Dear Parents -
As 8th grade teachers we recognize that some classes will require more
homework than others. As best we can, we try to balance quarters so students
do not have all heavy homework classes at the same time. While our system
isn't perfect, it does take into consideration that we do not want students
unduely burdened with homework.
Since Math and English are both all year long, much of what they do is
done in class and consequently requires less homework. Currently Science is a
one-semester class with a long list of standards that are required; currently
24 benchmarks which must be covered in one semester. In order to meet these
state requirements, it is necessary to assign a heavier load of homework
since it is impossible to cover all of this using only classtime. Science is
different as well in that it requires an understanding of a lot of infor-
mation that is in our textbooks. This is often 'background' information
that will relate to things done in class.
One thing we have observed in students this year is a difficulty in
understanding how to read a textbook. We worked with students to help them
understand some techniques they should be using, mostly to read the sections
of the text (usually just 3-4 pages) BEFORE starting a worksheet. Students
who struggle the most with their homework, and take the longest, are those
that are using the hunt and seek method rather than the methods we showed
them. This most often leads to a high number of incorrect answers. EXAMPLE:
When asked the name of the first man in space, a student scanned the book
until she found a name and wrote that down. Her answer: John F. Kennedy.
Science, by its very nature requires an understanding of more background
information than most other classes. By keeping more of the paperwork for
homework, this allows us to do some of the more "interesting" stuff in
class. While I understand this may seem like a burden for some students, I
am confident that the students leave with a much better foundation in science
because of it.