kitchen table math, the sequel: Help desk - math HW

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Help desk - math HW

What's the story with this little boy's homework? (And how old do you think he is? I'm guessing 2nd grade - ?)

If you click on the link, you'll see a photo of a little guy crying, presumably about his math homework. The worksheet is titled "Using Mental Math to Add" or "Doing Mental Math to Add."

This photo was posted. Watch what happened next.

Assuming he's crying over the worksheet (I have no reason to think he's not) -- what's the problem?

By this point, would he know his addition facts?

Or is he having to do these problems without knowing his facts by heart?

Is there something else going on?

One thing I've become concerned by of late: children spending their days engaged in mini lessons and peer discussion, then doing the 'hard stuff' at home, when they're tired.

I was talking to the mother of a second grade child here who has some sensory issues. The little girl is getting completely overwhelmed at night, trying to do her homework. She melts down and sobs unless her other is in the room with her. Even with her mother by her side, she struggles to get through the work.

I asked how much homework she's doing, and it sounded like a lot. Too much. In math alone, she has a full worksheet to do and several minutes of computer practice.

Listening to the mom, I suddenly realized: it's entirely possible students here are doing no worksheets during class time at all.

The kids have to do worksheets because Common Core, but worksheets aren't constructivist and we are now a Tony Wagner district so .... maybe all the worksheets have to happen at home. Out of sight, out of mind.

But that means kids go through a full day of school and a full raft of after school activities before they start the real work.


Auntie Ann said...

This has been our experience as well. Teachers are always trying to make "learning fun!", which means no boring stuff like worksheets and drills, but lots of group chatting/working, lots of craft work, lots of "exploration" in the classroom.

Still, the hard stuff has to happen, so they just send it home at night. Instead of school being where kids work, and home being where they can play and relax, the opposite is now true.

Meanwhile, the people who have the burden of getting kids through the not-fun part of their education end up being the parents who have to get their kids to get their homework done.

Anonymous said...

Yup. This was our experience as well. Soft, touchy feely classroom activities, and the hard stuff came home. Not only did it come home, it came home with a child who hadn't received any instruction about how to do whatever it was (and this was middle school).

Why can't they get it all done in the 6-7 hours the kids are in school? There should be no homework in K-8. Frankly, I don't think there should be homework in high school either unless they go over to a university model and drastically reduce the amount of time in class. K-8ers need time to be kids, and high school students need time to learn who they are beyond their schoolwork.

ChemProf said...

No, it is crazy. The whole idea of homework with kids this age does mean that you are asking them to do the most intense academic work when they are totally wiped out.

That said, by second grade she needs to know her addition and subtraction facts (and if she doesn't, that's something they should be working on at home). They are starting to do multi-digit addition and subtraction, and that's tough without knowing the facts. That's where we are right now (2A Singapore Math), and without those math facts, we'd have lots of tears.

Since we are homeschooling, we do a lot of our heavy work in the morning or early afternoon. Sometimes we do work in the evenings, but only if she's in the mood. But we are also working on a checklist, so she's got a lot of control over what she does on a given day.

This is a great example of how FedUpMom says our educational system is neither traditional or progressive, but the worst of both. A real traditional system would have them doing the hard work all day, with a little homework to reinforce it at night. In a real progressive system, students would do projects and group work all day in school, with a lot more choice of activity, but then not have homework. Instead, they do the projects but follow up with homework that they aren't prepared to do.

palisadesk said...

I am pretty sure that child is a Kindergarten student -- first grade at the latest. I don't recognize the worksheet per se, but the skill level is consistent with what is expected in K-1. Looks like all, or mostly, single-digit numbers.

lgm said...

Well, the hard stuff didnt come home here. The tears come during prep for the state math test...when the district tries to cram the top kids into earning a 3. Most of the year is spent in remediation to benefit the included and poverty. The parent of the lad needs to afterschool like everyone else that is serious.

education realist said...

Elementary school parents from the suburbs are amusing. There's a real simple solution: the minute the kid gets fussed, take away the homework and turn it in half done, or undone. This apparently never occurs to most of you. There's no penalty. They can't fail a kid with above average skills for not doing homework.

So don't do it.

Anonymous said...

But the thing is, even gifted kids need to do problems to develop fluency, solidify skills, and learn how to tackle difficult problems independently. When they don't get the opportunity to practice these skills in class (because the teacher is sending it home) and they are boycotting homework at home, eventually their above average skills will begin to erode.

Catherine Johnson said...

Oh - Kindergarten.

He does look pretty little.

But what is he actually doing?

He has to add in several digits to make up one sum?

So would he be expected to do this by memory or by counting up and counting down (I don't know whether those are the terms I want ---- )

Anonymous said...

Education realist is right -- you can say no! Even in high school math...but it may cause anxiety for your hyper- conscientious student. I had to send an email to the teacher explaining that my child could not finish all of the "1 - 99 odd" assigned each night so I was encouraging my child to "sample" -- do a few of each variety so as to get the main point. I did not point out that we were essentially doing the editing that he could easily have done before assigning the work. We didn't ask for any relief in homework grading. We just didn't want any in-class confrontation over it. End result: no impact in grade of any kind.

Anonymous said...

"I don't recognize the worksheet per se, but the skill level is consistent with what is expected in K-1. Looks like all, or mostly, single-digit numbers."

The second section (in the middle) is problems with two digit numbers.

-Mark Roulo

GoogleMaster said...

It looks like page 47 of this Pearson 3rd grade worksheet set: