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Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  215 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
At last, a book that forever solves the debate over whether homework is an essential component of rigorous schooling or a harmful practice. Veteran teacher, trainer, professor, consultant, and author Cathy Vatterott distills her years of experience with all kinds of schools into a balanced approach that ensures homework leads to more opportunities for learning and teaching ...more
Paperback, 180 pages
Published July 15th 2009 by Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (first published September 9th 2001)
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Jul 21, 2016 added it
Shelves: professional
Like many (most?) teachers these days, the problem of getting homework finished and handed in is one of my biggest headaches throughout the school year. Someone recommended this book to me, and it was full of interesting food for thought from taking away grades for homework to "decriminalize" it and using it for formative assessments only, to limiting the amount of time students spend on homework and scheduling homework nights specifically for each content area. There were two chapters full of s ...more
Colleen Anne Rybak
Thought Provoking

Homework as a way to extend student learning can help to close the achievement gap when it is meaningful and doable by a student. Lots of practical ideas are given to help teachers structure the homework they assign to align with learning goals. Also lots of strategies to use when homework is not being completed.
Tracy Holland
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Rethinking Homework is just that - a research based, analytical look at the effectiveness of homework, and solutions for working with parents and students on reasonable homework policies and procedures that will both encourage and improve students success.
North Landesman
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
A strong, clear book for teachers thinking carefully about homework. Vatterott provides useful ideas, and makes a teacher think about how to assign effective, fair homework.
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
One thing students across all cities, districts, states and countries can all agree on is that homework is a pain in the neck—finally someone has decided to do something about it. In Cathy Vatterott’s book Rethinking Homework, Vatterott explains two sides of a long debated argument, and offers thoughtful solutions to satisfy both. In the early stages of the book, Vatterott goes on to define five common misconstrued beliefs about children and learning, such as the belief that “Good teachers give ...more
Sep 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Lots to like here. While Vatterott questions the efficacy of homework (calling into question all of the things that make it a seemingly non-standardizable task), she also notes its merits when done right. Highlights for me were: 1) her call out for children to self assess [pg. 117] their learning (is it easy, medium, or hard) and 2) how homework can be used to strengthen their metacognitive skills (orienting, planning, executing, monitoring, evaluating, and correcting [pg. 83]). Both of these sk ...more
I thought this book raised some important (if not new) questions about educational practice and priorities. I was disappointed that the suggestions didn't seem to be as updated as I would have liked. I read along and agreed with many of the concerns presented about the importance of a balanced life for students, but when it came to strategies to address these concerns, the kinds of "quality" homework examples are things we've been doing at my school for years, to the point where the examples see ...more
Josh Luukkonen
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
A nice quick book that brings up a lot of thoughts. As some reviewers said, it is biased, but I feel they weren't accurate in how she handled it all. She is bringing up these ideas for consideration and self-reflection, and she provides a lot for us to think about. She seems to favor one side, yes, but she offers all her ideas and complaints with a lot of caveats as well. it is not so cut and dry. Does she call teachers lazy, as some have claimed? Not quite--she does say that some teachers use h ...more
Dave Intlekofer
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
This had a few good points, but it was just another book on why homework is bad for kids. However, the author does not pick a firm side, seeming at first to say we need to get rid of homework but toward the end seeming to only call for a revision to what we assign.
One annoying tendency of the book was that it was wishy-washy. Chapter one said that assigning homework is bad because it assumes that the parents are incapable of providing good educational lessons at home, but later in the book it s
Nov 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book was a real eye opener to me. It started with Cathy's article in Ed Leadership which brought me to this book. After reading it, I feel guilty, informed, and hopeful. I highly recommend that every parent, teacher, and administrator reads this book. It is time to break old Puritan habits and to start looking at quality assignments that are differentiated, purposeful, and doable by students on their own. Schools should take a look at this homework bill of rights and then have a discussion ...more
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it
I have read works by Alfie Kohn and this book was not nearly as good. Kohn has a way of putting stuff right in your face and this author didn't challenge my thinking too much. But that is probably because I read Kohn before reading this book. Rethinking Homework contains many suggestions for revitalizing homework, and as a teacher it would be much more helpful than Kohn's if you were looking for ways to change assessment. Kohn doesn't make many explicit suggestions for teachers but he is really ...more
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be quite insightful. I liked the introduction of the history of homework over the past decades. The different examples/scenarios of teachers and schools who have used a variety of homework policies across the nation was helpful. It definitely makes you re-evaluate your position on homework. It would have been nice to read this book two years ago, before I started teaching.
Oct 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Really cool take on homework and how we as educators can make it work for students. I know a lot of students struggle through too much homework, while others refuse to do it because it's more repetition of skills they already have. There is a trend in the US to value homework because it is homework, not for what it can and should do. I'm glad I read this book; it gave me some insight into my own instructional practices and has pushed me to rethink my own teaching policies.
Feb 17, 2010 rated it liked it
This could have been a long article in an education journal. It was too long for a book. It had some interesting ideas, but it was pretty biased. I definitely plan to change some of my assessment practices, however. I would recommend it to educators (helps broaden our view of homework) and parents (to help change homework practices in kids' schools.)
Kari S
Aug 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Really thought-provoking ideas on why we write homework and what it means to assign it. From a professional development standpoint, however, I felt some of the language and attacks were poorly worded. However, it was well-researched and could be a great read for anyone who is struggling with homework in their classrooms.
Sep 06, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a thought-provoking book. I don't agree with everything in it, but I do think that the author makes some legitimate points. In any event, it is worth a read for any teacher -- if nothing else, a benefit is that one has time to reflect on one's own homework practices in light of what the author presents.
Jun 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Ms. Vatterott explores the old paradigm of homework and then explains why it doesn't work in the current educational environment. She then provides strategies to make homework meaningful and approachable for all students so that learning isn't a punishment. I just wish that there were more concrete recommendations. I felt like this work just brushed the surface.
Nia Vestal
Oct 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Some good ideas and insights about homework. I would recommend the ideas in this book be discussed as a K-12 staff. I think it would generate great conversation. Furthermore, the book provides data on how to provide meaning homework assignments for individuals- not entire classes... it really got me thinking about some of my current practices.
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
It had some valid ideas, but there was a lot of judgement: teachers give homework to cover a lack of skill in teaching, homework is inhumane, teachers give homework to control students' time outside of school, etc. Not very teacher-friendly!
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I got a ton of great ideas from this book. Most of what I read seemed to be common sense but school's aren't doing them. This book definitely gave me a lot of ideas and processes to use in the future when I get a classroom of my own!
Oct 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Reviews why homework has been given through the ages, and if it really is all that effective (not before 5th grade, and only nominally in 5th). Provides ideas about what kind of homework tends to be more helpful than others.
Nicole McRee
Jul 18, 2012 rated it liked it
As the author warns you from being persuaded by research, she uses her own research to persuade you. Good points were argued throughout the book and I am reaffirmed that my stance on homework is legit :)
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
When I am the Queen of Education, I'm going to ask all my loyal subjects to read this.
Chad Earwood
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Very good book on the WHY we need to overhaul homework; however, it left me quite underwhelmed on the HOW. Could definitely use better examples of homework for high school teachers.
Sasha Albrecht
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Quick read that gives practical strategies for changing traditional beliefs about homework and how to more effectively and equitably assign and evaluate student work.
Katrina Holman
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a re-read.

Each time I have read this book (3x), I've come away with at least 2 or 3 new ideas on how to make homework work better.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it liked it
lots of platitudes...
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It's good to re-evaluate our purpose with assignments. I loved this book!
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great book for teachers. This should be required reading! It has changed my view of the role that homework plays and how to manage it for the greatest learning for students.
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Has made me rethink how I feel about homework. A must-read for any teacher.
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