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How much homework does your child have and in what grade? - Page 5

post #81 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

which is a totally awesome assignment, but it was assigned today and is due tomorrow. How long do you think it would take? Dd1 could probably spend a week on it. I think most kids could, really.

 

How long would it take your middle schooler to do the above assignment—a paper, plus making at least one model?

first jaw.gif

 

5th grader here. having to do this project overnight would really throw dd in a loop and stress her out totally. she just cant do poor quality research due to lack of time. it just does not work for her. 

 

does the paper have to be handwritten or typed? i would say one day to do the research. another day to write the report. a third day to make the model. 

 

i mean seriously did you have all the ingredients for the model? did she have to build a functioning model or just any with paper or other cylindrical objects. i dont see what's the point of making a model if it isnt a working prototype. to me that sounds like busy work. 

 

historically is this normal - this amount of work for 6th graders? did the 7th graders have similar kind of do in house, homework. that may give you a heads up of what's normal hw in that school. 

post #82 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post
I want to ask the Science teacher to research Van Gogh, Picasso, and Lichtenstein and tell what makes each one great. Write a one page paper with at least 2 MLA citations. Then do a sketch in the style of one of the three. How long would that take you?

Seriously! I think the main lesson kids will take from this level of work load is that it's OK to do rushed work. Honestly, it's the only message there, imo. Good on you for writing in. I'm sure you're one of many. 

post #83 of 109
Thread Starter 

i'm still pretty hot about it. I haven't gotten a reply from the Science teacher yet about how long he expected the assignment to take. He did tell me that it was due tomorrow. Duh. I knew that. 

 

I think he has heard from several parents. I think that's probably made him defensive rather than changing his mind so I've got to exercise some serious diplomacy and see if I can get inside his head. I really can't tell yet whether he thinks this is a 1 hr assignment or if he thinks it's reasonable to assign a 3-4 hr assignment for the next day. I really think in order for it to be a good report the kids should have a week to do it or certainly several days, but I'm just not sure what he wants the kids to get out of it. I really want to try to approach him so I can figure out what he's hoping for. Is it just because we're nearing the end of the first quarter and he needs grades? Does he just want the kids to think about rockets at home and then they'll explore the topic more at school? Does he want the kids to stay up until midnight? Basically, what is the point?

 

Ugh, I hate confrontation, and I really like him and his teaching style. The only thing I have an issue with is the homework.

 

Still very interested to hear from parents of middle schoolers or former middle schoolers — how long would it take your child to do this assignment?


Edited by beanma - 10/23/12 at 6:55am
post #84 of 109
Thread Starter 

Oh, and meemee, it was handwritten. I'd love to get Dd1's keyboarding up to speed so that she could type these kinds of things because ultimately that will make it go so much faster, but she hardly has anytime to practice on her typing with all this homework.

 

She made a paper & tape air rocket. I don't know if it was adequate or not, but better than that description sounds. Check them out here:

http://blog.makezine.com/2010/04/14/weekend-project-compressed-air-rock/ and here: http://floralshowers.com/crafts/rockets/ . It should be a working model. They have the launcher at school.

post #85 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

How long would it take your middle schooler to do the above assignment—a paper, plus making at least one model?

 

 

I think it sounds like a science fair project, not a home work assignment.

 

My DH works in aerospace in new project development. The question posed, especially using the word "perfect" is huge one. This is not an assignment to complete in one night.

 

It's a homework assignment that the parents in my house would do -- I would have ended up pretty much just doing the paper and my DH would slap a paper rocket together.

post #86 of 109
Quote:

Originally Posted by beanma View Post

 

I really want to try to approach him so I can figure out what he's hoping for. Is it just because we're nearing the end of the first quarter and he needs grades? Does he just want the kids to think about rockets at home and then they'll explore the topic more at school? Does he want the kids to stay up until midnight? Basically, what is the point?

DC's school has some great communication tools that they use and that they ask parents to use. They say that they would like parents to phrase initial concerns in the spirit of "can you tell me more about this?" I have found that a really useful tool for talking to teachers. I also like, "Can you help me with something we're struggling with?"    

 

At this point I think I'd be tempted to go the cowardly route and write an anonymous letter to the principal. Sheepish.gif

post #87 of 109

beanma i am being lazy and not reading back. he is a new science teacher right?!!! can you find out if he taught a IB class or AP class before ur dd's class. i have middleschoolers with whom dd hangs out with. the non IB/AP kids seem to get far less hw than the other. and honestly that hw seems like a AP project. the non IB kids who got a new science teacher last year - the teacher had to learn to assign less hw to those kids. he was assigning far more than they were used to. 

 

i'll find out for you from the 8th grader how much time she would get for this project. 

 

i found it funny that one of the links you posted said weekend project. 

 

yes and me too. i want to find out what's going on in his head. 

 

but i agree with Linda. sounds more like a science project rather than just hw. 

post #88 of 109
Thread Starter 

Meemee, he's not exactly new. The school did expand down to middle school about 3 yrs ago and had been only high school prior to that, so that's part of what I'm wondering — if he's not gauging the right amount of homework for 6th graders vs for high schoolers. And yes he does teach AP Environmental Science to the high schoolers.

 

Dd1's really psyched about the rockets (working on another one tonight after math homework, but no paper this time), but this is going to be another bad week with 3 or 4 tests on Friday plus English homework due on Fri. She's got to get caught up on some reading for one of the tests. She didn't do it last night because of the homework overload and she really wants to make more rockets tonight. I'm just not sure where she's going to find the time for all this.

post #89 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

Still very interested to hear from parents of middle schoolers or former middle schoolers — how long would it take your child to do this assignment?

My ds has not had assignments like you dd's science paper.  In fact, his science/social studies teacher specified that he would not be giving homework this year as the homework focus decided by the district and the team is math and literacy.  

 

I think that your science teacher is excessive.  How does he expect these kids will have enough time to research, draft, edit and write a paper?  and then a project?  I think I would complain to the teacher- not that it always helps- you should probably use the more diplomatic approach mentioned earlier.   Make it clear how much time your dd spent working on the assignment and ask if he is expecting quality work for this assignment?  Something has to be sacrificed because the timeline is unreasonable.  Yikes!  Personally, I would not allow my ds to stay up so late.  I would probably write a note to the teacher to send with the homework explaining why I would not let the ds finish the homework.  Can not sacrifice precious sleep with ds.  I can not justify it when they are in 6th grade- maybe high school or college. 

post #90 of 109

awww beanmama - everything aside - i am so excited to hear hw has lit a fire under your dd. 

 

seriously that's a lot of hw for a 6th graders. i mean for what 4 subjects a night. that's quite a bit. 

 

i spoke to the middle schoolers and found out the AP/IB kids would be given a week at least, if not two. and sadly the non IB/AP kids wouldnt even see the rocket as they dont touch on physics in middle school. 

 

you know IF he has been teaching middle school for the past 3 years - then no he should have gotten used to grade appropriate homework.

 

IF this is his first year teaching middle school, then yes he could be forgiven. but that also means - parents really need to go and talk to him about the amount of hw he is giving so he can learn what is age appropriate for 6th graders. sheesh that's like asking dd to do this next year. idea is cool, but overnight? not fair at all. 

post #91 of 109

Are you SURE it was assigned when your daughter said it was?
 

post #92 of 109
Thread Starter 

mtiger, Definitely. He posts it to his google calendar, and all the other parents were up in arms about it, too.

 

I did email with him and asked how long he wanted the kids to take with the assignment (meaning an hour or what, wondering what his expectations were) and he replied "just tonight" and said they would be working on refining their rockets all week. I emailed him back to ask him more specifically what his expectations were for the amount of time they should put into it, 30 minutes or 3 hrs, but didn't hear back from him. He has been known to return projects and tell the kids they needed to add more to it, so while part of me thought maybe he just wanted them to dash something off, I was also worried about projects being returned for not being thorough enough. 

 

We have conferences coming up in 2 weeks and I don't know if I should wait to talk to him then in more depth or I guess I should probably go ahead and try to chat about it sooner. 

 

meemee, I know he taught 6th grade science last year, too, but that could have been his first year. I'm not sure. 

 

DD1 is still super excited about the rockets, though, so I don't want to engender any bad feelings on the part of the teacher. I'm really feeling like I need to walk on eggshells a little bit with this one. It's one thing if there's already some animosity between your child and a teacher (not that it should be there, but you know sometimes they have a teacher they hate and it seems the teacher doesn't like them either). Right now, though, I know dd1 really likes him  and I think he likes dd1 so I don't want to do anything to mess up that relationship. 

 

I did get some positive feedback from the counselor I emailed and he said they had put it on their agenda for their next staff meeting to talk about better coordination between the teachers of the homework load. I think that would help, but really this particular assignment is just pretty unreasonable.


Edited by beanma - 10/24/12 at 7:00am
post #93 of 109

beanmama i would talk to him as soon as he is available. not wait the two weeks. two weeks is a long time since he assigned the rocket homework. 

 

really what you emailed him, i'd make that clarification. 

 

i would go with teh report and a break down of the time it took dd to write and make that. along with all the homework that was due that day. show him with a list of figures how much time it took your dd to do her hw. 

 

you know this is SIXTH grade. not even 8th. i wonder what he would do for 8th. yikes2.gif

 

go there with teh attitude as someone pointed out above - that this is how much time your dd takes to do her projects so it doesnt have to be about you giving him the stinkeye. give him positive feedback. tell him how fired your dd is over this project. how happy you are they are doing this in 6th when most schools do it in 8th (i think).

post #94 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

 

I did get some positive feedback from the counselor I emailed and he said they had put it on their agenda for their next staff meeting to talk about better coordination between the teachers of the homework load. I think that would help, but really this particular assignment is just pretty unreasonable.

In light of this, I would write a very succinct letter the counselor and ask that it be read (or the points brought up) at the meeting.  I think this is a GREAT sign. I consider my DC's school a "good school" in that I think they are very in tune with the children and the families. They almost always address things before I have time to bring them up. It sounds like your DC's school has this same level of synchronicity. So, yea, proceed from the place "I'm sure you're aware that there are some issues with HW and I would love to add another layer of clarity of the situation from the perspective of our child/family." 

post #95 of 109
Thread Starter 

Well, I wrote a very positive, diplomatic email to him last night and said that I wanted to chat with him about his expectations and goals for homework. I told him I wanted to better monitor dd1's work as far as the quality and the amount of time she spends on it. I told him how she had stayed up until midnight and had several other assignments to do that night for the next day as well (assigned that day). Etc, etc, etc.

 

He wrote me a positive email back and said her work looked great and he was concerned about the amount of time she was spending on it, too, and he expected the kids to spend about 30-45 mins on each assignment. He also said that the teachers had discussed spacing out the homework so that it wasn't all on the same night like that, so that's positive.

 

I need to write him back, though, because I'm not sure how anyone could do that project in 30-45 minutes. I think he needs to adjust his expectations for 6th graders, but at least it's all positive discussion at this point. I'm pretty sure that all the other kids are spending A LOT of time on their assignments, too, and I think he's just underestimating how long it takes. I could see just writing a rough draft of a 1 page paper in 30 minutes, but to do research and do a model also?!

post #96 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

Well, I wrote a very positive, diplomatic email to him last night and said that I wanted to chat with him about his expectations and goals for homework. I told him I wanted to better monitor dd1's work as far as the quality and the amount of time she spends on it. I told him how she had stayed up until midnight and had several other assignments to do that night for the next day as well (assigned that day). Etc, etc, etc.

 

He wrote me a positive email back and said her work looked great and he was concerned about the amount of time she was spending on it, too, and he expected the kids to spend about 30-45 mins on each assignment. He also said that the teachers had discussed spacing out the homework so that it wasn't all on the same night like that, so that's positive.

 

I need to write him back, though, because I'm not sure how anyone could do that project in 30-45 minutes. I think he needs to adjust his expectations for 6th graders, but at least it's all positive discussion at this point. I'm pretty sure that all the other kids are spending A LOT of time on their assignments, too, and I think he's just underestimating how long it takes. I could see just writing a rough draft of a 1 page paper in 30 minutes, but to do research and do a model also?!

Sounds like an all around good result but I agree that his expectations for ANYONE to do that work in 45 minutes is sort of baffling. I'd be tempted to do it myself (in a rush) and see how fast an adult could do the work. 

 

Perhaps another interesting route (if you think he has the personality for this sort of suggestion) would to be for your DC to do a study on how long the class took to do the assignment and come up with an average and all that good stuff. 

post #97 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post
I need to write him back, though, because I'm not sure how anyone could do that project in 30-45 minutes. I think he needs to adjust his expectations for 6th graders, but at least it's all positive discussion at this point.

 

I think that if someone already had a good grasp of the information, plenty of experience throwing school projects together, experience building different types of rockets, understood the goal was to get done -- not have fun or learn -- they could pull it off in 90 minutes.

 

Homework - Research water bottle rockets, air pressure rockets, model rockets and what characteristics are needed in order to make the highest flying rocket. 1 page with 2+ refs in MLA format. Build your perfect rockets or rockets. Consider what kind of body, nose, fins and ballast you will need.

 

The quick way to do this is to goggle the different kinds of rockets, skim the information, and slap a paper together. Experience tracking down information and writing lots of papers would get you through it pretty quick as long as you understood that you could not waste time getting interested in the rockets, you were just searching for enough facts to write one page. In 6th grade, I suspect few children have this ability. They would spend a lot of time finding info and then figuring what they needed to know. (Which is why if my kids had to do that in one night, I'd end up doing it for them). Many 6th graders would struggle to write the paper in less than an hour even once they had all the information gathered.

 

"Building your perfect rockets" is easy if:

 

a. you understand that it doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to be done. Quickly. You can't care much about the rocket and get it done quickly. You must discard the word "perfect".  My perfect rocket can't be built in my home, or by anyone quickly. It requires ceramics and titanium. The assignment really means "build the best rocket you can using materials around your home, assuming you can find tape and have other random useful things lying around."

 

b: you've made rockets before and already know a few tricks to include. You already know what the body, nose, fins, and ballast are and how they should be designed, and can BS about it to your teacher. If you need to look up these words and experiment to see how it works, its going to take time. In other words, if you have something to learn through this process, there's no way to learn it and get it done quickly.

 

I also think this assignment would have been easier if it were more specific. "make a rocket from an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper than can be launched using air pressure from an empty 2 liter soda bottle" would be an easier assignment.

 

I think design challenges are really good for kids. Here is the path one of my DDs took:

 

6th grade they had a few and they usually lasted over 2 weeks (always included a weekend) and they didn't write papers. It was fun, and pretty low stress.

 

8th grade - had a class where once a week they did a design challenge in class - materials were provided, a goal was set, and they just saw what they could come up with

 

summer after 8th grade -- attended engineering camp at a university and was one of the youngest participants. They had competitive challenges for honor and glory, and even though the staff mixed up the teams for the different challenges, whatever team she was on won. Most likely because she's done lots of design challenges at this point.

 

BUT -- a kid rushing through a design challenge and not having time to really try different things out, or ending up having a parent do it or tell them how to do, teaches them nothing. Nothing. It is not going to produce a highschooler who can beat other highschoolers in design challenges.

 

I do think the ability to "just get 'er done" is a good one for children to develop at some point. It's something both my kids (who are in highschool) need to improve in before college. However, I think that "learning to do things" and "learning how to rush things" them are different skills, and 6th graders should be focusing on the first.

post #98 of 109
Thread Starter 

Well, I just got Bcc'd on another email from him to, I guess, the 6th grade parents. He said it had been brought to his attention that the assignment was problematic for a few students and reiterated the 30-45 minutes and did say that they were shown how quickly and easily you could make one of these rockets and that should have taken about 15 minutes. I think he was using "perfect" in a way to mean give it your own design, don't necessarily copy one online, although he could have just said that. 

 

Still, I don't think you could research it (unless he gave specific links) and write it up in 30 minutes. I mean, as an adult I would be hard pressed to do that. 

 

Hmmmm, I think I need to respond since he sent me the other email directly and now this one to the whole class. I guess I can thank him for clarifying the expectations and also let him know that my child, at least, had not done a lot of writing prior to this. She had done some, but nothing close to this amount. She did not have the best writing teacher in the world last year, but he was okay. He taught them persuasive essays and that type thing, but they did most of that in class. She was in the best public school system in the state, though. I'm concerned that he's really expecting much more writing than they (at least my kid) have had to produce in the past and I am worried that she's learning to dash it off rather than sit with it and craft her best piece. This is her 6th paper type assignment for him since the end of August. She's had to write one book report so far in English (another due next week) and work on her journal (not graded for content or punctation), no papers in Social Studies, a couple of papers in her Outdoor Skills class (which seems weird), no papers for math (understandably), and none for her other elective type classes. So she having to write triple the amount of papers in Science vs any other class, but beyond the MLA formatting is being given no direct instruction and no feedback on the papers. 

 

What to do, what to do. I _really_ do like him. I was pretty angry at him Monday night when she was slammed with homework, but overall I really do think he's a fantastic and very engaging classroom teacher. Despite the homework dd1 is still super psyched about his class (which is more than I can say about Math). Hmmm...

post #99 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

and he expected the kids to spend about 30-45 mins on each assignment. 

yikes2.gif you mean research, writing AND making a rocket. even I as an adult wont be able to. that is just preposterous.

 

when this blows over, or at the PT meeting give him positive feedback.  

 

in general (perhaps you already do this) i always try to talk to the teachers to touch base. i dont know how hard that would be in middle school, but i keep in touch with both the teachers classes dd goes to. just to check up. it then makes it easier to bring up hard issues. 

post #100 of 109
Thread Starter 

See, I think he must not mean "writing a paper" like we're all thinking about "writing a paper". He must have some special meaning of his own because everyone thinks it's just ridiculous. I just replied to him and I probably spent more than 45 minutes crafting an email to him!

 

I don't think it does dd1 any favors to learn to crank it out really fast. He says he's seen higher quality work come from a 2-3 day assignment than from an assignment the kids are given a week or two for because they procrastinate and put if off until the last day. I've heard from other parents that he's said the same thing to them, too, so I doubt I'll be able to change his mind on that, but I do want to try to open his mind to the fact that if the kids are doing these kinds of assignments in 1-2 days they're spending far more time on them than he thinks they are. I think maybe he just doesn't realize how much time the kids are devoting to it. 

 

I told him that I was concerned about the quality of dd1's research and writing and I wanted her to do her best and not cut corners and dash something off, but that I just didn't think she could do her best in 30-45 minutes. I also told him that she hadn't had direct instruction in writing research papers for Science before and that she hadn't received a lot of direct instruction in writing or that many other writing assignments in school this year (outside of Science). I closed by asking him for suggestions on any adjustments we could help her make so that she could do her best in a limited amount of time. I also told him that she was super psyched about the rockets. So I'll see if he offers any suggestions, but at least the ball is rolling a little bit.

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