SIDNEY — No homework. Those are two words students and parents both love to hear.
For the students at Longfellow Elementary School, those two words are a policy at the school, which has kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
Longfellow Principal Fran Dembski explained the Longfellow No Homework Policy during Monday evening’s Sidney City Schools Board of Education meeting.
“This is part of the Ohio Improvement Process follow through,” said Dembski. “During a DLT (District Leadership Team) meeting, we did an exercise called ‘Weed Your Garden.’”
The team looked at student results and what research showed about the results. They had various initiatives they explored during their meeting.
The BLT (Building Leadership Team), she said, includes one teacher from each grade level, along with special teachers. They also used the “Weed Your Garden” exercise. The BLT identified the current initiatives feedback, homework and social skills. A decision to implement a No Homework Policy at the school.
Guidelines for the policy includes: work sent home will not be graded; and no consequences for unreturned or incomplete work. However, she said, students in grades three to five could have longer or more in depth assignments which may require time outside of class to complete. These are not assignments in addition to classwork and will be graded.
Teachers, she said, will continue to encourage students to read at home and practice their math skills with their parents.
Research, said Dembski, shows that homework is not necessarily beneficial to students in elementary school. On the school’s “Weed Your Garden” chart, homework falls at .29, which is under the low to medium range.
“Homework can reinforce the idea that a student can’t learn by themselves,” said Dembski.
Dembski said they are asking their parents to get involved with the No Homework Police. The parent advisory council is also involved.
The BLT meets once a month and they have a “parking lot” where post it notes are put with comments about what’s going on at the school.
“This is not your traditional way of what we see with homework,” said Demski.
Curriculum Coordinator Brooke Gessler said she was proud of Dembski and the Longfellow staff on how they are using the strategies which have been learned with the Ohio Improvement Process.
“The other elementary schools are watching to see what happens at Longfellow,” said Gessler. “At an upcoming collaboration meeting, I can see comments coming at the K-5 meeting.
Dembski said the policy may be tweeked after this school year. The administration is hoping to track the students as they work through the grade levels to see if the policy has been successful.
A parent survey was conducted at the Title 1 Night on Oct. 13 about the policy. Twenty-six parents participated in the survey. Questions included:
• In previous years, I have struggled understanding my child’s homework: yes, 11; no, 15.
• This year, I have requested for my child to bring home extra assignments: yes, 3; no, 23.
• This year, my child seems more positive about coming/being at school: yes, 25; no, 1.
• This year, I have read with my child, worked on red words, reviewed classwork, etc.: yes, 22; no, 4.
• This year, I have been able to spend more quality time with my child: yes, 25; no, 1.
• At this time, I agree with the No Homework Policy: yes, 19; no, 6; mixed feelings, 1.
Lisa Carey, Title I teacher, and Jodi Haerr, MD teacher, assisted Dembski with her presentation.
Haerr then told the board about a $500 grant she received from Emerson Climate Technology. Her grant, “Speak Easy,” provides students with a voice in class. She was able to purchase technology that allows the students to “speak” in class.
The board’s next meeting will be Monday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. at the board of education building.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.