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Lauren Gemmill

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction

(518) 377-4666 x50703

lgemmill@niskyschools.org 

Niskayuna Schools > Academics > Middle School Homework Guidelines

MIDDLE SCHOOL homework guidelines

A guide for middle school teachers, students and parents

These guidelines were developed cooperatively by teachers, parents, students, and administrators. A sense of teamwork and shared mission made these guidelines possible, and will ensure their successful use.

Introduction

Homework is an important part of education. The conscientious completion of homework has a positive impact on a student's success in school. Teachers, students, and parents have the responsibility to work as a team in order to realize the maximum benefit of homework. The Shared Decision Making Committees of Iroquois and Van Antwerp Middle Schools developed this booklet to provide guidelines for teachers, students, and parents with the goal of ensuring that homework leads to effective learning.

Effective Homework Practice

The SDM Teams reviewed a variety of resources in an effort to design standards for effective homework practice.

Homework should be:

  • part of the learning process
  • developmentally appropriate
  • clearly defined
  • returned promptly with comments
  • used to assess student understanding
  • supported and valued by teachers, students, and parents

The homework load per night should be approximately:

  • 1 hour for sixth graders
  • 1 1/2 hours for seventh graders
  • 2 hours for eighth graders

The time necessary for homework completion differs from student to student. Teachers, students and parents should work together to ensure that students are not regularly spending significantly more or less time completing their homework.

Teacher Responsibilities

Design homework assignments that meet appropriate learning objectives such as:

  • review of key instruction taught in class
  • practice and/or reinforcement of new skills
  • preparation for a new lesson
  • application or synthesis of skills learned
  • preparation for tests
  • an assessment of student understanding

Communicate with students, parents and teachers

  • provide homework expectations at beginning of school year
  • explain how homework is weighted in the quarter grade
  • clearly explain assignments orally and in writing
  • use a consistent method of posting and explaining assignments so students record their assignments accurately
  • monitor the time used by students to complete assignments and adjust as needed
  • assess homework in a timely and informative manner so that students benefit from the feedback
  • clearly identify the consequences for incomplete, missing, late, and substandard homework
    inform students and parents when homework is repeatedly incomplete, missing, late, and/or substandard
  • inform the students and parents of the system for obtaining missed work
  • make efforts to coordinate the completion of long-term projects, tests, etc. with team and special area teachers

Guide students in the development of skills

  • teachers should instruct students in the use of skills such as outlining, graphic organizers, and reading for understanding
  • students should be guided in how to break long-term assignments into smaller steps

Student Responsibilities

Students should

  • understand the assignment prior to leaving the classroom
  • write all assignments in the assignment notebook
  • share the assignment notebook and all teacher communications with parents
  • work with parents to create a positive study/work environment
  • prioritize assignments
  • complete long-term assignments in manageable steps
  • learn from homework, rather than just rushing to finish it
  • review class notes
  • do their own work and never plagiarize
  • ask for help from parents or teachers as needed
  • find out what work has been missed due to absence
  • make up missed work
  • complete homework on time
  • take pride in their work

Strategies for making up missed work

  • ask the teacher what was missed
  • seek extra help as needed
  • call a "homework buddy"
  • ask a classmate to collect notes and hand-outs
  • when a student is absent for three or more days, contact the Counseling Center by 9:00 a.m. to collect missed work
  • attend Homework Club with School Counselors

Parent Responsibilities

  • assure quality by providing appropriate levels of supervision
  • check assignment notebook regularly
  • help students prioritize assignments
  • review work as it is completed

Maximize educational benefits

  • emphasize the importance of homework when prioritizing activities
  • encourage student independence in completing homework
  • ask or answer questions that lead to understanding
  • encourage thoroughness
  • encourage regular attendance

Be active participants in communicating with the school

  • write comments in the assignment notebook
  • contact teachers, counselors, or the principal by phone or email
  • ask questions and seek information

Strategies

  • assist with establishing a work environment conducive to learning
  • provide the resources necessary to do the work
  • assist with effective use of the assignment notebook
  • encourage students to keep homework, assignment sheets, and notes organized
  • assist in the development of time management skills
  • make certain that missed assignments are completed
  • when a student is absent for three or more days, contact the Counseling Center by 9:00 a.m. to collect missed work

Learning styles vary. All students should be encouraged to work independently, and the work should reflect the ability of the student. Some students may benefit from additional supervision.

Homework Resources

  • Counseling Center: School counselors are available to discuss a student or parent concern and coordinate communication with multiple teachers. They can also refer parents and children to additional resources. The Counseling Center phone numbers are: Iroquois 377-2361, Van Antwerp 370-4425.
  • Before-School and After-School Help: Teachers are often available from 8:00until the start of the school day. Students must obtain a pass from a teacher prior to coming in early. Teachers may also be available from 3:30 until 4:15. Late buses are provided for students. Teachers' schedules will be announced or posted in the classrooms.
  • Homework Club: Students are welcome to stay after school to do homework in a staff-supervised environment. The days on which the Homework Club meets are announced on a regular basis or can be obtained through the Counseling Center.
  • Sourceline: Sponsored by the Times Union, this telephone service allows you to call and hear homework assignments from participating teachers. Those who utilize it will inform parents how to access this information.
  • Websites and email: Some teachers post homework assignments on the Internet and/or make their email addresses available.
  • Tutoring: The Counseling Center can provide names of potential tutors. Occasionally, peer tutoring by an older student has been used. Foreign Language has a formal program.