Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 4th, 2012

What do you think?: Back to School


Martin just started junior high last week and is already feeling a little overwhelmed about having so many different classes, with different teachers, and each having different homework! He sees other kids with lots of binders and folders, color coded pens, and always writing things down. He wonders how he will keep track of his notes and assignments, and if he should buy a binder and folders. His mom never made it past 6th grade so she doesn't know how to help him when he asks her about classes. He thinks about going to one of his teachers and asking him about what he should do, but Martin feels intimidated asking for help since he doesn’t know them. He feels too nervous and thinks it is it's too much work to ask for help. Martin decides he is probably fine to do what he has always done, so he puts his homework away in his backpack to pull it out later at home. He decides this and quickly feels better and goes outside to play with his friends.

Questions for Discussion-

  1. What do you think will happen if Martin does not get organized for school and just tries to keep on using his old methods? What would you do in his place?
  2. When you get confused about an assignment or anything school related do you ask for help? Who would you go to if you did?
  3. What do you do to get organized for school? Do you have a binder? Folders?
  4. How do you keep track of your assignments? Do you write things down anywhere?
  5. What happens when you just put things in your backpack? How might this method make it difficult to do well in junior high or high school?

** The basic advantage of doing homework is : in a well-run class, doing the homework prepares students for taking the exams. This does not mean that exam problems are like homework exercises; it means that students who put a lot of time and effort into homework tend to do better in exams than students who do not. But there's an additional advantage: doing the homework helps students to learn the material better. By reading a text, a student can memorize facts; by doing homework, a student can learn how to use those facts [1].

**Beliefs regarding the positive non-academic effects of homework include that it:
• develops or improves attitudes about school and learning,

• develops or increases organizational and time management skills,

• increases the opportunity for independent problem solving,

• develops positive attitudes toward learning and school,

• develops self-direction and self-discipline,

• promotes inquisitiveness and exploration, and

• promotes the understanding that learning extends beyond the school walls [2].

** In a 2007 study data collected showed 95.0 of elementary student and secondary students reported that they completed homework outside of school [3].

** Average hours per week spent by elementary and secondary students who do homework outside of school was 9.2 hours for elementary students and 8.8 hours for secondary students [3].

**A higher percentage of Black students (83 percent) had parents who reported that they checked to make sure that their students' homework was done, compared with parents of White students (57 percent), Asian students (59 percent), and students of two or more races (66 percent).  In addition, 76 percent of Hispanic parents reported checking homework, higher than the percentage of White or Asian parents who did so [4].

** Homework has shown to have a positive impact on achievement in comparison to no homework. The impact of homework varies by grade level and is greatest for older students. Homework had twice as large an effect at high school as at junior high. In turn, the impact at junior high was twice as large in comparison to elementary school. Marzano and Pickering (2007) note the following effect size and average percentile gains [1]:

Grades 4-6: Effect Size = .15 (Percentile gain = 6 points)
Grades 7-9: Effect Size = .31 (Percentile gain = 12 points)
Grades 10-12: Effect Size = .64 (Percentile gain = 24 points)

How Mentors Can Help-

**Ask your Mentee about their daily routine with school and homework, and share your own experiences with school. Help them identify areas that they might be able to improve their organization or practices to make their life easier and less stressful. The beginning of the school year is a great time to create new and better habits!
**If they are transitioning to Junior High ask them how they feel about having more than one teacher. This can help you gauge their levels of anxiety, excitement, maybe if they are overwhelmed, and then help them find fun ways to organize themselves and explain how that might help ease the transition into their new schedules and routines and reduce stress.
Some people love to color code while others may want multiple binders or colored folders etc, so be open to their ideas about how they want to organize.

**Ask your Mentee if they ask for help on certain assignments or if they talk to a teacher at school, maybe an AVID teacher or counselor.

**It is important as a Mentor to begin every school year with consistent meet-ups. It is essential for the relationship to have a routine and consistency (especially at the beginning of the school year), so that you can establish that you are there for them. Make it known to them that you are available during this busy transition time and try to set up a consisted day and time to meet with them on or off campus.

**Talk to them about their homework habits,  especially where and when they do their work. If they feel overwhelmed by all of the work talk to them about ways to make it easier like breaking it up into manageable chunks with short breaks in between for fun and games or relaxation. And definitely try to reinforce the idea that work gets done before play. This website explains how  "creating a homework station" can improve good study/assignment habits:  http://www.simplify101.com/back-to-school-organizing-tips.php

1. McColm., G. (n.d.). About homework . Retrieved from http://shell.cas.usf.edu/~mccolm/pedagogy/HW.html
2. George , M. (2007). Got homework?. The Association of California School Administrators, Retrieved from http://www.acsa.org/FunctionalMenuCategories/Media/PositionPapers/GotHomework.aspx
     3. Youth indicators 2011, america’s youth: Transitions to adulthood. (2011, December ). Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012026/chapter4_35.asp
     4. Digest of Education Statistics http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d11/tables/dt11_166.asp

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