I will continue to post here on things I feel strongly about. It’s my list with Tina. We started it, ironically, in an effort to be able to speak freely in an increasingly judgmental and soul-wearying cyberspace. I suggest that we drop on this particular site – mine and Tina’s – the increasing nuseless cross talk noise that resembles all the other CI sites but that has not helped us much in our efforts to change the only thing that matters in our profession – the way the kids are being instructed. And I won’t post this on Fight Club – I don’t like their premise – Tina and Chris only started that site to be able to joke around and fight between themselves, the two of them! – and look how great the need to fight is that there are now over 200 people on there after only a month who should be working on developing better strategies for kids instead of talking incessantly, nervously, haughtily about theory and their own professional stances. Who cares? Develop strategies that work! New strategies that work are the only thing that will count in the new post-Trump era of brightness in education that we are preparing, frantically tilling the fields for, now. I can’t and have no desire to post this on FB iFLT because Karen kicked Tina and I off there a year ago when we tried to defend our new non-targeted ideas when they hadn’t even read our new book. Those were dark days for Tina and I. And I won’t post this on the more list because it is essentially a dead list that has changed greatly since the days 20 years ago when we knew how to talk to each other in a more civil manner. Where are the great ones like Robert Harrell in these discussions? Think about it. They choose to not weigh in. And Tina Hargaden? Tina has more knowledge about teaching languages in her big toe than some of the so-called experts. She is the one to lead the future of this work, if you ask me. Flame on, brothers. I am ending my 7th decade on this planet. I don’t care what you think. An overly strong reaction, perhaps, to Jim’s comment? Forgive me. It’s been building a long time and Jim’s comment is spot on but just happened to spark this response, overdue now for at least ten years. The experts in this profession are not the experts. The real experts are the teachers slaving away quietly beings closed classroom doors trying to make this crazy shit work in their classrooms. That is all I have ever claimed to be – a classroom teacher with ideas to share. We should be forever focused on doing WHAT IS BEST FOR KIDS in the most practical way, which is on the level of the heart, on the level of what STRATEGIES work, not who is right one some stupid point of theory. Please open up your hearts and forgive the obvious generalizations and overdue protestations of an old man here. There is too much work to be done, and we can do much better if we place our attention where it must go now – not on each other’s flaws but on what is best for the kids. And to those who have been stealing my own ideas for the past twenty years, stop it. Just stop. I know we are all doing our best. My prayer now is that we finally pull ourselves up to the next level, to the level of the heart, by finding and developing strategies that actually work, as we stop all this useless bickering about whether Ben’s comments and observations on homework and shit like that have any merit. One word of advice – listen to Tina and do what she says. You won’t regret it.
42 thoughts on “Homework”
When I first read your post, I’ll admit I was shocked. Wow! You were brutally honest. I wasn’t hurt or upset, but it made me step back a bit. I let it sit for a while, then I re-read what you said. It was then, in that reflection, that I realized that I am one of those teachers. That doesn’t make me a bad teacher, but what you said made me reflect on my practice.
I know that your intent is to encourage us to allow kids to truly come to the forefront of our teaching by challenging the status quo. To question what we’ve always done and figure out why we’ve always done it. And to fire up the revolution that you’ve been a part of for so many years.
When I read some of the comments on that post, I realized that there are many people there who don’t know you, nor do they know where you’re coming from. Some don’t even know that you’re an admin on that group.
I’m finding it hard to tap into CI Liftoff threads. I’d like to stay committed to reading and replying to posts here. It’s hard to do both for me. While there are many members that don’t post here much anymore, I do appreciate the unique feeling of community here. Maybe CI Liftoff is just too big now. Too many members. I don’t know.
Ben wrote: My response that I probably won’t post on FB
That’s probably a good idea because it would only prolong the controversy. BTW, I don’t think Sr Wooly was flaming you, but if he was concerned about reception of the message (which is what he is “warning” you about), that should have been a private message. (Note: I haven’t seen the posts from Jim, Elvira, or Annabelle; I take it that you deleted them.)
I think your post sparked some good conversation, though my perception was that some of the people posting were insecure about their own decisions on homework and were looking for some kind of validation. Others had varying levels of disagreement: mine was that you had left out one kind of teacher who gives homework.
I also think that many people don’t understand what Alfie Kohn has been saying, particularly in his book “The Homework Myth”, about homework.
Just so you know, my take on homework is this:
If language is acquired unconsciously through compelling/interesting comprehensible input, then the more time a student spends getting compelling comprehensible input, the faster that student will acquire the language. This will be another factor in the rate of acquisition as measured in weeks and months, not time on task.
I cannot create tasks that will be interesting to all my students, so my “standing assignment” is to do something the student enjoys in German. Do I care about tailoring the assignment for i+1? Not in the least; that will be pretty self regulating. Besides, I don’t sufficiently know precisely where every student is to be able to construct assignments that are i+1 for each individual student (as Beth McCune notes in her exchange with Chris Stolz). There is no need to grade this “assignment” or even check for completeness. It is entirely for the benefit of the student. One year I had a student who switched all of his computer games to German. There were at least two benefits for him: 1) when his mom asked him what he was doing, he could say “My German homework” and 2) his acquisition over the course of the year was amazing.
Taking a class story home to share with parents is not a homework assignment; it’s communication with parents, which is always a good thing.
Just some of my thoughts on the matter.
Robert I didn’t delete any FB comments. I think I got confused about what site I was on. Jim was responding on my personal FB page, the others you mention above on CI Liftoff. Elvira really dug into me in her comment, but neglected to mention my name.
And of course you know I completely concur on everything you say above on homework. If I ever disagree with you, Robert, it could only be the result of a disobedient star misaligning itself on purpose and thus causing me to think in a weird way.
Your thoughts for over ten years now have been beacons of light for me, nothing less, with zero points of contention. Your many articles that I moved to the Primers section above are about the best thing about this site, as they can be excellent downloads for teachers facing fire.
And Sean your steady support of my writing over all the years is, as well, a real blessing that I don’t take lightly. Tina made the point to me this summer that of all the people we met this summer, you are one of the best with your Chicago Class, fighting quietly with dignity and patience in the urban jungle. And we met a lot of people. Dick Detwiler (Phila.) is up there on that pedestal with you in our minds. We met some great people this summer!
With friends like you two supporting me, I feel rich and happy and blessed. Not only do I choose to not post any comments on FB regarding this situation, I stopped reading there the moment I finished reading Elvira’s post. I’m learning.
No wonder I didn’t see Jim’s post. Don’t know if I’ll bother.
Yesterday I was in a meeting with Jason Fritze and a number of other people. We were discussing a workshop that we will be presenting in November. It was obvious to me that Jason was fed up with all of the “velvet glove” treatment given to people who want to ignore the research about language acquisition.
There must be a convergence or alignment of the planets going on.
Yeah something is going on, some kind of shaking. It makes me want to really stop talking and focus on the one thing that counts: strategies that (a) align with the research and (b) make me laugh in class. Yet again, this little backwater of a website proves to be the only place I feel safe. There’s a whole bunch of hootin’ and hollerin’ going on out there!
Here is the essence of what I pulled from your comments, Robert:
1) There is no need to grade this “assignment” or even check for completeness.
2) It is entirely for the benefit of the student.
3) It can be an excuse for doing something enjoyable in the language.
And Dana I love it that you are there in India, teaching the very same kids who started the Invisibles. Your embracing not only of the new international scene there in New Delhi but of a completely new way to teach shows real courage and I appreciate your reports form the field as it all pans out, the good and the bad because don’t you know it ain’t easy to do what you are doing. I know it because I did it two years ago and I can’t image the pollution there getting any better, not to mention an entirely new teaching staff.
Hey Ben… I cam onto the PLC today to cancel as I have really gotten caught up in the CI Liftoff page and I was thinking, “Why pay for this knowledge, when I can glean so much from the free FB page.” But then I just read your reply regarding the HW post (which I thought was bold, passionate, and incendiary to those who need to be lit up) and I’m thinking, “Wow… this is some real and genuine emotive transference of wisdom and experience… something extremely lacking in the outer-spheres of the profession. I can’t cancel now.” Let me just say, outside of inner monologue quotations, that your and Tina’s workshop in Portland, Maine really lit me up and emboldened me to continue on what I feel is the most essential of service jobs. I’m a worker teacher and I believe in the spirit of kids that I teach and I understand full well that HW and assessment are unnecessary when a sincere relationship has been forged. But that is the work. I appreciate being able to participate in such a groundbreaking dialog.
Let’s hear more of that inner monologue, Chriss!
And thanks Ben. I’m blushing.
One significant difference between this blog and the Facebook groups is the actual size of the typing box. On Facebook you could write a sentence or two and it feels like a lot. You feel like you’ve really contributed. Here, the text box is much bigger. You have to write a paragraph or more to feel like you really contributed to the thread. As a result, our posts are more well thought out here.
That’s right Sean! Add to this that there are no “like” buttons and emojis that appear like we are reflecting. I admit, I get caught up in the mix. I’m thinking of making a commitment to only check it out on the weekends and with folks who are looking for help. This PLC however, has been my bread and butter. There are still tons of resources to be re posted (and perhaps re-evaluated)
Hey Chriss you said –
“I’m a worker teacher.”
Love that. Me too. Always have been. I feel that I have no authority to say anything to anyone. I process my worker teacher thinking by writing, so some, including Krashen, think of me as greedy, trying to sell stuff. That hurts. As if teachers don’t have a right to profit from their toil, and when I say toil I mean burning the all night oil and same goes for Tina the Great. And yes for years (ten of them) this place has been a kind of safe haven. Before the arrival of the other sites, it was much more active but I asked God for a break – I used to be on this site up to eight hours a day even when I was teaching full time – and it has been a crying place for more than one of us. Jobs have been saved and others simply given up on in the processing here. It;s been raw at times. I am glad it is less active now but as long as there are even a handful of us I will keep it going. So THANK YOU for your words. I have not gone back to that FB discussion since Elvira’s sweet words and have been enjoying a pleasant day in my decision to “not go there”. But your comment buoyed me up big time. I never have known what to think when publicly attacked, so thanks again.
Ben, you wrote: … some … think of me as greedy, trying to sell stuff
This touches on something that is endemic to our profession and many other service professions (e.g. police, fire, nursing, pastor) as well as the teaching of many religious groups.
Thanks for bearing with some personal story and biblical exposition.
I grew up in a conservative Christian denomination, and one of the teachings was that wealth is evil. No one ever put it quite that bluntly, but that was the underlying teaching.
Its starting point was the verse 1 Timothy 6:10 “… the love of money is the root of all evil” (KJV), but the effective teaching was that money itself was the root of evil: all of the examples extolling spirituality were poor – the widow who gave her “mite”; missionaries who suffered privation; Lazarus the beggar. All of the examples of a lack of spirituality were wealthy – the rich young ruler, the rich man in the Lazarus story, Ahab (who coveted Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21).
Certain things were omitted while others were emphasized. In Luke 10, Jesus sends his disciples out to proclaim the kingdom of God and tells them to take no money or purse. That was emphasized as a continuing principle, even though it was a specific charge to a specific group of people for a specific task at a specific time. What was omitted was the statement in Luke 10:7 that “the labourer is worthy of his hire” as well as all of the other instructions such as not having more than one set of clothing, not wearing any footgear, and leaving any town that is not receptive to the message. (The preachers didn’t seem to think that those instructions applied today; they were very selective.)
The example of itinerant preaching is connected solely with the sending of the Apostles (Matthew 10, Mark 6, Luke 9) and a group of 72 disciples (Luke 10) to proclaim the Kingdom of God to Israel, yet it was often held up as the goal and epitome of spirituality.
The ignored principle of being worthy of one’s wages is found in other places, such as 1 Timothy 5:18, where Paul quotes the command not to muzzle an ox when treading grain (Deuteronomy 25:4) and again the principle of the laborer being worthy of his wages. He elucidates the principle in 1 Corinthians 9: God isn’t concerned solely about oxen but about people, and people deserve to be paid for their work.
Also ignored was the fact that the individuals in the Bible who receive the highest accolades from God were wealthy: Job was blameless and upright, turning away from evil and following God – but also the wealthiest man in the East; Abraham is the only person designated the friend of God (2 Chronicles 20:7 and James 2:23) – and he was wealthy enough to have a standing army and so many flocks and herds that he and his nephew could not occupy the same land; David is said to have been a man “after [God’s] own heart” (Acts 13:22) and is commended by God for his integrity of heart (1 Kings 9:4) – and David was the king, a pretty wealthy individual.
Don’t get me wrong, being wealthy is no sign of character, and there are plenty of temptations that come with being wealthy. Wealth provides power, and with great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, we see far too many people throughout history and today who use their wealth and power not for the benefit of others but for their own benefit and to oppress those who have less. But the problem does not lie in the money; it lies in the heart of the individual.
I have seen the same attitude toward earning money from work related to teaching reflected both in the teaching community and in society in general. In 2012, Shadrack McGill (Republican state senator from Alabama) proclaimed that teachers’ salaries should be kept low deliberately because teaching is a “calling”*. This is not an uncommon position.
In our own Comprehensible Input community, one person (whom I happen to like) called for “full disclosure” of “strategic alliances” and “financial interests”, then touted their own volunteer work. The very clear implication was that anyone who was selling a product should be viewed with skepticism whenever they posted because their opinion was obviously tainted by the fact that they were making money. This is simply another example of the misunderstanding that is out there.
As I have worked on my business – still struggling – I have been impressed by the generosity of many entrepreneurs. A couple of them in particular (Ramit Sethi being a prime example) advocate giving away up to 98% of your material and making certain that it is quality material. One of the benefits is that people will know the things you charge for are amazing, but the motivation is to help people.
There is no shame or sin in doing well by doing good.
So, Ben, don’t worry about what others think. I’m grateful and happy that Dr. Krashen is able and willing to give his writings away and come to conferences and workshops. I’m glad that Blaine Ray has started offering free workshops. But their choice not to charge does not mean that someone who charges is greedy. We are all in different circumstances.
I, quite frankly, want to increase my income so that I can do more good for more people. It would be irresponsible to deliberately limit the reach of my influence – sort of like hiding a light under a basket. Seems to me that that is mentioned somewhere by Jesus …
For those of you who made it this far, thanks for reading to the end.
*Here’s a link to the story about Shadrack McGill –
Thanks for the sermon, Robert. I haven’t been to church for about a year now. I imagine you have some experience in the pulpit. And please don’t limit the reach of your influence.
I guess that was pretty much sermon form. Yes, I do have some experience in the pulpit. Also a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology.
What I wrote discusses teachings and positions I have had to grapple with. It seems that many groups and people have a difficult time navigating the passage between the Scylla of Prosperity Theology and the Charybdis of Neo-Manichaeism, erring by either idolizing or demonizing wealth.
It is particularly lamentable that we label as “sell-outs” and not to be trusted those who benefit financially from the value that they create. Those who create value are worthy of a just recompense for that value.
I would hazard a guess that the reason our Robert did not go into administration is because he knows Who is really in charge.
Let me just say that I knew going in that my gifts and calling are not administration.
I fully agree that teachers shouldn’t be shaming other teachers for expecting at least some recompense for their work. I firmly believe teachers deserve to be paid much better than we currently are as a profession, and when we put in extra work that goes above and beyond, and it helps a lot of people, we shouldn’t just give everything away. We already do so much sacrificing of ourselves in our profession as it is. It’s a rather messed up society that pays more for (and idolizes, frankly) entertainment (football, movies, video games, etc.) than for education… Ben and others like him offer so much. I for one am very thankful for the opportunity to support him and my fellow teachers that help me to be a better teacher and person.
You are the reason I continued with CI when I was about to give up on it. Members of this community know how you talk in a straight-shooting way and we appreciate it, but others may not understand that is just how you are. I still don’t understand why you and Tina are the only ones who get shit when you put it out there.
I sometimes channel my inner Ben at our department meetings and I find myself having to backtrack a little bit because people think I’m putting them down when I’m just being very adamant on how I feel about a topic.
It’s your passion and if you didn’t have it you would not have affected so many of us as you have. Thanks for all you do.
See Jeff I never would have known this unless this FB thing happened and this information from you is like a treasure to me. I never would have expected this message because you seem so strong and firm in your knowledge that you are taking your people up to the next level. I knew something good would come from this. Thank you again, says my heart.
Ben, your heart is open and there is no-cut in this tour de force post. Towards the end while reading it, I was imagining putting my phone on a tripod and running an app that tracked the number of smiles in my classroom while teaching. These days, I am sipping the bitter admin kool-aid through my new position as Lead Teacher of Foreign Languages. The above description should be my data and my “Common Formative Assessment” across our department. Though it may not exist. It’s coming soon.
Man Steve you just rock. That’s all there is to it. Any small role I’ve played in turning you into Monster Baby makes all the sleepless nights thinking about this crap worth it. Our group, it must be said, is truly unique. We have the history and the courage. We always have. And I’m fine with offending people, but why do it when they wouldn’t hear it? I’m feeling really good today about what you and Chriss and Sean and Jeff have shared with me here. It’s enough. I don’t need to try to convince anyone about my position now. I have you mad dogs on guard in the yard, letting the old man sit peacefully in his chair, no rifle needed.
Tracking smiles. What a great idea! Perhaps I can get the class secretary to do that. BTW, I’m using the student coach job described by Bryan Whitney. Thanks! But it could be a nice twist to have the secretary tally when a student smiles or laughs.
We’ll know we have reached our goal when they invent a machine that can register happiness in a kid’s eyes and degree of smileage and use those numbers to tell how much of the language was acquired, because yes, all of you sourpuss administrators, those sparkly eyes and smiles and acquisition are related. I’m sorry your eyes can’t see that and so until they make that invention we will have to continue to make up bullshit grades in our grade books so that you can feel in charge.
Hey, let’s not forget laughter. We have to track laughter, too!
Actually, I think trying to track happiness and smileage would be their death. “In man, the things which are not measurable are more important than the things which are measurable.” (Alexis Carrel, French surgeon and biologist)
Today we had an excellent time in my fifth period class. (Those who have been around for a while may remember that I had a fifth period class of an entirely different nature; this one redeems the period.) In my second-year classes, I started the year asking what students are afraid of because it’s a great way to get better acquainted. There are archetypical fears that several students will share, but then there are the individual fears.
One of my students is a football player, and he revealed that he has a fear of becoming paralyzed. It doesn’t stop him from playing the game he loves, but this was a time of genuine revelation on his part. Then we got the student who said he is afraid of Toby Flenders from “The Office” and got to explore that, along with his friend’s fear of him because his pulls out his friend’s leg hair. We even got a demonstration of the hair pulling technique. We also discovered that my other big football player has a very high scream.
Students were highly engaged and hearing compelling German that they understood. How do we measure that? BTW, the hair puller was one of my quietest students in German 1.
I totally agree about how tracking smiles and laughter could end up just killing it. I’m going to avoid dishing out that plate of party poop.
The next time we do a Circle with Cards kinda activity, I’m going to ask students to share what they are scared of. Thanks Robert.
This is the kind of questionnaire stuff that I think is good to sprinkle in, from time to time, throughout the year.
That’s great! It’s really been working well in my classes, and I like how it ends class on a positive note.
This space has saved me over and over and over again. Just as the August workshop in Maine allowed me to get the courage and perspective to go back to the classroom again. Salvador.
The CI liftoff is very busy for me. I get confused and overwhelmed there. Here I feel safe. Many thanks for keeping it going when you really have no need to do it. You are truly generous Ben.
As for the HW BS, I couldn’t agree with you more. Also, in my opinion, HW perpetuates class differences big time. My admin doesn’t care if I give it. After all, it is not standards based. So then why would I want to add the extra work to my load even if it were only on a turn in or not basis.
(BTW: 14 comments, all male, unless Dana is a woman. English names are confusing to me).
I’m a woman. 🙂 I know, English names can be really tricky.
Hi everybody. Long time no see. I’m exhausted after a long half-day with kids. Colleagues pushing a textbook scope and sequence at me “just to share”. Heaviness in my heart. Hope is there too. Ben’s post made me think immediately of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2wneBVssPc
Sometimes I think the same words of people who have been on the edge of greatness in history. The words: I may not be alive to see the day come, but I will know I played a part.
Ben, it’s probably best that you don’t respond on that site. The topic will die quicker.
I’m tired y’all. Good luck on your first month of work. Talk soon.
<3 Jen from Jersey
…a long half-day with kids….
I so get that.
Dana pronounced Danna is a woman but all the same – WOW!
I am so tired I hardly know what to say about this, or anything else for that matter. I do sense that there are people who are just sort of lying in wait for others to say something that they can pounce on, to chastise them publicly for not adhering to their particular definition of “what a leader should say”. I have been told myself to tone it down, that I am leading teachers astray, that my “followers” would unquestioningly do whatever I say is best. (My response — good thing I only share what has been best for me…so I am doing the best I can to honestly share what has worked well for me.)
Ben, once I heard you tell someone that you don’t throw pearls before swine. You were talking about giving ungrateful kids CI, working hard to make them buy into it, when they are just whining for the grammar. That phrase came to mind today reading all those responses.
I am completely against homework and I do know that some teachers are required to give it. But the “forced” aspect of HW is what I would tell people to think about. If a teacher is required to give HW then they can make it “softer”, and build in more student choice.
For instance, I am thinking about asking my kids to take home the stories in comic form and illustrate them as Mike Peto does. But that would be optional…the intrinsic reward is to get your drawings in the class library. I prolly won’t ask them to do it if it does not appeal to them.
I totally agree that forced HW is inequitable. It separates, further, the haves from the have-nots.
If a teacher HAS to assign homework, then they can A) fight back as much as they are able or B) assign homework that has choice or C) make the HW what Project GLAD would call a “home-school connection” which means that the kids are teaching their folks something they have learned, or they are asking their folks what they know about the topic under study.
There is always a way…I firmly believe.
And thank you for the sweet words. I try my best. What can I say? I am educated and dangerous.
We did have some good times this summer, despite all the malfunctions, didn’t we?
As long as we don’t have to get on another plane I’m good.
Not till October.
I became a ‘Hebrew consultant’ thanks in no small part to the nourishment (and connection) I got here – and pretty much only here. I am not on FB!! And SHHHHH: I DON’T WANT TO BE ON IT!
Ben, I don’t quite get what happened (again) but I suspect that many frustrated Ts are, as you said, itching for a fight, and so read into your comments about homework, and tore into them out of a need to dump some aggression.
Again, the truth abt homework will be revealed to the wider community, even as they learn about how languages are acquired.
The learning and encouragement, modeling, advice, friendship, tools, advice and love I’ve gotten here are priceless. I am so grateful.
Thank you Alisa. And anyone reading this who is new to the group, Alisa’s resume includes expertise in all areas of CI acquisition not the least of which is elementary. She pretty much sets the standard on elementary CI – no one else comes close, including the so-called self-proclaimed experts now living in the past.
I just looked up the influence of homework on learning in John Hattie’s book “Visible learning for teachers” and according to his meta-analysis, hw is just in the low-medium rank. His research is not especially about language acqusition of course. But it doesn’t say that hw is pointless per see.
Maybe it depends on the kind and amount of hw (CI-based) you give the kids and also on the hw given by all their other teachers.
As I already said on the other hw-post I set little hw and not every day. But so far I would feel extremely uncomfortable by not setting any CI-hw at all (eg reading) bc I have only two to three 45 minute lessons per week.
On the other hand setting no hw at all would invite lots of criticism from some parents not to mention colleagues, and this would mean spending hours and hours in meetings with parents where I would have to justify myself. I prefer to spend this time on looking for stories for SL and getting more and more into the CI-approach.
Thank goodness my school has no expectation for Spanish homework (grades 1-4). Since much of the reading we do in class is guided – with a reader leader or pointer and other techniques to aid tracking, prosody (the stress and intonation patterns of an utterance) & fluency, I wouldn’t feel comfortable requiring Ss to read independently unless there was an audio track to accompany it. They just haven’t have enough auditory input OR reading to put them together and ‘hear it in their heads.’
I have sent home lil captioned storyboards. Say we do a Movie Talk and then I break it down into 6-8 sequenced sentences. I caption the numbered boxes; the kids draw (quick n dirty) a series of pics. We process the heck out of ’em under the document camera. (Lil kids really want to see each others’ drawings and generally have tremendous patience for seeing all of them – fair and square. I do offer opt out if someone doesn’t want theirs screened, but that seldom happens). (“Look at how Juan drew long whiskers on his cat!” in the TL)
I’ve only sent ’em home a coupla times. The kids love to share the experience w/their parents; the parents do get a sense of how their kids read and comprehend but mostly enjoy and are enthusiastic, so it’s good PR.
With between 33 and 39 weekly classes (depending on the school census that year), regular homework would do me in, not to mention the paper….
Alisha, please tell me the magic potion you use for surviving 33 or more weekly classes. I have only 17 and I often feel exhausted. Your workload makes me feel kind of inadequate. I’m sure I couldn’t do it.
I don’t do hw I have to mark anymore, bc it seems to be useless for the kids and me. I usually don’t set any hw in grades 1-3, just sometimes ask them to revise some of their picture cards (they get sheets with small pictures of things we have done via TPR, eg animals, and they can color them.)
I year 4 we start with reading poems and other stuff we have done the years before so that most of the kids still remember the pronunciation very well.
17 classes in a week is intense. 30+ a week is insane. I can’t imagine any other way than simple CI a la Ben and Tina or Story Listening. Kudos to you Alisa, Udo, and the rest, like Catherine, whom it would be good to hear from again.