As an educator and a parent, I am scared about the mounds of homework I see. Matt Miller and Alice Keeler preach about this in their book Ditch That Homework and I couldn't agree
more. Why are we inundated our young people with meaningless assignments and piles of paperwork? Let's give them valuable tasks to do at home, like reading together or taking a walk as a family. Homework is scary, mostly because there's just so much of it but also because research doesn't support it. Research shows that less is more. So, let's stop this terrifying trend and reconsider the type of work that our students should do at home.
2. Desks in rows
When I see sterile classrooms with desks in neatly formed rows, I just want to scream! AAAHHH! Who wants to learn in a space like this? With the recent flexible seating trend, more classrooms are shifting away from this frightening set-up and moving towards seating options that meet the needs of our students. Student-centered classrooms should fit the learning needs of the kids. My NAESP article Learning Space Transformation talks about why this is so critical for our students. Let's create classrooms that support creativity and collaboration, because the only other place I know of that is set up in rows is here!
3. BOOOOOO worksheets!
I know some classrooms, who alone, may send the school copier to a cemetery from the amount of papers they copy each day. In one day, I know a kindergarten student who brought home 15 papers. Yes, FIFTEEN! That is an awful lot of trees killed--and that is pretty scary. Can't we move away from the worksheet mindset and look to more authentic types of learning? I know that some people will never give up their paper and pencil tests on Fridays, but we owe it to our students to provide meaningful learning opportunities that engage and excite them.
I know the thought of moving away from homework, desks, and assignments may be just as scary to some. Maybe what I am suggesting sounds like a horror movie to you. I challenge you all to ditch the homework, change up the rows, and give up the worksheets--- just for a week. I wonder what will change for your students if you do????