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Common Core leads to uncommon homework load for some teachers

By Kaitlin Loukides
Published On: Mar 13 2014 07:46:44 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 13 2014 07:48:18 PM CDT

Some teachers find assigning less homework is more effective

POCATELLO, Idaho -

Not having homework seems like every kid's dream, and now some teachers are agreeing.

When it comes to sixth grade math, Alameda Middle School teacher Joanne Huber knows the formula for a class full of happy students...with empty homework binders.

"Gone are the days where they will see 'one-fourth plus one-half' - it will be in context," Huber said.

She doesn't think that assigning more homework is better for understanding the new materials taught in Idaho classrooms since the curriculum focuses on teaching students real-world applications.

"Do they need 60 problems to get it? The thing about that is the way they are tested now. They are not going to see the problem that's just computation. It's going to be within a context and they're going to have to solve it."

This is the first year teachers in the Pocatello-Chubbuck school district have been implementing the new Idaho Common Core standards into their classrooms, so Huber said the homework teachers now have to assign will have to veer away from the standard pages of math problems we were once used to. Instead, she said teachers such as herself will have to find a way to give them more hands-on, project-oriented assignments which are hard to do at home.

Huber added that since the curriculum is slightly different, she prefers to be there for her students when they have questions until they can fully comprehend the lesson. If they do it at home, they could be practicing the assignment incorrectly which would, in turn, hinder their understanding of the material.

"Before, you knew you never got depth, you just taught the algorithm. Instead students should be asking, 'what do those numbers mean and what does my answers mean?' Instead of just coming up with a set of numbers that don't mean anything to them."

Huber teaches her students by integrating real-life lessons in with her daily assignments.

For example, the class is currently starting to learn about fractions - and what better way is there to teach kids about fractions other than shifting the focus to food? 

None.

Huber's students are assigned to go home and teach their parents about what they've learned by describing the math involved in slicing-up that next pizza, or even baking a cake.

"You really want to teach them to love it and understand it and to ask questions about it: 'Why do you do that? Why does that work?' Because that's what true mathematicians do - they understand those numbers inside out like that."

 

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