“I Hate Reading Logs,” says FedUp Mom

This is the sixth post by FedUp Mom, the mother of a fifth grader. FedUp Mom’s daughter used to attend a public school in suburban Philadelphia, but this year FedUp Mom moved her to a private Quaker school, hoping for a more relaxed environment. You can read her other posts here, here, here, here and here.

I Hate Reading Logs
by FedUp Mom

Every time I think we’ve solved the school problem something comes along to bite me in the rear. This week it’s the dreaded reading log. We found out about it from a letter the teachers sent home:

“Your child will be expected to read every night. We ask that you sign the log each night … We will also check the log regularly, in order to ensure follow through on your child’s part… Please sign the form below and return it to school tomorrow with your child.”

And now, the fun part:

“Thank you for your partnership in your child’s education.” (!)

And how does following the teacher’s directions make me a partner exactly? I feel more like an unpaid employee. Wait a minute — we’re paying them!

There was a little form at the bottom of the letter that said:

“I have read the above letter and agree to help my child by signing his/her log each night.”

I crossed this out and wrote in:

“We trust our daughter to do her reading.”

Then we signed it.

Then we sent the following e-mail to the teacher:

Teacher X: we have chosen not to participate in the reading log. We’ve experienced reading logs before and have these objections:

1.) They turn reading into a chore.

2.) They send a message that we don’t trust (daughter) to do the reading without meddling and micromanaging.

(Daughter) will do the reading she needs to do, but she won’t be logging the pages. Thank you.

I’m hoping that will be the end of it. I’m really tired of conferences and I’m sure we all have better things to do with our time.

1,059 Comments on ““I Hate Reading Logs,” says FedUp Mom”

  1. PeggyinMA says:

    This gets to the heart of the issue: In true learning there is an element of trust, and the best teachers inspire curiosity and nurture intrinsic motivation so children learn for the love of it.
    When will our schools learn that nagging, bribing and threatening students (and parents!) does not work over the long run? Doesn’t every parent learn this at some point?

    January 13th, 2009 at 8:54 am
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  2. Kat says:

    Ugh. Reading logs. I blame Older Son’s first grade teacher for his hatred of reading. He was sitting on the fence with his reading skills in 1st grade, sort of opening up to the idea of reading for pleasure, but not quite there. He has autism and reading comprehension issues, so reading is difficult for him. She did monthly reading logs (which were not at a first grade level — they required me to write the date, title of the book, and minutes read that evening, then sign). If he did not meet his quota for the month, his name was not published in the monthly class newsletter and he did not get his free pizza coupon. I appealed to her to set realistic goals for him so he could be successful — could he read a little less and then publish his name, and I would buy the pizza? But she did not consider that fair to the other children. it was all or nothing. So he chose nothing. He could never succeed. He hates reading to this day — he’s a 6th grader. In the meantime, Younger Son is in 1st grade and we don’t actively participate in the reading logs. If he comes home and wants to mark up his reading log, that’s great. If he doesn’t I don’t force him to. So far the teacher hasn’t said anything, but its probably counting his reading grade down.

    January 13th, 2009 at 11:36 am
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  3. Sara Bennett says:

    My book, The Case Against Homework, has a whole chapter on what’s the matter with typical homework assignments, including reading logs. Here’s what the first paragraph on reading logs says:

    These days, beginning as early as kindergarten, most kids are expected to dutifully log all the books they read.Reading logs can be an effective diagnostic tool ifthe teacher takes the time to read each child’s log carefully, talk to him about what he’s reading,and thus get an understanding of his reading preferences, says Kylene Beers, a senior reading researcher at the School Development Program at Yale University and author of When Kids Can’t Read,What Teachers Can Do.But few teachers have time for that. Chances are, your child’s teacher uses the log simply as a way of checking to be sure you enforce the reading requirement or as a record of what’s been read.

    January 13th, 2009 at 12:00 pm
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  4. Michelle says:

    I don’t remember what bunny trail led me to your blog, but I have a few general comments.

    I am a former public school teacher who started teaching at age 21. I hate to admit it, but for 8 years or so, I was so clueless. I was the kind of teacher that, as a mom, I would now hate!

    What did I do that was so bad? Upon reflecting, it was assigning STUPID “projects”. Most of the time, the ridiculous projects ended up being homework. Why did I assign them? Did I ever think about whether they provided any real educational benefit? I don’t know and no. What I DO remember thinking about was how great a particular project was going to make my room look! I actually thought that having all these projects made ME look like a great teacher! Ugh!

    Fast forward to my having kids and subsequently making me THINK about what was important-my husband and I decided we would homeschool our children. (He’s a gifted, insightful, award winning and well-loved educator who HATES homework, as well.) I am not writing to persuade you on homeschooling, but to merely affirm that 1. extra time does NOT equal more understanding and 2. kids absolutely need to play and have down time. My 4th grade son spends about 5-51/2 hours on school each day – and this includes 2 hours of reading (which he LOVES). The rest of the time, it’s play. His scores on standardized tests are exceptional, and he is 2-3 “grade” levels ahead in all subjects.

    Now, I don’t think that his (as well as his sibling’s) academic success is due is to his being exceptionally smart. I truly believe his success is due to our “less is more” philosophy, and his being given time to simply be a hard-playing, inquisitive child. I know without a doubt that his love for reading and learning would be squashed if he were to have the work load of his friends that are in the schools around us.

    I am not sure where I am going with all this, or why I even took time out to comment, but I wanted to let you know that I applaud you in your efforts to curb homework and worthless, silly, time-consuming assignments (which, as you saw from my own experience, is what most homework turns out to be.). Unfortunately, there are more out of touch educators than you would care to believe. And I can say that because I used to be one.

    January 13th, 2009 at 3:47 pm
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  5. HomeworkBlues says:

    My heart is sinking as I read FedUpMOm’s letter and the responses. Don’t get me wrong. Kudos to you, FedUP for telling it like it is. High fives for the posts supporting you here. My disenchantment is in full agreement dutiful reading logs are nonsense, a chore, and as Sara Bennett writes in her book, in the time it takes a child to fill out a log, she could have been reading another book! Hey, who let a sane person in?. And we entrust our children to people who don’t get that, who don’t see the obvious irony?

    I’ve written about reading before many times on this blog, posts far more eloquent than my tired head can muster at the moment.

    I have written that my daughter is a ravenous reader. We dutifully did those reading logs in first grade before we knew any better. As homework goes, it wasn’t the end of the world, copying word definitions was our bane, but I still hated those logs. I hated them because they were time consuming and served ZERO educational purpose. Besides, what purpose did they serve? In first grade, my daughter was jotting down the book, the author, the publisher. Whenever I’d read to her, I always read the author’s name aloud, authors are important, so why the log?

    As a naive mother of an only child, even I knew, early on, that it was turning reading into a chore. I know so many children who were rewarded to read, please just read five pages and I’ll pay you, it was like pulling teeth, and the resistance was surely planted in those tedious reading logs.

    I had spent years cultivating reading in my daughter, modeling to her how much hubby and I love reading, it was working, I was delighted beyond measure to see she was as consumed and mesmerized by gripping reading as I’ve always been, and along comes the school, trying their hardest to undo all my efforts, my modeling love of learning, inquiry and sinking tuchus and head into a good chair with a good book.

    One caveat: at least the private school had its creative moments, were sometimes receptive to a reasoned discussion and the Head of School was usually welcoming and gracious to us. Welcoming but in hindsight, hopelessly clueless at times. She didn’t stop the bullying and teasing though, so we had to leave. As my daughter now asks, how good was she, really?

    So we leave and enroll daughter in public school. The dreaded reading logs make an appearance again. We refused to do them. Because,get this! My daughter was already being punished for…reading! I didn’t read that right, you stammer. Yes you did. One day my husband pulled a book off our many reading shelves and Wuthering Heights came tumbling down. He’d forgotten to put the book back, daughter stumbled over it (literally), took the novel to her bedroom, me following, ready to steal it back, and read for hours and hours and hours. She’s not very loquacious but had the vocabulary of a college professor at age nine. So she read all afternoon.

    I’ve written here that she’s also scrupulously honest (you’re getting the picture, right? A little “weird,” voracious reader, innocent) so when scolded, why didn’t you do this homework, she replied truthfully, I was reading. So she lost recess as punishment for reading. She was penalized because reading Wuthering Heights wasn’t a good way to do language arts at home. Better to look up words and painstakingly copy definitions, Sidebar: visual spatial right brained children do not learn words from copying out of a dictionary, they learn them by reading them, particularly in context.

    Okay, along comes the dreaded reading log. Now the dippy questions are added, who is your favorite character, what do you think will happen next, do you like this book? I love that last question. No, I don’t like this book, that’s why I’m reading it. I asked the teacher why my daughter was being asked to fill out these logs. Answer. We need evidence she is reading!

    I swear public school was put on this earth for my amusement.

    January 13th, 2009 at 3:53 pm
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  6. Catherine says:

    Reading logs should be thrown out! It only encourages students to race through the readings to get to a certain number of pages–very bad! In my opinion (and experience), engaging students in classroom discussion and allowing them to express their ideas about the readings is much more productive. Many students like to talk–why not give them an outlet, a voice? Further, spending 10 minutes at the beginning of class to write a short paragraph about their interpretations, feelings, or ideas about the text preps them for discussions and essays, and shows the teacher that the student did read. They can also use these paragraphs as groundwork for essays. Granted, it’s not a foolproof method, but I think it’s better than a reading log (for students, parents, and teachers!).

    January 13th, 2009 at 3:55 pm
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  7. HomeworkBlues says:

    “Your child will be expected to read every night. We ask that you sign the log each night … We will also check the log regularly, in order to ensure follow through on your child’s part… Please sign the form below and return it to school tomorrow with your child.”

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I love this paragraph. Was is this, the reading police? The intellectual KGB?

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    “Thank you for your partnership in your child’s education.”

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    It’s been whispered that educational staff thinks parents are idiots. Look no further than here for proof.

    Thanks, FedUpMom, for refuting that. You pay them, they work for you, not the other way around. Go show them what a true partnership looks like. You have leverage in these tough economic times. They can’t afford to lose your checkbook.

    January 13th, 2009 at 3:56 pm
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  8. HomeworkBlues says:

    Michelle, I loved your post. Don’t make apologies for appearing pro-homeschooling. I’ve already done that here many times. If one can, it is the BEST option. I eventually yanked my daughter out of school to homeschool too and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner, much sooner. At the first glance of the homework log, the first bullying, and above all the at the first meeting of the new rigid humorless public school elementary teacher, that dreaded fifth grade year.

    I was amazed, when we began homeschooling, at the numbers of former teachers who were homeschooling their own children! I asked them, why so many teachers here? They all said, we saw what happened behind the scenes, or, I assigned stupid busy work before I had children and I never want my child to have a teacher like me!

    I hear you, Michelle. Kudos to your insights. There are many wonderful educators. But you are right.As I survey the long landscape of our school experience ( I have a junior who spent all but one year homeschooled so I do have perspective), most teachers are clueless, I’m sorry to say.

    We don’t like criticizing teachers because we view them like priests, it’s not nice to nitpick. But if we begin by being brutally honest, we can make headway, find a way to dump the lousy ones and inspire a new generation of children to remake what could and should be a sacred profession (but you see, that’s the whole point. Let’s stop calling it sacred because then we can’t criticize it. Still, teachers have on their watch our most precious professions and we need to trust our young to extraordinary people. And we need to pay them commensurately.

    Today’s teachers often have no idea what home looks like and assume kids get their homework done at the same clip they do their schoolwork in class. If we must have homework, abolish the word, lengthen the school day, call it study hall and GET IT DONE AT SCHOOL. DON’T send it home to me unless you put me on the payroll.

    January 13th, 2009 at 4:14 pm
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  9. HomeworkBlues says:

    Our most precious possessions, I meant to say!

    January 13th, 2009 at 4:16 pm
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  10. FedUpMom says:

    Everybody — thanks for the comments! Keep ‘em coming!

    Michelle — thank you for your honesty. I am also considering homeschooling. For the moment, though, my daughter is way happier at the Quaker school. I think we’ll stick with it (stay tuned!)

    HomeworkBlues — ack! Don’t even say the words “lengthen the school day!” We’d be homeschooling for sure. Kids don’t need more time at school, they need to spend their time at school productively and then come home and do their own thing. And how much do you want to bet that even if they lengthened the school day, they’d be sending masses of stuff home?

    I haven’t heard back from Teacher X yet — she’s probably stunned by my deathless prose!

    January 13th, 2009 at 7:03 pm
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  11. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedUpMom writes:

    HomeworkBlues — ack! Don’t even say the words “lengthen the school day!” We’d be homeschooling for sure. Kids don’t need more time at school, they need to spend their time at school productively and then come home and do their own thing. And how much do you want to bet that even if they lengthened the school day, they’d be sending masses of stuff home?

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    You’re right. It did seem odd coming from me. I am just so burned out on homework that I’d rather it just gone done there. Don’t bring anything home! Do it there.

    But you are correct. It would still come home. They would tell you your child should and could have finished it all at school but did not so….Hello, you’re a teacher!

    A better solution is, keep the school day the same length and just get it all done at school. As children get older, an engaging project that captivates their attention may on rare occasions be sent home, in high school. but it has to be rare, and only if the student wishes to embelish it at home.

    How’s that for a better response? :).

    January 13th, 2009 at 10:04 pm
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  12. HomeworkBlues says:

    Got done there. Darn. I try to edit these things but something seems to slip through my fingers.

    January 13th, 2009 at 10:04 pm
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  13. HomeworkBlues says:

    Yikes. I caught another of my mistakes. I am tired…

    I wrote earlier: “I have a junior who spent all but one year homeschooled so I do have perspective”

    I meant the opposite. My junior spent all but one year in school, with one lone year of homeschool.

    Now I’ll go to sleep. Wait, I can’t. I have to cajole said junior to just stop homework, I don’t care if it’s finished, and pack it in. We had a solid week of 2:30 am bedtimes. I couldn’t stay up, fell asleep on the couch and awoke to my daughter’s typing.

    If you catch any mistakes, I’m asleep!

    January 13th, 2009 at 10:10 pm
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  14. FedUpMom says:

    BTW, I forgot to mention in my post what the subject of the reading is. The subject is … drumroll, please … civil rights! Yes, kids, this week we’re studying the innate dignity of the individual person. Now shut up and do what you’re told. Gotta love education …

    January 14th, 2009 at 11:27 am
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  15. TeacherBey says:

    I am a public school teacher at the very high school from which I graduated.

    The problem – yes, singular – with public education is that it is reactionary and often reverts to the lowest common denominator.

    The parents responding here are likely those parents who care enough to imbue in their children a desire to learn. I doubt few here are languishing in poverty: I doubt few here are flourishing in affluence. In short, we represent the middle road of socioeconomic status. We also represent the group most likely to take an active role in our children’s education.

    But with the advent of standardized testing at the state level, public schools are – rightfully – panicking and – not rightfully – attempting to address all students with strategies aimed at ensuring that the lowest-achieving (and, by correlation, lowest socioeconomic) students have the same support at home that they have at school. Often, and I would dare say usually, this is not the case for this group of students. Each year I have at least one class period of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds along with two or more AP English classes. The difference in turn-out between the two groups at Open House is staggering. If I call the parent of an AP student about a concern, a conference will be scheduled the next day. If I call the parent of an English II Regular student, I get a disconnected phone, or an answering machine, or another live-in relative who never relays the message and couldn’t care less to do so.

    Of those groups, which brings the standing of the school down? Of those groups, which will likely have more attention paid to it?

    Is it right? No.

    Is it understandable? Yes.

    What can we do about it? Start by understanding.

    Start by understanding that most public schools are trying everything they know to get all students to achieve.

    Understand that most public schools would rather have a concerned parent than an evasive one.

    Understand that forums such as this can have one of two outcomes: a conclave for vitriolic invective that argues in the present tense and does not work toward a solution, or a convocation of minds deliberating ways in which school and community can provide an environment for each child to learn and grow and achieve to his potential.

    So don’t hate reading logs, or the teachers who give them, or the schools who produce them, or even the system that engenders their existence. Don’t even hate the parents who are not as involved as we are with their children’s education. No amount of hate aimed at everyone or everything will help any single child.

    January 14th, 2009 at 11:52 am
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  16. FedUpMom says:

    TeacherBey — I’m not in a public school anymore, I’m in a private school. There’s no way Teacher X is dealing with the problems of the poor. Believe me, we’re all middle and professional class at this school.

    And yes, we are trying to work for change, but we are also frustrated, and the chance to blow off a little steam among like-minded people is not a bad thing. And you have to understand our frustration when we’re dealing with teachers and administrations who don’t listen to our concerns.

    Also, I would like to point out that coercive tactics like reading logs really don’t work for anyone. The kid who used to like to read will get turned off. The kid who doesn’t like to read will fake the log or just not bother. Nobody’s interests are being served here.

    January 14th, 2009 at 12:33 pm
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  17. TeacherBey says:

    “I’m not in a public school anymore, I’m in a private school.” Fair, but I was not specifically addressing just you: I used the subject as a starting point for my own argument.

    “Also, I would like to point out that coercive tactics like reading logs really don’t work for anyone”.
    I’m not sure terming reading logs “coercive” is fair. The question of whether or not using reading logs in any way is an effective instructional strategy is not really up for debate: what does the research say? Many people use only their own anecdotal observations to form their opinion, but I think it is important to read case studies and other contextualized research in order to cull a wide array of evidence.

    Without looking at the research, I submit that some institutions propagate the use of reading logs to ensure parents’ involvement in their children’s lives. In some situations, this may be necessary: in your particular situation, it does not sound necessary or effective.

    My broader point is this: overgeneralization in education is the biggest issue, and this stems from reactionary policy enaction. What may help students in one setting achieve to the best of their ability may not help another, similar group of students in a different setting. Also, within the same setting, one strategy may not work from year to year.

    January 14th, 2009 at 1:05 pm
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  18. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedUpMom writes:

    BTW, I forgot to mention in my post what the subject of the reading is. The subject is … drumroll, please … civil rights! Yes, kids, this week we’re studying the innate dignity of the individual person. Now shut up and do what you’re told. Gotta love education …

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I can do you one better. My daughter was studying the transcendentalist period in English last month. No matter how oppressed I feel, I still try to work up excitement over what she’s learning. Especially in English, I majored in English and one of my greatest passions is American Literature. She was reading about Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    I talked here about our dreary sad Thanksgiving weekend when we had to cancel our vacation plans because of mountains of homework, despite a “no homework on breaks” policy at the school. I crafted an elegant passionate letter to the principal who replied that the policy is such that each teacher may assign one assignment and that they should not accelerate curriculum over break. Oh, I get it. That clears it up nicely, doesn’t it?

    But that’s another story, still in progress. Following that weekend, my daughter entered an unusually intense (even for this school) week. It built to a crescendo the week before break. Let’s wear them out completely, who do they think they are, getting so much vacation? Let’s make them pay for it.

    Get this. The week before winter break, my 11th grade daughter was hit with five (count ‘em, FIVE) projects, all due in five days. Wait, it doesn’t end there. She also had five quizzes in that one week, two major tests, and all the regular homework which takes no less than five hours each night.

    Wait, don’t go away, there’s more. She’s in one after school activity but the instructor picked that week, of all weeks, to ramp up the rehearsals each night because the design guru was in town. My daughter sent the instructor a carefully worded respectful email, how she takes the activity seriously but she is being hit with a bazillion projects all due that week and schoolwork must come first. Pretty mature of her, eh? She received a reply with a threat that she’d be taken off key portions of the show if she missed even one rehearsal.

    I am getting to a point here, building up to something, don’t go away. Wait, there’s more. To add to daughter’s stress, she was going on a youth convention and needed to miss the first two days of break week. Break began Christmas eve but the international convention (in our backyard this year, fortuitously) was starting that Sunday. New school rule: all students missing those two days would need to make up all work beforehand. And we were hoping she could catch up over break. I didn’t know that when we signed daughter up for convention, I figured she’d just have to do it over vacation.

    One of the projects was on transcendentalism. Daughter was to write a research report, complete with many readings and citations and then construct a poster with very specific guidelines. It was due the following Tuesday but because daughter would be out, she’d have to have it done by Friday. She was able to communicate to the teacher that she’d try working on it over the weekend and would email it. The teacher received it Sunday morning, two days before it was due.

    Luckily, the teacher finally agreed to allow daughter to work on the poster over break so she would not be penalized. There was no way, given the above work load, that the poster could have been finished any earlier. Oh, I forgot. Daughter spent the first part of the weekend filming for another class so that took up Saturday. The convention starts 11am Sunday. She has to pack. Just when can she write this research paper?

    She packed for the week-long convention late into Saturday night. She asked me to wake her up at six am so she could finish the long research paper before leaving for the convention. I didn’t, choosing 8am instead. Coming up with the convention money was a hardship and now she’d be missing some of it. Thank goodness she wasn’t flying and we could drive her over. Sunday morning I had to make special arrangements for daughter to miss the convention bus so that I could drive her in.

    Well, it’s Sunday morning and midway through the report, my daughter’s in tears. It’s almost noon, the bus has long left and she doesn’t want to miss the opening at 2:30. She declares dejectedly there’s no way she can finish, she’s only halfway through. At this point, she’d already worked on the paper for four hours so I felt she may as well see it through. She’d get an F if she didn’t get it in that day, may as well finish it. She made a huge push, got it done, frantically packed the last of her items and we took off in a flurry.

    Thoreau is all about quiet reflection, going into the woods, communing with your thoughts and nature. The irony was not lost on my child. She noted ruefully with a tinge of humor that perhaps she ought not to do the project at all and just pen a note that she was so inspired by the writings of Thoreau, Emerson and Walt Whitman that she begged her parents to take her winter hiking in Shenandoah National Park instead.

    I loved that idea and actually gave her permission to do so. I suggested we do in fact take off for the mountains and that she should compose a beautiful essay and poetry on her day in the still snowy winter woods. Throw in some Robert Frost too.

    In the end, daughter did not dare. She coughed up that report and we raced to the convention. She was up till 2:30 am the night before school began to do the poster. Mike, the teacher on the other post, would chastise us all for leaving it to the last minute. Nope. Yes, it’s true, I sent daughter to the convention and then we headed north for a family wedding. But come New Years Day, daughter was buried in homework for the entire weekend. The poster started at 9pm because math and physics took all day.

    Let’s contrast this transcendentalism study with my own high school experience hundreds of years ago. I was in 10th grade and my English teacher was introducing us to Thoreau. I attended a private school next door to a gorgeous arboretum. I adored this teacher and credit her for my love of language, literature and poetry. She loved what she taught and would read us poetry aloud with dramatic intonation, she gesticulated wildly, she was eccentric and dramatic and I couldn’t wait for her daily class.

    The teacher cleared it with the rest of the staff and we hiked over to the gardens. It was a shimmering sparkling day in early spring. We ate our lunch in a circle and took turns reading Walt Whitman. We spent hours reading Thoreau, Emerson and Whitman together. We had lively intense discussions and then took a long hike together. She asked us to spend a half hour alone, go find a spot, and meditate. We were given a project associated with it but I remember attacking it vigorously over the weekend. I’ve always been inspired by these three transcendentalists, nature, the woods, and writing and the seeds of that passion were inspired that day at Cylburn botanical gardens.

    Extraordinary teachers like that you never forget. No child will ever go back to today’s teachers and proclaim, thank you thank you thank you for spending most of my schooled years prepping for a big test, I am forever moved.

    January 14th, 2009 at 1:11 pm
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  19. Sara Bennett says:

    Dear TeacherBey–Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    January 15th, 2009 at 10:29 am
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  20. Nana says:

    I think that kids aren’t allowed to be kids anymore they never have time to play or have any fun everything is how much homework do you have I have grandchildren in kindergarden and even they have homework this is realy sad that they can’t even enjoy life at all just do more and more school work and not have time to play I feel sorry for the kids who are not realy good students they must realy have a hard time trying to keep up

    January 23rd, 2009 at 7:42 pm
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  21. FedUpMom says:

    This latest comment reminds me of an exchange I read on another site:

    Q: Geez! When do kids have time to be kids any more?

    A. After they’ve finished their worksheets in a quiet, well-lit place!

    January 26th, 2009 at 9:21 am
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  22. jen says:

    All of you whining parents need to cut it out. Not only am I a teacher, but a mother of two. If we never made kids accountable for their homework, they’d never do it! Do you think that when your children grow up and enter the workplace that they will write a note to their boss? “Dear Boss, I am not participating in X, Y, and Z. You need to trust me.” Please! You are setting your children up for failure. Reading logs teach them about responsibility. My children read each night. They log the date, minutes read, and write about their reading. Then I sign it. It takes five minutes! Research even shows that when students write about what they read they improve their comprehension.

    January 30th, 2009 at 12:25 am
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  23. Another frustrated mom says:

    Hi, to all interested in the issue of education and the ever-hated homework. My second grader is overwhelmed by 2-3 hours worth (instead of 20-minutes proposed by the guidelines) of nightly ordeal. What is most upsetting to me that he is actually convinced by now that he is “slow and incapable to meet goals”, thanks to those teachers-dictators who should not be let close to schools.
    I wish my child would be blessed with loving, inspirational, smart and truly devoted to their profession teachers, who would do their magic and make my son to enjoy his experience in school, to crave learning more and more. However so far on his relatively short path he only encountered cold and heartless adults who call themselves teachers, whose only achievement so far is: at age 7 he is ready to quit school.
    And to the teacher Jen, mother of 2, – my son reads very well for his age, and what is most important – he loves reading, and I take much more pride in that fact that in him counting each night the amount of pages he reads to make teachers as you happy.

    Mother of 3, lucky ex-student for having devoted teachers in my school years, from Eastern Europe, whishing my Canadian children could one day say the same about those who teach them.

    January 30th, 2009 at 5:19 am
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  24. HomeworkBlues says:

    Jen writes:

    Reading logs teach them about responsibility.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    They don’t. They teach children that reading is a chore, a bore, something quickly dispensed with to please, you, the teacher. I’ve watched little children, who had always loved being read to, who couldn’t get enough, who begged their parents for just one more book before bedtime, now count the minutes and the pages of required reading and announce happily they were done! Twenty minutes of mandatory reading is a joke. My daughter could go on for hours.The mandatory reading time announces to the child that reading is painful, otherwise why just twenty minutes? Most kids, before they are corrupted, would be happy to read or be read to for a lot longer but the tedious worksheets are waiting, who has time for reading anymore?

    Besides, for young children, the parents are the ones filling in those dreaded logs. My six year old, with a vocabulary that would knock your socks off, didn’t have sufficient fine motor skills to fill out those logs in rapid time.

    And to all those teachers who say, we need those reading logs to make sure the parents are involved in their children’s education, do you ever stop to consider just how insulting that is? If anything, the equation should be reversed where we parents should be demanding to see what our children do at school. After all, you are the ones who get paid.

    To add, I once tried to tell my daughter’s teacher just how involved we parents are (respectfully, of course), and the teacher couldn’t care less. It’s not about making sure we parents care enough about our children’s education, it’s about checking off the grade book, shunting home the work to the family. And how dare we ask what you did for seven hours at school today.

    Jen, you need to do some of your own homework. On homework, on teaching, on inspiring, on families. If you don’t have time, can’t be bothered, do us all a favor and gt out of the classroom before you ruin more children.

    January 30th, 2009 at 6:47 am
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  25. FedUpMom says:

    Jen — I could write a book in response to your comment, but the book has already been written. Please, read our esteemed Sara Bennett’s Case Against Homework, and follow it up with the Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn. You like reading, I hope?

    In the meantime, have some respect for us parents who are raising our kids the best we can. We want our kids to enjoy learning. Yes, there are unpleasant chores in life that must be done. Why should we go out of our way to invent more?

    January 30th, 2009 at 10:41 am
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  26. A Teacher says:

    As a teacher – you need to understand that MOST parents don’t read or have their kids read. Do your job and we won’t have reading logs. Do your job and we won’t have to have conferences. Do your job and you won’t come and blame the teachers for your child not being at or above their educational level.
    Quit being lazy and sign the damn log – then we can focus on the kids who will never get the help they need from home.

    February 3rd, 2009 at 8:38 pm
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  27. A Teacher says:

    by the way FEDUPMOM, Civil Rights? Find a book about it and read it. You will actually learn what that means, oh and I’ll sign your reading log.

    February 3rd, 2009 at 8:45 pm
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  28. HomeworkBlues says:

    Dear A Teacher;

    I’ll try to get past your snarky derisive attitude and respond respectfully to the points you raise. And I should tell you I didn’t start out this way. When my daughter began kindergarten, I was always highly respectful, considerate, accommodating, always volunteered to help and deferred to the teacher as a professional.

    I am sorry to admit that as I survey the long landscape of my daughter’s school experience (she’s a high school junior), the numbers of teachers who have reciprocated that respect I can count on the fingers of one hand. If that. At least several of the high school teachers do treat me better. But I will say that I have finally found my voice. I have discovered a way in which I can be respectful but firm and I don’t back down.

    There have been a few teachers who are worth their weight in gold and I would do anything for those teachers. They have made a true difference. But why are there not more? Alfie Kohn says NCLB chased the best ones away.

    Please allow me to address your concerns, Dear Teacher. I’m separating our comments by these >>>>>>>>>>>>.

    We’ll start with your first statement:

    As a teacher – you need to understand that MOST parents don’t read or have their kids read.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Therefore? Please google me on this blog. Reading is my daughter’s passion. In the time she filled out the log in first grade, she could have been reading another book. She had book after book taken away because she was reading in class. She got punished for not finishing her homework, reading instead. You still need proof she’s reading?

    And because Johnny won’t read, why should we suffer? I do not understand this logic. You are telling me our family needed to suffer through reading logs because the other kid didn’t read. Forgive me, I’ve heard this argument before and I still don’t get it.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Do your job and we won’t have reading logs.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I’m assuming you are addressing the wide public out there and not me or FedUpMom, for example. Aren’t you listening? My daughter would read all afternoon and evening, if she could. We would have to hide books. When you say, do your job, what do you mean? She’s reading! We’re doing our job! You mean as long as Johnny won’t read, you will punish the readers?

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Do your job and we won’t have to have conferences.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I didn’t realize we had conferences because I wasn’t doing my job. I thought they were so the teacher could let me know how my daughter was doing at school. The whole child. I knew she was an ace at academics. How about the social front? Was she being teased? Was she isolated? Was she remembering to turn work in on time? ADD, you see.

    I’m sorry you see the chance to meet with parents as a burden. I know you have to haul some moms and dads in because they are clueless about their child’s education. Like that dad who didn’t even know the names of his child’s teachers.

    But that’s not us! That’s not the people on this list. Aren’t you paying attention? We hate homework precisely because we are so deeply involved with our children. We want time with them. Just this evening, I’ve already taken away the newspaper twice, the novel three times and halted a political discussion my daughter was having with her dad. And you still don’t think I’m doing my “job?” Since when is my “job” your unpaid aide, anyway?

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Do your job and you won’t come and blame the teachers for your child not being at or above their educational level.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    My daughter is several years above grade level. Do we have problems? You bet. Twice exceptional and all that. Please tell me you know what that means.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Quit being lazy and sign the damn log –

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    You truly think we are lazy and that’s why we won’t sign the damn log? Oh, dear, you have not been listening. Doesn’t instill confidence. Didn’t we tell you we don’t want to sign logs, we want to read to our children?

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    then we can focus on the kids who will never get the help they need from home.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    And completely neglect the ones who are.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Singin’ the Blues

    February 3rd, 2009 at 10:32 pm
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  29. A Teacher says:

    The parents complaining here are the very parents teachers call “helicopter parents” – they hover and rescue. These kids never learn responsibility and only hear you complain and thus complain too.

    Ask yourself – What are you teaching your children? What example are you setting? Is there more talk than action?
    Gripe all you want – but you are turning the next generation into lazy complainers. You think that all children need to be free thinking all the time. Guess what – it is not like that in the real world. You can’t keep a job or function in a relationship if YOU are all you think about.

    Suck it up – and if you think homework and reading logs are so bad…go back to college, get a teaching degree, pass the state required teaching tests, spend a year or more on probation (rather than 90 days like most professions) and BECOME A TEACHER. Then after all of that – deal with complaining “helicopter” parents, lazy irresponsible children, gifted kids you feel guilty about because you can’t give them what they need because you are only allowed to teach to the lowest level in the class – but meet the grade level required lessons, tons of paperwork and NCLB laws, meetings, lesson plans, endless IEP meetings, grading papers, kids’ friendship drama, drugs, sex, sexual harrassment, drinking, required professional development, watching for the signs of abuse, spend your weekends and summers preparing for what’s next, then top it off with one of the lowest salaries for the level of education you have.

    Oh – and maybe at the end of the day – you will reflect and remember the few kids you did make a difference in their lives.
    Then wake up and do it all again – because you love the kids and seeing them have a break through. Or maybe in a day you will actually see what you taught being applied by the kids. But – probably not and maybe not for years to come.

    And if you don’t have the time to do that – go into politics and make changes that will help teachers actually use all that time to teach and send less homework home.

    February 5th, 2009 at 2:46 am
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  30. HomeworkBlues says:

    I was afraid you wouldn’t listen, that you wouldn’t read my whole post. Sadly, I was right. You didn’t read it. Therefore, I can’t respond. We seem to be talking past each other.

    Also, I don’t complain in front of my child. This blog doesn’t show up on my history.

    February 5th, 2009 at 9:58 am
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  31. FedUpMom says:

    A Teacher — do you want your kids to enjoy learning and have a positive attitude toward life?

    I’m actually trying to make your life easier. If you didn’t have to assign and supervise and collect unnecessary homework, you’d have more time for more important things.

    February 5th, 2009 at 10:33 am
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  32. HomeworkBlues says:

    A Teacher, I reference you on the other post, the one about denying recess. I’m putting it here too so you can see it. I hear you vis a vis NCLB.

    HomeworkBlues says:
    Commenting on FedUpMom’s post, above. We really need to be having this dialogue, how principals protect bad teachers. Because it overshadows the good ones. We need to be having this discussion in the larger society and we are not.

    Right now, bad teachers, a la Michelle Rhee, are the ones who can’t bring stubborn test scores up. That is NOT what I am talking about here. A Teacher from the other post, we are in your corner about how corrosive NCLB is and the havoc is has wreaked on your profession. You need to be getting on Susan Ohanian’s web site and sign up for her almost daily list serve.

    No, I’m not talking about raising test scores. When the entire emphasis is not to inspire and teach but to raise test scores, what does that do for the child whose scores are already high?

    I’m talking about teachers who don’t understand children or families, who don’t seem to enjoy the very material they are teaching, punish because it’s all they know, and as an expert on education, a friend, a teacher characterized it to me, are petty dictators. These are the ones we need to be getting rid of, lest they give the entire profession a black eye.

    February 5th, 2009 at 10:43 am
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  33. Sara Bennett says:

    Dear Teacher,

    I disagree that we are “helicopter” parents. We are teaching our children to think for themselves and to take charge of their education and learning. At the same time, we also teach them to be respectful.

    I understand your frustrations at all of the requirements imposed on teachers and they come through loud and clear in your writing. Perhaps you can find some other teachers who share your frustrations and join with them to voice your concerns. There are teachers around the country who stand up against the demands placed on them by standardized tests, who refuse to administer state tests, who won’t assign homework regardless of their school’s regulations, who find a way to engage every student in the class, regardless of the child’s level, etc. No one is saying it isn’t hard. But just as parents need to stand up for their children, so too do teachers, administrators, and everyone else who comes into contact with children.

    And if we hate reading logs because we see that they are making our children dislike reading, then why shouldn’t we let the teacher know. There are plenty of kids who will dutifully fill in the reading log (or their parents will do it for them). But if our research shows no educational value to them, and our kids don’t like them, then we have a duty to step in.

    February 5th, 2009 at 11:40 am
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  34. Anonymous says:

    If the schools want kids to read, then they need to provide them with more library time. That is what got me reading when I was a kid – the ability to go to the library several times a day. Instead, libraries are being cut.

    When I had assigned summer reading, me, the kid who would fill a shopping bag full of books several times a week at the library, I procrastinated and wouldn’t read anything because I HAD to read those three books, most of which I had read before the high school summer reading requirements.

    February 20th, 2009 at 11:59 pm
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  35. JDL says:

    I can’t resist adding another ironic homework story to the mix:

    At my daughter “Rosie’s” conference several years ago, with furrowed brow the teachers told me that Rosie tended not to adhere to the directions. For Exhibit A, they showed me a picture of a shield divided into four parts. They explained that each quadrant was be completed in a certain manner, and at the bottom of the page, the child was to write a sentence explaining each. Well! Instead of writing the sentence at the bottom, Rosie gave her characters speech balloons so they could explain the design for themselves. Not only that, but other students like the idea and, to the teacher’s dismay, used it themselves. Perhaps some of you recognize this popular activity. It was a personality shield.

    I quickly determined that, if the teachers didn’t see the irony, it was possible that pointing it out to them might not do much to advance Rosie’s status. And, overall, Rosie adored one of the teachers. I suppose our children learn some resilience, and they should be well prepared for a future on the assembly line.

    Maybe we should consider starting an online Hall of Fame or Museum of Stupid School Projects.

    I do think there are many teachers who are truly trying their best and have the best of intentions, but just as we tend to parent as we were parented, we “teach” as we were taught. Our system of educating our children is in need of a transformation. Culture change takes a long time.

    February 25th, 2009 at 7:28 pm
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  36. Sara Bennett says:

    Maybe we should consider starting an online Hall of Fame or Museum of Stupid School Projects.

    Did you know there’s a section of Chapter 6 in The Case Against Homework called “Cardboard, Glue, and Pasta: The Homework Hall of Shame.”

    That doesn’t mean I can’t start one here. Send me your stories. As soon as I have a few, I’ll post them.

    February 25th, 2009 at 7:50 pm
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  37. HomeworkBlues says:

    I love it. The Homework Hall of Shame. I remember that chapter well.

    Yes, let’s start a Museum of Stupid School Projects!

    February 25th, 2009 at 9:41 pm
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  38. Heather says:

    response: “But few teachers have time for that. Chances are, your child’s teacher uses the log simply as a way of checking to be sure you enforce the reading requirement or as a record of what’s been read.”

    I think that is a very unfair statement. The books that the children in my class read are ones that I send home, and they are on their reading level. I don’t grade them on whether or not they read the book each night. We are requried by our BOE to do reading logs, so I feel as though I am making it attainable by sending home the books that are appropriate for each student. I spend a lot of time going over the information and reading and responding to the parent feedback about their child’s reading. Then I target some of the skills that the parents noticed, along with what I notice and base Individual lessons and activities around those skills. So I take offense to that comment, because I do spend a lot of time looking them over, talking to the child about the book, and yes, many of them will say no, they didn’t like the book. We talk about why and they are able to choose other books, books that I purchase, and take them home. (ps. I have been teaching 8 years and I do not make much over 40,000, with a partial masters.)

    February 26th, 2009 at 4:39 pm
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  39. Heather says:

    to Kat:
    I was so upset when I read your post. In your case, I agree that the reading log was inappropriate. Your son’s teacher should have made the reading attainable for him, and although I don’t believe in rewarding those who read and those who don’t, he should have been recognized for his efforts and acheivements. Teacher’s such as that, give teacher’s like myself and the millions like me out there a bad name.
    I hope that you know that most teacher’s would not do that, and that meeting the kids where they are comfortable is what we strive to do.

    February 26th, 2009 at 4:52 pm
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  40. Heather says:

    Homeworkblues: “Now the dippy questions are added, who is your favorite character, what do you think will happen next, do you like this book? I love that last question. No, I don’t like this book, that’s why I’m reading it. I asked the teacher why my daughter was being asked to fill out these logs. Answer. We need evidence she is reading!

    I swear public school was put on this earth for my amusement”

    I don’t think asking those questions is a good indication of whether or not they are reading, evidence, as you put it.
    Unfortunatly teachers are in a tough situtaion in many school districts. standardize testing, yes I said it…the dreaded words. Teacher’s dislike them as much as parents do, I can say this with assurance. We feel they are too difficult,unfair, timely (we could be doing other fun things!) We feel they are an uneeded stress. We AGREE; however, we are forced to give them and like them, kids are forced to take them, and those “dippy” quesitons are on them. I guess you could say that we would like to keep our jobs as well…because, contrary to popular belief, we can get booted out of our positions faster than you can bubble in a circle.
    Let me end by saying that not all testing is bad. There has to be a concrete way to assess children, and there are very appropriate ones out there, that do not ask those rote questions.

    February 26th, 2009 at 5:05 pm
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  41. Heather says:

    I think a happy medium must be met. If homework is given and it serves a logical and functional purpose, then I don’t see where the complaint is. If homework were given on a need to give basis, which means not every evening, not on weekends, and not on breaks would that be a satisfactory solution?
    I feel like this website brings to light an important and very debated issue. I have enjoyed reading the posts, and although I will debate my feelings against many of them, I see a lot of logic, feel the frustration and agree with many points being brought up.
    I also feel as though a lot of complaints are being voiced, but where are the solutions? This website is a chance to come up with solutions and make differences. The potential is here to brainstorm ways to change the system, to work together and come up with plausible solutions.
    Not all teachers are bad, not all Public Schools are bad, the generalizaton needs to be curbed. How can anything be accomplished when the validity of teacher’s is being squashed. What teacher would want to work with parents who trash the proffession and belittle the career? Recognize the good ones, or become one of the good ones.
    Be proactive, rather than reactive.

    February 26th, 2009 at 6:10 pm
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  42. FedUpMom says:

    Heather — I have never seen homework assigned on a “need to give” basis, at either of the schools my daughter has attended (one private, one public). What I see is standard boilerplate homework assigned because the teacher must assign something.

    When you say “need to give”, are you open to the point that different kids have different needs? So, for instance, the child who is completely proficient at adding fractions shouldn’t be sent home with the same worksheet as the child who doesn’t understand how to add fractions. I haven’t seen homework assigned this way either.

    In your discussion of how you work with your students on reading, I would like to add that some kids are intrinsically motivated and independent-minded. Kids like this need their own intellectual space where they can think their thoughts in private. For them, the constant discussion between parents and teachers about what they’re reading and how well they’re doing can become an intolerable intrusion, and turn them off to the reading that might have become a real source of joy.

    Yes, there are good teachers out there. But the system is so deeply messed up that even good teachers wind up doing things that are not in their students’ best interests, for instance standardized tests.

    February 27th, 2009 at 9:37 am
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  43. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedUpMom, you put it so succinctly and clearly, I have nothing to add! Kudos.

    But here I am, adding! Heather, my child is visual spatial. She doesn’t learn words by painstakingly looking up each one in the dictionary and then copying it down on a piece of paper. This exercise alone took two hours in fifth grade. But this was a kid with a vocabulary close to that of a college professor who loved to read. Why torture her? That Monday exercise became an exercise in torture. For daughter and parents alike. Why put her through that?

    It may be hard for a teacher to understand why some tasks that come easily for some children are torture for others. Mainly because that’s not how her mind learns and this child knew it. She was smart enough to understand it was a waste of time, time better spent writing a novel.

    Don’t get me wrong. I see plenty merit in looking up words. When we homeschooled, when she wasn’t hit over the head with all that copying, she suddenly announced she wanted me to blanket the house with dictionaries. So that when she read and came across a word she didn’t know, she’d look it up. Without all that cajoling, I constantly caught her looking up words! The beauty of unschooling! Kids are hard wired to learn. Lose the dire message (it’ll only get worse in middle school!), stop scaring them straight, I couldn’t imagine ever saying that year, if you don’t do your words, you don’t get to go outside, and you’d be amazed at what children can accomplish in the right environment.

    During the homeschool year, on days we weren’t running out on a field trip, we started each morning with a refreshing walk. I threw in all sorts of hard words, we made sentences together, we laughed, we walked, we are both passionate about words.

    What happened to education today? Why did it cease being fun? Heather, I know you’ll blame it on NCLB and you are preaching to the choir. But why didn’t your union do something, why didn”t you sign the Educator Roundtable petition? Why aren’t you doing something about this oppression? As Sara says, it’s hard, but you have to do something.

    Every time my daughter showed passion in something at that public elementary school, along came a teacher to dash it. She created a masterpiece? She got chided, if you hadn’t worked so hard on X, Y would have been in on time. Never comprehending that X captivated her and Y did not. And it’s not just a matter of picking and choosing. Yea, I know kids have to learn to be responsible. It’s that she threw her all into X because she’s creative and in somewhere in the haystack of endless busy work, was a diamond she could sink her teeth into.. Isn’t that what elementary should be all about? Exciting, inspiring and building life long learners?

    This is a kid who eats words, who lives for words and reading. One day she just sprinkled the word quintessential into a sentence when she was eleven and I almost cried inside. What we were doing was working!

    Okay, Heather, you can’t take my daughter on a two hour walk through the frozen woods to dissect the finer points of Shakespeare. But I can! If I privately tell you my daughter learns words best in context, through endless reading, believe me! Couldn’t you whisper, if you don’t tell anyone, I’ll excuse your daughter, she clearly doesn’t need it, better you two should take that walk.

    But her homework takes up every spare second. She’s neither walking with me and learning words nor benefiting from the wrong kind of homework. After all that time expended, how much has she learned? How much does she retain on six hours sleep in high school? But her fifth grade teacher just scoffed and spewed some old canard about following directions and being a failure at life later if she didn’t listen to Big Bad Teacher. Why do teachers think the real world operates like school?

    It took my daughter’s eye doctor to tell her what a gift she had, the gift of reading. My ten year old needed glasses that year and clutched a book as she was being examined. The doctor noticed it and remarked, “your voracious reading is not the best thing for your eyes and now you are myopic. But what a gift you have, the ability to sustain attention this way, to read the way you do! Never stop reading!”

    It took an eye doctor to make this point. All her teacher ever did that year was pick on her faults, my daughter never once got any recognition for her verbal abilities. Mind you, I didn’t need an award or a ceremony or points. I hate that. We don’t need Accelerated Reader or accolades. What she needed desperately but never got was, “I see you love to read. Tell me what books you like!”
    That’s ALL she needed, that’s it, a kind word from an adult at the school, a connection, validation.

    But no. Because dare I say it, this teacher couldn’t imagine reading being this enjoyable. She saw it as a chore and her raisen d’etre was not to inspire or light a fire but to beat the child into compliance. Every teacher must want to be remembered. Oh, we remember her, alright. But not in the way she would have intended.

    February 27th, 2009 at 11:04 am
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  44. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedUpMom wrote above:

    Yes, there are good teachers out there. But the system is so deeply messed up that even good teachers wind up doing things that are not in their students’ best interests, for instance standardized tests.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    This is the seminal point. Yes, Heather, there are some good teachers left. But the system is so deeply messed up. We here have some excellent ideas on how to fix it. But the system is so intrinsically sick, so mired, so enmeshed in bad policy and harmful practices that even good teachers are caught up in the dogma.

    Heather, I am sad that if you so much as veer from the tight script handed you, you will lose your job. But I am saddest of all for the children, their grace and beauty as they stare at you, who come into this world innocent and with each day, discover the wonderful world around them. When they are little, they want to know and lean everything, their questions are incessant, they never stop playing, asking, questioning, learning, they are fascinated about the world around them.

    They could be our future, they bring us hope and newness and with each fresh generation, we have in our power to nurture these amazing little human beings, to listen and guide them, we offer experience, they offer hope and newness, and we work together to create a brave new world (not to sound corny).\

    Instead, today, for some odd reason that still escapes me, we do everything in our power to drum it out of the unique gifts they bring the world. That so many children are disaffected from their learning today, that they are not permitted to play in the woods because it’s more important to sweat over yet another tedious worksheet, that they have lost their sense of wonder and discovery, that so many children are diagnosed with depression, anxiety and ADD, that so many young people become cynical, who see each year of school as merely a stepping stone to the next year, that is the true tragedy in this tale.

    Yes, Heather, there are some good teachers. You are one of them. I once asked a friend in utter desperation, how on earth did these women ever become teachers? My friend responded. I truly believe many but not all, enter the profession because they love children. Bu after some years, the system completely chews them up. They go from nice to vile.

    And those are the good ones, Heather. We need to acknowledge here that there are many many bad ones, the ones that never started off idealistic and passionate in the first place. The ones who went into the field, not because they love and understand children and how they tick, but because they couldn’t think of anything else to do. There are plenty of those and as long as principals keep protecting the awful ones, they will continue to give your profession a black eye.

    If some of us are frustrated and angered by some teachers we’ve encountered, it’s not because we are being needlessly whiny but because we have good cause.

    February 27th, 2009 at 12:15 pm
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  45. Anonymous says:

    In conclusion, the best way to sum up today’s educational climate comes from a 17-year old homeschool girl, as she explains why she left a GT program after 7th grade;

    “I never worked so hard, to produce so much, to learn so little.”

    February 27th, 2009 at 12:56 pm
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  46. Heather says:

    homeworkblues:
    yes, we definatly can agree on the fact that if a child is able to add addition homework is not necessary, if a child masters all of their spelling words on monday’s pre-test then they should not have the homework or need to take the post test, and if a child is consistently writing sentences or solving word problems accuratly then there is no need to be redundent, but I do feel that there is a need to enrich and build. For example if they can add money, then suggest activities such as food shopping and seeing who can add together the two products faster, or playing a game with counting the change at the store…things like that…mandatory no, but suggestions that, perhaps some parents wouldn’t think of, I don’t see a problem with that.
    I think that redunency will foster boredom, which can lead to all sorts of issues that aren’t necessary or good for any parties involved.

    February 28th, 2009 at 5:08 pm
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  47. Johnny Tubbs says:

    I admit, I only read ½ of the posts.

    First, I am a high school teacher that hates giving homework. When I did exactly what “A Teacher” said to do (changed careers and jump through all the hoops and become a teacher) I promised myself I would not do an assignment unless it was something that satisfied me intellectually. After seven years of teaching at three of the better schools in California I can honestly say that 70 – 75% of the kids I have in class lack the intellectual endurance to be stay inquisitive. At the first sign of confusion they quit. Most do not want to learnEvery task I ask them to undertake is greeted with the following questions, “How much is this worth? When is it due? Do we have to do it?” Finally, in frustration a few weeks ago, I decided that the entire week would be spent filling out dittos and looking up words and writing down definitions. I was sadly shocked at how much they LIKED the new curriculum. Their sentiments could be summed up with “Thank goodness we didn’t have to think. We could just do the work and get the points.”

    I could not have been more bummed out. When I asked a colleague about it, their response was, “they have been preconditioned to dittos from grade school. I’ll bet that was your easiest day of teaching ever.” Yep. It was.

    I work hard (and am known for) creating creative thought provoking course work. If a student comes up with an idea on their own, a different way of approaching the work, I always encourage them to go for it. 9 times out 10, this same kid completes nothing. Their initial enthusiasm lacks the academic discipline to finish the task. A few years ago I learned an important lesson. Students need a goal and a rigid framework to be creative. Yes, a rigid framework, academic parameters that allow the student to produce original work a specified “rules.”

    I actually learned this from two sources. First, a student brought in some of his uncle’s art work. It was a 3 dimensional dragon, perhaps 14 inches longs and 3 inches wide that was constructed completely from gum wrappers. I was in complete shock. It was breathtaking. Turns out, his uncle landed in prison 8 years ago and, with zero prior art experience, started to create it, and a few other pieces, from the material available. If he was given all the art supplies in the world, he would simply not been able to create anything so amazing. He would have tried this and that, run into a creative obstacle, then quit and moved on to something else. But, given a strict set of material and the choice of occupy your mind or go crazy, he produced something great. The second lesson was that Shakespeare did the same thing with his sonnets. The strict form required a amazing about of linguistic creativity.

    In the end, I see it this way. If you cared enough to spend 15 -20 minutes reading and replying to information on this post, you are not the problem. Your children and students will be fine. You are all doing the right thing.

    BTW, I have two super-genius children of my own. My wife and I both teach and I am completely fine with my daughter writing in her reading log. I ask her to do one thing: connect your reading with a real world or real life events. She spends no more then five minutes reflecting and writing then we talk about it, I sign it and she is finished with her responsibility. The younger one reads to us nearly every night and we sign her reading log when she is done.

    My advice? If you and your child do not want to do the homework, then don’t. BUT, do not expect your child to receive straight A’s or ask the teacher to excuse them from the work. Education is about learning. Sometimes learning to complete an undesirable task IS the education.

    I love teaching, but I hate ½ of the crap I have to do each day. But, that is the job. If I want a paycheck, I do it.

    April 29th, 2009 at 1:04 pm
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  48. Johnny Tubbs says:

    I just reread my own post. Sorry fo the typos! I should have been more careful. Hopefully your children will have a better teacher than me! :)

    April 29th, 2009 at 1:08 pm
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  49. FedUpMom says:

    *****************
    Education is about learning. Sometimes learning to complete an undesirable task IS the education.

    I love teaching, but I hate ½ of the crap I have to do each day. But, that is the job. If I want a paycheck, I do it.
    ******************

    You know, I’m not against kids completing undesirable tasks. I make my daughter put her laundry away and practice scales on her viola, even though these are not fascinating projects and she doesn’t always want to do them. But I am confident that these tasks are worth doing. The laundry needs to be put away so we don’t have mountains of laundry around the house, and she needs to practice scales to improve her viola playing.

    What I object to is the undesirable task that has no benefit. The reading log does nothing but make my daughter dislike reading, which she otherwise loves. Nothing good comes of it that would make it worth the unpleasantness it brings.

    If we could reduce the unpleasant crap you have to do, you could be a better teacher, right? If we can reduce the unpleasant, and unnecessary, tasks our kids do, they can be better students.

    BTW, my daughter told me that for the latest book, the teachers said that there’s another reading log, but it’s optional for the kids who did all the reading last time (which of course includes my daughter).

    April 29th, 2009 at 2:05 pm
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  50. FedUpMom says:

    ******************
    After seven years of teaching at three of the better schools in California I can honestly say that 70 – 75% of the kids I have in class lack the intellectual endurance to be stay inquisitive. At the first sign of confusion they quit. Most do not want to learnEvery task I ask them to undertake is greeted with the following questions, “How much is this worth? When is it due? Do we have to do it?”
    *******************

    That pretty much says it all. This is where the good students, who did the homework we’re objecting to in elementary and middle school, wind up by high school. These were once bright, curious kids who wanted to learn about their world. Now they’re a pack of paper-pushing drones. Wouldn’t you like to see that change? If we can give kids their childhood back maybe you’ll see inquisitive, engaged high school students.

    April 29th, 2009 at 2:16 pm
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  51. PsychMom says:

    To FedupMom…that’s just what I was thinking…

    To J Tubbs…..Doesn’t that sound like burned out kids to you? And they don’t treat university profs any differently a few years later. I don’t envy your job at all. I would be totally bummed too. We’ve got to stop training young children to work to please adults. We reward efficiency, obedience and conformity…and this is the result:

    How much do you want, where and when do you want it and how much do I get paid. Can I leave now?

    April 29th, 2009 at 2:43 pm
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  52. PsychMom says:

    I have a few words about reading logs, while we’re on the subject.

    You know, when a person goes to see a therapist to try to control or stop a particular unwanted or undesirable behaviour, one of the things a therapist will ask the person to do is to keep a diary or log of what they do so that they pay closer attention to what leads to that behaviour, or simply monitor how often it does happen. It’s a technique designed to stop or change a behaviour.

    Guess what?….human beings hate to track their behaviour. The success rates of diaries are very low and the usual pattern is that someone will keep track for a few days or a few weeks and then they abandon it. One of two things happen. The intense self-focus itself causes a change and the monitoring is no longer needed because the behaviour is gone. Or the task becomes oppressive because one is not changing one’s behaviour and who wants to be reminded of continuous errors?

    The bottom line…keeping minute track of behaviour causes the behaviour being tracked to either decrease or not change at all. Aside from that, doing it is boring.

    So if the goal of reading logs is to monitor reading, the task of monitoring it becomes less and less interesting as time goes by. Kids would be better off not keeping track. What is the point anyway?

    April 29th, 2009 at 3:08 pm
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  53. FedUpMom says:

    That’s an interesting point. I’ve heard of people on diets keeping “eating logs” the same way. It discourages snacking because it’s such a hassle writing everything down.

    So it’s really no surprise that reading logs discourage reading.

    April 29th, 2009 at 3:35 pm
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  54. Anonymous says:

    If you think you can do better then you become a teacher. Stop the complaining and change the system.

    June 11th, 2009 at 2:35 pm
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  55. HomeworkBlues says:

    Anonymous, we are trying. And I’ve never said teaching is easy. But being a public school parent these days is even harder.

    We ARE trying to change the system.Sometimes just one child at a time. Meeting with your teacher and then telling her politely that you’ve read both homework books and studied the research and it only confirms what you already suspect, that homework in elementary is a huge waste of time. As a result, your child will no longer do homework, instead she will read and write novels all afternoon. You the parent will decide what is best for her.

    Complaining IS the first step. Anger drives people. Complacency doesn’t change a thing.

    June 11th, 2009 at 10:30 pm
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  56. Anonymous says:

    When students don’t get practice at home or during the summer students have difficulity recalling information. Even during the school year because of state mandated standards there is no time for mastery so homework is to practice what was taught during the day. There are parents that do care a lot about thier child’s schooling. Then there are a lot more parents that care but don’t have the time of day to put in any effort towards thier child’s schooling.
    Some students after school is done for the year come back becasue there is someone willing to care and teach them. Homework maybe pointless for those who are active in their child’s life but meaning to those who don’t have someone to read to at home.

    June 12th, 2009 at 10:43 am
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  57. HomeworkBlues says:

    Anonymous writes:

    When students don’t get practice at home or during the summer students have difficulity recalling information.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I’m not sure what you mean, anonymous. I’ve been one of the most outspoken critics of homework overload on this blog. (and I support ZERO homework in elementary, minimal to none in middle and in high school, I would like an amiable cooperative dialogue, where in a perfect universe, parents, teaches and administrators would work together for the good the CHILD, not the institution and devise a plan whereby every minute is used wisely during the day with study halls built in and homework assigned that makes sense, is utterly necessary once you’ve eliminated the fluff and test prep and endless tests, and keeps strenuously to a limit. If the student goes over the limit, that’s it, she stops. And Harris Cooper says that limit is, AT MOST, two hours. And as the student writes here, not two hours the teacher can do but two hours by student standards, a student who has already put in a very long day, complete with commute, chores, home responsibilities and outside activities, which by the way, college insists she needs, so don’t blame her for wanting a life outside of homework).

    You are positing here that homework equals practice. Right there I have to stop you. What I have seen over the years is homework is an extension of the curriculum. Time, for all sorts of reasons, was not used well in school (too much time eaten up by endless quizzes and tests, too much time spent assigning and collecting homework, for example, leaving precious little time to learn and write). It’s not practice.

    But let’s say for the sake of argument homework IS practice. But then you are implying that children wouldn’t do anything academic or worthwhile on their own. To you, no homework means no practice, means no learning.

    Not in my house. And I venture to guess not in many homes represented here. As I’ve said a thousand times on this blog (newcomers, I know you are busy, but please take the time to read some early premises here), here’s what my daughter did instead of homework. And it breaks my heart to admit I eventually cajoled her to get back to her homework. If only I hadn’t, she might have finished and published that novel in 5th grade. I should have gone with the courage of my convictions and pulled her out to homeschool that year.

    In elementary, all my child wanted to do when she came home was read and write. Yes, read and write!

    My daughter was perusing my bookshelf one afternoon in 5th grade and out tumbled Wuthering Heights. Intrigued, she picked it up and was spellbound. She didn’t put it down until she was finished. At age 10! When she wasn’t reading, she was writing a novel.

    Anonymous, that’s not practice? If not, then what is? Mindless worksheets that were boring and taught her nothing? What about all the things we gave up? Scrabble is not practice? Baking and measuring is not practicing math? Puzzles and leggos don’t hone visual spatial ability? Museums don’t teach history or science? What kind of nonsense do teachers feed us, that without homework our kids’ brains will shrivel up.

    Oh, you want her practicing what she learned that day. Why? I can understand practicing piano. You have a once a week lesson. Of course you have to practice! I can understand practicing tennis and swimming. But they were just in school! Fifteen spelling words come home, copy the definitions from the dictionary unto a sheet of paper.

    Never mind that my daughter’s brain doesn’t work that way. She learned words through all her reading, that’s how she makes connections. Copying was just a tedious exercise she grew to detest and I worried incessantly that this early reader and writer would lose her love of language arts.

    Are you talking practice or are you talking learning? Because let’s be careful here. As long as educators convince us our children need all this home practice, what’s to stop them from mediocre class instruction? After all, they can do nothing all day, send it home, demand it get done, call it practice to guilt mom and dad, and come out smelling (or spelling) like a rose.

    For the millionth time I ask, they get paid, we do the work, just who is the greater fool?

    P.S. Re-read your sentence. You left out a comma. I’m beginning to wonder just who needs all that practicing here.

    June 12th, 2009 at 12:12 pm
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  58. HomeworkBlues says:

    Anonymous, you hit the nail on the head. Aha! So that is why it’s all sent home! You write: “Even during the school year because of state mandated standards there is no time for mastery so homework is to practice what was taught during the day. ”

    Code: we didn’t get it done during the day, so you do it at night. THAT’S the reason. It’s not practice! It’s survival for the teacher. Without homework, NO evidence of learning and tangible accomplishments could ever be proved!

    My daughter was in a gifted/talented center in 7th grade. I remember the chutzpah of the science teacher. Well, at least she was honest, gotta hand her that.

    As stated, it was 7th grade. The following year was the BIG testing year. End of 8th grade, there was going to be a state mandated writing essay. Ooooh, scary, huh? Oh, no, our students will have to write, we’ll be judged, oh, me, oh, my, what shall we do?

    School must have been scared straight. Because they began doing practice tests for the practice tests (I kid you not) and then a slew of practice tests all year which I presume continued into 8th grade but we didn’t stick around long enough to find out how school keeps inventing more and more ways to waste my child’s education.

    Well, one school day began with a practice writing exam (my daughter slept in. I decided that was a far more meaningful use of her time. She has a documented sleep insomnia, difficulty falling asleep). The practice test gobbled up two hours of the school day. Instead of just going straight to period three, the school decided to run the entire schedule (it was not block, every subject every day). It was a truncated version so each class ran about ten minutes. Gee, a lot of learning must have happened that day.

    Here’s what the science teacher posted on Blackboard that afternoon: The state tests took up thirty minutes of our class time so please do all the work at home. She then asked the kids to download the worksheets and even begin a science experiment at home.

    I was LIVID. Four years later, I still am. The tests ate up my class period, teacher implies. I have a curriculum to meet, sorry, family, I’m sending it home. I never asked for these tests in the first place. It’s a democracy but was it put out on a voting referendum? Did you get a say? Me neither. But the school does it anyway. It’s not enough they brazenly waste my daughter’s precious school time, but now they insist the family has to make up the difference. That incident alone was proof positive it was time to homeschool because as I saw it, the only place left to get a decent education was at home.

    I’m not a radical. I’m a normal mother who adores her child and wants her to learn and be inspired and who just had enough. I’m happy to engage in a sincere committed dialogue with teachers, principals, central staff, school board. But when, where? No one has ever asked my opinion. Only my effort.

    June 12th, 2009 at 12:27 pm
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  59. High School Soph--oh wait I'm a junior says:

    Question to the general readership of the site:
    Seems like we get relatively few teachers commenting on this site from what I’ve seen so far. My dad is an elementary school science teacher currently, was a college english teacher, and works at the K-8th school I attended. He’s in the middle of writing evaluations right now (no grades–YES!!!) so he’s super busy (think like 500+ thoughtful, considered words for every kid in 3 or 4 grades!) HOWEVER, I might be able to get him to come onto this site and talk about stuff from a teacher’s (and a parent’s) perspective. Maybe even I could get him to write a post…Anyway, this would have to be in a few weeks once he’s done with his evals, but do y’all think that if I could get him to do it that it would be interesting/informative/useful?

    P.S. sorry about your classes Johnny Tubbs, just know we’re not all like that and we all didn’t USE to be like that…

    June 13th, 2009 at 1:44 am
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  60. Anonymous says:

    Like I said you are parents that care a lot and have time to do this. I wish there were more parents like those that are writing would be more involved, however there are more parents that have to worry more about paying bills rather than education.
    And please don’t even think about talking about the way one writes because if you do look back at other blogs there are huge mistakes, but I don’t see you saying anything about those that support your views.
    There are students in upper grades that don’t know their times tables and that should have been mastered in 3rd grade. Teaching goes both ways home and school. But not all are like you that can homeschool their child others have to support families on very little.

    June 13th, 2009 at 10:12 pm
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  61. Sara Bennett says:

    Dear High School Soph–oh wait I’m a junior:

    I hope your dad does take a look at the information on stophomework.com and he’s welcome to submit a guest blog entry. If you take a look at the category “Teachers Speak Out,” you’ll see that teachers and administrators do visit and comment. And, in fact, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t hear from at least one teacher or school board member or principal. Most educators are deeply concerned about too much homework, standardized testing, bad (and best) practices, etc.

    June 15th, 2009 at 8:05 am
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  62. linda says:

    As a teacher, I believe in homework to reenforce concepts learned in school. For project based learning, students need to break projects into smaller units, which should be done outside of class with a degree of independence.

    As for reading logs, they should not be concerned with the number of pages or other trivial things. Rather it should be a reflective journal of the readers’ reaction to the thing/s being read.

    Too many of our children are not reading. Currently, I am teaching a high school class of juniors and seniors who proudly announce, “I don’t read” and have not read one entire book outside the confines of a classroom. So I ask what are teachers to do?

    Homework, yes, play, yes, project, yes.
    I don’t expect parents to do my job, but I also don’t expect them to undermine me when I give an assignment. Let’s talk before we disagree.

    July 29th, 2009 at 6:23 pm
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  63. PeggyinMA says:

    Linda (above)–I too do not know what teachers are to do when there are some students who don’t read, but the Book Whisperer (linked by Sarah on this site) and many other literacy experts do.
    What are teachers to do about some parents who don’t support education? Isn’t this a societal issue?
    Such students and their families are everywhere, among those who are privileged and those who are not.
    I do know, as a parent, that clamping down by giving all students one-size-fits-all out-of-school assignments is not the answer.
    I’m no education expert, but it’s become crystal clear to me that I cannot stand by and watch the love of learning driven out of my children by deadening projects, mind-numbing reading logs and inane AR quizzes.
    There are other, more thoughtful and meaningful approaches to reaching non-readers.

    July 29th, 2009 at 10:19 pm
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  64. PsychMom says:

    To Linda the Teacher

    I can sense your frustration, but I gotta ask….what on earth do reading logs have to do with learning to read? Think of the task you’re suggesting and apply it to yourself for the next pleasure book you pick up. Do you want to summarize your thoughts on paper about every chapter? It’d be like getting on a train and being required to get off at every stop and reporting to the conductor about how you liked the last leg of the trip. It’s tedious, nobody cares and it takes all the fun out of the trip.

    If we treat kids like this it is no surprise that you have juniors and seniors sitting in front of you saying they don’t read. It’s supposed to be fun!!!!
    Yes, it’s a life skill in North American society, but it MUST start out as a pleasureable activity or else kids won’t do it.

    July 30th, 2009 at 2:13 pm
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  65. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t it funny how all the parents on this post are engaged in their child’s education, looking for infomation to better their child’s experience or even on the computer reading about reading logs and commenting on them.

    Guess what? Like many other rules, laws, societal customs and procedures, reading logs were born from a need or basic problem. Why do we have DUI laws? Because people were not drinking reponsibly. Reading logs were thought up not because teachers love checking minutea, trust me we have plenty of other things to worry about, but because there is a majority of students or parents who do not engage in literate behavior at home. So the result, is everyone has to pay. Reading logs are not evil. As a mom, I don’t love filling them out but my sons have learned that they are responsible and just like lunch duty or bus duty, or laundry or paying our bills, it’s a part of life. Your children will not benefit from you telling them they will not have to fill out the log. This will only undermine the teacher and give your child a sense that procedures do not need to be followed if they are too tedious.

    August 1st, 2009 at 9:05 am
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  66. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous — the point is exactly that I don’t want my kids to view reading in the same light as doing the laundry. Doing laundry is a chore. Reading is a pleasure.

    As for the DUI analogy, suppose the police came to your house and said, “Your next-door neighbor got caught DUI. Therefore we are revoking your driver’s license.” That’s what you’re telling me about reading logs. “Somebody else’s kids never read. Therefore your kid has to fill out a reading log.” Huh?

    And actually, my child did benefit when I told her not to do the log. The follow-up conversation I had with the teachers resulted in them getting rid of mandatory logs for everyone. Of course, this is at a private school where teachers are much more likely to listen to a parent’s complaints.

    August 2nd, 2009 at 1:05 pm
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  67. Anonymous says:

    Good luck to all of the parents out there who enable their children to not follow the rules. When they are 25 and didn’t feel it necessary to follow the law, you can pay for their lawyer fees or visit them in jail.

    I am a teacher and have assigned reading logs in the past. I got on here to see what others thought and felt about them. I do agree that it isn’t fair to those who love to read and do it no matter what…I am leaning towards not assigning them this year.

    What concerns me is the entitlement attitude in society today. I don’t like this…therefore I won’t do it and I am going to tell my 8 year old child they don’t have to do it. It is ok to disrespect the adults in his or her life…as long as it isn’t mom or dad.

    August 3rd, 2009 at 7:15 pm
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  68. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous — do you really think my child will be in jail at age 25 because I got her out of doing a reading log at age 11? That’s quite a stretch.

    My daughter’s education is supposed to benefit her. If an assignment comes home that I know would be bad for her, by causing her to dislike reading and creating stress in our home, there’s nothing “disrespectful” about me speaking up.

    I think it would be more disrespectful to just fake the log, which is actually an easier and more popular solution. But if I speak up, I can have a real partnership with the teachers, and make changes that benefit all the kids.

    August 3rd, 2009 at 9:10 pm
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  69. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree with speaking up to benefit your child. I would do the same for my child. All I am saying is that in our society today, there is such disrespect for not just teachers, but adults and authority of any type. This is a general statement, not directed specifically to you, kids need to learn that life is not always going to be perfect and we don’t always get what we want. If we are continually making excuses for them not to do something, how do they learn the life lesson that sometimes there are certain things we just have to do not because we like it, but because it is the rule or the law.

    I look at this issue as a much broader topic, I believe. I am looking at it like we need to follow the rules, if that rule has been implemented by the people in charge. Yes, there can be discussion, but in the meantime we follow the rule rather than disregard it and disrespect the process in which it became a “rule.”

    There are many things I have changed in my teaching as my children have gone through school, that as a parent, I now see it differently, but to blast teachers who get up everyday to go to work and their passion is to make other children’s lives better is just another reason our education system is such a mess. I don’t know one teacher who enjoys being told over and over again that you are not good enough or you didn’t do enough or all you are doing is ruining my child’s life.

    At some point teachers are going to have to be treated like professionals. We work hard, have gone to college, continue to take classes to renew our licenses, yet we are placed in the lowest tier of usefulness. We are the experts when it comes to teaching and running a classroom.

    August 3rd, 2009 at 10:50 pm
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  70. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous — I think we can agree that we need a mutually respectful, supportive relationship between teachers and parents. This is a goal we can all work towards. I understand that teaching is a difficult, demanding, usually unappreciated job (hmm … sounds like parenting!)

    “We need to follow the rules, if that rule has been implemented by the people in charge.” Here I think we’re getting to a real difference in philosophy. I have noticed that many of the people who go into teaching have an authoritarian approach — they’re in charge, they give the orders, and anybody who questions what they’re doing gets tagged as disrespectful.

    That’s not my approach or my philosophy. I think rules should be questioned, especially in the context of school, where, again, I would like to stress that it’s about the child’s education. What I’ve seen many times in school is that the goal of making the children obey the rules becomes the whole focus of school life.

    In the context of homework, some people think that obedience is more important than learning. I just don’t agree with this. If homework doesn’t help my child learn, I’m not going to make her do it just so she can have the experience of being made to do something. If I’m going to make my child do something, it has to be something I believe is worth doing.

    A final thought. You are a teacher, you want to be in command of your classroom. I’m a mother, I want to be in command of my home life. If a teacher assigns homework that interferes with my family life, that’s disrespecting my authority.

    August 4th, 2009 at 10:34 am
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  71. Anonymous says:

    I will concede to your last comment. I just hope you don’t disagree with what I do IN the classroom because that is where I am in control.

    August 4th, 2009 at 2:36 pm
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  72. Anonymous says:

    Whoa! That last two comments say it all. It’s about CONTROL. Control, coercion, whichever term you choose to use, does not facilitate learning….whether the learning takes place at home or in school.

    August 5th, 2009 at 12:35 am
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  73. FedUpMom says:

    You know, I completely agree with you. I don’t like to use the argument about how I should be in control of my home life, but it seems to be the only argument that works sometimes.

    August 5th, 2009 at 12:31 pm
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  74. AnonymousToo says:

    Yes, I’m a teacher, too, and I have to comment here. Firstly, there are idiot teachers as well as idiot parents. Just as some parents use bribery and extrinsic rewards to get their kids to do something, some teachers assign “busy work” that has no real educational value. I think both acts may be initially to preserve adult sanity(and we all know sometimes that’s just necessary), but they can quickly descend into a terrible habit. Ultimately adults end up with a selfish, rewards-oriented kid who hasn’t learned anything. I see a lot of those.

    My students have lots of choices in terms of reading in the classroom. I have a vast personal library from which they may choose a book. If they don’t like a book they’ve chosen, they can exchange it. During the reading period they may sit anywhere they like (even lie on on the floor…provided they are reading and not napping). We have lively discussions that promote deeper thinking about the material.

    This is all designed to grow and love for reading AND to improve skill. But not every child is a natural or voracious reader, and not every parent is supportive and willing to hold a child accountable for homework, or anything. In my mind, reading (and other curriculum areas) must not be something that is associated only with school. It’s important that students see these skills and concepts are important outside the classroom, too. So, my students may read newspapers and magazines during their 20 minutes of home reading. The idea is that with enough choices, skill building, and support, reading is not a “chore.” The log is also an exercise in accountability, which is an important concept to internalize in fourth grade. It’s necessary for survival in society.

    I assign homework prudently, but it always includes 20 minutes each of reading and writing. Again, the subject of the reading and writing is the student’s choice.

    I should also add here that a child who reads a lot and reads “fluently” is not necessarily comprehending the material in equal quantity. I’ve had kids who can read aloud perfectly books that are way above grade level. But ask them a few key comprehension questions (especially those that demand an inference), and they can’t do it. My reading homework assignments include prompts to get students to question, infer, evaluate and yes, predict. All of these skills get a kid to have a dialog with his or her book. That is conscious reading.

    HomeworkBlues says,

    “For the millionth time I ask, they get paid, we do the work, just who is the greater fool?”

    I find that really disturbing. Do you mean that you plan and implement units, lessons, and assessments in SEVEN content areas? Do you critically review all the district-sanctioned materials and decide where their failures are, and how you’re going to make up for them? Do you make dull material engaging by inventing games, songs, projects and activities? Or do you completely depart from the text, and research, plan, and deliver material from scratch (meaning nada, nothing, only your own brain), and do you complete this on your own time (i.e., weekends and nights in your classroom), because God knows you have absolutely no time to during the school day to do it? Do you decide how to parse ridiculously dense material so that it is comprehensible to a ten year old? Are you given a newly adopted math text (with five distinct teacher manuals) and told to implement it in 36 hours? Do you move charts and student work on and off the walls in your classroom daily, not to make it pretty, but so that students have concept summaries they can refer to, and can take pride in their work?

    Do you manage three kids with ADHD, two with speech and language difficulties, two with vision problems, among your 30? And are you compelled by law to make certain accomodations so that they receive equal access to their education? Oh, and don’t forget the four others with behavior problems for which they have no excuse.

    Are you mandated by your district to administer state PRACTICE tests four times per year, before the actual state tests? Do you fight the district tooth and nail in order to eliminate them because they serve only to stress and frighten your students? Still, does your job security hinge, not on several assessments throughout the year (via projects, presentations, written assignments, and other means that address different learning syltes), or a single, lengthy test two months BEFORE the end of the teaching year?

    I am relatively new to the profession (4 years), and am in my forties. There is no way I could have entered in my twenties, as most do. It is overwhelming, and if you haven’t experienced some bumps and bruises and just plain mileage beforehand, you’re going to be exhausted, disappointed, and close to out of your mind. I quote the NY Times: “The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future has calculated that nearly a third of all new teachers leave the profession after just three years, and that after five years almost half are gone.”

    It is a very difficult job, and so the suggestion that parents are doing the work and teachers are just getting paid is so far off the mark, it isn’t even funny. It is ignorant and, ironically, the very thing that dedicated, talented teachers are trying to get their students to overcome everyday.

    August 8th, 2009 at 8:11 pm
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  75. FedUpMom says:

    The private school that both my kids will be attending for their second year has as its motto, “Learning with Joy.” They don’t always live up to it, but at least it’s understood as their goal.

    When I read these messages from teachers, I am struck by what a joyless enterprise school has become.

    When you say, “my kids choose what books they want to read … we have lively discussions”, I’m thinking “Great!” That’s just what I would want for my kids.

    And then you start discussing homework, and our paths diverge.

    When you assign 20 minutes of reading plus 20 minutes of writing for a 4th-grader to do at home, do you understand that you are dictating the entire home life of a child with two working parents? Many kids don’t even get home till 6:00. Then they need dinner and a bath, and it’s not unusual for a 4th-grader to be in bed at 8:00. Where does your 40 minutes fit in to this scenario?

    “Not every parent is willing to hold her child accountable for homework?” You bet your sweet nelly we’re not, and for good reasons. If we can see that the homework has no effect but to make our child hate learning, why should we force the child to do it?

    “The log is an exercise in accountability.” I don’t see any value in making a child “account” for her reading. The more a child feels that school is a series of hoops that she has to jump through, the less actual learning goes on. The more aware she is of the teacher (or her own parents!) looking over her shoulder, demanding an account, passing a judgement, the less willing she will be to engage in real learning for its own sake.

    Your description of the hard work you do as a teacher is a terrific advertisement for homeschooling. So much of your energy goes into controlling classroom behavior and trying to fend off clueless buerocrats. How much energy is left over to inspire our kids?

    When you have kids who read aloud fluently but then can’t answer comprehension questions, you need to remember that reading aloud for a teacher is a pressured situation. It’s not at all the same as reading to yourself. I expect my comprehension goes down when I read aloud too. Also, a child doesn’t have to understand every word of what she’s reading to get something out of it. When I was a kid, I was constantly reading stuff that went way over my head. It gave me something to strive for.

    August 9th, 2009 at 12:32 pm
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  76. FedUpMom says:

    “Reading must not be something that is associated only with school.” Okay, I agree with you. But when you send home reading assignments, writing prompts, and reading logs, you’re not sending the message that reading happens outside of school.

    Instead, you’re sending the message that school is everywhere. Home becomes an annex of school. The child’s parents become the teacher’s unpaid assistants, enforcing the teacher’s demands. The bottom-line message is that reading can only happen within the school context, which has now engulfed the home as well.

    August 9th, 2009 at 3:29 pm
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  77. PsychMom says:

    No question that teaching is a difficult job…the challenges that face public school teachers are large, but I still don’t see why reading homework is required in such a regimented way. Who says 20 minutes does any good? Why not 10, why not 15, why not 22 minutes? It’s so arbitrary. And yes, I agree with FedUpMom in that the working family who gets home between 5:30 and 6pm, with children under 12, does not have 20 minutes, let alone 40 for homework. Where is the child supposed to get the brain power to do a regimented task? Where is the parent supposed to get the where-with-all to make them sit down and do it?

    Don’t teachers get any information during their education process about normal growth and development of children?

    August 10th, 2009 at 11:24 am
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  78. Robyn says:

    Aaaahhhhh, reading logs!
    I’m sad that so many posts are blaming teachers. Has it not occurred to anyone that teachers hardly get to decide anymore what they give for homework, how they teach, and what they cover? I teach 5th grade and am basically told exactly what content I will teach, the methods I will use to teach it, and a rigid pacing guide outlining exactly when it will be taught.

    Teachers didn’t invent reading logs to punish students or parents. Reading Logs and homework are often dictated by school administrators who are following state and district mandates (trying to meet federal standards to receive education funding). One of our reading standards says students should read a certain number of books. (Researchers determined that to be “good readers” students need to read at least a million words a year which winds up being about 25 books for fluent readers.)

    Working with parents who refuse to sign their child’s homework is but one small annoyance in a long list of job hazards and obstacles that teachers agree to put up with, simply because they love teaching your children.

    For some perspective on the villainous teacher theme accruing in previous posts…As a teacher, I get paid to work 36 hours a week, but typically put in an extra 15 to 20, free of charge. I spend this extra volunteer work time on the following: grading your child’s papers, planning interesting lessons which can be integrated into the framework of lessons I’m required to teach, and keeping up with documentation and accountability issues, such as communicating with parents. I also am given $100 at the beginning of the school year to purchase classroom necessities, but typically spend an additional $1000 of my own money per school year.

    For the record, I HATE homework. assigning it, collecting it, grading it. However, as a teacher, I don’t get to choose. I am required by my school to assign certain things, one of which is reading and logging books at home. Our school does it because it is a district expectation. Our district does it because it is a state standard. It is a state standard because our state relies on federal funding for education.

    August 10th, 2009 at 12:33 pm
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  79. PsychMom says:

    So, you’re basically downloading your stress and saying…”look, I have to suffer with this system so you and your kids do too”…..

    If you don’t believe in it..why do you keep pushing it? Why do you argue with the parents who don’t sign reading logs? Carry on without it, or sign it for them if someone’s signature is sooooooo necessary.

    And it rots my socks when I hear about the extra money teachers pitch in every year…I’m sure that $1000 bucks is low balling it for most teachers. I know, I know…you love the kids but this is ridiculous. I don’t want you to spend 1000 of your own money…I want the school system to do it’s job. How can you feel good about your job when you have to spend extra hours and your own money to do it? And if teachers keep propping up this system, how will it ever change?

    August 10th, 2009 at 1:28 pm
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  80. PergyinMA says:

    I find it incredibly sad that teachers posting here do not feel they are able to speak up when they believe something is wrong with the instructions/standards handed down to them. The argument seems to come down to: “We are just following orders.” Parents are speaking up because we see the negative effects on our children, and we are compelled to say “This is wrong.”

    August 11th, 2009 at 11:10 am
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  81. FedUpMom says:

    How is it “teacher-bashing” for a parent to complain about something the teacher hates too? We’re all on the same side here! If the teachers hate assigning and collecting homework, and the parents hate enforcing it at home, and we all know the kids hate hate hate having to do it, why is it still going on?

    If the district is handing down requirements, just find a way to fake them out. I guarantee you that a high proportion of the homework you’re collecting is fake already.

    August 11th, 2009 at 12:37 pm
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  82. PsychMom says:

    Yes, Fedup Mom, you are right about that..all the busy work amounts to a hill of beans….This is all a sham and a shame. And what a complete waste of time.

    I’m reading and re-reading “The Element” by Ken Robinson this summer. It’s keeping my strength up.

    I had a conversation with another Mom recently about the homework issue and missing school for family trips etc…and off the top of my head I said, “Didn’t you know?..The less time kids spend in school, the better they do?” But isn’t it true? Getting the kids out of school, and into experiences, field trips, community involvement is far better for them than most classrooms. I’m beginning to think that the whole idea of education in North America has been corrupted.

    August 11th, 2009 at 1:27 pm
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  83. Sara Bennett says:

    On the problems with schools, I highly recommend The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need–And What We Can Do About It.

    August 11th, 2009 at 4:09 pm
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  84. DisappointedTeacher says:

    I am truly disappointed that the post here generalize the uselessness of reading logs. I give homework to my students and I give them a reading log. I teach in a Title 1 school. For those of you who do not know what that means, it’s simply this: Any Title 1 school has a student population of 35% or more children that are at or below the poverty level. The school where I teach has a poverty population so high that EVERYONE is recieving a free breakfast/lunch. How does this relate to homework and readling logs? Simply put, so many of our children’s parents don’t know what they should be doing at home to help them get the extra practice they need to be successful. I give my students rewards for successful completion of their logs and we even have time in the classroom to share information about the books they read. Being a mother of 2 boys, I know how hard parents work at home with their kids on homework. Those of you who feel it is only a teacher’s job to create learners should feel ashamed. You are the parent’s that make it harder for teacher’s do their job. It is everyone’s responsiblity to make sure our children are learning and developing good habits and learning about responsibility.

    August 16th, 2009 at 10:06 pm
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  85. PsychMom says:

    Disappointed Teacher:

    What do you respond to your fellow teachers who have dumped reading logs?

    Are they negligent too? I think they have recognized that reading logs do nothing to enhance reading ability and that there are probably 100 other ways to reinforce responsible behaviour. Clocking in and clocking out on reading is a waste of time if you want to grow a love of reading.

    August 17th, 2009 at 8:28 am
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  86. Anonymous says:

    It’s moms like fed-up that our messing with our educational system.. Why should the entire education of your child rest with the teacher?….You think we do it for the money; you pay your babysitters better! What’s the big deal with having to initial your child’s log? Wouldn’t it be nice if you actually inquired about what they were reading and had a conversation with them while you did it? Finally, wouldn’t it be perfect if the children could see that their folks and teachers were on the same page and wanted the best for them…an EDUCATION!!!

    August 17th, 2009 at 8:29 am
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  87. PsychMom says:

    And with regard to your comment about it being “only a teacher’s job to create a learner”, I’m bringing you a learner everyday. I would like to think that she comes home one too, not some mindless, obedient, “ticking all the boxes cuz the teacher said we have to” kind of child.

    August 17th, 2009 at 8:33 am
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  88. a teacher says:

    Fell across this website and don’t have time to read all the responses but did read the first 25. I totally understand the drive for no homework. I give NO HOMEWORK and am a middle school language arts teacher. We do our work in class in a variety of ways. The only homework they have is to read on a daily basis self-selected novels. I dont hold them to a certain reading level either – some teachers do and there are pros and cons. I don’t do reading logs or make students take AR (accelarated reader) tests because I’m not sure they prove that the student read. You can fake those forms and pass those tests without reading a single thing. Instead I give them 10 choices (such as book talks to the class, or other little projects) to show they’ve read the book and give them a chance to talk about it. I’m curious how you would all feel about that? I’m not sure 1st graders could do that, but middle school definitely!

    I’m not sure where i”m going with this, but I would like to ask everyone not to be so harsh on the teachers. I can tell you from my perspective at my school, WE are held ACCOUNTABLE for everything these kids do and we are often asked to prove to higher ups that these kids have been reading and as lame as it is those reading logs appease them. I’m the kind of teacher who would argue the nonsense, but there is a lot of pressure from local school officials and up through the government to provide evidence and back everything up with paper trails and often things like reading logs are mandated by those who really don’t know any better. So just consider being a bit nicer to the teachers who are often stuck in the middle too and many parents play no role in their students’ lives, so they may be trying to force parents to be a bit involved (although not in a fun or exciting way so I doubt it would do any good).

    August 17th, 2009 at 2:09 pm
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  89. PsychMom says:

    Thanks to “a teacher”…

    It’s been said countless times in many places in this site, for the most part, the parents writing here do take very measured, reasonable approaches to teachers. The harshness is a result of frustration, when having it said 5 ways nicely and being ignored, gets you nowhere.

    It’s hopeful to hear from teachers like you. I’d still like to know what Robyn and Disappointed teacher from their posts above would respond to your treatment of homework. And why can you “get away with” giving no homework when so many teachers say “I have no choice”? It’s the disparity that boggles my mind. I think it has a lot to do with the strength of the teacher and confidence in their own abilities. Am I wrong?

    August 17th, 2009 at 2:46 pm
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  90. a teacher says:

    I do agree that it has a lot to do with the strength and confidence of the teacher. Not necessarily years of experience. Some schools really don’t give you a choice on the surface, but if you can prove with research that your method works then they can’t say no. Many teachers can accept school has changed.

    I have friends who teach at other schools, in other districts, and in other states and I can tell that not all schools have the same policies. My school is going to giving “I” for incomplete instead of zeroes – not sure how that will work at the end if the I’s haven’t been completed still. I think homework is ok if it is limited and it is not teaching a new topic – if given it should reinforce what was taught in class that day. Maybe 5 problems to practice the math concept, etc. I just find in English most homework we’d give besides to read could just be done in class.

    I think there does need to be some meaningful homework and not necessarily every night or in every class. I think it teaches responsibility and that school and learning continues on beyond school hours, but it’s out of control how much is expected of just Kindergarten students now! Much of that is mandated from the state and in regards to pressure to “pass” the tests they’ll be taking in a few years. Kids need to be kids too!! I was a former Drama teachers and due to cut backs have to go back to English, but my plan is to make it as enriching as possible and expand their minds and make them interested in learning again after years and years of work

    August 17th, 2009 at 8:32 pm
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  91. PsychMom says:

    Thank you A Teacher for acknowledging what most of us parents are recognizing and trying to change. We say we value children in North American society but I don’t see much proof of it. For the most part, children are viewed as small adults but their needs and abilities are very different. Society seems to want children to grow up fast, so we don’t have to pay others to care for them, and so they can get out and make money themselves. As if that’s the whole point of life and education. All of it is lined with a belief that more is better and the faster the better…and for small children, in most cases, exactly the opposite is true.
    Education should be about enhancement of one’s life, of figuring out who you are and where you fit in the Big Puzzle. The kids are not learning to read because it’s a state or provincial requirement. They are learning to read for the love of reading and being offered the chance to explore worlds that they otherwise wouldn’t see if they couldn’t read. That’s how you make education fun and exciting. We need to bring wonder back.

    August 18th, 2009 at 8:39 am
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  92. Illinois teacher says:

    PsychMom,

    I just wanted to comment on your statement, “They are learning to read for the love of reading and being offered the chance to explore worlds that they otherwise wouldn’t see if they couldn’t read.”

    I wish, with all my heart, that that statement was 100% true. However, children explore worlds through the internet, TV, and movies. Technology is a wonderful thing, however it has taken over the written word. It used to be that our mind was the best TV you could have. Now, we have other ‘creative minds’ that show us how it looks, feels, etc…

    We do need to bring wonder back. I wish I knew how…

    August 19th, 2009 at 12:00 am
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  93. Illinois teacher says:

    Wow. Earlier, I peeked at the last few posts, just out of curiosity. Then, my curiosity peeked, and I read many, many more.

    Frankly, I am surprised that there are any teachers left in the profession after reading some parent’s posts. I am a teacher, and I would love to respond in an unprofessional manner, but then I realized that we’re not looked upon as professionals, so would my comments matter?

    So, I figured, why not? So here it goes…

    I was appalled at one parent’s blatent defiance of her child’s teacher’s policies. Teachers work so very hard to try and please everyone-by everyone I refer to students, parents, community, districts, superintendents, principals, co-workers, state board of education…shall I name more?

    We are not perfect. We also have our own lives and families. We do not want to spend hours commenting on every homework assignment every night! I have another FULL time job, plus I waitress on the weekends just so I can survive, in addition to my main job…teaching your children. So, in the midst of my jobs, I am planning lessons according to the state standards, making them fun and exciting for your children, and preparing my defense for the battle of me vs. parents when you aren’t happy with me and all my hard work.

    Please, tell me where you work so I may come into your office and criticize your every move, and all your effort you put into your job. You’ll love it, I promise. It’s the best feeling when your passion for your job is reduced to nothing.

    Am I angry? You bet. Get your teaching degree. Teach for one year, then tell me how you feel about the educational process.

    August 19th, 2009 at 12:32 am
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  94. Illinois teacher says:

    I am just sick about these comments. Some of us teachers DO try to fight the system-then we’re labeled “troublemakers.”

    I have parents who would have my head on a platter if I didn’t give daily homework. I have students who, if I didn’t assign work that evening,said, “But I’ll have nothing to do tonight…I’ll be bored or have to watch my brother/sister!”

    I’m done, HomeworkBlues, FedUpMom, and the others who hate teachers and the system. Yes, you are making changes, but I wonder if these changes you are forcing are for the betterment of mankind or are just making future adults even more stubborn and selfish than they are now. You win. Are you happy now? You made one more teacher who used to love her life- despite the difficulties- into one who now hates her job.

    Oh, did you notice that I had written LIFE instead of job…well, that was until you ruined it. I’ll get over it, though, because the children mean more to me than anything. You? Well, I’ll be respectful to you because I was raised to be that way. But…I don’t have to like you. You don’t have to like me, either-but, wait a minute…oh, that’s right, you already don’t like me. You stereotyped me with the ALL the teachers-the good and the bad.

    August 19th, 2009 at 1:12 am
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  95. FedUpMom says:

    Illinois teacher — if you’ve got some parents demanding homework, and others refusing to do it, here’s a radical thought — how about letting the parents decide what works for their family?

    At the beginning of the year, you could send a letter to the parents stating that the most educational activity their child could possibly do at home is read (this is backed up by numerous studies.) Then you could send home a suggested reading list, making it clear that this is just a jumping-off point for those who would like some suggestions. You could offer to send home math worksheets for parents who are interested in doing these with their children.

    Think of how much time and aggravation this would save! You wouldn’t have to deal with us parents and our “blatant defiance”. That’s an amazing description — think of the premises that underlie it.

    Premise 1.) Teachers have the absolute right to tell parents what to do in their own homes with their own children.

    Premise 2.) Any refusal on the part of parents is an attack on the teacher.

    “Please, tell me where you work so I may come into your office and criticize your every move, and all your effort you put into your job.”

    You know, I don’t need to tell you where I work so you can criticize me. You already know! In my role as parent, I work at home. You are already trying to boss me around and tell me what to do with my child, and you are already criticizing my every move, and all the effort I put into my job. If I complain that your demands are unreasonable, you think I’m “blatantly defiant.” If I say that homework is taking up too much of my child’s time, you say it’s my fault that I signed her up for gymnastics. If I say that the homework is tedious and causes my child to hate learning, you tell me to suck it up because life is painful and unpleasant and the sooner my child understands this, the better.

    Honestly, homeschooling is looking better all the time …

    August 19th, 2009 at 9:56 am
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  96. Matthew says:

    Illinois Teacher, I have to respond to some of your comments:

    “but then I realized that we’re not looked upon as professionals” – I used to view teachers as professionals until I had kids in school and realized just how few teachers have any passion or curiousity for their area of expertise or ability to actually engage children. Several times I’ve had to correct information taught by teachers that was 10-20 years out of date. One of my kids has attempted to refute incorrect information (“Everyone needs 8 glasses of water a day!”) and been rudely shot down. So many classes are considered boring by my kids, yet engaging teachers can make even the unlikeliest of classes fascinating. So yes, I no longer view most teachers as professionals.

    “We do not want to spend hours commenting on every homework assignment every night!” – that’s exactly the point parents here are trying to make. We don’t want our kids to be doing hours of homework every night. We don’t want to be stuck teaching every night when assignments come home that weren’t taught in school.

    “Please, tell me where you work so I may come into your office and criticize your every move” – There’s a critical difference here that you’re missing. 1) I am my child’s parent and it is my responsibility to ensure that he is prepared for adult life and 2) I pay an enormous amount of money in taxes that goes to pay your salary.

    For what it’s worth, I complain to the administration about their idiocies, too. It isn’t just teachers that are being picked on and I recognize the difference between problems in the classroom caused by poor administration or misguided state/federal laws. I don’t direct those issues to the teacher, but I will not hesitate to talk to the teacher about problems that are within the teacher’s control.

    August 19th, 2009 at 10:53 am
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  97. PsychMom says:

    To Illinois Teacher:

    If kids are so video-ized, why insist on reading logs then…..why are we still trying to teach them to read? I don’t understand your disillisioned comment when reading is the primary thing we’re all trying to get kids to do in the first three years of school. Isn’t it your job to try to make learning as interesting as possible?

    I agree that it’s a parent’s job to regulate video screen time and many parents aren’t vigilant. But I’ve walked into my daughter’s daycare when she was 3 and 4 and seen 16 children transfixed on the teacher reading a book to them. I’ve walked into my child’s Grade 2 classroom at 9:10 AM and seen 15 kids focussed, eyes front, on the teacher in front of them. They also can do that at 2:30pm. The “wonder” might be harder to create, but it can be created. Stop listening to the people who don’t know your kids, teacher! Take your classroom back and be the expert in your classroom.

    You can’t control what goes on in your kids’ lives after the kids leave your classroom at 3:15…stop trying to and spend your energy on what goes on between 9 and 3.

    August 19th, 2009 at 1:44 pm
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  98. Illinois teacher says:

    Matthew-

    In regards to your comment, “I pay an enormous amount of money in taxes to pay your salary,” I have to respectfully disagree.

    I teach in a parochial school where we get NO support from the state. So, your taxes do not pay my salary-at all. So don’t worry about your precious tax dollars being used for my salary.

    It seems that any comment made by me or any other teacher trying to defend themselves will be blatently shot down because you, the parents, are ALWAYS correct and have to have it your way. Some of us teachers already know that your child NEVER misbehaves or instigates bullying to another child. I know, I know…YOUR child is perfect. Forgive me.

    Until you become a teacher, and attempt to understand what is expected of you in that role, there is no reason to continue this excruciatingly hurtful exchange. You are not willing to see my point of view, while I have read and taken in yours.

    Not all teachers are mindless robots. Some of us truly care about OUR children, and I say OUR children because they are in my care and influence for 6 hours of the day. I do what I can for those children in the same way I do for mine…And you don’t know my homework policy or if I even have a reading log. You just jumped down my throat.

    August 19th, 2009 at 5:37 pm
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  99. Illinois teacher says:

    Dear FedUpMom,

    I will concede to one point-and that is being a parent, a stay-at-home parent, is a very taxing job. I have high respect for stay-at-home moms/dads. Parenting is a job, and like teaching, welcomes criticism at all points.

    Am I criticizing you? Probably, because the tone of your comments are resoundingly aggressive and negative. I know I am definitely defensive.

    Are you criticizing me? A loud, resounding YES!

    I’m sorry you had to deal with less than stellar teachers. They do exist. I see them at my school. But you know what? I see them, and observe what I think they are doing wrong, and eliminate those qualities in my own classroom (if I do them).

    No one is perfect, and if one was, they would be up on a cross with nails pounded into their hands and feet.

    If you want to create better teachers, then you should evaluate what the curriculum is for education majors in college. Don’t criticize us. And if you are still unsatisfied, by all means, homeschool your child. Maybe then the teacher you do not like can get off of his/her anti-anxiety medicine and begin to enjoy teaching once again.

    August 19th, 2009 at 5:47 pm
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  100. Illinois teacher says:

    By the way, I do not do reading logs. I do trust my students to read on their own. They do have to complete small projects highlighting key concepts, but my students enjoy them.

    If a student doesn’t complete their work, then they don’t get credit. Simple enough?

    Homework? Easy…my students finish whatever work they didn’t finish throughout the day, plus an extention assignment that ties the lesson to real, everyday life.

    I have a great time with my students-they are my ‘adopted’ children for the day. We have fun exploring and talking and learning.

    I do not agree with some of my fellow teacher’s pedagogies…but I do agree with mine. Trust me, I read professional journals and books. I go to seminars that show me how to be a better teacher. I pick and choose the information presented that will benefit my students.

    I’m proud of my classroom, and many of my school parents would vouch for me in a heartbeat. The letters that they send to me and my principal affirm that.

    God bless all parents-even though I find it extremely difficult to include those who don’t respect me. God blessed me with a special gift, and I use it appropriately and in his name.

    August 19th, 2009 at 6:01 pm
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  101. HomeworkBlues says:

    I wish I had more time to follow all the interesting discussions here. Because reading is our family passion. My daughter has already read ten books outside of her required four this summer and this in the midst of six weeks away and plenty of onerous summer homework.

    My daughter, a rising senior who, to this day, reads incessantly. I can tell you if I’d treated it as laundry or cleaning her room, no way would she be the ravenous reader she has been her entire life. As Alfie Kohn says, “you can make a child do something, but you cannot make him love it.” Love and passion is something else. It cannot be forced, it has to be cultivated and nurtured. We always read to our child, our daughter watched us read, we spent hours at the library together. Wait. You are going to tell me reading logs are necessary because Johnny doesn’t read. Huh?, as FedupMom wonders?

    I wonder whether some of the teachers fiercely defending reading logs here are themselves passionate readers or perhaps secretly find reading a chore too. Be careful. If you treat the grand art of reading as a chore and chastise thoughtful parents for not turning in reading logs (who cares? What on earth do those logs have to do with reading and why do you assume that a reluctant reader will turn into a ready one once she fills out the log obediently?), you are more likely to do far more harm than good.

    August 19th, 2009 at 10:54 pm
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  102. HomeworkBlues says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if you actually inquired about what they were reading and had a conversation with them while you did it?

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    WHOA! You assume that if a parent doesn’t sign a reading log, she is showing zero interest in her child’s reading? Good grief. I’ve been known to read my daughter’s books so I can discuss them with her. I homeschooled her for a year. The novels we did I’d read in high school and college as an English major. I re-read them in tandem with my child that year and we had endless long discussions over them.

    I would say over and over that homework prevented me from truly finding out what my daughter is learning. I am forever forced to cut intellectual discussions short so she can continue to do homework for hours and hours and hours every single night. You would think the weekend offered a reprieve, a healthy balance of hard weekday work followed by much needed weekend rest. Forget about it. And I see the damaging effects of burnout every day as we are now in the throes of college road trips. I have to constantly watch she not lose her love of learning, her creativity, her idealism, her zeal.

    When it comes to my child’s learning, I’m there 150 percent. Please don’t equate a dislike of homework with a dislike of learning and involvement in our children’s lives.

    August 19th, 2009 at 11:12 pm
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  103. Anonymous says:

    Thank god for Teacher Bey. Unfortunately I’m pretty sure that most of these fired up ladies aren’t going to pay enough attention to your words to really digest any of them.

    August 20th, 2009 at 12:47 am
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  104. Anonymous says:

    I, as a teacher and parent, have found your comments amusing. I love that those of you opposed to reading logs (and many other things) think you are working with the teachers after deciding that your child does not have to complete the given assignment. If you came to my classroom and made that declaration, I would not be very willing to work with you. If you came to me with your reasons and we discussed them, I would listen to you, explain my reasons and hope we could come to an understanding or at least agree to disagree.

    If you came to me as a parent and made that declaration, I would probably laugh at you. I would also tell my children that they were not to listen to people that felt they could do what they wanted simply because they felt like it. I have spoken to my children (14, 12, & 7) about their reading logs. One hates them (14), one is ok with them (12), and one loves them (7). However, all three continue to read on their own. Go figure…

    As a teacher, I disagree with your belief that reading logs will only make children hate to read. I have had countless children and parents thank me for requiring reading in my classroom. One parent this past year told me that I was the first teacher to ever require her twins to read at home. They didn’t mind reading, but were never required to do so. She loved that they now read together as a family and were able to have discussions about what they were reading. She even asked for a book we were reading in class so she could go over it with them. She did this on her own without insinuating that she was my unpaid aide…hmm…

    I use reading logs in my classroom. This is normally the only homework I assign, unless the students are working on a research paper, which they have a month to complete both in class and at home if needed. (They don’t have to work on it at home, but many choose to do so in order to add extras we don’t have time for in class.) I allow my students to read whatever they want, i.e. books, newspaper, magazines, etc… They have to read for 30 minutes a night or 210 minutes a week, however it works best for them. The parent signs once. They write a brief summary about whatever they read. Then, each Friday any student that would like to share what they have been reading is given that opportunity.

    A direct quote from a student last school year (and the reason I will continue this “dreaded” assignment) was this,”I never read a single book before you made me read. Now, I read everything.”

    Now, she is not like your children, because she didn’t read already. But, the twins mentioned earlier did, and they still had a good result. My own children are growing up in households full of learning experiences and books and they have had positive experiences with reading logs – none have stopped reading.

    I love my job. I love my students. I will continue to teach until I no longer love my job. While I became very angry at some of your comments, I would never allow your comments to disillusion me from being the best teacher I can be in my classroom. I just hope that your comments, and people who lump all teachers together as “bad,” don’t scare away the newer teachers that we desperately need to keep in the classroom, for the sake of your child and mine.

    August 21st, 2009 at 5:32 pm
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  105. HomeworkBlues says:

    Anonymous writes:

    If you came to my classroom and made that declaration, I would not be very willing to work with you. If you came to me with your reasons and we discussed them, I would listen to you, explain my reasons and hope we could come to an understanding or at least agree to disagree.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Anony, you seem to have a misunderstanding of how we parents go about business and you embody some really negative myths about parents. The outspoken ones are arrogant, condescending, dismissive, rude and uncooperative, you surmise. Some teachers here have expressed real anguish that they are not respected and that is a legitimate concern. Yet, I’d like teachers to pause for a moment and do some soul searching. So many start the school year already disliking parents and that comes through loud and clear.

    Read your comments. Many of you really really don’t like parents. You say you don’t like us because of this blog, but c’mon. Your message is clear. We love your children (if that) but we don’t like you. Never mind that we spawned said children and without us, you wouldn’t have them. Your comments about parents are vitriolic. We either are completely uninvolved and don’t read to our children or take them to a museum. Except when we do and then we are vilified for doing exactly that because homework, no matter how mindless or useless, must always come first.

    For starters, Anonymous, and I’ll speak for myself here, many of us do exactly as you suggest. We don’t march in and take over, demanding and threatening. In fact, most parents are quite the opposite. Many are submissive and bottle up the resentment because as one homeschooler put it, “you have our kids.” A lot of parents are actually really terrified of teachers and feel powerless because you have something vulnerable in your care all day long, our children..

    I cannot agree with you more about working together and indeed have made your point many times on this blog. When you have time, read some more. But many of us did exactly what you suggest and got nowhere. Once, twice, three times. You speak up in public school, you are automatically labeled a troublemaker. A professional we were working with once counseled me, albeit misguidedly, “don’t say anything. She’ll become hostile towards your child, I see it all the time.”

    When my daughter attended private school (K-4), I had very few teachers speak to me derisively and condescendingly. One of the two kindergarten teachers was pretty much it. Were all her private school teachers outstanding, professional, wise, inspiring, highly accomplished teachers? I wish I could say yes. In fact, some were quite mediocre. But almost all of them were pleasant, were not threatened, and really took the time to listen.

    When I think back, I remember my email exchanges as respectful, diplomatic and gracious. I always tried to say something complementary (my daughter loved your literary discussion, she really enjoyed that field trip, she had a lot of fun making that diorama, even though it took all weekend) and usually I’d get something reasonable in exchange. When I didn’t, I’d ask for a meeting and we ironed things out.

    The situation changed drastically when we entered public school. I was stunned at how I was now treated. Not just by teachers but most especially by office personnel. A writer in the Los Angeles Times last year hit this point home. She said parents are treated as felons when they walk into an office and suggested school reform begin with, “How may I help you this morning?” Parents are important in the equation. I’ll give ample credit where credit is due. My daughter’s current high school office people are darling and I love them to death. I will do anything for those two women, they treat me well and have never offered an unkind word. It goes both ways.

    Some teachers here, you have to make peace with parents. Listen to them. Listen to us. It can’t just be about compliance. You’re a good little girl, you reason, you do what you’re told, you follow instructions to the letter of the law, so therefore, so should your little charges. And their idiotic parents, to boot.

    That’s now what we want to grow. We want to raise thinking caring compassionate creative successful human beings. Stop telling parents their kids will wind up in jail if they don’t listen to the teacher and don’t do their reading logs. America was not built on blind compliance and it’s what has made this nation so great. Thomas Jefferson was an educated intellectual renaissance man. Let’s not lose what makes us so unique. Blind compliance can lead to very dangerous things.

    “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” Thomas Jefferson

    August 21st, 2009 at 7:37 pm
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  106. FedUpMom says:

    “If you came to me as a parent and made that declaration, I would probably laugh at you.”

    Wow! That says it all. Who’s being disrespectful here?

    And notice that among your own children, the older they get, the less they like reading logs.

    “I would also tell my children that they were not to listen to people that felt they could do what they wanted simply because they felt like it.”

    You know, I am really not a big fan of unquestioning obedience. I think it’s completely reasonable for kids (and certainly their parents!) to question what goes on at school, and the assignments that get sent home. And I don’t tell my kids they don’t have to do something “simply because they felt like it”, this is a careful decision that I made in the best interest of my child’s education. My daughter did all of the assigned reading, she just didn’t log the pages, and I didn’t sign the log.

    I used to be surprised at how many parents would complain bitterly to me about the homework their kids have to do, but never complain to the teacher. After I spent time trying to advocate for my child I understood it a little better. Teachers and administrators don’t want to hear the complaints, so they get defensive, dig in their heels, and refuse to make changes. They tell the parents, “we’ve never had any complaints before!” A lot of parents give up after a while.

    August 21st, 2009 at 9:35 pm
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  107. FedUpMom says:

    Like HomeworkBlues, I have experienced the difference between the way teachers and administration treat me at a private school vs. a public school. People often say to me, “Of course they treat you better at the private school, they need your money.”

    But it’s really not that simple. The public school had plenty of motives to try to keep me there. They get money for every enrolled student (more than the tuition I’m now paying, I discovered.) Plus, they live and die by test scores, and my daughter’s scores are very high and made the school look good. When I told the principal that we were going to apply to private schools, it was clear from the horrified expression on her face that she didn’t want us to go.

    Yet none of that was enough for the principal or teachers to make the changes that would have made it possible for my daughter to stay in the system, without the chronic anxiety and depression that were ruining her childhood.

    I think this is a good example of how difficult it is to change a culture once it has taken root. It’s also an example of how carrots and sticks often don’t have their intended consequence. The constant focus on test scores has produced a regimented, hostile environment that ultimately causes high-scoring kids to flee the public schools.

    August 21st, 2009 at 10:12 pm
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  108. FedUpMom says:

    An excerpt from “Bad Teachers”, by Guy Strickland:

    “The teacher wants a sense of control over her world. She has created a microcosm in her classroom in which she is the supreme being. Teachers like the feeling of control, and are often resentful of interference …

    “The teacher, having established her control over her little world, wants that control to continue … She may even attempt to close off any avenues of parental interference or involvement.

    “Parents should also be aware that there is a dark side to the teacher’s need for control … Some people aspire to be teachers, not from altruism or a love of children, but because it gives them the opportunity to play God with people smaller and less powerful than themselves. All of us, especially children, need to be protected from people with a pathological need for control.”

    August 21st, 2009 at 11:03 pm
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  109. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedupMom, excellent. We have encountered exactly what you quote above.

    Yes, there are many good teachers. But a very respected teacher’s advocate, after listening to my stories over the years finally conceded this, “some teachers are petty dictators.” The woman I quote is a well known national figure who doggedly fights for teachers’ rights. We had long discussions about the control issue, the rigid homework policies, the derision. Yes, it hit me like a bolt of lightning after she declared that. Some (many) teachers are dictators in the classroom.

    There. I said it. It’s not about bashing teachers. You think we busy harried parents, trying to put bread on the table and keep our children clothed, fed and loved, have nothing better to do? I’ve said it here before. We are loath to criticize teachers. We treat it like the priesthood.

    Bad things happen in dark corners. Sunshine, shedding light on a problem no one wants to address, is a good thing.

    On another front, and back to good teachers: This national advocate wondered why more teachers haven’t signed anti-NCLB petitions, taken a stand, stood up for justice. She loves teachers, she was one herself for twenty five years.

    She finally wrote, many teachers may have submissive personalities to begin with, they are sweet and kind and tend to feel strongly about following directions. I’ll be less sanguine. When teachers write that they do what they are told, it’s out of their control, it then becomes the pecking order. Feeling completely powerless to control their teaching environment in the face of their higher ups, they take that need to control young submissive charges and they want undying devotion and obedience. The good little girl who does all her homework is the teacher’s pet. Sweet, compliant, submissive, aiming to please; these are still qualities we admire in girls today. Pretty, to boot, just ups the ante.

    Some teachers say they’ll listen to parents if they are reasonable and respectful. My experience in that elementary school shows that to be untrue. The more educated the parent, the more level headed, the more involved, the more threatening.

    If only we could rid the system of all the bad teachers to make room for the truly awesome ones. But union rules seem to preclude, No, I’m not union bashing, there’s a place for it. But what has your union done about No Child Left Untested?

    August 22nd, 2009 at 10:25 am
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  110. HomeworkBlues says:

    I have spoken to my children (14, 12, & 7) about their reading logs. One hates them (14), one is ok with them (12), and one loves them (7). However, all three continue to read on their own. Go figure…

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The greater question I have for you, why is your fourteen year old still being assigned reading logs? That is WAY too old to be doing this busy work, he’s in high school! I will say this. In gifted programs, they are not assigned. We haven’t seen reading logs, I think, since third grade. It may be assumed that gifted kids enjoy reading. Which is condescending to non-gifted ones. Many children would love reading if the passion hadn’t been crushed by well meaning but clueless adults.

    Also, watch the progression. Your little one loves reading logs, the middle one not so much and the teenager hates them. I rest my case.

    You say all three still read. Then why the logs? I have to hide books so my daughter would do her homework, she got chastised for reading too much. Reading logs would have been hilarious.That’s like asking me, an overweight person, to show proof of my eating.

    I doubt your children read more because of those logs (I still cannot see the point) but in spite of them. The logs are unnecessary and a huge waste of time. Aren’t they? Even if your kid can whip them out, what’s the point? Just ask the kid to tell you what he read. That oughta do the trick!

    Your principal insisting on those logs? Wait, he comes to your classroom each week and scans every single sheet of paper to make sure you are doing your job? Doesn’t he have anything better to do? I agree with PsychMom. Fake him out. As a blogger on Teacher Revised says, when that door closes, you still have control. I don’t mean controlling the kids, but control over your own destiny there, imbuing your classroom with your values and working around those scripted lesson plans. I’m not saying it’s easy. But years after NCLB was enacted, it’s time for some “reform.”

    Back to the logs, I knew many many parents who filled out those damn sheets in lieu of the children. They decided it wasn’t worth the nagging, pick your battles but dared not stand up to you. We are in danger when everyone’s playing a game.

    August 22nd, 2009 at 11:33 am
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  111. FedUpMom says:

    I posted the excerpt from “Bad Teachers” because I think it’s getting to the core of the problem.

    With some teachers, there’s no such thing as a respectful way to object to an assignment, because the objection itself is perceived as disrespectful. Some teachers are so thin-skinned that the meekest and mildest complaint is perceived as an attack on their authority.

    We have to acknowledge that part of the mix here is that it’s usually mothers who advocate for their child at school. The contempt directed toward mothers by the public school has to be seen to be believed. It’s a hierarchical mindset, and mothers are at the bottom of the heap. What? A mere mother says she objects to busywork? How dare she! It’s as if the earthworms in your garden suddenly announced they were going on strike because your compost isn’t good enough.

    One of the few things in “The Case Against Homework” that I’m not crazy about are all the instructions about how to negotiate with teachers. Does anyone write books targeted at men that include step-by-step examples of what to say so that you will be perceived as respectful and unthreatening? Of course not. Men are allowed to say what they think.

    And my own experience has been that my attempts at being respectful made no difference at all. My negotiating got me nowhere at the public school, but the private school has made real changes for me. It’s not because my negotiating changed (if anything, I become less deferential over time), it’s because the culture of the private school includes listening to parents.

    August 22nd, 2009 at 12:29 pm
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  112. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedUpMom, again, you hit the nail on the head. Heather wants real dialogue to take place and I agree. But we must first get to the very core of the problem. Bad teachers, disdain towards parents particularly mothers (they listen when dad talks but not when I do and he is not more articulate than I am), incredibly thin skinned teachers who fly off the handle and perceive every little concern as a full blown attack and the hierarchal mindset that treats parents as an unnecessary meddlesome intrusion. If we don’t get to the organic core here, we cannot proceed.

    August 22nd, 2009 at 1:31 pm
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  113. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedUpMom, with regard to mothers, see my earlier post above. When it comes to girls, teachers, especially female ones, to this day reward and like the girls who are sweet, compliant, do every drop of homework, smile a lot and aim to please. Girls see this and model such behavior in order to be liked. Boys are conditioned to be assertive, girls are still conditioned to be liked.

    Pretty unbelievable, considering this is 2009! Feminist leaders, where are you now when we need you the most? Women are still supposed to be seen and not heard. An assertive mother is still seen as anathema.

    August 22nd, 2009 at 1:35 pm
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  114. FedUpMom says:

    As a case in point, consider what the anonymous teacher above said:

    “If you came to my classroom and made that declaration, I would not be very willing to work with you.”

    In other words, “I choose not to listen to you because you aren’t deferential enough.” How patronizing is that? It’s the way I talk to my rammy 6-year-old. “I won’t push you on the swing if you don’t say please!” No one addresses an equal this way.

    And if you go in there hat in hand, and try to be deferential and polite, and beg for a few scraps, guess what? They still ignore you. Because all your deference just confirms their belief that they are in charge and you are an underling.

    I’m not advocating that anyone should go in to the teacher’s conference and start screaming and throwing things, although I understand the impulse. Of course, we should treat everyone with a reasonable level of civility and respect. Yes, we should listen and try to understand the teacher’s point of view. Yes, let’s be sure to say something positive. I make an effort to acknowledge when something’s going well in the classroom, and let the teachers know I appreciate it. But let’s not give away our rights as parents. Let’s not buy into the system that makes teachers and administrators petty tyrants who treat everyone with disdain.

    August 22nd, 2009 at 3:13 pm
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  115. FedUpMom says:

    I wanted to share something I read on another forum:

    http://www.mothering.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=1126640

    I’ve known people who boast that their children are going to the “best” schools, attended by the children who perform well academically and who come from “good” families – high income, professional parents. Yet these schools struggle with drug problems (students who can afford ‘designer’ drugs) and cheating (on a high tech basis – cell phone misuse during exams, sophisticated plagiarism off the internet) and mental health issues (too much pressure on the students to produce, as opposed to learn).

    Boy does that describe our local “high-performing” schools.

    August 22nd, 2009 at 4:10 pm
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  116. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedUp, I’d love to read this. But the link didn’t take us directly to the article. Can you resend it? Thanks!

    August 22nd, 2009 at 5:47 pm
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  117. FedUpMom says:

    Hmm … you may have to try going here:

    http://www.mothering.com/discussions/

    then look for the heading “Education” and choose “Learning At School.” The comment I quoted from is from a thread titled “Can smart kids survive a lousy school?”

    Actually, you can Google “smart kids lousy school” and find the thread faster.

    August 22nd, 2009 at 7:15 pm
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  118. Anonymous says:

    I wish that all parents understood your point of view. As a teacher, I am getting notes and emails wondering why I don’t give tons of homework and reading logs. Why? The kids either 1) aren’t doing it, 2) don’t understand it, 3) don’t care either way. I don’t want to make these kids hate school.

    August 23rd, 2009 at 4:47 pm
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  119. PsychMom says:

    I was reading the comments from Fedup Mom and Homework Blues all weekend and saying “yes, yes” to my computer screen. I was going to bring up the point about the “control” issue for teachers, but hesitated to. Aside from my recent experience with schooling and my youngster, I’ve had 25 years of friends who are teachers, co-workers who have teacher spouses, clients that were teachers, I had an aunt who was a school teacher….and in almost every single case, when that teacher gets into conflict or gets into a personal dilemma, the prime reason is a control issue. Some teachers run into conflict with other adults (aside from parents) because the other adult doesn’t particularly want to do things the way the teacher does and it causes conflict. And I think we see so many teachers off on stress leave because battling for control of everything, all the time is stressful. In the case of my aunt, over-control may have hastened her death because she withheld information from doctors which delayed treatment.

    Going with the flow is easier on everyone, but the schooling system just can’t seem to handle that one.

    The other point about blind obedience gets me too. The teachers who have been writing in lately seem to think that just because they think what they’re prescribing is correct, that no one should question it. But they should be teaching our kids to question absolutely everything. Take nothing for granted!! That’s the basis for critical thinking and analysis.

    This blind unthinking obedience shuts kids down. You are mistaking structure and obedience. Yes, kids need structure..they need predictability. The classroom is ideal for those two things when you are there everyday and organizing the day for the children. But your grasp cannot reach out beyond the classroom…and it shouldn’t.

    August 24th, 2009 at 9:04 am
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  120. Matthew says:

    Regarding the comments on teachers treating comments from fathers differently than mothers, I’m not sure I agree.

    The oddity I’ve noticed (as just one person, this is a very small sample size so it may mean nothing) is that when I’ve dealt with other men (one teacher and one principal) the conversations have been very productive with me feeling the teacher listened to what I had to say and considered it even if we ultimately had to agree to disagree. After those conversations I felt like even if things didn’t change now, they might in the future if enough parents chimed in.

    My dealings with female teachers, however, has been very similar to what the rest of you have experienced: either a completely defeatist attitude (administration makes me do this, sorry, goodbye), mindless agreement, but continuing everything as-is once I went away, or thinly veiled hostility (once outright rudeness).

    August 24th, 2009 at 9:49 am
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  121. FedUpMom says:

    Matthew — trust me, this is one of those things that you can’t possibly observe for yourself because you’re a man. Unless you can convincingly disguise yourself as a woman and try having those conferences again, the fact of you being in the room changes the whole dynamic.

    Whatever difficulty you’ve had with female teachers, rest assured, if they were talking to a woman they’d be even worse.

    As for men? Hmm … the public school that I took my daughter out of had a surprising number of male teachers (proof that they pay well, I expect.) Of the 4 men teachers my daughter had while she was there, I’d say one was quite good, one was pretty good, one was mediocre, and one was an absolute train wreck and a big part of the reason we left. About the same range as the female teachers, in other words. And, at least from my point of view, male and female treated me about the same. Teachers who did a good job in the classroom tended to listen to me and treat me reasonably. Bad teachers were the first to get defensive and hostile.

    Actually, this highlights another problem. The bad teacher, the one you most need to make changes, is also the one who is least willing to listen to you. Then the principal figures it’s her job to back up the teacher. Then what?

    I’d like to report a conversation I had with one of the men teachers, as an example many others could usefully follow. This teacher had been sending home quite a lot of homework, much of which I returned with a note explaining why we weren’t doing it. We had a conversation at our first parent-teacher conference that went like this:

    Me: You’ve probably noticed that I sent a lot of the homework back undone. I really don’t believe in homework for elementary school kids.

    Him: My policy is, I never argue with parents about homework.

    And that was that. He didn’t punish my daughter for the undone homework, either, because I had written a note.

    He was also the only person in the school who expressed concern over my daughter’s depression and anxiety. He left the school the next year.

    August 24th, 2009 at 11:02 am
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  122. FedUpMom says:

    For more on sexism in school, this is an excellent article:

    http://sengifted.org/articles_social/Reis_SocialAndEmotionalIssuesFacedByGiftedGirls.shtml

    August 24th, 2009 at 11:29 am
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  123. FedUpMom says:

    A few more thoughts about the control issue.

    I’ve noticed that teachers who are all about control really lack perspective. A teacher posted on this blog, predicting that my daughter who got out of keeping a reading log at 11 will be in jail at 25. These are the teachers who honestly believe that a child who simply forgot to do some trivial piece of her homework is being “defiant” and deserves to be punished. These are the teachers who believe that if a child flunks a test, she must be “lazy” and should be forced to work harder. Everything that doesn’t go the way the teacher wants is taken as a personal attack.

    For a sensitive child, who hates any suggestion of unfairness, getting stuck with one of these teachers is like living in a Kafka novel.

    August 24th, 2009 at 12:22 pm
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  124. FedUpMom says:

    I wanted to highlight something from the article I mentioned above:

    http://sengifted.org/articles_social/Reis_SocialAndEmotionalIssuesFacedByGiftedGirls.shtml

    “Teachers were usually able to identify gifted boys, but were often surprised to learn that a girl was considered smart.”

    Ouch. Been there, done that, both as a child and as a parent.

    August 24th, 2009 at 12:33 pm
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  125. PsychMom says:

    As a general idea of unfairness…and this is not directed at teachers per se…how harsh are we with kids????

    Because one course is flunked, I know of a child who had to go to summer school, no trip to visit family and no trip to Disney with the rest of the family. It sounds a bit harsh to me…

    August 24th, 2009 at 1:35 pm
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  126. NOHMEWRKmom says:

    I found your blog last night as my 13 yr old was on her 5th hour of homework. Below is an email I am sending to the principal and superintendant of our district because I am still fuming:

    ****************************************************************
    I would appreciate you looking into the homework situation at SFMS. It is the beginning of the 3rd week of school and last night my eighth grade daughter spent 5 hours doing work that came home from 4 different subjects. The first week of school, 3 out of the 5 nights she had 4 hours each night. Last week was a bit lighter, but not by much. It was manageable, and more in line with what I expect. However, when she came home with as much as she did last night, I knew I had to say something. Are you aware that they are in your school for 7 hours each day? Why should there be another 4-5 hours of extra work coming home? I cannot imagine that there is so much information that has to be crammed into their minds that it can’t be done in the time of a class period each day. You do realize that besides being able to read, have good communication skills and the ability to process information, the rest is pure trivia that they will only retain if they use it on a regular basis? I would love for there to be a more creative excuse than getting them ready for high school because I know quite a few advanced level children in high school that do not bring home this kind of homework and I need to know what is going to be done about it at the middle school level.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but these kids only get to be kids once. They don’t get home from school until 5pm and then are expected to sit down and do another 4-5 hours of work after sitting and doing the same type of work all day? Let me tell you how this is working for my family: it’s not. The only thing that is happening here is that she is getting discouraged and I would hate for my daughter to not succeed due to being burnt out from extra busy work given in the eighth grade. Maybe you can tell me where I can schedule all of the “extracurricular” activities she needs to be doing in order to keep her well rounded and have for her college application. At this rate, she has already downgraded from becoming an orthodontist to not knowing due to the daunting reality of trying to accomplish that goal.

    There are 5 academic classes taught each day. I am sure that a school full of intelligent educators like yourselves will be able to come up with an adequate schedule which will allow your teaching professionals to plan around each others assignments in order that homework hours of this magnitude cease in the very near future.
    ****************************************************************
    Please feel free to comment!

    August 25th, 2009 at 10:51 am
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  127. PsychMom says:

    And this is why we are on this site!!!! Welcome to the fold “NOHMEWRKmom”.
    Your letter is good. You should try to get Sara’s book and read it too. Follow your letter up with a visit with the principal.
    What you’re describing is what we’re all trying to protect our children from. Just how long do they think a 13 year old is going to be able survive under that kind of pressure?

    Maybe setting some limits for your daughter/your family about how much homework will be done would be a place to start. Every family has limits for all kinds of things…no smoking in the house, no disrespectful language, no walking across the carpet with boots on…rules of the home we all live by. If the rule in your family is 1 hour of homework a night, then outside influences have to respect that.

    August 25th, 2009 at 11:27 am
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  128. FedUpMom says:

    Welcome NOHMEWRKMom!

    Your letter to the principal is a very good start.

    While you’re waiting for a response from the principal, which could take a while, I completely agree with PsychMom. Make a policy for your own home and stick with it. Even Harris Cooper, who appointed himself the country’s expert on homework (that’s another discussion) thinks middle school kids should never have more than 1 1/2 hours per night of homework. Anything over that and you’re just burning the kids out.

    So you could start with a time limit that you enforce for your child. Once she’s gotten to an hour and a half (or whatever limit you choose), close the books and take her out to the park or out for a walk or play a board game or whatever. Write notes to her teachers explaining that this was your decision and she should not be punished for unfinished homework.

    Everyone focuses on quantity, and when it gets to 5 hours that’s understandable, but there’s also the issue of quality. Some homework isn’t worth 5 minutes of our kids’ time, as Alfie Kohn rightly points out. Take a look at your daughter’s homework. Is it really helping her learn, or is it busywork?

    A policy I decided on for my family was that I wasn’t going to force my child to do anything unless I felt that it was worth doing. That knocked out a huge percentage of the homework right there. If my daughter enjoys doing it (she likes making dioramas, go figure!) I don’t stand in the way, but if she hates it and I can see it’s pointless, I tell her not to do it and I write a note to the teacher.

    Best of luck to you. Please post again and let us know how you’re doing.

    August 25th, 2009 at 12:02 pm
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  129. PsychMom says:

    Just to reinforce what FedUp Mom wrote…for me, this whole change of mind about school and homework began with thinking about what I value and what’s important to my family. My child comes first, her health and wellbeing…happiness a close third. Close family bonds are important because it’s just the two of us and when we’re fightning over a third party’s idea of a “fun family learning activity”, I must shake my head and think again. We need to get back to the basics…family, time spent with family and nurturance of childhood. We do not need to constantly prepare for anything (ie, Middle School, High School, college)…they will come in their own time and if we’re well adjusted people we can cope with anything.

    August 25th, 2009 at 12:11 pm
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  130. HomeworkBlues says:

    NOHOMEWORK, I feel for you completely. My daughter was putting in upwards of six hours in 6th grade. When I made her stop and go to bed, the teacher was nasty to her the next day. I stood my ground, sending an email that was not deferential and did not back down. Enough is enough.

    August 25th, 2009 at 9:11 pm
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  131. BigDaddyTeacher says:

    And another 2cents:
    As a teacher, I’d love to get away from reading logs and spend more time IN CLASS just reading – both me and the students. Sadly, with all the teaching requirements and benchmark tests and ed. standards to cover and…well you get the picture. Reading for fun at school is a luxury that is not often attainable.

    The trust issue regarding reading at home is, IMHO, is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. I can trust some of my students to read every night w/o supervision. And I can trust that some of my students will be goofing off until 10pm w/o supervision.

    Regarding nightly homework, I hate it too. Homework should be given when it will specifically enrich what was taught in class that day. My students receive homework maybe 3 days/week – and that’s if they don’t finish it in the classroom before they go home. That’s right – I make sure the kids have time to do their homework where the teacher can help them directly. shocking!

    Projects – I give out projects 4-5 times a year. Since many schools in our district don’t have time for art/music/etc, the projects always involve a creative element as well as an academic element. They’re only graded on the academic side. As long as they follow instructions (or can show how their creative element fits the criteria) they get full credit for that part of it.

    Comments?

    September 2nd, 2009 at 6:54 pm
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  132. PsychMom says:

    To BigDaddyTeacher

    You didn’t say what grade you teach…my comments would depend on the age of the children.

    Projects are fine…relevant homework is fine too. I guess my perspective would be..it’s all fine, as long as it’s age appropriate, it can be completed by the child independently and isn’t sent home as a “family” project, and it takes no more than half an hour (or less) to do. It’s the invasion of school work into my family’s homelife that I object to, especially in the elementary grades.

    The one comment I would make is around what you said about some students goofing off and being unsupervised. Again…why do teachers feel they can dictate what a child does after 3:15? All you can control is what goes on in your classroom. Whether someone is goofing off til 10 pm is really not something you can control…so why bother trying? That’s my territory as the parent. And in my house if it’s 10 pm my child has been asleep for at least an hour if not longer.

    September 3rd, 2009 at 8:08 am
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  133. Anonymous says:

    You don’t like public school? Get your kids out of it. Teach them yourselves. I’m tired of complaining parents. You think you can do a better job? Let’s see it. Homeschool (desocialize, isolate, and spoil) your kids – better for teachers that distrusting and overly-critical parents are NOT in the picture.

    September 3rd, 2009 at 2:12 pm
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  134. Anonymous says:

    What do you think your kids will be doing in college? They won’t just get to lay around afterschool and read books without some level of accountability. Try that with a college professor and see what happens.

    September 3rd, 2009 at 2:14 pm
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  135. PsychMom says:

    College is not elementary school. She won’t be 8 years old…she’ll be 18 and an adult. And because I’ll have made sure that she got a good education AND enough rest and good food and a well balanced life…she should be very successful in whatever she chooses to do.

    Hopefully, I’ll have kept her spirits up despite coping with an educational system that thinks the only way she’ll learn is to follow blindly and not question anything her teachers tell her.

    September 3rd, 2009 at 2:36 pm
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  136. HomeworkBlues says:

    “You don’t like public school? Get your kids out of it. Teach them yourselves.”

    That is in fact what many parents are doing. It’s called homeschooling. And by and large, it seems to work pretty well.

    September 3rd, 2009 at 3:07 pm
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  137. HomeworkBlues says:

    “Homeschool (desocialize, isolate, and spoil) ”

    You really think that’s what homeschooling amounts to? That if you homeschool, you desocialize your kids? My daughter had her best socialization year outside of school, rather than in it.

    You think homeschoolers are isolated? You think they sit home all day? What about co-op classes, drama, Girl Scouts, Sea Scouts, baseball, football, robotics, ballet, ice skating, park day, museums, outdoor classical concerts, plays, lectures, art programs, history, science, math leagues, Odyssey of the Mind; why, I could go on forever. Oh, boy, do you have a lot to learn about the world of homeschooling.

    Spoiled? What causes you to draw that conclusion? We are not wealthy, not by a long shot. Homeschoolers I know volunteer in hospitals, raise money for cancer, clean up parks and streams, do far more community service than schooled kids. Families learn to live with a lot less because the public school, which purports says “we meet the needs of every child,” in fact leaves many many children behind.

    September 3rd, 2009 at 3:13 pm
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  138. FedUpMom says:

    ***************************
    What do you think your kids will be doing in college? They won’t just get to lay around afterschool and read books without some level of accountability. Try that with a college professor and see what happens.
    **************************

    Now that’s classic. I can tell you that my husband teaches at an Ivy League University, and he’s thrilled to get students who have a genuine interest in the subject. He’d be very happy to get a student who read books on their own time and out of their own interest. Since when does anyone have to account for their reading?

    September 3rd, 2009 at 11:53 pm
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  139. FedUpMom says:

    You don’t like public school? Get your kids out of it.
    ***********************

    I did take my kids out of the public school, thanks for asking. If you were my kid’s teacher, and you told me to leave the school, you’d be in big trouble with the principal. My daughter has very good test scores, which of course the principal wanted to keep in the public schools, and I volunteered my time and gave money to help support the school. It was not a good day for the school when we left.

    September 3rd, 2009 at 11:56 pm
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  140. John says:

    It would appear that the reading logs were designed to ensure that your child actually reads the required readings…I’m sure the school only had the best interests of your child in mind…and I am quite convinced that there would be many child who cannot bring themselves to read without a parent breathing down their neck – therefore, yes, I agree…maybe the reading log is not ideal for someone in your circumstances…however, I would think it is pertinent to reading development for children who are less motivated and trustworthy as yours.

    September 5th, 2009 at 8:20 pm
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  141. FedUpMom says:

    John — you give a very good argument for an opt-out policy.

    With an opt-out policy, parents could decide whether each piece of homework was appropriate for their own child, and make changes to the assignment as needed. Then they would write a note to the teacher explaining what they had done, with the understanding that the child would not be punished for unfinished homework.

    If a school had an official policy that they would not argue with parents about what they do at home, and would accept notes, it would result in a lot less headache all around.

    September 5th, 2009 at 10:43 pm
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  142. HomeworkBlues says:

    John, I’ll cut you a deal. Give to them, not to us. We read. She reads. We don’t breath down her neck to read. Maybe there’s a connection?There was plenty of evidence she was reading. No reading log recording needed.

    September 6th, 2009 at 10:50 am
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  143. Anonymous says:

    “I can tell you that my husband teaches at an Ivy League University…”

    Well that explains a lot. Sorry if you haven’t noticed, but MOST people don’t have the financial ability to homeschool their kids and take them here and there all over the city (museums, plays, etc.). Parents with money think they know it all, which is another reason why I am SO GLAD you’re kids are not in public school and you and your husband don’t think you can control the school and the principal because you “gave money.” I don’t even think this is about reading logs. I think this is about parents wanting to control how a classroom is run. Like I said before, if you can do better – do it. I get paid $35,000 a year. That is simply not enough money for me to put up with parents with nothing better to do than to terrorize a teacher. Maybe your principal was upset about you leaving but I can’t imagine the teacher shedding tears for a “FedUp Mom.” Where are all the FedUp Teachers?

    September 6th, 2009 at 11:10 am
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  144. HomeworkBlues says:

    Sorry if you haven’t noticed, but MOST people don’t have the financial ability to homeschool their kids and take them here and there all over the city (museums, plays, etc.). Parents with money think they know it all,

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Please allow me the moment to clear up a glaring misconception. Most homeschoolers I know are not rich. Yes, there will always be the proverbial homeschooler who’s taken out of school because the parents are sailing around the world or mom got a research expedition assignment in Antarctica for a year and thought it would be cool to take the kids along for a few months. You go, mom!

    But…that does not describe the majority of homeschoolers. When we did it for a year, we took money out of our IRA (and wound up paying hefty fees) in order to finance two on line courses. We didn’t have the money. We were paying Peter to rob Paul. I continued freelancing while my daughter read in the next room but admittedly had to put much of that on hold.. Where I live, many museums are free so we took ample advantage of the educational and cultural goldmine we find ourselves in.

    We didn’t homeschool because we were rich. We homeschooled for that year because the homework overload and sleep deprivation were intolerable and I wanted to keep the love of learning, the spark, the imagination, alive. We homeschooled because we didn’t see a better option at that time. It was not a luxury and we agonized long and hard over it. The major sticking point was, you guessed it, MONEY! We didn’t have much and my husband reasoned we could not do it. But we found a way.

    There’s a marvelous book, “Homeschooling on a Shoestring budget” you should take a look at. Many homeschoolers I know well make up in resourcefulness what they lack in money. If you have the wit, imagination, and creativity to cobble something together, you’d be amazed at how far that can take you. I’m not saying homeschooling is for everyone. But please lose that “we don’t need all you elitists, good riddance” attitude.

    We had a magical homeschool year. To the school’s credit, it was hardly an awful place. It was merely okay while what we had instead was heaven. You can either muddle through and get a ho-hum education or decide, this is your child’s life, they get only one, you get only one long chunk of time at being their parent,so why not make the educational journey as exciting, fulfilling and adventurous as possible?

    Yea, yea, I know some things will be boring. Of course I know that. But that mindset completely misses the point of childhood. It misses wonder and imagination and creativity. You never want to steal wonder. Great things come from wonder. Far better than apathy, as I see in so many of my daughter’s teen friends.

    September 6th, 2009 at 11:38 am
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  145. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous — I didn’t bring up my husband’s profession to talk about money, it’s because you were making statements about what college professors want. I live with a college professor and I know that he wants students who are genuinely interested in learning, not just doing what the teacher told them. The school grind is destroying our kids’ natural curiosity.

    You say, “Parents with money think they know it all.” What qualifications would I have to have to convince you that my perspective should be taken into account? This is not about money. Where we live, we’re actually in the lower bracket financially. This is about parents, who, no matter how much they know about education, are treated with total hostility from teachers like you.

    When it comes to reading logs, I’m not trying to control the classroom. I’m trying to control my own home! I’m trying to set limits on what I do in my own home with my own daughter. When an assignment comes home that I know will be bad for our family life, and also bad for my daughter’s education, I have a right to say no.

    I’m not “terrorizing” anyone.

    September 6th, 2009 at 11:45 am
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  146. HomeworkBlues says:

    Anonymous, you’ve got it backwards. It isn’t that parents want to control the classroom, it’s that many teachers want to control a child’s, and by extension, a family’s home life. You need to stop thinking of after school hours as merely an extension of the school day where parents are your involuntary unpaid teacher’s aides.

    Once you begin to understand that the very last thing we parents want is to terrorize you and that we signed onto this blog initially because we were so distraught over what we saw was a destructive force in our home life, then we can start talking.

    I am sorry you only get paid $35,000 a year. Sadly, you embody that old adage, “you get what you pay for.” But it might help if you would use more reasoning and less emotion. After all, isn’t that what you should be instilling in your students? Balance, inquiry, analysis? If not, and you want blind allegiance, then you are doing a marvelous job preparing your little charges for…the assembly line.

    September 6th, 2009 at 11:59 am
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  147. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous asks, “where are all the FedUp teachers”? I expect they’re in the classroom, taking out their frustrations on our kids. It’s not a pretty picture.

    We’re going in circles here. I’ve already posted about the thin-skinned control freak. How is it “terrorizing” a teacher for a parent to refuse to do an assignment which she knows is bad for her daughter? Holy cow.

    “If you can do better, do it”. What profession would allow its practitioners to speak this way to a client? If I complain to the doctor that the prescription isn’t working, would she say, “if you can do better, you go to medical school and become a doctor!” Of course not. She would say, “let’s talk about your symptoms. Let’s look for another treatment, if this one doesn’t work.” If you want to be treated as a professional, you need to behave like one.

    Which gets us down to a really basic issue. If teachers are professionals, who is their client? Whom do they serve? Shouldn’t it be the kids and their parents?

    September 6th, 2009 at 12:32 pm
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  148. HomeworkBlues says:

    I agree that we are going in complete circles around here. Suppose a teacher comes on who does not agree with us? But she couches her comments as, “I am listening to your concerns. Please talk to me. Let’s see what we can work out.” Or how about, “wow, I am a young teacher, I have no school aged children, I had no idea my homework was taking that long, thank you for opening my eyes,” or even, “I may disagree with you but I am still concerned that homework is causing so much pain in your household,” now we’re talking.

    I’m not wild about the “I don’t agree with you” part because it shows the teacher hasn’t stopped to read and learn, but at least it shows consideration and a willingness to be open minded. What I cannot abide is this thinly veiled disdain of parents, particularly mothers, and the rude dismissive way in which some teachers here speak to us.

    When a teacher comes on, disregards every position we have taken, every point we have made, sneers at us to get the hell out, labels us all as wealthy whiny snobs, all it does is reinforce to us how some teachers are control freaks, petty dictators one well known educator calls them, want undying devotion from their students, complete compliance, no questions asked, from their parents, and are really not interested in this so-called partnership between home and school.

    If all you ever want are cookies and PTA minions, let’s be honest. It’s not a partnership so we can all just stop pretending it is.

    September 6th, 2009 at 2:34 pm
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  149. VA Teacher says:

    I accidentally came upon this website when searching for reading logs to give to my students this year for homework. This blog has really made me rethink the validity of the entire idea and really homework in general. Reading the comments from so many frustrated parents has been insightful, because I honestly never thought about how homework can invade a child’s home/after-school life. I applaud the parents who advocate for their kids and the tremendous weight homework can put on their shoulders. As a teacher, I want parents to feel like partners in the classroom and having conversations like this one can only help kids get the best educational experiences possible. The last thing I want to do is to stress my students out, so I’ll probably make the reading logs optional.

    One thing I noticed by this site is a distinct divide between teachers and parents and while I do think discussion is important, it seems to get hostile. There are huge assumptions being made on both sides. I think teachers and parents BOTH need to have a generosity of the spirit. I am not, and have never been interested in doing harm to any student in my class – that’s not why I teach. In the same way, I don’t think concerned parents are trying to “terrorize” teachers. There has to be middle ground on which teachers and parents can both feel validated.

    I think this is important to keep in mind: Teachers have kids for 7 hours a day for only 9 months. Parents have kids for a lifetime. Parents are a child’s first teachers and parents know their kids the best. I believe good, effective teachers honor this. It is very sad to me that so many families have experienced such negative experiences with public schools, especially because kids and their opinion of school and learning are caught in the crossfire.

    I will definitely have a different mindset about homework going into this new school year.

    September 6th, 2009 at 9:35 pm
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  150. FedUpMom says:

    VA Teacher — thank you thank you thank you! It’s great to hear from an open-minded teacher. I’m so glad you came across this site.

    I too would like to have a more civilized discussion, but sometimes it’s difficult to achieve.

    Here’s something I would love to see. Could you start the school year by asking parents for their ideas about homework? Ask them to let you know what their experience has been. Does it cause problems at home? Does it help their children learn? What are examples of good assignments and bad assignments?

    September 7th, 2009 at 8:38 am
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  151. exhausted already says:

    here i sit,on labor day, looking for comfort the day before i send my sweet 6 year old off to1st grade,for his second year in public school. i am absolutely guilt ridden and disappointed in myself for the amount of work i’ve put my guy through this summer. not only did he receive homework packets (everyday for entire summer), i subjected him to a psych ed evaluation (thankfully my own decision and done independently), reading tutor, yes, we have to submit a summer reading log (he’s 6!!!!),and crash homwork that we just finished this morning. i lost my patience (don’t worry, i am mild), he cried…all for what? for him to complete SUMMER homework given by a k teacher who has never had a single document sent home without spelling errors. yet, my 6 year old is expected to be spelling (not just cat, dog) by 1st grade. i sent him to the beach with dad to get away from me. i plan to hug him endlessly and apologize for my behavior. i am filled with anxiety about whether he is ready or am i pushing him (for 1st). his very kind but simple k teacher suggested retention. the psych ed scores are good….in some areas, exceptional (way above 90th pecentile). i am confused, angry, and defensive that my son is smart and typical, albeit a little small for age with mild low muscle tone (which of course is connected to handwriting speed and accuracy). what is going on? we’ve tried private and now public (i am not public school minded, never attended public school). i worry that i am setting him up to fail in a system where NCLB is actually causing kids to be left behind. my gut feeling about our school is that there is a boniker mentality masked with smiles and lip service. very high test scores, lots of hard working parents who trust that they have their kids best interest in mind (because they don’t have the time to worry otherwise). not really looking for any answers, i’ve read more this year on early ed than anything. i am lucky to be a SAHM but even at this very young age trying to figure out how to balance a long school day,homework,play etc. and this on top of the fact that he is exhauted at end of school day. good liuck everyone! i am going to beach!!!

    September 7th, 2009 at 2:58 pm
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  152. FedUpMom says:

    exhausted already — your post is one of the saddest things I have ever read. Please, take your guilt and turn it into action. Your son needs to have a childhood. He needs to run and jump and play.

    Make some rules for your home. Set limits to how much time will be spent on homework. Harris Cooper recommends a maximum of 10 minutes per day for a first grader. Your school district may be bonkers, but your home belongs to you. Make it a sanctuary for your child.

    Please, talk to the other parents in your son’s grade. How many actually had their child do all that homework? You’ll find that a lot of them just didn’t do it, and others faked it for their child.

    You know more about your child than any teacher or psychologist he will ever have. Make the “experts” listen to you for a change.

    If the school district is really that nuts, you might want to start looking at your options. Is there a good Montessori school nearby? Can you homeschool? There is just no good reason to put a young child through all this pressure and anxiety.

    Please, post again and let us know how you’re doing –

    September 7th, 2009 at 4:37 pm
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  153. PsychMom says:

    I think the regular posters would agree…this site is made for people like “exhausted already”.

    It’s a place for people to go for support and confirmation of their right to parent their children. The school system is not allowed to control our lives and in sharing information and resources, we can help families become stronger. Protecting our children must be at the forefront …. it’s the only hope our kids have. If we don’t support them, who will?

    It was refreshing to hear from someone like “VA teacher”. Getting dialogue going is the only way. When teachers write in and only denigrate parents as a whole, my first instinct is to not respond. What can one say to someone who isn’t looking for anything but a fight? But if a teacher reads part of this blog and recognizes what parents (and some teachers too) are trying to do, then we’ve made a difference that will hopefully affect many childrens’ lives in a positive way.

    September 8th, 2009 at 9:18 am
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  154. exhausted already says:

    good morning

    thanks for acknowledging my post. as i mentioned, i hugged and loved my guy, explained that i was sorry for losing patience and we proceeded to finish our reading log. we packed it up along with his summer homework in his backpack and said adios. don’t worry,our home is a “sanctuary”, possibly to a fault. he has time for play and creativity. though, he did work very hard this summer. i guess my anxiety stems from the pressure he felt in kindergarten and likely will feel in 1st. my husband and i are very easy going and we do not fit into the public school model. from february thru this summer, we have agonized over the “retention” decision. there are many details to this point which if anyone is interested to hear, i will share in another post. ultimately, we decided to move him into 1st. the part that is frustrating is that i (and my son) need a clean slate…the school claims to support our decision but i believe that they just don’t have a choice. i don’t want him to be judged unfairly or assesed as if he is under a microscope. unfortunately, i have become the parent to contend with. it didn’t start out that way. anyway, 1st day of school today. as always, he went with a smile. i am a little weepy. i just don’t think that our kids should be pushed so hard as early as k and 1st. as a parent, these should be the very special years where children are free to learn at their own pace. a very good teacher friend emailed me a perfect quote that is undeniably the truth that all schools should be held to: “in order for ALL children to be treated equally and fairly, they MUST be treated differently” amen

    September 8th, 2009 at 10:38 am
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  155. PsychMom says:

    Dear Exhausted Already

    Your child has every right to head off to school every morning with a smile. School should feel special to him, a place where he is with his friends and where everybody loves him. He has to feel as if he belongs. Testing, by it’s very nature, separates one child from another, and does everything possible to pull kids apart from one another. I never felt that way until very recently but now I see testing of young children as less than useless. I hope you’ re able to work with your child’s teacher early on so that your son will feel special. Every moment you devote to helping him be the best kid (not best small adult) he can be will be well worth it.

    September 8th, 2009 at 11:23 am
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  156. Rebecca says:

    I’m up way too late and found myself reading all the comments. I’ve taught seventh graders, and now I’m an elementary librarian. In the classroom I didn’t assign homework other than studying for a test or finishing undone classwork. If the entire class didn’t finish (or a majority) then we carried it over to the next
    day.
    And I still had a parent write me notes complaining about her son’s homework. I can still quote one of these notes five years later because it irritated me so much. “I don’t believe in homework so my son will not be doing the assignment you sent home.” What I wanted to write back was, “Lady, if you’d paid any attention to anything I sent home this year, you’d realize that I don’t believe in homework either. If you’d bother to read the emails I sent you, you’d know that the reason you son has work every night to finish for my class is that he spends his class time drawing pictures & writing notes to friends unless I’m standing right over him. Obviously he’s figured out that if it becomes homework he won’t have to do it because you don’t believe in homework.”
    What I actually wrote was more diplomatic than that, but argh! I guess my point is to please make sure all this work sent home is being assigned as homework before you get
    all angry with a teacher.
    I know there are bad teachers out there-control freaks, those who see nothing wrong with assigning a second grader three hours of homework that requires help every night, and some just plain mean ones. I’ve worked with some. But the overwhelming majority of the teachers I know are teachers because they like children and want to help them. Believe me, I could change jobs to something that pays more, has far fewer “bosses,” and much less to worry about outside work hours. On a bad day, I’ve given it some serious thought.
    Back to the original topic. I don’t like reading logs personally. It seems like busywork to me as well, & kind of pointless. The kids who’re going to read for pleasure at home will find them irritating, and those who hate to read already won’t suddenly start loving it if you add another step. But my school district requires teachers to use them. Sigh. I’d rather just have time to talk with all my students about what they’re reading. I did require my seventh graders to write up booktalks for a few books a year, asking some
    of the questions other posters have termed busywork-why did you like this book-and share them in class. Because that’s what adults who like to read do-talk about books they liked with their friends. It also gave me a chance to talk about books with my students. I still do something similar with my elementary students. Parents, please don’t assume writing about books is busywork.
    This almost turned into its own post. Sorry about the length! The topic hit a nerve.

    September 13th, 2009 at 4:11 am
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  157. HomeworkBlues says:

    Dear Rebecca:

    I’ve started reading you post and I’m going to have to table it, alas, because this week is crazy but I’ll get back to you soon with some feedback. What immediately, this stood out. You say a parent announced thus to you: “I don’t believe in homework so my son will not be doing the assignment you sent home.”

    NO one here is advocating that approach. There are parents here who have written thoughtful, well researched, intelligent, elegantly crafted emails to teachers and administration, citing research and describing how homework has taken over their lives.The research that Harris Cooper has done is valid. You as a teacher should be respecting that.

    I first became involved when my third grader was doing three hours of homework daily and all Sunday. For me personally, the angst and the need to advocate for my child was born of homework overload and a deep concern for the damage it was causing. The time spent far exceeded any real benefit and was causing harm. This to a child who loved to read and write and still does and raised in a home where learning, intellect and academics are top priority. We weren’t begging for less homework so she could plant herself in front of the television or video games all afternoon but because we wanted to do “homeschooling on the side” and allow her a childhood full of play, wonder and imagination.

    Please don’t pull trivialize our problems. They are real and real reform is needed here. Parents and children are major stakeholders in the homework debate. Their voices need to be heard in order to create this so-called partnership. I see you flying off the handle instead of listening. Precisely what you are asking your parents NOT to do.

    And we have names. We are not “Lady.”

    September 13th, 2009 at 11:37 am
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  158. HomeworkBlues says:

    Dear Rebecca:

    My abject apologies. I jumped the gun on this one. I did what I decry teachers here doing to some of us — not reading our positions fully, jumping to hasty conclusions about us and taking our points out of context. I typically read a poster’s entire comments before remarking so I have a fuller picture of where he/she is coming from. But this is a busy day for me and I promised myself I’d stay off the internet or only stick to my work.

    Your comment about that one parent caused me to assume about you that any time a parent speaks up, whether they do so intelligently or not, is labeled an uncooperative mother and anti-education. It reminds me of when my husband and I met with the teacher, our debate was reasoned and thoughtful, we made the case of how much reading she is doing at home, we needed to delicately convey the homework was too easy and that was why she was procrastinating on it, and we really needed that 5th grade teacher to listen to our concerns. All she did was purse her lips and state, “but she still has to do her homework,” making us feel that she had not heard a single word we’d just uttered.

    Rebecca, I see you are more reasonable and that you understand not all parents are like that, not all kids are like that. You write: “In the classroom I didn’t assign homework other than studying for a test or finishing undone classwork. If the entire class didn’t finish (or a majority) then we carried it over to the next day.”

    Trust me, I’d “kill” for this amount of homework in 7th grade but it’s unheard of in gifted programs. My daughter was seriously sleep deprived that year because it was still dark when I dropped her off at school, thanks to unwieldly early start times that began in middle school. Imagine being that exhausted every day, only to come home and know you have another five hours of work waiting for you. She’d walk in, listless,head straight up to a room we set aside for homework, and hole herself up there for hours and hours.

    So you think, she’s really worked hard all week, paid her dues, now give her the weekend off, she’s earned it? No. As one high schooler confirmed on this blog, our children don’t look forward to weekends. And my daughter admitted she hates holiday weekends because it’s just one more day of homework. She’d rather be in school than stuck home all day trying to complete mega-assignments.

    You can imagine why I was so worried. This is no life for a child! She attends academic summer programs and does extremely well. I asked what she attributed to her homework success (and I cringe at my own term here, homework success. This program doesn’t even call it homework and neither did I during our homeschool year,. That word was too loaded and I banished it.). She replied, “study hall is two hours.” I can do two hours!

    When it’s two hours in high school, a student can tackle it, even eagerly. When the child knows it’ll take seven hours, they procrastinate. As a professional we were working with years ago told me, “Think of it as an adult. No adult wants to come home from a long day at the office after an exhausting commute with a briefcase stuffed full of work. Yes, adults bring work home too. But not every day, every weekend, every holiday. And those who do are called CEO’s. They get paid handsomely for all that blood sweat and tears. And notice many of them burn out. And our kids are not adults. Rinse and repeat. OUR KIDS ARE NOT ADULTS!!! Therefore, they should not be given adult responsibilities.

    But Rebecca, you’re not quite off the hook here! You continue to write: “I guess my point is to please make sure all this work sent home is being assigned as homework before you get all angry with a teacher.”

    If unfinished homework is sent home and it’s not on top of daily homework, then there may be some justification for it. But my daughter has ADD and was refused accommodations. You may not be able to imagine how hard it is for a child to come home with new work and all the unfinished classwork as well. One ADD expert calls that parent persecution! He asserts that when a child isn’t finishing at school, it’s a school problem and the school needs to look into why that the child is not finishing.

    Your example is of a child who is “goofing off” and is disrespectful because his mother has given him a pass to treat schoolwork frivolously. But that doesn’t describe every child. When a well behaved smart earnest child does not finish, and the disrespect and goofing off does not apply, you need to look deeper. It is the school’s responsibility to examine why that is.

    In our case, the teacher knew why because we told her! And she was still sending all of it home. The school was not helping, not uncommon when the child is gifted and already working well above grade level, and dumping the entire problem in our laps.

    My husband and I initially spent a lot of time on homework, not on helping her but setting up that “distraction free” environment, sitting next to her so she wouldn’t be lonely and making sure it got done by just staying on top of it. That same professional told us not to do that. He said, as long as you guys put out this kind of home effort, the school will say, we see no problem and continue doing nothing to help her. I’ve also been told that some teachers think that helping a twice exceptional child is enabling. I shake my head. And it makes me wonder just what is covered during those weekly faculty meetings. Please tell me you guys do more than talk about standardized test scores.

    Yes, you may counter that lots of kids with ADD get school support. Not a gifted one. Not in our experience.

    September 13th, 2009 at 12:20 pm
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  159. FedUpMom says:

    If you Google “reading logs”, this post comes up as the second entry! How cool is that?

    Back to the discussion at hand. Rebecca, I’m interested in the boy who spends his class time drawing pictures and writing to his friends. What’s going on here? How did he get so deeply alienated from what you’re doing in class? Let me guess — is he gifted?

    So you say you’re frustrated, because the boy doesn’t do the work in class unless you force him to, and you expect the mother to force him to do this work at home, after your efforts have failed in class. This is called “outsourcing to parents”. There’s a problem at school, and it needs to be fixed at school.

    Maybe the boy feels that this schoolwork is just not worth doing. Maybe the mother feels the same way.

    I have a great deal of sympathy for the refusenik and the kid who “goofs off”. I was that kid. I just couldn’t bring myself to do schoolwork that felt like an insult to the capabilities I knew I had.

    I don’t think the example you gave of the notes the mother sent in — “I don’t believe in homework, so my son you will not be doing the work you sent home” — is so terrible, either. She’s telling you how she runs her home, which is her right.

    September 13th, 2009 at 12:52 pm
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  160. FedUpMom says:

    More on refuseniks — I had the following very sad discussion with an acquaintance whose son is now attending the public middle school my daughter would have gone to.

    Me: How’s your son doing at the middle school?

    Other Mom: Terrible! He doesn’t give a *bleep*. He gets As on all the tests, but he just won’t do the work!

    Me: You mean he doesn’t do the homework?

    Other Mom: No! We send him up to his room but he just goofs off.

    Me: If he’s getting As without doing the work, maybe he’s just bored. Have you had him tested for the gifted program?

    Other Mom: I asked about that, but they won’t let him try for the gifted program because he doesn’t do his work.

    Ugh. Of course, the gifted program might not be a solution either, because it’s basically the exact same approach, but with more pressure and “covering” more material.

    September 13th, 2009 at 1:56 pm
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  161. Joshua says:

    I am a 1st Grade teacher who agrees with most of what was said on here. Many times however, administration put pressure on the teacher to “finish the curriculum” (I actually have an administrator who randomly checks to make sure we are on the right part of the lesson plan on the corresponding day of the school year). It’s frustrating. I don’t like to send home homework (after all, I’m paid to teach in class, not at home).

    My observation has been that homework (including reading logs) continues they way it does because it’s been done that way so long and nobody really wants to come out of their comfort zones and try something different. As a matter of fact, I believe the whole grading system needs some work and should be completely revised. Kids have so much pressure on them that they are to stressed out to just be kids. They can’t function as kids because there is so much pressure from the adult world to make the into little adults. While there is an element of “training” involved with any lesson to be learned, kids are NOT little adults. Our current system of education is robbing kids of their most precious moments–child hood.

    When will people realize that they have their whole life to be an adult? They need to be kids. Yes, they need direction, teaching, and education, but not in the broken, compulsory way we have been giving it to them.

    My opinions make me not popular with other teachers but I care not. It needs to be said and I won’t change my mind.

    September 13th, 2009 at 6:07 pm
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  162. HomeworkBlues says:

    Hey, who let a sane person in? Joshua, hats off to you. You’re my kind of man;

    You stood up and said it. The Emperor Has No Clothes! Classrooms today don’t seem all that different from classrooms in the 1950’s. We do things a certain way because we’ve always done them that way. Whether they make sense or not.

    In fact, the 1950s were better. Now we have the worst of both worlds. At least children were allowed to play in the 1950s. Now we get archaic education right along with Nature Deficit Disorder. I don’t think we could screw this up more if we tried.

    September 13th, 2009 at 8:04 pm
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  163. FedUpMom says:

    Joshua — good for you! It’s good to hear from a teacher who agrees.

    HomeworkBlues — I often feel that we have the worst of all possible worlds. We’ve got the authoritarian, tedious approach of the traditionalists plus the hollowed-out curriculum of the left-wing types. The result is kids who are neither enjoying themselves nor learning anything useful.

    September 13th, 2009 at 8:42 pm
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  164. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedUpMom writes: “The result is kids who are neither enjoying themselves nor learning anything useful.”

    Stop and ponder this one for a moment. Isn’t this amazing? Children neither take pleasure from their school experience nor are they aren’t learning either. Reminds me of what that extremely bright diligent serious homeschooled high schooler told me about her 7th grade experience, before her parents pulled her out: “I never worked so hard, to produce so much, to learn so little.”

    Homework is volume volume volume. If a child isn’t sweating over a worksheet or grimacing through a reading response assignment, conventional wisdom goes, he’s not learning anything. We value worksheets and logs and interactive notebooks and endless test and as long as it’s work work work we assume the child is assimiliating it.

    I am sure many traditionalists would disparage our family walks in the frozen woods, where we seriously (and joyfully) analyzed literary works. But think about it. Think how much learning got done. I am not asking the teacher to take the kids on walks for two hours. I am asking the teacher to get as much done at school so that I may do so.

    September 14th, 2009 at 8:48 am
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  165. HomeworkBlues says:

    Corrections:

    1. Children neither take pleasure from their school experience nor are they aren’t learning either.

    Take out AREN’T.

    2. TESTS not test

    See if you can stump me and catch more. Don’t blame me. I was an “involved” parent last night. I stayed up late with my daughter while she cranked out a writing assignment at 1am and then it was hard to settle down and fall asleep.

    What would happen if she had a few less essays per year? A few less reports so she could get all the sleep her body needs? Will she truly become a better writer if she crams? If good writing is all about inspiration and passion, what if we kill that? And all that’s left are the mechanics. There’s so much information out there today, so much writing, so much of it mediocre. Is this what we are trying to breed?

    Exhibit A here. We value VOLUME. More work, more essays, more write ups, more swaths of textbook readings gulped down at 2am. We don’t ask the critical questions. Will we lose more than we gain? Our children are earnest. They don’t want to come to school with homework undone. It is our responsibility, all of ours, teachers, administrators and parents, to see to it that just because our children will do the impossible, it does not give us the right to demand the impossible.

    September 14th, 2009 at 8:57 am
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  166. HomeworkBlues says:

    Hey, FedUpMom, kudos to you. Not only does this come up on a Google hit, this post will make it comment #166! Must have hit a nerve. In both directions.

    September 14th, 2009 at 11:04 pm
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  167. HomeworkBlues says:

    “Research even shows that when students write about what they read they improve their comprehension.”

    You know what really improves reading comprehension? Reading! In the time it takes a small child to fill out one of those busy logs, she could be reading another book.

    You know what? Back when my daughter had to do them, in first grade, she didn’t really mind. Which is funny because a good two years later, she came to dread homework. Psych Mom, be careful. Don’t fall for that, it’s a difficult year, support your child. They’re eight. Much too young to turn them off.

    And even with uneventful reading logs, I remember thinking, what a waste of time. So while this particular assignment wasn’t as onerous as some others to come, I still support FedUpMom on this completely. And if I only knew then what I know now, you can bet I wouldn’t have signed the damn reading log either.

    The logs stopped in 3rd grade, I think. But 5th brought weekly dippy assignments on inane questions, designed more to crush the soul than to inspire reading. My daughter is still a voracious reader. Not because of those “comprehension” assignments, but in spite of it.

    September 14th, 2009 at 11:10 pm
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  168. PsychMom says:

    I think I have to change my name to “Quandry”.

    The first rule I’ve made up for us at our house is…it’s not called homework at home. It’s schoolwork. Home-work is cleaning your room, helping set the table, helping with the groceries and cleaning up the flood in the bathroom after you’ve played in there for half an hour. It’s a brand new school year for my daughter and she’s keen, but not in a good way. In an obsessive compulsive, “it’s Monday and this has to be done by Thursday-oh-no” way. “I’ve only written half a page and I have to write a page and a half and I don’t know what to write-oh-no”. Sounds like a volume requirement. I’m not impressed.

    But I guess what is throwing me off, is the shrugging shoulders and “mmmmm, I know”, that is coming from other parents. “But you know, it gets better….now we hardly have a problem at all with Ashley doing her homework. She just knows she has to do it and it gets done.”
    All I can visualize is a yoke around a little girl’s neck as yet another spirit bites the dust.

    BUT, and I’m asking you all out there, how will my child maintain her spirit if I try to keep her “8” as the other bazillion girls in the class submit and get “serious” and succumb to the pressure. She very much wants to be a part of the homework crowd…..it’s the in crowd.

    Just sign me Quandry

    September 15th, 2009 at 7:55 am
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  169. HomeworkBlues says:

    PsychMom writes “The first rule I’ve made up for us at our house is…it’s not called homework at home. It’s schoolwork.”

    Exactly! This is what I wrote as I recounted our glorious homeschool year. I banished that word. It was too loaded. Besides, there was no delineation between schoolwork and homework. She didn’t spend all day on schoolwork and then do homework! A preposterous idea for schooled kids and even worse for home ones. She took three on line classes and I called the assignments, well, assignments!

    I hear you about third grade and the other parents and how all the perfect girls do every drop of homework with a smile and without protest. At third grade Back to School Night, one of my daughter’s teachers queried, “does anyone have trouble with the homework?” Kudos for asking. But not one parental hand shot up. I sat there, not sure what to do. We were into the third week of school and it was already oppressive.

    I thought it only took my daughter three hours to get it done. Now, this was private school and at least they listened. I will tell you though, PsychMom, despite the fact that I could meet with the director, I still wish we’d homeschooled instead. Go to a homeschool Park Day and watch how much fun the eight year olds are having. And pay careful attention to this line: When asked why I was homeschooling my thirteen year old, I would say, “I can’t bring back eight. But I can salvage thirteen.”

    Just think, PsychMom, you are in better shoes. You can still salvage eight and you don’t have to wait five years, filled with regret. She’s eight and you are keenly aware of it. Whatever you do, and I didn’t have this blog for support then, resist the pressure and keep your little girl eight. She is not a little adult and you fervently know it!

    Back to that third grade year, and yes, I know, it’s a day at the beach compared to what we wrestle with now. As said, I thought it only took my daughter three hours to get her homework done. Perfectionist, very creative, very smart, distractable, procrastinator. Then I privately ask around and find out many other kids, especially girls, are in the same boat! Most likely not a single parent wanted to raise his or her hand and call attention to the problem. Peer pressure. Gotta keep up that perfect front. .

    What to do? That’s an involved question. I have to run now, it’s 8:10 and I should be doing getting-her-off-to-school duties. I hope others quickly chime in during my absence from now till next week.

    The first advice I will give you is, RESIST PARENTAL PRESSURE. This in fact is the best advice you will get from me and it will carry you through 12th grade. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a friend in that grade. But choose carefully, find an ally and avoid the hyper-competitive Stepford Wives. They’ll just make you feel bad. It’s how I learned to survive.

    September 15th, 2009 at 8:10 am
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  170. PsychMom says:

    Thanks HWB. My gut tells me I’m on the right track…oh I hope the teacher asks the same question 2 weeks from now when we have curriculum night.
    I welcome the challenge.

    September 15th, 2009 at 8:23 am
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  171. HomeworkBlues says:

    PsychMom, now Quandary, if the teacher asks, stick up your arm straight up. Announce that why yes, we are! You can be respectful, I know you like the school for its other attributes. If you are daring, you can be armed with research. You know, Harris Cooper says no homework in elementary, or, ten minutes per grade. I like the outspoken approach and I think you can pull it off with aplomb. If you can’t, raise your hand anyway and then tell the teacher privately you have concerns and schedule a meeting soon.By raising your hand, you are telegraphing to the silent resister that there is support.

    Many here suggest the diplomatic approach, lots of meetings. But after years of research (even Jay Mathews of the Washington Post, who calls himself Mr. Homework and loves “rigor” and NCLB came around on the elementary homework issue three years ago), why is this taking so long? I’d hate for a parent to have to spend her entire year advocating and defending, only to have the school system stall and at best, arrange more meetings. But it’s a start and if change does eventually take place, you are paving the way for a better life to those children right behind you.

    In the past, when we parents brought up the minutes rule, it tended to invite rebuttal. The school may very well say, but it’s not SUPPOSED to take three hours. Or two. We only assign thirty minutes. It’s taking your child longer because, take your pick:

    1. She has poor time management skills (a school favorite)

    2. She procrastinates (yea, no kidding)

    3. You didn’t follow our tips sheet (condescending. Assumes parents are idiots)

    There’s another problem with minutes we haven’t quite addressed. Last week I spoke of minute misconceptions. When a teacher assigns little Jackie a thirty minute spelling assignment and she does it in thirty minutes, teacher assumes this is how it works at home. But home is not school and children behave differently. Also, it’s the end of their day and children cannot be expected to sit still for yet one more hour. The homework you think takes one hour (way too long for six year olds) has now dragged out to an all night affair because little Johnny cannot sit still any longer. Think of all the wasted time cajoling him when he could be playing outdoors and reading.

    Okay, so we’re getting to something. Schools need to know what schoolwork looks like when it’s been neatly transferred to the home. Should there be doubts, many of you will gladly open your homes for a visitation.

    But there’s another angle. We assume the child got distracted and couldn’t stay focused. But what if the reverse happens, which it frequently does. Say your child loves to learn (it happens) and is asked to write a report on some history project (yep, that happens too. My eight year old was asked to do a six-part project, assigned the second week of third grade and due a month later, I thought I was going to die and that was the start of Project Hell. Hey, guess who time managed that first one?).

    Your daughter is intrigued by the topic and becomes engrossed. She reads everything on the subject she can get her hands on and then when it’s time to do the project, she has a thousand ideas and colors and shapes. School wants homework to be like school. I say school is where kids have to keep to a clock (I don’t like it which is why I would homeschool but it is school and school needs some semblance of structure and order). But home is where our children should be allowed to linger with their learning, savoring their discoveries.

    So there is your child, captivated (this seems to happen less and less in today’s draconian environment but my daughter was in private where she tells me each day the work was more interesting) by her spelling story. She wants to write eight pages. But if she does, the math won’t get done and the teacher, rather than recognizing one gift, chastises the lack of another. There is a famous quote and I’ll get in trouble for saying this, but hey, shoot the quoter, not me, I’m only the messenger: “There are some teachers who will seek out creativity in a child and then go about doing everything they can to destroy it.”

    So now your child is engrossed. The only way homework can take thirty minutes is if you stand there with a whip and stopwatch. It takes away any incidental learning the child would stumble upon on his own because for the entire time he is working, everything is prescribed. What he should do, when he should do it and long he should do it. No wonder the kid’s hiding under the table or locking himself in the bathroom. He’s trying to tell us something, if only we’d stop calling him long enough to listen. He is saying, I was engrossed, I was in flow, I enjoyed it, I wasn’t allowed to, so I’m giving up. I have decided that under the current conditions, I will get nothing out of it so why bother?

    This especially happens with gifted kids, the higher the more resistance. Many teachers conclude these children are lazy and misinterpret their restlessness for insolence. They are in fact screaming a message but we are shouting so loud ourselves, we can’t hear them.

    September 15th, 2009 at 12:26 pm
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  172. PsychMom says:

    The school tends to stick to the 10 minutes per grade rule and lives by the concept that young children need to be trained to do homework. We give it to them in Grade 3 because they’ll have alot more of it to do in middle school and if we don’t start them now then they’ll NEVER be able to do it in Middle school….kind of idea. Homework is good for children, they believe. It’s a necessary evil, like cod liver oil.

    I can’t abide by the 10 minute per grade rule because it’s not based on anything. I work in health care, and the current big thing is hand washing….we all need lessons in hand washing. They have done studies to determine the minimal amount of time it takes to clean your hands well….it’s about 40 to 60 seconds. Not 30, not 2 minutes…if you want to be a generalist, you say it takes about a minute. But the same “rigor” (love that word) is not applied to this 10 minutes per grade rule. It’s a stab in the dark. It sounds catchy.
    So without even considering the individual differences offered by the children, 10 minutes per grade is a crock.

    And there’s one other thing I’ve noticed. These girls who love following the rules and being orderly, are only getting these obsessive habits more deeply ingrained by having these deadlines and criteria applied to their work. They’re already learning to fill the page rather than follow their minds. And that’s the stuff I object to.

    September 15th, 2009 at 12:58 pm
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  173. FedUpMom says:

    Ah yes, the completely self-referential loop. My favorite.

    “The purpose of going to school is to learn how to go to school so you can get into a really good school.”

    “The purpose of homework is to learn how to do homework. We need a whole lot of homework this year because there’ll be a whole lot more homework next year!”

    “The purpose of taking tests is to learn how to take tests so you can do well on tests.”

    Wince and repeat.

    September 15th, 2009 at 3:33 pm
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  174. HomeworkBlues says:

    Wince and Repeat.

    Cute, FUM! It does seem as if we are in endless circles. I can imagine how incredibly frustrating hearing that mantra is when we’ve digested it so thoroughly on this blog.

    It’s frustrating, maddening and ill informed. I would start a meeting diplomatically relating that you have reached this conclusion after reading, researching and discussing homework with seasoned veterans. Dispel the notion that over-preparation leads one to be prepared for more preparation. You can head it off at the pass. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad that so many educators roll out that line. Do they actually believe it or do they think it’s a show stopper?

    It’s insulting to hear it. It’s bad enough if you are a newbie, green, innocent, where you know something is wrong but the powers that be convince your instincts are all wrong. It’s another when you already know that preparation mania doesn’t work and is unnecessary if not downright harmful.

    Wince and Repeat indeed!

    September 15th, 2009 at 4:41 pm
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  175. PsychMom says:

    I get the best lines from you guys….Wince and repeat…that’s genius.

    September 16th, 2009 at 10:49 am
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  176. HomeworkBlues says:

    Isn’t it, indeed!

    September 16th, 2009 at 11:31 am
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  177. FedUpMom says:

    I should clarify — I can’t take credit for “wince and repeat”. I read it in a comment on the kitchen table math blog.

    September 16th, 2009 at 12:02 pm
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  178. HomeworkBlues says:

    I read that blog too! We do circle in the same orbit, don’t we? No, don’t say it, don’t give it away!

    September 16th, 2009 at 12:05 pm
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  179. PsychMom says:

    Mugs….I think we should start selling mugs and teeshirts.
    What’s an obvious icon for homework that we could put a circle around and then a line through?

    September 16th, 2009 at 12:13 pm
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  180. HomeworkBlues says:

    1. Kid carrying giant backpack, huge oversized backpack, hunched over from the weight, sleepwalking.

    2. Kid’s head down on a pile of textbooks and notebooks, Pile should be sky high. To get the point across.

    We had a moment of levity at LL Bean. In their back to school backpack section, they feature an ENORMOUS backpack. And I mean ENORMOUS. The kids loved it. Anyone seen it?

    My daughter walked over and slid into the straps. It’s too big to hoist so she was forced to sit down. (Another g ood image, backpack so heavy, she can no longer carry it). She said, goodnaturedly, I go to ______________ school, I need a backpack this size.

    We couldn’t stop laughing. I took pictures but I only had my cell phone. We need to submit this one for the school newspaper, it was priceless!

    Of course, it’s no laughing matter. But that day, with her, before school started, I thought laughter might carry the day a little better than tears. After all, if not for the backpack that is so heavy, she can’t ride the bus and walk home from the sheer weight, and the ten ton textbooks and homework that ends at…when does it end? My cajoling that she MUST stop starts at eleven, and endless exams and quizzes, it’s not a bad school. That’s like saying…

    September 16th, 2009 at 12:32 pm
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  181. Brian says:

    There are a couple of issues here that I’d like to bring up. I currently teach at a low-income, urban high school in Chicago. Most of my 9th grade students read well below grade level. To make the statement that this reading log assignment is bad, is a drastic generalization. It may be a “chore” for middle class to upper class school children. Parents of these children are readers and have books all over the house. The fact that this parent even wrote an email to the school illustrates a lot. However, a reading log at my would ensure that my students are reading outside of school. My kids come from households where reading is often not modeled by adults in their lives. Lets be real here; what applies to predominantly white, middle-class schools does not always apply to low-income, urban schools.

    September 18th, 2009 at 1:59 pm
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  182. HomeworkBlues says:

    Brian asserts; “It may be a “chore” for middle class to upper class school children. Parents of these children are readers and have books all over the house. ”

    Which begs the question. Then why assign them to middle class families with books all over the house? FedUpMom has already said, over and over, that her daughter is in a private school comprised of middle and professional class families.

    FedUp, you don’t mind, do you? After all, I’m not giving away any confidences. You made this point the last time.

    We are going in circles. Every time we decry homework, along comes someone to tell us we need it because lower income children don’t read at home.

    Brian, I admire what you do, and you have made it clear middle class families with involved parents and books should not have to waste time providing evidence of their reading. Kudos to you! But over and over, along comes someone to tell us we need homework because some other kid doesn’t read.

    If Johnny won’t read, that means my kid isn’t allowed to either (homework prevents my daughter from reading, I’m not kidding)? If Suzy doesn’t play outside, that means my daughter can’t either (one teacher wrote that not all parents take their kids to the park and the kid would just be sitting home, planted in front of the tv so better give homework)? If Jimmy doesn’t get taken to museums (same argument made. Not all parents are going to take their kids someplace educational so we need to send home homework), therefore I’m not allowed to take my daughter to the science museum either?

    Suppose you and I are in the same room. You’ve been lost at sea and by the time they find you, you are near starvation. I am overweight. They need to fatten you up. Do they need to fatten me up too?

    Let’s give kids what they need. And let’s stop justifying onerous homework on the grounds that most parents are idiots and wouldn’t know to read to their kid unless the government asked for evidence.

    September 18th, 2009 at 3:36 pm
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  183. Brian says:

    HW Blues:

    Completely agree with you. For the most part, middle class/upper class students are reading outside of class; this is a given. With such students, critical thinking should be the focus of homework (if hw is to be given at all). Assignments where students are creating and not just reproducing.

    September 18th, 2009 at 3:53 pm
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  184. Morty says:

    Important to add that mandatory reading assignments with intrusive monitoring doesn’t make sense for children of any social class. Kids from lower income families may need more support, but let’s be careful not to assume that disrespectful and counterproductive practices, including giving kids no say about what they’re doing and imposing the school’s agenda on parents, is no more appropriate for poor kids than for rich kids.

    September 18th, 2009 at 5:18 pm
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  185. Miss Incognegro says:

    If she’s so ‘fed up’, what’s her solution?

    Parents who complain, and offer no alternative, make me tired.

    September 18th, 2009 at 5:40 pm
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  186. Morty says:

    To Miss Incognegro:

    What exactly is the problem to which she, as a parent, is obligated to offer a solution? (Other than “stop sending home reading logs and turning reading into a chore for my child”)

    September 18th, 2009 at 7:36 pm
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  187. ReadingCountess says:

    I am a fifth grade reading teacher and a mother of three boys (all of whom are voracious readers). I was guilty of assigning reading logs (and I varied the log each year, trying to “tweak” it until it worked…which it never did). This year, I decided to take a hard look at this practice. And what did I decide? I decided to throw it out.

    My oldest son was in fifth grade last year, and read 2-3 books a week. However, he never wrote down the time he started to read, the time he finished and the pages he read. That meant that the night before the (major grade) reading log was due, he was hurriedly writing down every book, date and page number he could remember. Unfortunately, that meant precious little was remembered! The log turned out to be a big, fat, fabrication. This was my a-ha.

    I then began to think about how I, also a huge reader, behave when I read. Do I complete a log? No! I just begin reading. If I am to model to my students what living a readerly life is all about, if I want them to feel the same delicious feeling I enjoy when I curl up with a good book, then requiring them to keep an eye on the clock and the pages does not fit into that equation.

    My students were DELIGHTED when I shared with them my thinking this year. Does that mean that I just ask them to read at home? Yes and no. When they come back to school after a night of reading, I check in with them. I ask them to share the page number that they are currently on. I call this “status of the class.” In five minutes, I can tell who was really busy last night, who read a ton (and there are a lot of them), and who has been repeatedly NOT reading by picking up on the trend. The record keeping is put on ME, the professional. The traditional reading log places the duty on the reader/parent. I use the status to then guide my instruction and conferencing throughout the week. It is also a great tool to show parents when conferencing time rolls around.

    In addition to this, my children are required to keep a reader’s notebook. In it, there are sections: Identity of a reader, books on deck (books they are planning to read-they get ideas through my booktalks, booktalks from their peers, parents, librarian…), reading list, letters, thoughts about my reading, and book club sections. In the reading list portion, the kids write down the title of any book they begin, then the date, genre, and date finished with a rating between 1-10 after they read. By the end of each six weeks, they tally how many books they read (and they complete any work in their notebooks in class—it is a teacher driven tool), and they should have around 5-6 books logged.

    Reading should be authentic. Any documentation of the reading should be solely on the teacher’s shoulders. Anything else is a farce!

    September 18th, 2009 at 9:51 pm
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  188. Do You Require “Reading Logs” For Homework? | Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day... says:

    [...] blog post titled “I Hate Reading Logs,” says FedUp Mom has been making the rounds on Twitter (thanks to Dawn Morris for the tip).  In it, a mother speaks [...]

    September 18th, 2009 at 10:29 pm
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  189. Miss Incognegro says:

    To Morty:

    My mother rarely complained about teachers. When she did, she at least had a helpful suggestion for the teacher.

    I guess my mother is part of a generation of parents which no longer exists.

    September 19th, 2009 at 12:27 am
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  190. FedUpMom says:

    To Miss Incognegro: your mother was likely part of the generation which was expected to stay out of their kids’ homework. Back then, schools didn’t assign homework until the child was old enough to handle it on her own, and they didn’t routinely send home work for the parents to do. I’d bet money that no teacher told your mother to sign your homework every night. Right?

    September 19th, 2009 at 5:28 am
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  191. News from our Twitter Feed « Education Revolution says:

    [...] “I Hate Reading Logs” says Fedup Mom [...]

    September 20th, 2009 at 10:21 am
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  192. PsychMom says:

    In response to the comment “parents who offer no alternative (to homework)………make me tired”

    I think the alternative to homework has been very well articulated. Leave kids alone and let them be kids. Homework has become such an accepted way of life, people don’t even think about it anymore, and wonder why many of today’s kids are disengaged from their schooling, their families, and even from themselves to a large extent. Going to school and learning is a child’s job but that does not mean that coming home with two hours of homework every night is also a part of their job.

    September 21st, 2009 at 8:14 am
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  193. Really? says:

    So homework is the root of all evil huh? Homework is why students are consistently failing in America. Homework is why America’s educational system is falling behind other countries, behind China, Japan, India, Europe….yes, it must be those darn reading logs. Because God Forbid that countries like China and Japan, who are producing their top scientists and engineers, will think of the audacity to monitor their child’s reading progress and work accountability. I think parents just needs to stop being so lazy and sit down with their “busy” middle/high class lives and talk with their kids about their readings for a few minutes–meanwhile take about 15 seconds to sign their reading logs. Is this website for real?

    September 21st, 2009 at 7:23 pm
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  194. HomeworkBlues says:

    Really, oh, boy am I glad you are not my daughter’s teacher. I dare say you come off pretty uneducated yourself. You clearly didn’t do your homework. Take the time to read this blog, it’s origin, why people joined, what the issues are, and ways in which we can resolve them. Smart involved parents are discovering one way is resistance.

    You come off ill-informed and rigid.Shudder.

    September 21st, 2009 at 11:29 pm
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  195. Charlotte says:

    Are any of you considering voting out the politicians who have created and perpetuated this testing frenzy?

    Teachers have no choice about following directives from administrators, who in turn are following directives from state boards, etc., on through the chain of folks who created and enforce these problems?

    Vote these people out, tell them you have had it with standardized testing, state standards (that ought to be called dictates), with making testing companies rich, with textbook publishers spinning out revised versions of junk, etc.

    You have the power to change the system. Teachers do not have the power. Maybe if we stopped allowing outsiders to dictate to talented teachers how to do the job they are so passionate about, they might just surprise you.

    And quit daydreaming that if we leave children alone, they are intrinsically motivated to learn. Intrinsically motivated to play, to watch TV, to avoid anything hard, etc.–yes. Are some, a few, intrinsically motivated? Yes. On the whole, students don’t do assignments, don’t show up prepared to discuss topics they have not prepared to discuss, don’t want to write down anything, like to whine and complain, and pass the buck and play the blame game. (And my students were largely middle class, not living in poverty, with lots of advantages.)

    I am a passionate teacher who hates homework for no purpose, but some subjects require a little more than can be accomplished in 45 minutes. I hated staying up until 2 a.m. doing homework at our house–a lot of it needless, time-consuming and not instructional. But let’s get real. Both sides of this argument have some merit.

    Daydream about ideal teachers and ideal children. Meanwhile, teachers get to work with the real ones who show up every day. And a great many of us love them, love the job, and want to do it well. And most of us have our hands tied at every turn. Given fewer criticisms and fewer lists of things we must do from outside the field, we might be able to simplify the process for everyone. The more pressures we get, more rules, more reactions, more policies, and more ridiculous responses are created.

    September 22nd, 2009 at 12:06 am
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  196. Miss Incognegro says:

    @ FedUp @PsychMom,

    FYI:

    My mother was *very* involved in my education, despite the fact that Black parents are widely believed to be disconnected and disinterested in their children’s education. So, when teachers were acting like a-holes, she stepped up immediately, and let them know. But, this was rare.

    Additionally, my mother is also a Depression-era, Jim Crow-era, Civil Rights-era lady. She knows and understands full well the importance of education and learning.

    September 22nd, 2009 at 7:00 am
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  197. FedUpMom says:

    Miss Incognegro — I’m sure your mother was very involved. I’m not criticizing your mother at all. And I would guess that most Blacks in the middle class today got there because of their parents’ interest in education.

    I’m saying that in today’s school system, we start homework with kids at such a young age that it really becomes the mother’s problem. Then the school tries to enforce “Parent Involvement” in a completely patronizing way.

    When you were in school, homework probably didn’t start until you were old enough that you could do it yourself without constant management. Right? So your mother could take a different role in your education, instead of becoming “homework cop” when you were 5.

    September 22nd, 2009 at 7:44 am
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  198. FedUpMom says:

    Charlotte says:

    *****************
    On the whole, students don’t do assignments, don’t show up prepared to discuss topics they have not prepared to discuss, don’t want to write down anything, like to whine and complain, and pass the buck and play the blame game. (And my students were largely middle class, not living in poverty, with lots of advantages.)
    *****************

    Charlotte — how do you think your students got this way? Kids are born wanting to learn. How did these kids get so completely turned off to school? My theory is that they get turned off by years of pointless busywork. What’s your theory?

    When I read paragraphs like the one above, and then you protest that you “love the kids!”, I’m skeptical.

    And it would be easier to vote out the guilty politicians if I knew of anyone who was running on a platform of true school reform.

    September 22nd, 2009 at 8:04 am
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  199. Lisa Read says:

    Let the bashing begin. I am a Public School Teacher.

    Now, put down that rotten tomato and listen. I do the best I can with the resources I get. Yes, your taxes pay my wages, but you did not pay for 7 years of University, make up for lost wages for the years I worked on-call (Substitute/Supply teaching), and you have not walked a mile in my Birkenstocks.

    For the record: I have taught all grades from 1 to 9, the most of my years at grade 4/5/6, I am currently at Middle School. I stopped doing spelling tests years ago. I never did reading logs, and I never participated in the “read 10 books, get a coupon for a pizza” program, and I rarely give homework.

    I read aloud to my students (still, even in Middle School) and I talk about books and authors and literature elements and the fun and joy of reading a good book.

    But I also get told what I will do in my class, despite any understanding I have about professional autonomy. The Ministry tells us what to do, the district tells us what to do, Parents come in and expect us to do all sorts of other magic. The Ministry of Education is run by politicians, not educators. Teachers have no voice at the administrative level. We don’t think parents are idiots (well, collectively) but guess what? My colleagues are some of the best educated, most traveled, diverse people on the planet– I assure you we are not idiots, either (by and large)

    Blame the bureaucrats who insist on collecting meaningless data, rather than offering support and resources. We are just doing our best

    September 22nd, 2009 at 2:10 pm
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  200. FedUpMom says:

    Lisa Read — we’re not in the business of “bashing” here.

    I have a question for you — what country are you in?

    September 22nd, 2009 at 2:34 pm
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  201. PsychMom says:

    To Lisa:

    “For the record: I have taught all grades from 1 to 9, the most of my years at grade 4/5/6, I am currently at Middle School. I stopped doing spelling tests years ago. I never did reading logs, and I never participated in the “read 10 books, get a coupon for a pizza” program, and I rarely give homework”…if this is the way you treat your students (respectfully and with much kindess and thought), then why on earth would you be standing up for the teachers who solidly believe in those things and who treat some parents badly who are objecting?

    We don’t teacher bash…for the 10,000th time. We stand up for our children and for ourselves. We ask questions. If we feel the school system and teachers are running over us we say something. IF that’s teacher bashing then I guess not a lot of inquiry goes on in schools anymore.

    If you’re referring to Ministries, then I’m guessing you’re a teacher in the Canadian system….I’m Canadian. I know that the schools and their curriculums are based on the whims of the politicians. But other teachers have been on this site who have said they do what they like in their classrooms and they had the same education you had, and they live under the same Ministries you do…but still they have minds of their own. I think you do too….but there are some teachers who don’t.

    Was anything of what I just said teacher bashing?

    September 22nd, 2009 at 2:44 pm
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  202. Lisa Read says:

    Well, you could start with this quote from the second post on the page: ” I blame Older Son’s first grade teacher for his hatred of reading.”

    I was responding to a feeling I got reading (and skimming) this incredible volume of passionate expression.

    My original post was an attempt to shine a light on the real problem: Educrats collecting meaningless data instead of supporting teachers who DO know how to educate kids…..for the most part, we arrived to teaching because we were called.

    I am Canadian, and live on Vancouver Island on the West Coast.

    I’m just saying, teachers aren’t to blame, the system is.

    If you care to read more about my feelings on Educational Topics, my blog is: http://readlisaread.edublogs.org/

    You might find this story telling, as well: http://teacherteachme.blogspot.com/

    September 22nd, 2009 at 3:28 pm
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  203. Annie says:

    I am a middle school special education (LD and SED) teacher. I teach language arts. I spend most of my time “thinking” about how to make kids like school again. I spend most of my time in meetings, doing paperwork, or other stupid bureaucratic junk.

    I am required to send homework home. Most of the time I have them take unfinished work home. I hate homework. I have them pick their own spelling/vocab activities. I accept ideas that they come up with. Now I have to have reading logs…..

    Today I told them about reading logs. I explained that it was not a chore. I am allowing them to read internet stories, magazines, newspapers, books…ANYTHING. I want them to find something they like to read at home. I want to know what they want to read. After discussing what I wanted them to do I asked “is this ok? is it a chore?” and the answer was that it wasnt that bad. I dont require parent signatures, but I want to know (at least one sentence) what they read about.

    Am I happy I have to do this? Originally, no. Now that I spoke to the kids I feel better. I really want them to find that reading is fun. If they skip reading one night, but read the next night and give me a longer summary, thats great!

    I am rambling, mainly because I dont want to start on my mountains of paperwork (my homework!).

    Can reading logs be “not that bad”? Can kids buy into them if they are used appropriately and not as a way to track and monitor responsibility?

    My students need to have some feeling of ownership over their work. They need to feel successful and that they are working toward something beneficial to them. I think that if reading logs get them to try new books out and start to enjoy reading, then they might be worth it.

    September 22nd, 2009 at 5:06 pm
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  204. A Teacher says:

    Have any of you ever taught in a Public School? Parents need to help their children learn. It takes the student, the parent and the teacher…not just the teacher. With some of the attitudes many people on this website have…and lack of support for the teachers and classrooms, it’s no wonder your children dislike reading. Most teachers feel that a reading log (especially for K – 2) means that the children either WERE READ TO, READ IT THEMSELVES OR READ TO a parent or younger sibling. Children that are read to and encouraged to read, become better readers. Students whose parents take them to the library AND have books in the home (whether borrowed or bought) enjoy reading more. Children who see their parents read, enjoy reading. Teachers are not miracle workers. We are all not perfect, but most of us do our best. When there is parent support, not bitterness, it is easier for everyone.

    September 22nd, 2009 at 11:54 pm
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  205. HomeworkBlues says:

    A Teacher, this is what I consider an inspiring teacher, one a kid will never forget:

    “I let a 13-year-old boy who dreamed of being a comic-book writer spend a week in the public library—with the assistance of the librarian—to learn the tricks of graphic storytelling. I sent a shy 13-year-old girl in the company of a loudmouth classmate to the state capitol—she to speak to her local legislator, he to teach her how to be fearless. Today, that shy girl is a trial attorney.

    If you understand where a kid wants to go—the kid has to understand that first—it isn’t hard to devise exercises, complete with academics, that can take them there.”

    It’s from that article by John Taylor Gatto I just posted. In fact, he advises doing exactly what FedUpMom did, resisting the reading log!

    “What Can You Do About All This? A lot.

    You can make the system an offer it can’t refuse by doing small things, individually.

    You can publicly oppose—in writing, in speech, in actions—anything that will perpetuate the institution as it is. The accumulated weight of your resistance and disapproval, together with that of thousands more, will erode the energy of any bureaucracy.

    You can calmly refuse to take standardized tests. Follow the lead of Melville’s moral genius in Bartleby, the Scrivener, and ask everyone, politely, to write: “I prefer not to take this test” on the face of the test packet.

    A Teacher, I know it’s hard to teach in public school. But you actually believe kids will read more because of reading logs? We’ve made convincing cases that busy homework does far more to turn kids off to learning than on to it.

    You don’t like the likes of us, it seems, but are you really reading us? Because my daughter is a ravenous reader! Homework, over the years, did more to thwart her creativity than enhance it. It took significant time away from the reading and writing she loves, it limited learning rather than added to it.

    You go on to tell us what makes a great reader. Which leads me to believe you are not listening. Because the primary posters here already have kids who love to read with parents who read to them and take them to the library. That is what we are pleading to do! Go to the library and read. Don’t you see that empty time wasting homework overload is just that a waste of our most precious commodity, time and that it has diminishing returns when it severely cuts into sleep?

    We have made strong eloquent passionate convincing cases that especially for children who love to read and write, that is what they should be doing in elementary when they return from school. Not busy work that drains them and kills their excitement, initiative and wonder.

    September 23rd, 2009 at 11:21 am
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  206. HomeworkBlues says:

    A Teacher asserts: “With some of the attitudes many people on this website have…and lack of support for the teachers and classrooms, it’s no wonder your children dislike reading.”

    I would venture to claim that it is precisely because of “my attitudes on this web site” that my daughter loves reading.

    Lack of support for teachers and classrooms? Wish you’d told me this earlier. Could have saved me countless hours of volunteering, fund raising, chaperoning on field trips and a host of school functions, donating money, food and supplies, always asking to help out in the classroom, photocopying, asking the front office phones,, serving on the PTSA, board member of booster groups, not to mention all that homework coaching and support at home. A Teacher, please tell me, what does involvement and support look like on your side of the planet?

    September 23rd, 2009 at 1:11 pm
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  207. HomeworkBlues says:

    I already said I was a typo disaster today so I have immunity, no? ANSWERING the front office phones, meant to write. And just one comma to follow. The print is hopelessly light in the draft, I don’t see a comma so I add one and up pop two!

    September 23rd, 2009 at 1:14 pm
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  208. Anonymous says:

    Fed up Mom,

    If you are a public school teacher, you know that schools in the United States are nothing compared to that of any school outside the United States where education is valued beyond measure and by parents as well. I have traveled to various countries and have been able to see in depth that sad reality that is our school today. I am a teacher and it is evident that the education system we have within in U.S is a disgrace and eventually the United States will lose its prominent position as a world power soon enough. Intelligent students may be coming out of our colleges, but in recent years the majority of doctorate degrees were being given to foreigners. The students of today are expected to compete on an international level. Therefore, education is becoming that much more important. However, how does a student learn to succeed on an international level? They must fully develop the skills necessary to succeed in college and eventually the workforce. What skills? As many researchers have noted reading proficiency is the main skill that almost all jobs require. These skills require basic recall, analysis and the like. I believe that any way a teacher can aid a student to successfully developing these skills, the better chance the child will be able to succeed. Now, your opinion on reading logs indicates a sense of laziness. Reading is suppose to be fun. Yet, in the real world how many of us have read text books and the like and enjoyed every minute of it? Realistically, these children will have to read texts that are not enjoyable. If we base reading on a purely pleasurable bases then we are showing our children that reading is only to be done when it is fun. The problem that we face in society is that we are teaching our children that they must enjoy every minute of schooling. This why the constructivist theory has taken hold of our educational system and is why group learning plagues our schools. I feel more like a clown in class than a teacher as our schools want us to entertain our students all the time. It is a funny idea to think about when they get to college and they get a rude awaking as they find out what real work is and what it means to sit, listen and take notes, rather than being given a show about the lesson. For a teacher, to say that reading logs serve no instructional purpose rather than making it a chore, you are terribly mistaken. In my eyes, this is a perfect chance for you to interact with your daughter. have her read to you, or you read to her….it is your job to help educate her. And no, you do not get paid. Its a sad day when a parent feels they have to get paid to help their children through school. Moreover, no child can be trusted. Show me a child that has never lied or has made a mistake. I am sure your perfect angel has never faltered in anything she was requested to do and as such you can trust her without thought. This is what I hate about parents. They hate to admit that their child is not perfect. Again, it is your obligation as a parent to follow behind your daughter until she is of legal age. To ask for your participation in signing off on a reading log is the least you can do. And I say “participation” because every parent should be asking more on how they can help the teacher help their child succeed. I am sure you are asking her teacher what more you can do for her to help your daughter. I am a reading teacher, working on a master, and parental involvement is key to reading proficiency. Yet, we have parents like you that have to be paid. Take time and review your state scores and national scores. Math and science I am sure are low. But, think about why. Maybe it is because they do not or have not developed those skills that require them to read efficiently and accurately. Reading is across the curriculum and as such reading should be the primary focus of any schooling system and education as a whole. The reading logs serve the purpose of basic recall, predication, analysis and many more intellectual skills. Teachers do not give random work just to give it. This has a purpose and maybe instead of talking so much and acting like you know what reading is and how one develops it, take a course or read a bit on it. Oh! But I forgot it may not be interesting to you, so why read it? And those of you who have nothing but bad things to say about an educator, if you are not a teacher, become one and see the problems that education faces when we have parents that send their kids to school for babysitting. If you are not an educator, count yourself lucky as you will never know the work that is involved in taking an uninterested, lazy child and molding him/her into a future president, doctor and the like, And Miss FED up MOM, you are disgrace to my profession and to all teachers and parents alike.

    September 23rd, 2009 at 8:39 pm
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  209. proudteacher says:

    With all due respect, it seems obvious that many of the parents who’ve posted on this site have no concept of what it’s like to teach in today’s classrooms. With the emphasis on testing mandated by the states, the number of language skills that must be taught in less than an hour per day to 95-110 students is daunting. This isn’t meant as an excuse, just the reality of the situation.

    Today’s teachers assume more and more of the functions that were formerly done at home. A positive connection between home and school goes a long way in helping student achievement. The more student’s read and comprehend what they read, the more they will succeed in all areas of education. I love my job, but it truly gets harder every year.

    Not quite sure what type of reading logs many of you are referring to, but it seems to me that asking for a parent’s cooperation to simply initial a piece of paper to verify that your child is extending their learning to home isn’t too much to ask. If you’ve ever wondered why teachers remark that teaching just isn’t the same anymore and that students aren’t as respectful as they used to be, you may want to look at the message you’re giving your child when you openly question teachers’ requests and assignments. (Would you do the same with your spouse?) Sorry to say, but you’ve probably put your child at a disadvantage from the moment they walk through the classroom door. Your attitude shines right through them.

    Teachers aren’t threatening your role as parents, we don’t think we could do a better job of raising your children, and we certainly aren’t trying to make your life miserable. We’re just asking for some help, a little cooperation, and a signature.

    September 23rd, 2009 at 9:00 pm
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  210. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous — what makes you think that I’m a teacher?

    I never said that I want to get paid, I said that the teacher gives me orders as if she was my boss. I’m not asking the school to pay me. I’m asking them to stop telling me what to do in my own home with my own daughter.

    “No child can be trusted”, you say? That’s nice. Now you’ll tell me you went into teaching because you love children so much.

    I’m starting to think there’s a teacher’s website somewhere with a big link saying, “go post a message and put those uppity parents in their place!”

    September 23rd, 2009 at 9:20 pm
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  211. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedUpMom, take that one on. I read it carefully but the entire comment composed in one single paragraph tells me someone didn’t learn her grammar. I gave up, my eyes buzzed.

    I’m a pretty tough editor. You are very concerned with the real world. In the real world, Anonymous, you write something like that and in the words of Donald Trump, YOU’RE FIRED!

    September 23rd, 2009 at 9:31 pm
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  212. proudteacher says:

    And one more thing that would be really helpful… a little respect.

    September 23rd, 2009 at 9:32 pm
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  213. Siyer says:

    Hi – probably a bad idea to point this out. The website http://www.readinglogs.com is online, eliminates many problems associated with on-paper reading logs.

    The site does NOT solve all of the problems, but it reduces the burdeon on kids. Well, I emphathize with
    your feels (believe me, I experience it every day, with 2 kids in elementary school). If you have to do it, the online reading logs is less of a chore!

    September 23rd, 2009 at 9:33 pm
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  214. Oliver says:

    FedUp Mom wrote, “I’m hoping that will be the end of it. ”

    Out of curiosity, was it?

    September 24th, 2009 at 12:46 am
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  215. FedUpMom says:

    Oliver — that was pretty much the end of it. My daughter did the reading, without logging, and we never saw a reading log again. DD told me later that for the next book the teachers announced there was a reading log, but it was optional for the kids who had done all the reading last time, which of course included DD.

    I’m still not convinced reading logs help the kids who don’t like reading, either. It seems to me it just confirms their belief that reading is an unpleasant chore.

    September 24th, 2009 at 8:08 am
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  216. HomeworkBlues says:

    I’m amazed that so many teachers on this post got so bent out of shape with these reading logs. I continue to assert that when the school population is primarily comprised of involved parents, making them sign logs is disdaining. And unnecessary..

    In the best of all worlds, a parent can make that case respectfully and teachers can then give it some thought. Then, those kids who enjoy the logs can continue to do them and for the others, let them read in the afternoon without taking away precious time to fill out logs. And allow parents to use those ever more scarce afternoon and evening moments to read to their child instead of filling out more paperwork.

    My daughter is a ravenous reader so the logs were a waste of time. There was simply no educational value I can recall. I’d like to think they are also a waste of the teacher’s time, only adding to the mountains of paperwork a teacher already has to juggle.

    As for the uninvolved parents? That’s not as simple as signing a log. Don’t delude yourself into thinking it’ll turn a reluctant reader into an eager one (and yes, teachers, it goes better when we can instill some measure of pleasure) or an absent parent into an involved one. Those are serious issues and can’t be glossed over with one simple piece of paper. And it’s not the school’s job to teach parents how to parent. It’s the school’s job to teach the children. That’s what our tax dollars are for.

    You teach, I parent. Deal?

    September 24th, 2009 at 8:36 am
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  217. FedUpMom says:

    HomeworkBlues — “those kids who enjoy the logs”? You must have put that in for the sake of argument. I’ve never met a kid who enjoys reading logs, and I don’t think I want to meet her.

    You ask why teachers get so bent out of shape about something as trivial as reading logs. One possible reason is that they’re control freaks. Another possible reason is that schools have completely lost touch with their real mission — helping our kids learn. I’ve seen so many times that learning isn’t really the goal; the true goal is compliance. That’s why teachers get so bent out of shape. “You question my orders? How dare you!” Thanks for the partnership, guys.

    September 24th, 2009 at 9:05 am
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  218. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedUpMom asks: “HomeworkBlues — “those kids who enjoy the logs”? You must have put that in for the sake of argument. I’ve never met a kid who enjoys reading logs, and I don’t think I want to meet her.”

    I was being sarcastic :). You like them, log away. To your heart’s content. Any takers?

    September 24th, 2009 at 9:18 am
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  219. HomeworkBlues says:

    Bingo, FedUpMom. It’s about control. Do the damn logs!, some teachers here scream. You dare to question, you are insolent, disrespectful, a sloppy mother who does not teach your child values and it’s your fault students are as disruptive, disrespectful, uninterested as they are. And let’s not forget that “your perfect little angel” will go to jail when she’s 25 if she does not do her reading logs. Time to break out “Another Brick in the Wall,” isn’t it? “You won’t get your pudding!”

    You are right. We touched a nerve, not because reading logs promote reading (they don’t) but because it touched on control and compliance. That’s what you find when you dig deep enough.

    I’ll say it again. We aren’t going to get very far if we don’t dig deep down for the root causes. And we had some on this blog assert that our children aren’t reading because we have taught them not to do reading logs. Except our children read. Mine does. That’s the whole point. Is anyone actually listening? I feel like I’m constantly going in circles.

    September 24th, 2009 at 9:22 am
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  220. FedUpMom says:

    BTW, I want to clarify what I meant by “the real mission of schools is to help our kids learn.” I’m talking about learning actual subjects here — math, history, literature, art.

    I’m not talking about learning fake subjects that have nothing to do with real life. This category includes things like “note-taking skills” (how hard is it?), “good study habits” (i.e., compliance), and “test-taking skills” (give me a break).

    Teachers, please teach the actual subject. The kids will learn how to study when they have something worth studying.

    September 24th, 2009 at 10:59 am
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  221. HomeworkBlues says:

    “But the whole enterprise still feels so wrong to me. It’s as if someone came up to you post-orgasm and said, “How was that? Would you give it a five? Or a four? Please, just write it down on this form each time.” It just seems so—contrary to what great reading is.”

    From “The Cursed Reading Log”

    I thought the author was a bit obsequious but the gist is powerful. I don’t have a problem with respectful and gracious but I wouldn’t be quite so magnanimous. It’s loathed, dreaded, turns reading into a chore. Get rid of it! Still, a good read.

    http://thediamondinthewindow.typepad.com/the-diamond-in-the-window/2009/09/that-cursed-reading-log.html

    September 24th, 2009 at 10:41 pm
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  222. PsychMom says:

    Confessions from PsychMom
    I had seen on a letter from my child’s teacher that reading logs are an issue for some reason on Tuesdays. I admit that I don’t look at it more closely to see whether it’s “assigned”or “due” or what it involves because frankly scarlett…..

    So this morning, on a lark, I said, “So what are these reading logs all about”

    Child age 8 says, “What reading logs? What are reading logs?”

    “Never mind”, says I, cursing myself that I brought it up.

    “Oh, like I’m supposed to keep track of the books I read? I can do that, I can keep track in my black book…I’ll go get it…” enthusiastic child says, while she’s running away from me to go get it.

    Now I’m really kicking myself. She comes back with a book she’s started…”See?” she says. “It’ divided up by the time of day…I read one chapter of X book, I read three pages of Y book, and after supper I read…….”

    My child has created her OWN freaking reading log by her own design. Doesn’t she know who her mother is? And how vehemently she opposes reading logs? Doesn’t she know she’s supposed to hate the mundacity of writing these things out…that it’s meaning less to catalogue what you’ve read?

    “Wow, you’ve done a lot of work”, I said in a lamely supportive way.

    She has 4 books on the go right now. She’s a prolific writer..and she’s completely obsessed with spelling and punctutation and …..I have nothing to complain about.
    To all those teachers who say my child can’t read because she doesn’t do reading logs…..hooey

    But, I know it’s not like this in many households..So I guess I have to stand up for other parents who are having the troubles, and facing walls of rigid bureaucracy.

    September 25th, 2009 at 8:59 am
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  223. FedUpMom says:

    PsychMom — I don’t see any contradiction here. The important point is that your daughter came up with this idea herself. If she enjoys organizing her reading in her own way, bully for her.

    That’s a completely different situation from a child with a teacher-assigned reading log.

    September 25th, 2009 at 9:36 am
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  224. Sara Bennett says:

    My personal experience with reading logs: Two years ago, I decided I would keep a log of all the books I was reading, just to see what that was like. (I read about 5 books a week.) I managed to keep the log for 8 entries, and then I just couldn’t be bothered to pull out my log book and write it down. You’d think that would be so simple (I know that’s what teachers think), but for me it was a bore.

    A few months ago, I registered with goodreads, thinking, again, that I’d keep track of what I was reading and share that with my facebook friends. I entered 4 books and gave up.

    When I was doing research for my book, I spoke at length with Kylene Beers, a literacy expert. She told me, “Reading logs can be an effective diagnostic tool if the teacher takes the time to read each child’s log carefully, talks to him about what he’s reading, and thus gets an understanding of his reading preferences.” (page 125, The Case Against Homework)

    My question to teachers: How do you use your reading logs?

    September 25th, 2009 at 10:10 am
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  225. PsychMom says:

    I suspect, Sara, that my daughter’s interest in keeping track will wane quickly too…making lists is a thing she’s into at the moment.
    And I agree, FedUpMom, with what you say about the difference between my daughter’s new penchant and a teacher prescribed task that incorporates the parent’s signature and supervision. I suspect that this will become a reality shortly in our house too..I was just making light of the irony that I am waging verbal counter-offensives against reading logs that my own child creates for her own pleasure.

    September 25th, 2009 at 11:20 am
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  226. proudteacher says:

    To Homeworkblues:
    It seems that you’ve obviously had some bad experiences with schools far beyond the scope of any reading log. I’m not sure what type of demanding, autocrats you’ve encountered but they don’t sound pleasant. Certainly, there are some teachers who would do us all a favor by retiring or finding another way to make a living, but if that’s all you’ve encountered, I’d consider another school district if I were you.

    To FedupMom:
    Your quote, “I’m not talking about learning fake subjects that have nothing to do with real life. This category includes things like “note-taking skills” (how hard is it?), “good study habits” (i.e., compliance), and “test-taking skills” (give me a break)” absolutely astounds me!

    Not real life! Really? I truly beg to differ. Interested in having your children go to college but not know how to take notes, study for or take a test? Want your children to be in any profession that requires a post-grad license without these skills (law, medicine, teaching)? I wish them well. Oh, and let me add one more… organizational skills by requiring the use of agendas, folders & binders. If you’ve ever looked inside the backpack of many middleschoolers, you’d understand the need for this one!

    The reality of the school classroom is not what I envisioned when I first started teaching where I simply thought that by inspiring students to discover their passions, they will automatically be motivated to learn, wherever that lead them. It doesn’t always work that way, I’m sorry to say. I’m given a curriculum decided by the powers that be at the state and local levels that I’m held acountable for teaching. I’m counting on the teachers in the grades below me to teach what they’re supposed to teach as are those in grades above. If I don’t do my job, it makes other people’s jobs more difficult. Ideal? Maybe not. Reality? Yes.

    But, what is one way I can inspire my students to become whatever then want to be and to discover their passion in life? By having them READ books that interest them about things that interest them and recording it in a reading log! Yes, some students will do and are already doing this. But many, many students (for a variety of reasons) would never pick up a book of their choosing if it weren’t an assignment. My goal for them is to establish a habit of reading for their own personal enjoyment and to discover a world within their imagination that can’t be found on a video screen (none of them yet own a Kindle). They are asked to interact with their books by asking questions, making predictions, and connecting to real-life experiences. They share their books in class through both verbal and written exercises which inspire others to read even more. You may find it contradictory that it’s required for their enjoyment, but in my experience, it works.

    By the way, for those who think it’s a bad thing for teachers to be “control freaks” as it were, good luck trying to teach in a classroom of 30 kids where the teacher isn’t in control! I keep my classroom fairly quiet just for that shy & timid student who has a hard time learning with distracting noise but doesn’t know how to yet speak up for themselves, something else we try to teach our students (or would that, too, be considered a “fake subject”?).

    Reading these postings makes me even more grateful for the parents who are supportive, recognize that we’re doing the best we can, and even say thank you on occasion.

    September 27th, 2009 at 11:11 am
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  227. proudteacher says:

    P.S. To Homeworkblues:
    You state: “You teach, I parent. Deal?”

    Deal! I wouldn’t dream of telling you how to parent, question the tasks you’ve assigned to your child, or tell you how to manage your household. And even if I see some things during parent conferences or through comments your child makes at school that I would do differently, it would not be my place to question your purpose for things you do in your home (especially not in front of your child), even if it influenced what I do in my classroom. You are the best at parenting your child, and I admire, respect and support that. If I were to expect those same courtesies in return, do we still have a deal?

    September 27th, 2009 at 11:50 am
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  228. FedUpMom says:

    The reason I call note-taking skills, study habits, and test-taking skills fake subjects is because so often they are invoked as the reason kids need to do assignments that have no other point. This is what I’m opposed to.

    It’s not so much that no one ever uses those skills, it’s just that some of the most tedious, ill-designed homework I’ve ever seen is defended on those grounds. The way to learn these skills is to use them in the study of something important, like the actual subjects I mentioned (math, history, art, etc.)

    September 27th, 2009 at 3:11 pm
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  229. PsychMom says:

    I’d just like to respond to proudteacher, if I may….
    As a parent who does have tremendous respect for teachers (I know I could not do their jobs), I would have this deal if your job did not involve telling me what should happen in my home regarding schoolwork. I don’t write notes to you suggesting what I’d like to see taught this year. So why would you send work home with children indicating that their job for an hour tonight involves schoolwork? That hour of schoolwork was not on my agenda for my child tonight.

    And on the subject of college prep for elementary students…it’s the old blanket about “better get-em used to it”- how many of those shining faces in front of you Proudteacher, will be sitting in college? There are so many other things they could be doing besides college, but all those kids have to be subjected to college prep mentality. It could be turning off many capable students who won’t go to college. I was always harped on in high school to take typing. I was certainly going to university but I could never see why typing was such a big deal. I never was taught to take notes….I never took lessons on how to take tests, but by some small miracle, I made it all the way to a master’s degree. If you need to do it, you’ll learn it.

    And on the control issue. The idea of “Control freaks” has nothing to do with keeping a classroom under control. It’s the rigidity of thought and the manner in which one deals with the unexpected (control freaks don’t manage well) that highlights the difference. A teacher who is in control of his/her classroom should still be able to tolerate their 30 points of view.

    September 28th, 2009 at 11:21 am
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  230. proudteacher says:

    To PsychMom:
    First, congratulations on your success. I hope there were some teachers along the way who encouraged and inspired you. To answer your question about college, approximately 90-95% of the students I teach go to college so whatever advantages I can give them by teaching them skills they can use now and in the future is to their benefit. Although I have in the past, I don’t currently teach elementary. The skills I’m referring to are age-appropriate, not taught in isolation, and done with purpose & meaning.

    I realize that parents need an avenue for venting frustrations about things, like schools, that have an enormous impact on their lives. Chances are, there’s also a site for parents who are upset that their students don’t have enough homework which is a more frequent parent complaint in my experience. It’s impossible to please everyone.

    The educational pendulum will continue to swing, old ideas will continue to be repackaged and sold as new, and life will go on as we all do the best we can. I wish you well.

    September 29th, 2009 at 6:45 am
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  231. PsychMom says:

    But Proudteacher…and notice I capitalized your name because I think you are a proud teacher…I see you as a professional who should not be swayed by trends…..you should “know”, the profession should know, about the research around homework. I work in the health care field…we don’t go by what’s “popular”, we base our work and our opinions on research, hopefully sound research. It’s professionally unethical to use methods that have been shown to be ineffective or ignore the latest findings because you still cling to old standards.

    You, as the teaching professional, should be able to tell parents when they ask for more homework for their children, that “No, Mrs and Mr. So-and So, more homework is NOT going to make your child more successful because the research shows that having a family dinner with you is more predictive of a child’s success than any other single element”.

    I’ve watched teachers sway their hands and totally dismiss the controversy around homework, “Ho hum, we’ve heard it all before…there has been debate about it forever so we’re not going to change a thing in the way we do things”. You cannot live in that bubble. Professionals don’t work that way.

    September 29th, 2009 at 9:40 am
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  232. PeggyinMA says:

    Thank you PsychMom. The above comment on keeping up with current research is exactly the point I have been trying to express in polite, respectful conferences at our schools, but I have encountered a wall of defensiveness and complacency from many (not all) teachers and administrators.

    I know teaching is a tough job and that we all want what is best for the students. Students and their families, for their part, are trusting that schools will keep up with the latest research and do what is professionally sound.

    If a school wants to know that children are reading at home, on their own time, teachers could simply, directly ask parents and guardians in person during conferences. For our family, the answer is yes, thank you, and we can then move on.

    September 29th, 2009 at 12:51 pm
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  233. JustaLibrarian says:

    Why do teachers make reading so hard? Why do teachers use it as punishment? Why do teachers make stupid, arbitrary restrictions (must be at least 150 pages, etc.)? Why do we use programs like AR so that books become just a way to get some points to satisfy the teacher?

    If I were a student today, I would HATE to read.

    September 29th, 2009 at 6:53 pm
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  234. Teacher1 says:

    Whiney parents = whiney students. Get over yourselves and stop blaming the teachers for everything. Unfortunately, more and more legislature at all levels dictates what, how and even when we teach. Very little is left to the teacher anymore. Get involved in your schools or go to school board meetings and see where the decisions that affect the classroom and your children are made. Believe me, it’s not the teacher! Local, state and federal government are determining how and what we teach. I just spent the first 5 weeks giving a tedious assessment to each student when I could have learned the exact information from working with them in small groups in one week. Did I want to give the assessment? No. Did I have to give the assessment? Yes, as per state mandate. Did I waste precious teaching time? You bet and I’ll have to give the same test 2 more times this year! As for reading logs…I do send them home but it’s optional for them to use and return them as is the rest of my homework. Do most of my students read each night like your amazing, brilliant children mentioned above? Absolutely not….kids are honest…ask them and they’ll tell you. “No, Miss X, I didn’t have time to read. We don’t have any books and besides I was busy playing video games until bedtime.” I think you all need to find something better to do with your time than whine about teachers and reading logs. Volunteer at your schools or libraries and start a children’s book club and get the children excited about reading books (not computer screens). Sorry I came across this site looking for useful information and didn’t find it.

    September 29th, 2009 at 11:23 pm
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  235. zzzzz78759 says:

    Teacher1 said: ‘ask them and they’ll tell you. “No, Miss X, I didn’t have time to read. We don’t have any books and besides I was busy playing video games until bedtime.” ‘

    That’s the point, right there. If children were taught to love reading, they’d be going to library to get books. They would make time to read.

    As for playing video games, what’s wrong with that? They spent their 7 hours in school, they need some down time. If video games are it, so be it.

    When reading turns into an assigned chore, with no choice as to what they’re reading or how long they spend reading or if they want to take a day off and do something else, it teaches children that reading is an obligation, not a leisure time activity to look forward to.

    Frankly, not every child is going to turn into a voracious reader. Not the fault of the parents or teachers, some kids just don’t enjoy reading. Maybe they have an undiagnosed (or diagnosed) learning disability, maybe they’re more inclined toward athletics or science or math.

    Do children need to learn to read? Yes. Do they need to read books for a specific period of time every day? No. Forced reading just turns them off and it’s sad.

    At our house, we don’t consider reading to be “homework”. We read what we’re forced to read then we read what we want to read. We spend hours snuggled on the couch reading to each other or just having Mommy read a new book we’ve checked out of the library.

    And, we play video games together. My daugther and I have spent endless hours playing “Mario vs. Luigi” and laughing at our antics. That is called quality time and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

    September 30th, 2009 at 6:38 am
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  236. proudteacher says:

    To PsychMom:
    Professional development is an important part of any educator’s life so keeping up with the latest research is part of what we already do, thank you. For every article or book that you can produce against homework, I can produce 2 in favor within age-appropriate limits.

    Yours and other parent concerns about what students bring home, although important, are not new. Farm chores have since been replaced by after-school sports and computers, It’s our job as professionals to sift through the ever-moving stream of the latest information to decide what is in the best interest of our students.

    It’s not my place to suggest to parents how they should nourish their families in the evening, but in my experience with my own family, there is time for food, conversation, reading, and a bit of homework. Do I believe that there’s validity in the argument that too much homework is too much? Absolutely. So does that mean there should be a moratorium on all homework? No. So what about moderation? After all, I believe we’re both working towards the same goal.

    September 30th, 2009 at 4:30 pm
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  237. Sara Bennett says:

    ProudTeacher: Please show me the “2 in favor with age-appropriate limits.”

    I’m still searching for that well-researched study that shows the benefits of homework. I’m not talking about those articles where experts say that homework teaches responsibility, self-discipline, and motivation. No one has ever studied that to show whether it’s true or not. I’m not talking about studies that show that students will get better grades if they do their homework. Of course they will, since homework completion is a percentage of the grade.

    I’m talking about a comprehensive study that shows that a first grader who does homework will be better educated than one who doesn’t, or that shows that a sixth grader who does an hour of night of the standard homework (read a chapter, answer questions; do a math sheet; make a book cover, etc.) is better off than the sixth grader who does nothing assigned by the school outside school hours.

    Most of the homework that I see is not well designed, is not well thought out, and is mostly busywork. Please show me otherwise.

    And yes, I believe we’re all working towards the same goal of raising happy, healthy, well-rested, creative, analytic, thoughtful, and well-educated children. I just wish that homework wouldn’t interfere with that goal.

    September 30th, 2009 at 4:47 pm
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  238. zzzzz78759 says:

    Proudteacher, I still don’t see the value of homework at all.

    Children are in school 7 hours or more a day. In that 7 hours, they should certainly be able to accomplish everything that’s in their homework folders.

    We, as working adults, are expected to work at least 35 hours a week. Anything over 40 and we expect overtime. There are limits to the amount of hours we can be forced to work. And still, we’re exhausted by the end of the week.

    Now we’re asking our children to spend 35 or more hours a week in school then put in overtime at the end of the day. We’re also expecting parents to add educator to their already overloaded work load.

    If the children do not do their homework, they’re expected to forgo their recess for “study hall”. Personally, I have forbidden the school to put my child in “study hall” (mind you she’s in second grade). She needs her exercise.

    So no, I do not believe there is “age appropriate” homework. I do believe there should be a moratorium on homework. We are overburdening our children with work and failing to allow them to be children.

    Maybe the US is behind the Asian countries in Math and Science but it has always been so. We may not be turning out mathematical and scientific robots but we turn out some very free thinkers..

    We don’t need more people running the same experiments, chewing over the same mathematical equations, we need people who will find cures for terrible diseases like cancer, AIDS, muscular degenerative diseases and the like. The HPV vaccine did not come from Europe or Asia. It came from the good, old USA.

    We need more people like “The Steves” (Jobs and Wozniak), Bill Gates, and John Nash. We need creators of riveting literature. We need scientists making breakthroughs. We don’t need copycats.

    I would be willing to bet that few, if any, of those geniuses can attribute homework to their genius.

    September 30th, 2009 at 5:11 pm
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  239. zzzzz78759 says:

    Well said, Sara. I didn’t mean to step on your post…we just crossed in cyberspace :-)

    September 30th, 2009 at 5:21 pm
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  240. FedUpMom says:

    Proudteacher says: “For every article or book that you can produce against homework, I can produce 2 in favor within age-appropriate limits.”

    The principal at the local public school said the same thing. I should have asked her to produce them. She also said that there were parents clamoring for more homework, and I should have asked to meet them too.

    No matter what a parent says, the response is, “Somebody else says the opposite.” It’s the all-purpose excuse to avoid making any changes whatever.

    If some parents want homework and others are opposed to it, give parents the choice. Let parents decide when and what homework they want their kids to do.

    September 30th, 2009 at 6:52 pm
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  241. proudteacher says:

    I can see by the responses that “homework” (not just reading logs, but in any form) has become 2 four-letter words to most of you on this site. It really makes no difference what rationale or research may be presented, it will be dissected, discounted, and discarded by one of you well-intentioned parents. I wish you well as you assist your children in navigating their way through the educational system. I hope that the values you choose to instill in them prove to be to their advantage.

    If you’re interested in an inspiring discussion about education and haven’t yet done so, may I invite you to view President Obama’s speech to school children and show it to your children… and I’ll bet, with the insistence of his grandmother, he did his homework!

    September 30th, 2009 at 8:20 pm
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  242. zzzzz78759 says:

    Proudteacher said: ‘I can see by the responses that “homework” (not just reading logs, but in any form) has become 2 four-letter words to most of you on this site.’

    I’m not sure what you expected from a site called “StopHomework.com” but yes, the majority of us on this site are frustrated and more than a little angry at being dismissed by the school system as to ignorant to understand.

    For the few homework proponents that come to set us straight, we have not received one scintilla of research that says homework is advantageous to children. Not one speck of research proving that there is anything about homework that’s healthy.

    We get a lot of anecdotal evidence but simply saying, “For every article or book that you can produce against homework, I can produce 2 in favor within age-appropriate limits” doesn’t prove anything if you don’t produce even one.

    As for Obama’s speech, I don’t want to get into politics but I had my child opt out of it. I read it prior to the actual broadcast and felt it was not appropriate for her or her age group and it ws inappropriate for him to force his way into the classrooms without parental consent.

    Did he do homework? Maybe. Most likely not, though, given his age and where he went to school.

    But he’s a politician, not a scientist or a mathmetician. He’s not finding a cure for diseases or inventing new ways of communicating or solving real world issues through mathematical equations.

    The last thing this country needs is another politician.

    That said, may I invite you to read Sara’s well researched book, “The Case Against Homework”. It has a bibliography and everything…very inspiring.

    September 30th, 2009 at 9:57 pm
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  243. Sara Bennett says:

    ProudTeacher: I noticed in your response to my comment (#237) that you didn’t come up with the “2 in favor with age-appropriate limits.” Instead, you wrote, “It really makes no difference what rationale or research may be presented, it will be dissected, discounted, and discarded by one of you well-intentioned parents.” Please show me the research! (And, since you’re a teacher, you might want to take a look at the recently released Rethinking Homework by Cathy Vatterott.)

    October 1st, 2009 at 7:36 am
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  244. Anonymous says:

    Note to people who post here against homework, against reading logs, your only hurting your child!

    1: do your homework on the issue- read the research- if you did you would see how ridiculous you sound.

    Let me break it down:
    The more you read, the more you know.
    The more you know, the smarter you grow.

    A quote from a book by Jim Trelease: The Read-Aloud Handbook. take a look.

    Get yourself an education before you ruin your child’s!

    October 1st, 2009 at 11:33 pm
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  245. Anonymous says:

    Show you the research? You are kidding right? Go to the library- there is so much research out there regarding this issue and it all points to — READ TO, AND WITH, YOUR CHILD EVERY NIGHT! Don’t be a lazy parent, don’t let your child suffer because you are too busy to take 15 minutes out of your day. It is too important.

    “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children”
    J. Trelease

    October 1st, 2009 at 11:40 pm
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  246. proudteacher says:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/21/AR2006112100633.html

    October 2nd, 2009 at 7:59 am
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  247. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous — Of course reading is good for kids. No one is arguing with that.

    Reading logs are a bad idea because they tell kids that reading is a chore. Homework overload is a bad idea because it wears our kids out to the point that they don’t have the energy to read on their own, or exercise, or play outside, or do any number of more interesting and useful things.

    October 2nd, 2009 at 8:00 am
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  248. FedUpMom says:

    proudteacher — your link doesn’t go to research, it goes to an op-ed by Jay Mathews, written in 2006. He later changed his mind about homework for elementary school, partly due to our esteemed Sara Bennett.

    Here’s a quote from a later Jay Mathews article, “Boosting Schools’ Value Without Spending a Dime”:

    1. Replace elementary school homework with free reading. Throw away the expensive take-home textbooks, the boring worksheets and the fiendish make-a-log-cabin-out-of-Tootsie-Rolls projects. One of the clearest (and most ignored) findings of educational research is that elementary students who do lots of homework don’t learn more than students who do none. Eliminating traditional homework for this age group will save paper, reduce textbook losses and sweeten home life. Students should be asked instead to read something, maybe with their parents — at least 10 minutes a night for first-graders, 20 minutes for second-graders and so on. Teachers can ask a few kids each day what they learned from their reading to discourage shirkers.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class-struggle/2009/02/boosting_schools_value_without.html

    October 2nd, 2009 at 8:11 am
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  249. zzzzz78759 says:

    I read the editorial (note this is not research but an editorial) and I’m sorry Mr. Mathews was annoyed.

    What I found interesting, though, is, in less than a year, he seems to have done a complete about-face in a later editorial here:
    http://www.evri.com/media/article?page=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fwp-dyn%2Fcontent%2Farticle%2F2007%2F08%2F01%2FAR2007080101713.html&source=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com&title=Hit%20the%20Books

    Maybe those projects taking hours of his time and having little or no value to his daughter’s education.

    October 2nd, 2009 at 8:29 am
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  250. PsychMom says:

    To Anonymous…..I suspect most of the parents here, sent their 5 year olds to school already capable of reading….I’m a parent who has books in every room of the house. Reading to my child isn’t even a part of this discussion, it’s a given. That’s not what we’re talking about.

    Maybe you need to do more reading of what this discussion is actually about.

    October 2nd, 2009 at 9:54 am
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  251. proudteacher says:

    Thank you so much for making my point! I agree with you. Homework assignments should be age-appropriate which is exactly what reading is at the lower grade levels. If any of you would have the courtesy of reading what I’ve posted before disagreeing, you’d see that we agree more than disagree! I teach 6th grade and the only homework I assign as their language arts teachers is just like you suggested, reading a book of their choice! That’s it! Yes, it’s homework and yes, they record it on a reading log, and yes, it’s for a grade, and yes, it works. Students who already read are reading more, and those who didn’t are reading and responding to their books.

    My issue has been and continues to be with the blanket statements made on this site and, with all due respect, by those who have a financial interest in selling more books, that ALL homework should be banned. Moderation, moderation, moderation.

    October 2nd, 2009 at 6:26 pm
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  252. Teacher1 says:

    zzzzz78759 says: “And, we play video games together. My daugther and I have spent endless hours playing “Mario vs. Luigi” and laughing at our antics. That is called quality time and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.”
    Kudos to you for spending time with your child while she plays video games. Unfortunately, many parents use it as a babysitter so they don’t have to interact with their children.

    October 3rd, 2009 at 12:07 pm
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  253. M@ says:

    Hmmm… have any of the parents or students requested to see the teacher’s reading log each week? If it is that integral to the reading process, then it stands to reason that they would all have their own logs, no?

    October 5th, 2009 at 5:05 pm
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  254. proudteacher says:

    I’d be happy to show you my reading log, M@. I model it for students before I ask them to do one and I show it to them frequently throughout the week. I model how to summarize a story as well by summarizing the books I’m reading and model how to make literary responses throughout before I ask them to do the same. They discuss their books in class as well as participate in writing activities based on their books. They also have the opportunity to rate their books and make recommendations for other readers which creates a great deal of enthusiasm and interest.

    Any other requests? Or was that just an irresistible opportunity to take a cheap shot at teachers?

    October 5th, 2009 at 7:30 pm
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  255. Jacky says:

    I hate homework including reading logs

    October 5th, 2009 at 9:20 pm
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  256. zzzzz78759 says:

    Teacher1 says, “Kudos to you for spending time with your child while she plays video games. Unfortunately, many parents use it as a babysitter so they don’t have to interact with their children.”

    Really, it doesn’t matter whether parents use it to interact or to babysit or just because the kids like to play them to wind down at the end of the day.

    It’s not up to the school or the teachers to decide how children spend their time after school, it’s up to the parents. Assuming that homework is a “better” way for children to spend their time than TV or video games or building with Legos or riding their bikes or hanging out at the mall is making assumptions that are insulting and disrespectful to parents.

    It’s assuming that parents are too stupid, too ignorant, or too uninvolved to take care of their children. It’s assuming that ALL parents are stupid, ignorant or uninvolved. It’s assuming that the schools/teachers know best.

    Uninvolved parents are not going to magically become involved because their children have homework. They’re not going to think, “Wow, the school must really know better! I think I’ll make sure Johnny does his homework. I’m so glad I see the light!”

    I’m sorry but sometimes, actually MOST times, we have better things to do than busy work.

    October 5th, 2009 at 11:08 pm
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  257. zzzzz78759 says:

    Proudteacher says, ” I model how to summarize a story as well by summarizing the books I’m reading and model how to make literary responses throughout before I ask them to do the same. They discuss their books in class as well as participate in writing activities based on their books. They also have the opportunity to rate their books and make recommendations for other readers which creates a great deal of enthusiasm and interest.”

    What happened to reading for the joy of reading? Does anyone really need to dissect every book they read? I read all sorts of books; some are heavy, some are light, and some are trashy. I read them for pleasure and isn’t that what we’re trying to instill in our children?

    October 5th, 2009 at 11:11 pm
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  258. PsychMom says:

    To proudteacher,
    Would you keep a log if you weren’t “modelling”? I mean seriously…who keeps a log of their pleasure books? Whatever for?

    October 6th, 2009 at 8:11 am
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  259. Disillusioned says:

    I have a daughter in third grade in an affluent public school district known for its “great schools” (she is my only child). When she started Kindegarten, I was excited to be in a “great school” known for its exellence. However, after three years, I find myself doing much soul searching re: the school and our whole educational system.

    As a mother, I find the whole expereience difficult to navigate and it makes me weary and sad. Whenever I volunteer in the classroom (or walk on to the campus for that matter), I am struck by how airless and joyless it seems.

    The community has many stay-at-home mothers which view their mothering role as a job. The school, in turn, seems to view the mothers as unpaid employees (which most resent but still seem to buy into). In addition, the enormous amount of homework and tests creates an “us against them” mentality between the teachers and the mothers (this is subtext and never openly acknowledged at the school). In my opinion, the mothers are emotionally overinvested in the school. This leads to a “hornets nest” in regards to relations with the school and each other.

    The Principal is authoritarian (she benches the kids for recess if they are 30 seconds late) and feared. The teachers are “on a mission” and don’t really care about the intrusive nature of homework into the family. Also, they are de-sensitized to the hurtful, inhumane way the kids are treated.

    I am frustrated, sad and weary that this is considered “exellence” in our schools.

    October 6th, 2009 at 1:06 pm
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  260. FedUpMom says:

    Hello Disillusioned, and Welcome! Your story sounds very much like mine. I also had my daughter in “great” public schools in a wealthy district. I had to take her out of the public schools when she became severely depressed and anxious at the ripe old age of 10. She is now much happier in a Quaker school.

    If there are good private schools in your area, I suggest you look into them. If you can’t afford them, look into their financial aid services.

    If you really have no choice but to stay in the public schools, here’s my advice (as if you asked!): first, give your daughter as much support as you can outside of school, including cutting down on her homework.

    Second, get a group of parents together. I never succeeded in doing this at the public school and it’s possible I might have had more influence with a group.

    On the other hand, if you have no influence at the public school, don’t blame yourself! Public schools are set up to protect their own interests and jobs.

    The principal takes recess away if the kid is 30 seconds late? What century is this?

    Oh, also, google “nominally high-performing schools” to confirm everything you’ve already seen. You are not alone in your experience.

    Good luck!

    October 6th, 2009 at 1:27 pm
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  261. PsychMom says:

    You know Disillusioned, I’m maybe a little less discouraged because the private school my 3rd Grader attends has many pluses compared to public schools locally, but I empathize with you because I thought we were going into a no homework(or very little anyway) school 4 years ago. But there is homework and I object to it and sometimes I kind of sit there at the meetings and feel miserable because I object, but most other parents are buying in. You feel so …so….outnumbered and out of place.

    It helps to write here though and to read about what other families have done.

    October 6th, 2009 at 1:45 pm
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  262. Disillusioned says:

    Starting in fourth grade, the kids are benched for reccess if they don’t turn in their homework (no exeptions). They must go to the office and sit on the “bench of shame” as the office manager calls it.

    If you dare object to the Principal, she tells you if you are not happy with her policies you should leave!

    October 6th, 2009 at 5:44 pm
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  263. Steve K says:

    I’m discouraged as I read this, because I agree with you about the pointlessness of reading logs, but I also find them to be a necessary evil as a teacher. My fifth graders complete their reading log each week, but I do not require a parent signature anymore. I’ve tried stopping it, but my parents and fellow fifth grade teachers have objected. I tend to get complaints already that I am not giving enough homework, and that their child may not be prepared for the amount of work they have to do in middle school. I try to explain that research show that doing homework doesn’t really improve learning, but that doesn’t seem to convince anyone but me. Meanwhile I am buried under a daily onslaught of meaningless papers that I have to assess for my 28 students.

    October 6th, 2009 at 8:28 pm
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  264. Steve K says:

    On the other hand, if I had a parent say that the reading log was pointless, and their kid wasn’t going to do it, I would not object, but actually rejoice at having someone who was on my side!

    October 6th, 2009 at 8:29 pm
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  265. Fed Up Dad and Teacher says:

    “but I also find them to be a necessary evil as a teacher”
    Dude, WTF, Grow a set of balls and do what you know is right for your students!

    October 7th, 2009 at 3:59 am
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  266. PsychMom says:

    Way to cut to the chase. Though I wouldn’t use those terms, (the regular Moms who write in talk about self confidence and professionalism – different styles in approach) this is the crux of the matter, isn’t it. I always go back to the professional theme….if any other professional would say what you’ve said, Steve K, they would not be taken seriously, or worse yet, they would be seen as behaving unethically. Take the example of a physician treating children in his/her practice. If a child has a cold, the current best practice is to NOT give antibiotics willynilly (a technical term). Physicians handed out antibiotics for years..for the most minor of infections…but they know better now. Would you have confidence in a family doctor who continued to give out antibiotics to small children because a parent demanded it? I wouldn’t.

    I trust my child’s teachers to be “state of the art”…they’re the experts on education. If I, as a parent, have to find mountains of current research to back up my claims that homework is useless in elementary school….the least they should be able to do is counter it with their research. But they don’t, they have their beliefs. They have their traditions. They just believe that they know what’s best.
    I’m sorry but I don’t buy it.

    October 7th, 2009 at 7:54 am
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  267. Patrick says:

    You are a winer.

    October 7th, 2009 at 11:36 am
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  268. PsychMom says:

    I like a good glass of wine…thanks.

    October 7th, 2009 at 1:17 pm
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  269. Disillusioned says:

    “They have their beliefs, they have their traditions.” A very true statement. I’m not trying to teacher bash, yet, In the three years I have been at my daughter’s “great school” I have seen a great amount of unprofesionalism.

    During my daughter’s Kindegarten year, I was a running a family business that was in a long, complicated, sale of the business. I had never had more than a five word conversation with a stay at home mom at that time and felt a culture shock so profound when I spoke with them. They had an almost reverent attitiude towards the Kindegarten teacher which stunned me. I made the transistion to stay at home mom halfway through Kindegarten and (though I didn’t know it at the time), fell into a deep depression.

    I was clueless about the school culture. However, I don’t think I was “disrespectful” to the teacher. Yet, being in a field dominated by men, I was kinda irreverent toward her. She sent me e-mails nitpicking my daughter’s wardrobe, told me I could not volunteer in her classroom, sent me e-mail telling me my daughter was “failing” P.E.,. Finally, at our last conference, she started with the words “your daughter is a “late bloomer” and needs a tutor. Then, she handed me a letter (without a word) which told me my five year old daugthter was :”failing to meet all standards for the district.”

    I was angry, upset, and felt like I had been sucker punched in the gut. I reacted emotionally and told her maybe the school and I weren’t a good fit. She wholeheartedly agreed and suggested I leave the school!

    I guess my point is, if they feel you are a “difficult” mother. Their professionalism can go out the window in an instant.

    October 7th, 2009 at 1:31 pm
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  270. PsychMom says:

    Wow, I’m surprised you still have the patience to still be at that school. Any other options in the surrounding area?

    October 7th, 2009 at 1:44 pm
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  271. FedUpMom says:

    Disillusioned — I agree with PsychMom. You’re putting up with this crummy school why exactly?

    And I really don’t want to make this an issue about stay-at-home moms vs. work-outside-the-home moms. We’re all mothers, let’s band together. Anyway, I know very few mothers who are 100% stay-at-home or 100% career women. Most of the mothers I know have been sometimes employed full time, sometimes part time, sometimes not employed for pay. It’s much more of a spectrum than a binary thing. I’m employed part time for pay, but I also have a vocation which has not generated money so far, although it might in the future. I don’t consider myself “stay-at_home” although some might describe me that way.

    My big complaint about mothers with regard to the schools is that they are just too passive, and put up with way too much garbage. They complain about the school to each other at the bus stop but never follow through with the teachers or principal. That’s true for mothers who work outside the home as much as stay at home mothers.

    October 7th, 2009 at 2:31 pm
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  272. Disillusioned says:

    As a mother, I’m very ambivalent about pulling my daugher out of the school (she actually likes the school!). I have been told by the other mothers that all of the three elementary schools in our tiny “high performing” school district are the same. As stated earlier, the principal is very much an “advocate” for her teachers (to make matters worse this Kindegarten teacher lives in our community and I run into her outside of school…very akward).

    I agree that the mothers are too passive and put up with way too much garbage. However, I see the mothers that oppose the school branded as “troublemakers.” Very oppressive. In a sense, school has become “reverse world” where the mothers kow tow to the teachers and administration. Also, they are very good at “dividing and conquering” in regards to fathers (if mom doesn’t agree with us, let’s set up a meeting with both parents).

    Personally, it has caused me to “emotionally check-out” of my daughter’s school and have as little contact with the teachers as I can.

    October 7th, 2009 at 3:17 pm
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  273. zzzzz78759 says:

    I can understand Disillusioned’s feelings. It’s very difficult to buck the system and yes, being branded a “troublemaker mom” is painful. Personally, I had to move from our 3 bedroom house with a big yard to a tiny 2 bedroom duplex with no yarto keep my daughter in her school for exactly that reason. I bucked the system and the principal didn’t like that..

    I went into every meeting, ARD, conference with the same attitude. I want my daughter to have the best education possible but I also want her to be a kid. I’m a very busy, single mother with a more than full time job. The school is in a very affluent community with lots of room mothers who drive BMWs and have birthday parties in their backyard pools.

    The principal finally told me that, unless we move into the neighborhood my daughter couldn’t transfer into that school anymore. She knew I couldn’t afford to live here. She even went so far as to say that if we did change our address, she would come over to “make sure [we] were sleeping there.”

    So we moved. When I went to the school to change our address, I told the principal I was looking forward to her coming by because I could use help unpacking.

    My thought is that if I can’t stand up for my daughter and take the heat that comes down from it, then how can I teach her to stand up for herself?

    I do fold on some things. Sometimes I’m just too exhausted from fighting or working or taking care of the household to fight. I admit it, I’m human. And sometimes I get pretty lonely standing out there in the open all by myself.

    But I think I’m doing some good, at least I hope I am. And when my daughter says, “I love being a kid!” it gives me renewed energy to battle the system.

    October 7th, 2009 at 5:50 pm
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  274. Disillusioned says:

    zzzzz78759- I admire your tenacity and boldness. However, as other posters have pointed out, why should we have to have so much conflict? If it were the parent’s choice re: homework (if we must have it simply make it extra credit) all of this conflict would simply go away.

    I think it’s very telling that the teachers who complain about parents wanting more homework don’t even consider it should be the parent’s choice. Parent empowerment in “great” public schools is pretty much non-existent.

    October 7th, 2009 at 10:11 pm
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  275. Fed Up Dad and Teacher says:

    OK Here it is:

    1. Homework is so entrenched in the system, even in the early grades, you will not be able to make the slightest dent of a change in policy or thought. It’s all about eeking out a few more points on the next standardized test, not about learning.

    2. So, what to do?

    Option 1 – Leave and find a school that is appropriate for your child and educational philosophy. Chances are 80% of what they do in class is also the worst kind of learning.

    Option 2 – Start your own school (charter school, private, homeschool).

    Option 3 – Just don’t do any of the homework. Who cares about grades anyway? If they give you any problems or if they punish and harass your child, document everything and call a laywer. Make sure to opt out of all standardized testing ( it’s you right) or tell your child to mark all a’s on the scoring sheet.

    OK This is why:

    1. The joy of learning is beaten out of our childeren at an earlier, and earlier age every year.

    2. The school could care less about your child, they are not students, they are test scores. Do you want a standard(ized) child or an exceptional child who whose growth and love of learning discovering, exploring, inventing, and nuturing has no bounds?

    Start Here: ALFIE KOHN. ORG

    October 8th, 2009 at 1:35 am
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  276. Disillusioned says:

    Wow- Fed Up Dad and Teacher pretty much summed it up! What a sad state of affairs at our public schools.

    I like option three. However, I consider myself a “bridge builder” and don’t think I should have to take such a militant stance against a school that is supported with my (very high) tax dollars.

    October 8th, 2009 at 2:33 pm
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  277. Disillusioned says:

    I have been reading some of the other blogs with lurid fascination. I find the comments posted by the teachers most fascinating.

    Again, I am not teacher bashing, simply reporting what I have observed at my daughter’s “great” public school (with very, very high test scores). My daughter’s second grade teacher was feared by students and mothers alike. She assigned about thirty percent more homework then the other two second grade teachers (not to mention endless “parent projects”). I was brave enough to volunteer in her classroom once week (I considered it character building). She constantly belittled the kids, made degrading comments about other parents and teachers and yelled at me for not “being fast enough” grading homework.

    Her e-mails to the parents were riddled with spelling errors (and she had spell check!), and poor syntax. I honestly don’t think she could pass a high school equivalency exam. Most of the mothers who volunteered agreed, “the kids just kinda taught themselves.” During my time in the classroom I saw her hand out endless worksheets and “verbally abuse” the kids who didn’t complete them fast enough. Whenever the prinicipal would come into the classroom she would “turn on a dime” into a kind, caring, nurturing soul. When she left, back to her mean spirited self. The mothers seethed but didn’t complain for fear she would “take it out” on their kids.

    Fast forward to mid summer when I received my daughters test scores…..they were all in the advanced categories for language arts and mathematics.

    I guess my point is…. the curriculum is so structured toward achieving high test scores that I’m not sure you even need a “great” teacher to achieve “great” test scores. Honestly, I would prefer a “kinder, gentler” elementary school because the endless worksheets the kids do six hours a day at school (regardless of the competancy of the teacher) are designed to achieve high test scores!

    October 9th, 2009 at 1:41 pm
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  278. PsychMom says:

    I would really begin to wonder what education my child is getting in this supposed “great school”. Sounds like a sweat shop to me..

    October 9th, 2009 at 1:58 pm
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  279. FedUpMom says:

    Disillusioned — I’d bet you real money that your daughter’s test scores are in spite of the worksheets, not because of them.

    The high test scores that our wealthy districts crow about have very little to do with what actually happens during the school day. Districts achieve high scores by attracting professional parents with bright kids.

    October 9th, 2009 at 2:54 pm
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  280. Disillusioned says:

    Agreed. This “teacher” also complained about the parents who “didn’t care” about their kids education.

    I guess what galls me is the hypocrisy evident at our school. I really think the school benefits from good demographics. An army of volunteer moms do copying, grade homework, teach art classes and are treated with enourmous dissrespect by the staff. Now starting third grade, my daughter’s teacher has also started to send home e-mails riddled with poor grammar and syntax (this is a National Blue Ribbon school!).

    If I were a teacher, I would be very aware (in this well educated suburb), of sending out poorly written e-mails to the whole parent population. (Do as I say not as I do students and parents).

    For a teacher, our well behaved, respectful student body (along with enormous mother support), should be a dream job. However, when I volunteer in the classroom (as an unpaid employee!), I always get an earful about the poor, beleaguered, teacher martyrs!

    October 9th, 2009 at 3:03 pm
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  281. DeidraHewitt says:

    I was surprised to see, in Fed Up Dad’s post, that I might actually have a right to opt my children out of standardized testing. Is this true? If so, wouldn’t that be a great way for parents to tilt the tables? If several families opted out of testing, perhaps the powers that be would be more willing to listen to us.

    October 9th, 2009 at 4:38 pm
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  282. FedUpMom says:

    Yes, Fed Up Dad, can you send some links about our right to refuse standardized tests? I’m interested in this too.

    October 10th, 2009 at 10:00 am
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  283. -Frustrated in California says:

    I teach first grade in a public school and do use reading logs in my homework packets. At back to school night I explain to the parents that this is not supposed to be a painful chore, but a special reading time with a family member. It is not my expectation that first grade students read independently as a chore for 20 minutes, but that they learn to love reading. They may choose to read to their parents, with an older sibling, or have their grandmother read to them, etc. They can read in any language. When children are given the opportunity to share something as wonderful as a book with someone they love, it can lead to life-long, joyful reading… THAT is my goal. I suspect that many other teachers feel the same.

    Furthermore, I take my responsibility as a teacher very seriously. I do my best for every child in my class. I DO get paid for teaching; but have many constraints of time and money. I have only so much time with my students in the classroom. Since I have 22 students, you can imagine how many minutes of one-on-one time each student gets with me each day: not many. I get paid to be here from 7:55 to 3:30 every day, but am here from at least 7:00 to 4:00 every day. I also do one late day per week when I sat until 7 or 8pm. I take work home to correct. I plan lessons on the weekends, and have $200 dollars of my meager salary budgeted for classroom needs and parties every month. My first year of teaching I needed so many things, that I spent over $2,000 of my own money. The amount that I get paid for what I do is ridiculous, but I do it because it is my calling in life to help children in need and I love it. I chose this job and accept what comes with it… but am becoming increasingly bitter about the lack of appreciation.

    The fact of the matter is that most people in America feel entitled to everything without wanting to take any responsibility for it. People buy things they can’t afford because they feel they deserve it. Some people go on welfare even though they could get a job because the government owes them. People want their children educated but are ignorant and selfish enough to think that that only happens at school. It is YOUR child! Why are you laying the blame at the feet of the teacher? In kinder, most students come in without the ability to count to 10 or write their name. I understand that some parents are illiterate… but who can’t count to ten?

    Almost any well educated person got that way for 3 reasons: they worked hard, their parents supported them, and they had a teacher that taught them. Notice that 2 of these components are not the teacher. I am sick of hearing (after completely draining myself of energy at work,) “I send my child to school, but they just don’t teach them there!”

    -From: Frustrated in California

    October 12th, 2009 at 6:24 pm
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  284. FedUpMom says:

    Frustrated in California — the problem is that there’s a big gap between your intentions and actual family life at home. Your intention is for your students to love reading. No argument there.

    But as soon as an assignment comes home that must be done, it puts stress on the family. First-grade children are nowhere near old enough to reliably remember and carry out their homework, so it becomes another job for Mom. At the end of a long, difficult day for both mother and child, remembering to fill out the reading log is just one more hassle.

    If you want to encourage reading, couldn’t you just … encourage reading? Skip the paperwork, skip the assignments, and just send the parents a letter about the importance of reading, and maybe say that about 20 minutes a night is a reasonable goal for 1st grade. Offer to provide a reading log for any parents who want one.

    October 12th, 2009 at 11:03 pm
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  285. zzzzz78759 says:

    Frustrated wrote:
    The fact of the matter is that most people in America feel entitled to everything without wanting to take any responsibility for it. People buy things they can’t afford because they feel they deserve it. Some people go on welfare even though they could get a job because the government owes them. People want their children educated but are ignorant and selfish enough to think that that only happens at school. It is YOUR child! Why are you laying the blame at the feet of the teacher? In kinder, most students come in without the ability to count to 10 or write their name. I understand that some parents are illiterate… but who can’t count to ten?
    =========

    I disagree that *most* people have a sense of entitlement nor do I agree that *most* Kindergarten students can’t count to 10. I do agree that many, most likely, cannot write their names but, as a teacher, you must know that writing is developmental and 5 year olds don’t have the small motor skills nor eye-hand coordination to write.

    5 year old “Lefties” haven’t even gotten a dominant hand at that age.

    Schools are there to educate. There’s a difference between educating and teacher. I do teach my child. I teach her morals. I teach her to love. I teach her to ride a bike. I teach her to respect others. I teach her all sorts of things but it is your job to educate her, not mine.

    I work from 7:00 to at least 4:00, then work some more after my daughter goes to sleep. I do that all year. I make her meals, I give her baths, I take her to Brownies and gymnastics and play dates and assorted other activities. I clean the house, I do the laundry, I pay the rent, the utilities, car payments, vacations and I have never collected welfare. And now I’m expected to do the teacher’s job.

    I am educated, not ignorant, but I am selfish. I want to spend some time with my child while she’s still a child. I want to play with her and ride bike with her and learn magic with her. If that’s selfish, so be it.

    I’ve got news for you, every job requires an outlay of personal funds, whether it’s a uniform, a computer, camera, internet access, car, insurance, whatever.

    I see such disrespect for parents from yet another teacher with the “poor me’s”. I’ve been called ignorant, stupid, lazy, and a host of other names by teachers who don’t even know me, simply because I prefer to be a parent that a teacher.

    Is it any wonder parents balk at teachers trying to schedule their family time?

    October 12th, 2009 at 11:17 pm
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  286. PsychMom says:

    I was struck by how the Frustrated in California teacher started out the post in pleasant terms but it was almost as if, as he/she wrote, he/she got madder and madder, just thinking about parents and the teaching job.

    I agree that our society seems to be full of people who feel entitled to many things right now. Many folks don’t want to take responsibility as parents….but that does not describe any of the parents who are expressing their opinions here. DIsillullsioned voiced much of what her role is as a parent. Mine too…I’m a single parent, working full time, and fortunately I don’t take work home with me at night but in 25 years of being a paid employee, I’ve done my fair share of non-paid hours.

    The fact remains, I’m not a teacher. The teacher does not want me teaching my daughter arithmetic the way I learned it…she wants me to encourage a new way of thinking about numbers and math concepts. Why do I have to pay any attention to that!! I’m not a teacher. When my daughter asks me for help with homework, why do I have to figure it out first? That’s why I have decided that, from now on, if it comes home to me…I’m doing it. My way. My child obviously can’t do it, or she wouldn’t be asking me for help. Since they aren’t graded on it…everything should be fine.

    Right?

    October 13th, 2009 at 9:13 am
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  287. FedUpMom says:

    Here’s an excellent discussion about reading logs, written by teachers:

    http://www.proteacher.net/discussions/showthread.php?t=45766

    or google “Do you do reading logs?” ProTeacher Community.

    It’s a bunch of teachers describing what a failure reading logs are. The kids who were already reading continued to read, and the kids who weren’t reading continued to not read. It was a lot of paperwork for no effect.

    October 13th, 2009 at 12:01 pm
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  288. PsychMom says:

    Most of the comments are pro reading logs though. It seems that it is far from being a “dead” topic.

    I guess you have to be a teacher to understand how reading logs boost reading. I do not get it. Some of them turn it into a contest to see who reads the most in a year…

    October 13th, 2009 at 12:48 pm
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  289. zzzzz78759 says:

    I don’t really understand the point of reading logs. Are they supposed to instill a love of reading? Are they supposed to make reading a “habit”? Is it just a control thing?

    What ever happened to reading for the joy of it? Why do schools think we need to read on a schedule?

    October 13th, 2009 at 3:28 pm
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  290. Disillusioned says:

    Frustrated in California, you probably have a right to be frustrated. Even though I am disillusioned by the public school system, I believe the problem is systemic and teachers “get thrown under the bus” along with students and parents.

    In my daughter’s “great” public school, there are no teacher’s aids assigned to classrooms. I’ve often wondered why since the curriculum is very challenging.

    One common theme that seems to thread through the teacher’s comments is “how busy” they are. I don’t doubt this. However, as a business owner, if I laid out in detail every single thing I do in an hour, it would probably make me seem overwhelmed as well (wait…I also have to help my daughter with her homework and nag her to fill out a reading log!).

    I fear many teachers’ lounges are filled with talk of “ignorant and selfish” parents who lay the “blame” for their spoiled, entitled kids lack of education at the feet of the educators!

    October 13th, 2009 at 9:28 pm
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  291. Anonymous says:

    x

    October 13th, 2009 at 10:03 pm
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  292. Fed Up Dad and Teacher says:

    I do not know the Ed Codes for all the states but in California you can opt out of the testing. If 5% of the students do not take the test then the scores for the whole school are nullified and all hell will break loose.

    http://www.calcare.org

    October 13th, 2009 at 10:07 pm
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  293. Fed Up Dad and Teacher says:

    Personally, I like the idea of making pretty pictures and playing dot to dot on the score sheets, especially if the tests are linked to teacher pay. Then, maybe the teachers will organize against the tests.

    Again, who really cares about the scores?

    October 13th, 2009 at 10:11 pm
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  294. Fed Up Dad and Teacher says:

    Oh, Polititians and elected school board members are the ones who care. Why do they care about standardized testing? Because they want to be elected or reelected and they resort to playing on people’s fears about our childrens education like Bush played on our fear of WMD’s and Sadsam’s link to Al-Queda

    October 13th, 2009 at 10:21 pm
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  295. Fed Up Dad and Teacher says:

    Sorry about the typos

    As a teacher and a parent, I know these tests and much of what happens in the classroom and homework focuses on what matters the least in education. You have to learn this fact, on this day, because we tell you you have to learn it, and your value is based on that score. Such BS! That is not education. That is being a sheep!

    October 13th, 2009 at 10:30 pm
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  296. Fed Up Dad and Teacher says:

    CO:www.thecbe.org
    MA:www.parentscare.org
    MD:www.geocities.com/stophsa
    NC:www.geocities,com/nccds/index.html
    OH:www.stophighstakestests.org
    NY:www.timeoutfromtesting.org

    October 13th, 2009 at 10:42 pm
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  297. Fed Up Dad and Teacher says:

    http://www.fairtest.org

    http://www.susanohanian.org

    http://www.pencilsdown.org

    http://www.nomoretests.com (student site)

    October 13th, 2009 at 10:43 pm
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  298. Fed Up Dad and Teacher says:

    http://www.alfiekohn.org/stdtest.htm#null

    October 13th, 2009 at 10:43 pm
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  299. -Frustrated in California says:

    I guess my frustration really did build as I kept writing. I just frequently feel very judged by parents, “competing” teachers, administrators, test results… Sorry about that! Hearing all of the complaints about teachers lit me on fire!

    I do teach. I work hard, and I work effectively. This being said, if the only educating that these children got was in my classroom, it wouldn’t be enough. I am so happy for children whose parents are involved in their education because I sincerely love my students and I want what is best for them. Everything I do is with that intention. (However, I am not perfect, and I have off days like anyone else.)

    “…nor do I agree that *most* Kindergarten students can’t count to 10. I do agree that many, most likely, cannot write their names but, as a teacher, you must know that writing is developmental and 5 year olds don’t have the small motor skills nor eye-hand coordination to write.”

    I have had the opportunity to work in four different schools. In the school with well-educated, well-off parents most of the students came into kindergarten with the ability to write their names, count to 10 and much more. The other three schools have had a 95% or higher rate of poverty; at those schools most students could not count to 10 or write their name. I understand that students are not developmentally ready to read and write at 5, but they are required by the state to leave kindergarten able to write a good, complete sentence. For students who can’t recite the alphabet or recognize their name, this can be a challenge. In schools where students have had really good oral language development before kindergarten and exposure to literature, students are generally very successful with the state’s requirements. If I were in charge of the universe (God forbid!) I would make the state standards aligned with developmental capability… but alas, no. :-)

    Back to homework:
    A major study that I read in a training in which I participated 2 years ago discussed homework. (Blast! I wish I could remember who did it!) It showed that well assigned homework given on a regular basis improved retention of knowledge by 40%. Well assigned homework was basically defined as work that can be done independently as review of things already learned. I assign homework not only because it is required of me, but I feel that I would be doing a disservice to my students and all the effort that they put forth to learn something if I do not give them some structure to help them retain their knowledge. At the end of their packet I add a reading log. The reading log at a first grade level cannot be done independently. I obviously can’t force families to read to/with their children. I think that the reading log reminds some parents about the importance of reading with their children, and it reminds some students to ask someone to read to/with them instead of immediately running to the television.

    Some of my students do not have anyone at home who can help them. I understand. Some students have a parent sitting with them for every math fact. I think it’s great. I DO check who does homework and discuss what responsibility is. Those who don’t do their review at home, do it during recess. Review is important. I only care whether the reading log is completed in that I know that reading at home is important. It serves as a tool. Do I think that some parents sign it without doing it? YES! … but at least they thought about it.

    I do my best to make a great education available to my students. It is up to the students to listen and participate to gain what knowledge they can. It is up to the parents to participate to whatever degree they can.

    I truly get that parents want to spend what little quality time that they have with their children doing what THEY feel quality time is. I think that that is very important.

    In my experience, teachers recommend to parents that they do things with their children that they know to be helpful to children. No one knows a child better than their parent. People should take teacher’s recommendations for what they are and do what they know to be best for their children.

    Despite different learning styles and preferences, the more children there are in the class, the less flexibility a teacher has in terms of rules, restrictions, consequences… It would be too time consuming to make individualized assignments or behavioral systems. If your child’s teacher has put into place a system in which students who fill out their reading logs get a prize, okay. The teacher for some reason feels that that will help most children in the class. Don’t worry about it. If your child wants the prize, then they will do the reading log. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

    Just what I think…

    October 14th, 2009 at 7:12 pm
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  300. FedUpMom says:

    Frustrated in California says:

    *************************************
    A major study that I read in a training in which I participated 2 years ago discussed homework. (Blast! I wish I could remember who did it!) It showed that well assigned homework given on a regular basis improved retention of knowledge by 40%. Well assigned homework was basically defined as work that can be done independently as review of things already learned.
    *************************************

    Have you read The Case Against Homework (Bennett and Kalish) and The Homework Myth (Kohn)? Their research shows no advantage to homework in elementary school. And you’re teaching 1st grade! There’s no such thing as “work that can be done independently” for such young children.

    The only way a 1st-grader’s homework can get done is for Mom to turn into Homework Cop.

    **************************
    Those who don’t do their review at home, do it during recess.
    **************************

    Do you understand how punitive it is for a young child, to lose their one opportunity during the school day to run around and socialize? Recess should never be taken away. And you should realize that you are punishing the child for the actions or inaction of the parents. The children who got their homework done have parents who made sure that it got done, or did the child’s homework for them (much more common than you might think). The children who didn’t get their homework done have less attentive parents. Then they get punished at school too.

    ***********************
    Do I think that some parents sign it without doing it? YES! … but at least they thought about it.
    ***********************

    What the heck? What purpose could possibly be served by parents signing off on the reading log without reading to their child? “At least they thought about it?” What exactly did they think? “Here’s one more piece of paper the school wants me to sign … okay, done.”

    October 15th, 2009 at 11:11 am
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  301. bohoteacher says:

    Wow. After reading through these I had to comment or feel horrible all day. I think that everyone’s emotions seem to be running really high on this topic. I am a teacher and have taught 4th, 5th or 6th grade for the past 17 years. I love my profession and I truly love working with children. That being said NCLB has made things harder for the teachers who care about more than test scores.

    I do give reading logs. I have many students who would absolutely not read if they had no accountability. But if I had a parent who came to me and told me that they wanted a different plan for their child with the good reasons which you all list (child reads lots, trust, etc) I would happily, joyfully exempt that child. It doesn’t have to be one size fits all.

    I’d like to ask all of you a sincere question and *please* don’t flame me I just want constructive opinions. I teach 4th grade. This is the homework that I give weekly–packet goes home Friday & is due next Friday: ONE essay prep activity (brainstorm topic, make an outline, etc), ONE reading comprehension activity, reading log for 100 min. weekly (done at any time), nightly math (about 10 problems). Now most of my students if not doing homework are not involved in enriching activities–they mostly play video games or watch (really violent) movies. If any parent were to come to me with the same concerns as listed here I would be a) thrilled to death b) happy to modify.

    So, what do you think?

    October 15th, 2009 at 1:43 pm
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  302. PsychMom says:

    Welcome bohoteacher!

    This discussion has been going on since January and yes at times it gets heated….but that happens when people are passionate. I think it’s marvellous we live in a culture that can handle this kind of debate and that we have the medium by which to carry it on.
    I hope both teachers and parents respond.
    The homework you described was written in teacher terms and you know what it is you are trying to “teach” by giving that homework. But I’m not a teacher, I don’t know what “essay prep activity” is. Could you give a bit more detail about what it is you are assigning and what the purpose of it is? What are the children supposed to get out of it? Do you expect parents to do anything?

    October 15th, 2009 at 2:34 pm
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  303. -Frustrated in California says:

    I read that book by Kohn and also his book, “Punished by Rewards,” on the use of incentives in the classroom in my techer book club. We generally found his books to be thought very thought provoking. We had some great discussions, but ultimately found them lacking in practical alternative measures.

    I have been teaching first grade for 5 years and also taught kinder and second. First grade students ARE able to do many things independently. This has been evidenced by my own observations in my classroom, in addition to the fact that most of the parents of my students don’t speak English and can’t help them at home with most things. At the beginning of the year I usually have 2 or 3 students who don’t turn in their homework at first. After missing a couple of recesses, they make better choices and I pretty much get 100% homework for the rest of the year. I don’t like taking their recesses away from them or missing my breaks, but other measures have not been successful. My ultimate goal is that they learn; as their teacher I make the choice that I feel is for the greater good.

    There is no purpose to signing off on homework undone. The only possible little benefit would be that at least the idea of reading to/with their child crossed their minds for a milisecond. Doesn’t do much, but not much harm done either.

    October 15th, 2009 at 2:55 pm
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  304. PsychMom says:

    Frustrated in California said:

    “After missing a couple of recesses, they make better choices and I pretty much get 100% homework for the rest of the year. I don’t like taking their recesses away from them or missing my breaks, but other measures have not been successful”

    You really didn’t get anything out of Kohn’s books.

    “This all hurts me more than it hurts you”….

    I get a chill.

    October 15th, 2009 at 3:16 pm
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  305. bohoteacher says:

    Example of Essay activity: In class we work on 3 things you like about our school and write 3 detailed sentences about each one. At home you are expected to write 3 things you like about our state and write 3 detailed sentences about each one.

    I have also read Alphie Kohn’s books and even corresponded with him by e-mail on some questions. Not giving homework is not an option for me at our school/district, but I try to make it relevant as possible.

    October 15th, 2009 at 6:36 pm
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  306. FedUpMom says:

    From “Bad Teachers”, by Guy Strickland:

    “… approved teaching methodology does not equal student learning, and there are many reasons. The biggest reason is that approved teaching methodology is not even aimed at student learning; its goal is classroom management, which is a whole lot different from learning.”

    “…Listen to the teacher talk. If she talks about what she is doing rather than what the teacher is doing, gently bring the focus back to the children. Ask how the teacher knows how the methods are working; ask for evidence that the children are learning.”

    October 15th, 2009 at 11:32 pm
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  307. FedUpMom says:

    Frustrated in California writes:

    *************
    At the beginning of the year I usually have 2 or 3 students who don’t turn in their homework at first. After missing a couple of recesses, they make better choices and I pretty much get 100% homework for the rest of the year.
    ***************

    I agree with PsychMom. That’s pretty cold. I don’t sense a lot of sympathy for the kids here.

    Frustrated, I posted the above excerpt about method-obsessed teachers because your comments reminded me of it. In your comments, I read a lot about you and how hard you work and how you achieve 100% homework compliance. But I don’t see much about the kids. Do you see the light of curiosity in their eyes? Who are they? What do they care about? You know what you’re teaching, but what are the kids learning?

    October 15th, 2009 at 11:47 pm
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  308. FedUpMom says:

    Whoops, I put a typo in the Guy Strickland quote. It should have said,

    “If she talks about what she is doing rather than what the CHILDREN are doing …”

    October 15th, 2009 at 11:49 pm
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  309. PsychMom says:

    To bohoteacher….Ok that’s a start but you didn’t tell me anything about what you think the kids get out of this exercise. What are they supposed to learn?
    And you just told me about the essay prep (I think)…you mentioned two or three other things that are expected each week but didn’t elaborate on that….

    How can we comment (you asked for comments) if we don’t know what you’re doing and why you think it’s important?

    I was at a curriculum meeting for my daughter’s class last night and the teachers just breezed through the list of math goals, mostly written in teacher-ese. It was only when I asked specific questions about what things meant, that I understood what exactly she was teaching.

    October 16th, 2009 at 7:59 am
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  310. PeggyinMA says:

    The distinction (referred to above) between “classroom management” and “student learning” is a crucial one in this discussion.

    Thinking about this further: How much of the homework students (especially younger than high school-aged) receive is intended to address perceived social issues rather than academic ones? Teachers here frequently reiterate the belief that too many parents are uninvolved, that children are unmotivated to read outside of school, therefore work must be assigned to all students to be done outside of school.

    As a parent, I cannot stress enough to teachers that, first of all, such well intentioned homework may not be the answer to those concerns and, secondly, it certainly is not benign to students who are already curious, love to read and are self motivated to learn. The drudgery of homework for the sake of homework is demoralizing and de-motivating. It doesn’t build character, it builds resentment and hostility to school. Parents who send happy, curious children off to school cannot be expected to stand by and watch helplessly as the love of learning is drilled out of them.

    We’re just asking our leaders, our adminstrators and our teachers, with all due respect, to please reconsider this ingrained approach.

    October 16th, 2009 at 9:07 am
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  311. Disillusioned says:

    PeggyinMA- Bravo, well stated.

    October 16th, 2009 at 1:30 pm
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  312. Matthew says:

    bohoteacher said: “Example of Essay activity: In class we work on 3 things you like about our school and write 3 detailed sentences about each one. At home you are expected to write 3 things you like about our state and write 3 detailed sentences about each one.”

    I find (now for my kids and the same when I was in school…things don’t ever seem to change) this kind of assignment really frustrating. The concept is OK, but why force the kids to say the like something if they don’t? Leave it a little more open ended and see what you get. You may even get some valuable feedback.

    Reminds me of the awful school song that our elementary school music teacher tried to force the kids to sing a few years ago (“Worthington is great, Worthington is grand, Worthington is…the best school in the land” and so on…). The fifth graders (including one of my sons) would have nothing to do with it and put a great deal of creative energy into coming up with a scathing rendition of their own. The school learned their lesson and the official version has never been heard again.

    Treat kids with the same dignity you’d give adults and let them hold and express their own opinions and you’d be amazed at what kids can do–and learn.

    October 16th, 2009 at 1:46 pm
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  313. -Frustrated in California says:

    “I read a lot about you and how hard you work and how you achieve 100% homework compliance. But I don’t see much about the kids. Do you see the light of curiosity in their eyes? Who are they? What do they care about? You know what you’re teaching, but what are the kids learning?”

    I wish you could come to my classroom to see for yourself… My students are excited to come every morning. They are joyful participants in what we do. They know that when they step into the classroom, they are in a safe, fun place to learn. If I didn’t see the light of joy and excitement at learning new things in their eyes, my efforts wouldn’t be worth it.

    Other teachers ask to observe my class to learn how to build community in their classrooms. I am a certified TRIBES trainer who provides training to other teachers, adiministrators and psychologists who look to create nurturing learning communities in classrooms o school-wide.

    October 16th, 2009 at 4:57 pm
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  314. zzzzz78759 says:

    Just an observation…when I googled “TRIBES Trainer” to find out what PARENTS think of it (not good), I came up with a bunch of hits for “Lemmings”.

    Is it just me or does that say it all? :-)

    October 16th, 2009 at 9:08 pm
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  315. Anonymous says:

    zzzzz78759,

    I was surprised that you had found such negative parent responses to TRIBES. I googled “TRIBES Trainer” to see what you might be seeing. I only found one parent review posted within the first couple of screens; it was very positive. I also found articles: “TRIBES Trainer wins Awards,” “Building Communities of Learners,” “Making a difference in the lives of children and their families,” etc.

    It appears that there is an online game about Lemmings. If someone wants to, they can download some training for their online lemmings tribe… I don’t think that the existence of this game should affect your opinion of some of the things that happen in classrooms.

    October 17th, 2009 at 10:27 am
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  316. FedUpMom says:

    Yes, zzzzz7859, could you post links to parent comments? I couldn’t find much either.

    I get the impression that “TRIBES” is mostly used with low SES kids, whose parents don’t have so much of an internet presence. The parents of Frustrated’s kids mostly don’t speak English, so I wouldn’t expect to see a lot of their comments on the web (and I couldn’t read them anyway!)

    There’s an enormous gulf between teachers and administrators on the one hand, and parents and students on the other. Programs that appear to be fabulous to teachers and administrators are routinely panned by parents and students. Spend 5 minutes at kitchen table math for more on this.

    http://kitchentablemath.blogspot.com/

    For Frustrated, if your parents don’t speak English, how do you communicate with them? Do you provide a translator for parent-teacher conferences? What’s their language?

    October 17th, 2009 at 11:07 am
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  317. zzzzz78759 says:

    Dang, I can’t find it again. There was a couple of comments from parents who felt that the “Tribes” program was forcing children to fit into the “culture”, ignoring the family culture.

    If I find the link again, I’ll post it. But once I got around the Native American (and other tribes) and the Lemmings (which I still think is funny and yes, I know it’s a game) and the propaganda posted by CenterSource Systems, it was difficult to find. And yes, I agree, the parents of children targeted by Tribes, have limited access to the Internet.

    October 18th, 2009 at 3:38 pm
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  318. FedUpMom says:

    PeggyinMA — I wanted to respond to your comment about the difference between classroom management and learning. I posted the Guy Strickland quote because it made a lot of things clear to me.

    Once you realize that most of the things that go on in school are about classroom management, not learning, you can better understand the garbage that gets sent home as homework. It’s an extension of the principles of classroom management into the home. Sure, making that umpteenth poster might not teach your child anything worth learning, but it’ll kill a half hour (or more!) and demonstrate your child’s compliance with school rules.

    This is why the homework issue is the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more going wrong.

    October 20th, 2009 at 2:29 pm
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  319. PsychMom says:

    PeggyinMA also said:

    “Parents who send happy, curious children off to school cannot be expected to stand by and watch helplessly as the love of learning is drilled out of them.”

    This statement defines clearly why I’m commenting on this site frequently. I’m watching, I’m paying attention…and not wanting to ever hear from my child:……”ohhhhhh do I have to school today?, it’s so boring”.

    The day I hear that, my heart will break. Because where do you go from there, when you’re in Grade 3?

    October 20th, 2009 at 2:38 pm
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  320. CLT says:

    I haven’t been able to go through and read all of the comments here, so sorry if somebody has already brought this up. But several of the teachers commenting have lamented that parents are not involved enough, and so they have to had reading logs, etc, to force that. It seems to me that that is going about the problem the wrong way. What better message could you send a child than to say “hey, I know your parents may not be too into this parenting gig, but they don’t control your destiny. You do, and I’m not going to assign anything that I don’t think you could do on your own.” It’s another reason to try to avoid sending anything home at all, knowing that the home situation may not be conducive to learning. And at the other end of the spectrum, having homework that requires parental involvement is license to the helicopter parents you complain about to be over-involved and coddle their kids. Expecting independent achievement is a win-win.

    October 20th, 2009 at 3:43 pm
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  321. PsychMom says:

    To CLT:

    OK, who let the really smart person in? You are absolutely right. That sense of inner accomplishment is what I’m trying to give my daughter by NOT running her schedule for her. If I remind/hound her every day to do what’s assigned, how does she ever feel in charge. But by the same token, if she’s too young to be able to keep it all straight, and she is given things she can’t do on her own, the teachers are setting her up (and me) to fail.

    What I think happens is that the teachers who insist a) that they have “no choice” and b) insist on assigning reading logs and other mechanisms of parental control, simply want control. They have too many kids to deal with, are squished between parents and administrators and feel no inner sense of self destiny, and feel they must exert control somehow….

    Otherwise why insist on something that simply doesn’t work for all kids and families? Why the rigidity?

    October 21st, 2009 at 8:00 am
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  322. Disillusioned says:

    PsychMom- I agree. In my utopian public elementary school, the student-teacher ratio would be about 5-1,
    there would be no homework and no pedantic focus on busy work.

    October 21st, 2009 at 12:47 pm
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  323. Disillusioned says:

    One more thought…….it seems to me (at least at my daughter’s school where all of the teachers are women) that many have a sort of passive-aggressive personality type. So many of the mothers are reverent towards them and rather naive to the manipulative tactics the school employs.

    October 21st, 2009 at 1:36 pm
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  324. CLT says:

    Been reading through more comments, and have some more. I was really disturbed by Frustrated in California’s original statement that most kindergarteners don’t start school able to count to ten (nonsense) and write their names (so what?). I was even more disturbed by her follow-up post where she says “I understand that students are not developmentally ready to read and write at 5, but they are required by the state to leave kindergarten able to write a good, complete sentence. For students who can’t recite the alphabet or recognize their name, this can be a challenge.” (#299). Now, this deplorable state of affairs isn’t Frustrated’s fault, but where is her outrage about it? The state shouldn’t:

    A) have requirements that are developmentally inappropriate, or
    B) have kindergarten requirements that are not attainable by true academic beginners in one year.

    It frustrates me that this sort of mismatch is going to fuel the push for starting kids in school earlier, when it would probably actually benefit them to start later.

    October 21st, 2009 at 3:21 pm
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  325. CLT says:

    I taught math and reading in a Title One school. It was a pull-out program, so I had the luxury of having my students one-on-one. What I noticed- and it was even more striking with the fifth and sixth graders than with the younger kids, was that they actually were fairly good readers. They could sound words out, many of them had decent fluency, etc. What they lacked was the life experience to make the stories have any meaning to them. I’m not talking about complex adult themes. They couldn’t relate to stories about kids who went out and had adventures or used their imaginations or cooked or interacted with families or ran into bullies on the playground. As had been pointed out on this site, homework often takes away from opportunities for the child to develop in other areas, and so had the potential to keep these kids back from reading comprehension.

    On a tangentially related note, as a fairly introverted person, I would have benefited as a child from having someone try a little harder to draw me out of my book-induced inner world. Reading is a great learning tool, but it’s not the only one, and it shouldn’t be used to the exclusion of all other experiences.

    October 21st, 2009 at 3:34 pm
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  326. Courtney says:

    I am in school now learning to be a teacher and came across this website while looking for information on reading logs. I have already noticed many parents that make it so difficult to teach their children. Thanking you for your partnership in your child’s education is more of a plea. Please participate in your child’s education. Don’t you want your child to grow up very intelligent with every opportunity in the world at their fingertips? Then you need to partner with the teachers. They cannot do it on their own and you taking a stance against them, your unwillingness to help the teacher do his/her job will in the end hurt your child. Yes, teachers get paid… but not much. Not enough that they chose the job for the money. They choose the job to make a difference. It really does bug me when a parent, just because they feel the need to make an issue out of every small thing, gets their children out of doing the assignments that everyone else has to do. You are only hurting your kids. The only time a parent should really fight a teacher is if the teacher is doing something unethical. Asking your child to read and asking you to help your child read is in no way unethical. Children cannot be with their teacher 24/7 and must rely on their parents’ assistance at home. I used to be an opponent of homework, I used to think that school work should only be done at school and not be brought home to infringe on my time with my kids, Let me tell you though, that I have since changed my mind. After seeing how horribly students are doing in US schools I began to think maybe 8 hours a day is not enough time to cover a multitude of subjects. I want my kids to have everything life has to offer, but if I try to get them out of doing their homewrok by crying foul everytime I would have done something in a different way than the teacher chose, my kids will fail at life. The teachers have been trained at using these tools to help your child, not to brand them liars. They have you sign the paper so they know that you are participating in your kid’s reading, not so they know the kid did the reading. You just showed the teacher that you are a combative parent and that they cannot count on you to participate in your child’s learning. Your child will probably have to receive more help at school and it will go in her records that her parents take no interest in her school work. A good teacher will try to help her more becuase of this, a bad teacher will give up on her. You should always try to partner with the teacher if you care about your child’s school. Take an interest, make friends with the teacher. Talk to the teacher if something’s being done that you don’t quite like and see if it can be resolved. That’s the way to handle the relationship with the person controlling your child’s education… don’t fight them… they fight 20-30 kids everyday and do to need to fight and additional 40-60 parents. You don’t need to make every issue a fight or a tell all book when you could simply have a meeting with the teacher. The good ones are always more than happy to meet with you and the bad ones. well you can go above them…

    October 24th, 2009 at 5:46 pm
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  327. HomeworkBlues says:

    Courtney, I have two things to say to you. You have a lot to learn and I am thankful you are not my daughter’s teacher. Whatever makes you think I don’t care about my child’s education? Or that she does not read, was not read to, or that we don’t care about reading. Little do you know that reading is the most important activity in our household!

    Let me give you some advice. You might try breaking up your essay into proper paragraphs. I found it very difficult to read, so I must confess, after the first few bars, I just gave up.

    Courtney, you are still young. You might start with some humility. We’ve been doing this a lot longer than you and you could learn a lot from us just by patiently listening. We are parents. We are wise and seasoned and are extremely good at what we do best here, parent, nurture, guide, inspire and yes, educate our young. If you do plan on pursuing a career in education, you might start by respecting the very people who send their children to you. After all, as you said, it’s a partnership.

    October 24th, 2009 at 10:17 pm
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  328. FedUpMom says:

    Courtney says:

    **************************
    After seeing how horribly students are doing in US schools I began to think maybe 8 hours a day is not enough time to cover a multitude of subjects.
    ***************************

    Kids aren’t doing horribly because 8 hours a day isn’t enough time. They’re doing horribly because schools waste those 8 hours a day with pointless nonsense. More hours of pointless nonsense won’t solve the problem.

    *****************************
    The only time a parent should really fight a teacher is if the teacher is doing something unethical.
    *****************************

    Nope, I don’t agree. I think I have a right to fight the teacher if she’s messing up my daughter’s education, for instance by turning reading into a chore.

    *****************************
    Asking your child to read and asking you to help your child read is in no way unethical.
    *****************************

    Right. The unethical part is telling me to sign my child’s reading log every night, thus making me an enforcer of a scheme that I’m opposed to.

    ****************************
    Children cannot be with their teacher 24/7 and must rely on their parents’ assistance at home.
    ****************************

    This would almost make me laugh if I wasn’t so busy crying. You think my child would learn more if she was with you 24/7? After you’ve failed to teach her anything in the 8 hours a day she was in school?

    Actually, there’s a really important point in here. You think the child will not learn unless you, the teacher, are involved, either directly in the classroom or indirectly through your parent-assistants. Think how very patronizing your attitude is. We parents know our child better than you ever will. We know what she needs, we know what our goals for her are. Allow us to spend our time with our children as we see fit. I guarantee that my children have learned more from their parents than from any teacher they will ever have.

    ***********************
    They have you sign the paper so they know that you are participating in your kid’s reading, not so they know the kid did the reading.
    **********************

    It’s not your place to tell me what to do, or to make me prove to you that I’m raising my kids the way you want me to. It’s really none of your business.

    And if my kid does the reading without my participation, isn’t that the best possible outcome? It’s her education, right?

    ***********************
    The teachers have been trained at using these tools to help your child,
    ***********************

    No, they haven’t. Have you been following the news about our mediocre teacher education? Even Arne Duncan says teachers are badly trained. From this article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/education/23teachers.html?scp=2&sq=arne%20duncan&st=cse

    “A report by a former president of Teachers College, Arthur Levine, found that roughly 60 percent of education school alumni said that their programs did not prepare them to teach.”

    *********************
    It really does bug me when a parent … gets their children out of doing the assignments that everyone else has to do.
    **********************

    The purpose of school should be learning. The more you make school about “doing what everyone else has to do”, the more you have missed the boat.

    *********************
    Your child will probably have to receive more help at school and it will go in her records that her parents take no interest in her school work.
    *********************

    Oh, please. The old “it will go in your records” dodge? I am so beyond that.

    October 25th, 2009 at 9:39 am
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  329. Disillusioned says:

    A few more notes….Courtney proposes; “Take an interest, make friends with the teacher.” I see the very weird dynamic that plays out when mothers “make friends” with their kids’ teachers. My “friends” do not make subjective judgements about my daughter’s ability to learn and her behavior. Further, my “friends” do not use manipulative tactics to “engage” me in my daughter’s education. My relationship with my daughter’s teacher is a professional one at best. Unlike a doctor I am unhappy with, I cannot sever this relationship if I am unhappy with the teacher and her methods.

    Also, I have found the bad ones are vindictive and the principal will advocate for them no matter what.

    October 25th, 2009 at 2:39 pm
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  330. FedUpMom says:

    From “Bad Teachers”, by Guy Strickland:

    **************
    The principal is the “headmaster” or “head teacher” of the school. As such, he is responsible for teacher morale and enthusiasm. These teachers are tenured, so the principal knows they are going to be around long after Johnny is a fading yearbook photo. He must defend the teachers, right or wrong, so that other teachers know that they will be defended, too. Bastions of ignorance aren’t bastions for nothing.
    ***************

    October 25th, 2009 at 3:21 pm
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  331. Disillusioned says:

    FedUpMom- Agreed. Bad teachers are allowed to abuse their power with little (if any) consequence.

    October 25th, 2009 at 3:50 pm
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  332. HomeworkBlues says:

    Agreed, FedUp and Disillusioned. Excellent points. Very important to dig beneath the surface or we will never get anywhere..

    Disillusioned, you wrote about how most teachers are women and thereby many of them are passive aggressive. Women are socialized to supress their true feelings so they become conniving. The Stepford Wives you describe, Disillusioned, try to curry the teachers’ favors by being all smiling, conniving, servile. The teachers in turn manipulate that control by sending out signals that their children will be rewarded for all that compliance and brown nosing. No where do you see this power play acted out more than in the homework arena. Compliance buys your child teacher’s pet, lead role in play, choice teams, coveted projects, preferred seating.

    In the end, each group manipulates the other and it leads to a constant undercurrent of distrust and simmering resentment. The mothers, of course, have the most to lose. They have no power although they think they do because they have commandeered the PTA. As Disillusioned wrote, they treat parenting like a job and they are over-invested in their child’s achievements. The smiling, sweet, impeccably dressed wealthy women who don’t work are keenly aware the teacher has their child all day and it puts the mothers in a precarious position of powerlessness (love alliteration!) and fear.

    And I don’t even have a psychology degree.

    October 25th, 2009 at 5:25 pm
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  333. HomeworkBlues says:

    Correction: I just wrote: “No where do you see this power play acted out more than in the homework arena.”

    Ooops. NOWHERE, meant to write. I hate mistakes!

    October 25th, 2009 at 5:29 pm
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  334. Disillusioned says:

    Amen. Indeed, “each group manipulates the other and it leads to a constant undercurrent of distrust and simmering resentment.” I have also noticed the PTA moms are classic enablers. They volunteer in the front office, grade the teachers’ papers and homework, buy lavish presents for teacher birthday’s, copy weekly homework assignments for the whole class, etc. (By the way, the copy machine is in the teacher’s lounge and if the lowly moms are making copies when a teacher comes in, they must stop copying and leave!)

    I am always struck by the illusory “stories” these PTA moms tell themselves. If my child’s teacher doesn’t like me, my child will not get the same level of attention from the teacher and will not be ready for next year. I have heard PTA moms condemm a kind hearted, nurturing first grade teacher (whom I thought was great because she saw the best in the children) because she “didn’t get them ready for second grade.”

    October 25th, 2009 at 10:04 pm
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  335. PsychMom says:

    Wow…I have things to say to teacher Courtney…but you guys have covered the high points. I agree with both FedUpMom HomeworkBlues, the discussion has gone way past this level of discourse. This young teacher needs to do some serious reading and research. My biggest rebuttal would center around the subservience she seems to think parents should fall into. She’s placing herself certainly as lead dog on the sled race to nowhere and we’re all supposed to be helping her!!! Not this Momma. And my kid is not getting on that sled.

    It’s Ok…we’ll all probably still be here 5 years from now when she’s got some real experience and maybe, hopefully, has changed her mind.

    October 26th, 2009 at 7:56 am
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  336. FedUpMom says:

    Homework Blues — are you a fan of the “Godfather” movies? Your attempt to take a break from this blog reminds me of this moment:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPw-3e_pzqU

    October 26th, 2009 at 7:57 am
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  337. PsychMom says:

    I know which clip she means even before I look….it’s made for a brilliant morning chuckle….Thanks FedUp Mom…

    October 26th, 2009 at 8:18 am
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  338. HomeworkBlues says:

    You guys are the best! FedUp, I laughed so hard, I had tears running down my cheeks. Yes, I’m a fan of the Godfather movies and my husband and I quote classic lines from them all the time.

    You have no idea how much I needed this comic relief this morning. Just had a meeting with the school over some lingering something. Oy, vey. They forgot we even had the meeting and we lost precious minutes hastily organizing it. We woke daughter up even earlier so we could make it. I hate meetings before school officially starts.

    October 26th, 2009 at 10:23 am
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  339. HomeworkBlues says:

    I posted what I think is one of my all time best responses last night. It was a follow up to Courtney, as I continued to read reaction. And then my computer went BBBZZZZZZZZZ and I lost the whole darned thing. I’ll try to recreate and repost.

    October 26th, 2009 at 10:25 am
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  340. PsychMom says:

    Courtney said so many things that made me wince but this is one of the biggies:

    ” I want my kids to have everything life has to offer, but if I try to get them out of doing their homewrok by crying foul everytime I would have done something in a different way than the teacher chose, my kids will fail at life”.

    I don’t understand how you can claim to have been reading this thread on this site, and deduce that parents here “try to get” their kids out of doing their homework, as if we’re signing notes that say “please excuse MY child from what everyone else is doing.”

    We’re not trying to excuse kids from work….we’re saying that asking all children to engage in tasks that are pointless and have nothing to do with learning to read…is detrimental to the learning process. We’re saying 6.5 hours of school a day is enough for young children.

    And then you assume that those shirking kids, whose parents excused themselves from signing reading logs, will have miserable lives, amounting to nothing. You know, when I was in elementary school, Grade 3 was not a good year…the teacher was continually sick, and when she was there she wasn’t particularly engaged with the kids. What got me though that year was my mother. Downplaying the teacher’s neglect, she kept me feeling OK about school…and she also taught me that year, and many other times, that sometimes what you get fed is just nonsense. See it for what it is and move on….

    October 26th, 2009 at 1:56 pm
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  341. mike says:

    I struggle to see how any of you have any time to do anything with your kids or pertaining to their education when you have seemingly endless time to write these eloquent posts. Stop whining, do the work, and be done with it…
    Please ladies, grow up.

    October 26th, 2009 at 4:29 pm
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  342. HomeworkBlues says:

    Mike, we write these comments when our kids are in school and when they are asleep. Which is my home is too much of the fomer and too little of the latter.

    Stop whining and do the work, you say. Sure, no problem. My high schooler logged a 24 hour homework weekend. Enough for you? Or do you think she should have done more? Because this was light in comparison. Last week, from the moment she got home on Friday to when she bed to bed at 2am Monday, she did homework non stop except for an hour to go to a choral practice.

    See why I’m whining? Get the picture?

    October 26th, 2009 at 4:46 pm
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  343. HomeworkBlues says:

    Which IN my home, meant to say.

    October 26th, 2009 at 4:46 pm
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  344. HomeworkBlues says:

    Mike, to add, you must labor under the illusion that the homework amount is reasonable and doable. Stop complaining, do it and be done. I might complain less if it was ever done but it never is. There’s always more and more. There’s no free time. What is the point in all that? If my writings can change it for just one child, give just one parent some awareness and support to go out there and change things, I will have more than done my job here.

    I happen to have an extremely bright, highly motivated child. With ADD. She gets the gold star. Not the school. She and her parents. She is as well read as she is, as intellectually curious as she is, not because of her years in public school but in spite of it. She gets all the credit.

    This is a kid, who despite a disability, adversity, hauls herself out of bed seriously sleep deprived every morning despite my entreaties to get to bed earlier, puts a smile on her face, and goes out there valiantly, knowing the day will throw her obstacles, to take difficult courses because she is curious and excited about her world. That her passion has not been drummed out of her is indeed a miracle.

    “It is a miracle creativity has survived formal education”
    Albert Einstein

    October 26th, 2009 at 5:20 pm
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  345. FedUpMom says:

    Mike says:

    *******************
    I struggle to see how any of you have any time to do anything with your kids or pertaining to their education when you have seemingly endless time to write these eloquent posts. Stop whining, do the work, and be done with it…
    Please ladies, grow up.
    ********************

    I couldn’t let the casual misogyny of this post pass. If we were men, would you accuse us of “whining”, and advise us to “grow up”? Nope, thought not.

    Maybe it doesn’t take us so long to write these posts because we’re naturally eloquent.

    It’s worth it to us to do whatever we can to improve our children’s school experience because we are passionate about our children, and passionate about their education. I don’t want to see my kids’ childhood fly by while they waste their time with crummy homework. If the homework is actually bad for them, because it shuts down their interest in learning, I would rather speak up for an hour than have them waste 10 minutes on it.

    Mike, sweetie, your testosterone has addled your nerves. Take a valium and calm down.

    October 26th, 2009 at 5:50 pm
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  346. HomeworkBlues says:

    Thanks, FedUpMom, for catching that casual misogynous line. I’m usually so astute, yet I missed it.

    Yes, Mike darlin’, do calm down and go shoot some hoops with your kid.

    October 26th, 2009 at 6:13 pm
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  347. HomeworkBlues says:

    Clarification: I didn’t see that line at all until FedUp highlighted it. That wouldn’t have passed my radar, had I seen it initially.

    October 26th, 2009 at 6:14 pm
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  348. Disillusioned says:

    Mike- I grew up along time ago. That’s one of the points we are all making. As a grown up, I consider myself capable of creating a worthwile and enriching family environment free from school work at home.

    You “struggle to see how any of you have any time to do anything with your kids or pertainig to their education.” Honestly, I really don’t care if you see or not. However, like most men who do not navigate the grinding school world, fathers are usually left unscathed by homework and the oppressive school scene.

    Lastly, free and open discussion about a topic near to our hearts (our children) is not whining. Your tone is almost as condescending as the educational system we mothers and children navigate on a daily basis.

    October 26th, 2009 at 9:08 pm
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  349. HomeworkBlues says:

    Courtney, you are very concerned about how “horribly students are doing in US schools.” If you teach as well as you write, you are right. Your students will have plenty to worry about. I don’t think the solution would be spending more than eight hours with you.

    Spend some time during the next several years of your higher education brushing up on your writing, grammar syntax, composition and sentence structure. You’ll do more for those unfortunate US children than all the useless classroom management courses you are bound to take.

    And while you’re at it, take a course on homework. If you can find it. Because studies show many teachers never took a single course in homework and have no idea how to implement it, what benefits it yields (hint: none in elementary) and how long it truly takes a child to complete, after a long day sitting still at school. Many assign it as a knee jerk reaction, it’s what our grandmothers had to do, and because the principal insists.

    October 26th, 2009 at 9:17 pm
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  350. awesome says:

    i am the kid that is in all of the honors classes and i for 1 hate everything they assighn for homework. work is for school. not to bring home to hate just as much!

    November 5th, 2009 at 8:24 pm
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  351. Anonymous says:

    Get over it

    November 10th, 2009 at 7:28 pm
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  352. Ms. N says:

    All I give for homework every night is a reading log. Due weekly with a book of choice.

    HOW will a teacher know that the student reads unless a parent supervises?

    Claps to you on your amazing ablity to see what goes on in your home. A teacher can not see that your child reads. A reading log is the proof to show that your child is reading at home. And if putting your name on it is too hard for you, I emplore you to find a better way for a teacher to prove their efforts in reading.

    SOME KIDS… can read and read and read and never understand a thing they read. YOUR KID I guess is special and not expected to do what every kid was told to do.

    As for teachers working for you, they do not. They work for your kids. They work for Principals who make demands on them to back up their work with records. They work every day with heart and dedication to get your kids to learn. You have already passed your classes. We do not teach for YOU.

    We teach for your KIDS. We have bosses too. You are not a teacher and you did not choose to be a teacher. Stop acting as if you know what a teacher should or should not do.

    Studies have been done that show that the best way to get a child’s reading level to go up is to have them read.

    Do you know that there are kids who have never heard a bedtime story? Count your kids as lucky to have a parent period. LOGS and HOMEWORK, are for ALL. AGAIN, you and your child are no exception. Let your teachers teach. YOU can be a partner in that, or you can be a PAIN IN THE NECK!

    November 29th, 2009 at 3:41 pm
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  353. FedUpMom says:

    Ms. N. asks:

    ***********
    HOW will a teacher know that the stu­dent reads unless a par­ent supervises?
    **********

    You need to accept that you don’t know what your students do at home. Even if they turn in a reading log, it may have been faked.

    *********
    A read­ing log is the proof to show that your child is read­ing at home. And if putting your name on it is too hard for you, I emplore you to find a bet­ter way for a teacher to prove their efforts in reading.
    *********

    Again, reading logs prove nothing. And why are you looking for proof anyway? (BTW, it’s “implore”.)

    **********
    YOUR KID I guess is spe­cial and not expected to do what every kid was told to do.

    LOGS and HOMEWORK, are for ALL. AGAIN, you and your child are no excep­tion.
    **********

    Why should every child in your class be made to do the exact same thing? You probably have a wide variety of kids in your class, with different reading abilities, different backgrounds, different interests.

    ***********
    Let your teach­ers teach.
    ***********

    OK, I’ll let you teach, if you let me parent. Stop telling me what to do with my own child in my own home. I will support my child’s reading in my own way.

    ************
    YOU can be a part­ner in that, or you can be a PAIN IN THE NECK!
    ***********

    Again, how does following your directions make me a partner? Partners make decisions together. Do you ask your students’ parents for ideas about how to work together? Do you show any interest in their point of view?

    November 29th, 2009 at 9:49 pm
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  354. HomeworkBlues says:

    Ms. N. writes: “You are not a teacher and you did not choose to be a teacher.”

    I’m so relieved. Can’t wait to tell my husband. Wish I could turn the clock back. WE AREN’T TEACHERS!!! Yay! Does that mean four hours of homework in sixth grade won’t come home anymore? Because seems to me we sometimes had to teach content. Um, it was often not happening in school. We checked. Other parents were reporting the same thing.

    Teaching was the least of it. My daughter has been able to teach herself a great deal. But you say we parents aren’t teachers. You are.

    Bravo. Because we want you to to handle the teaching. So we can handle the parenting.

    I have no qualms with learning at home. We want you to teach so we can after school at home. We like complementing what you do at school. You’re building the Great Wall of China in second grade? We’ll take her to Chinatown for some lo mein. You’re studying Africa in 4th grade? We’ll take her to the African art museum. You’re learning geometry in 5th? We’ll take her to the Building Museum to study shapes and angles.

    I can do that. I can do that well. I love learning with my child. I love curling up with her in bed to read to abandon.

    I can do that. What I cannot do is send her to school for six and a half hours, only to homeschool another four. She does it herself. But if we are stuck in the house, if it falls on us parents to teach her time management skills, if we we are forced to give up vast chunks of precious family time, if my child is not playing or reading enough, then we are your involuntary unpaid teacher’s aides. You say we aren’t teachers. You could have fooled me.

    My advice? Chuck those reading logs. You want to know if my child is reading? Just ask. Wait. Don’t you see her with a book all the time? Didn’t you take away book after book after book because she was reading in class? She’s reading! You know she’s reading. You don’t need a log.

    Lose those logs. In the time you are checking them, you could be planning a scintillating lesson. Wouldn’t you rather do that?

    As for your boss making you do those logs, we’ve covered that here before. There are no easy answers and we feel for you. But at the end of the day, our children need an education, not an excuse.

    November 29th, 2009 at 11:19 pm
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  355. HomeworkBlues says:

    “A reading log is the proof to show that your child is read ing at home.”

    Not necessarily. Many of those logs are faked. And especially for younger kids, mom’s filling out the log, not the kid.

    I’m curious. How do you use the logs? Do you talk to the kids about them? Do you truly feel they are necessary? And why do you need a window into a child’s home? We don’t send you a log. We trust you’ll teach our kids. We want the same trust. We want our family time. My daughter will read. And be read to. We’ll see to that.

    “SOME KIDS… can read and read and read and never under stand a thing they read.”

    And how does a reading log change that? And most children will not read and read and read a book if they don’t understand a thing they are reading. Would you?

    “YOUR KID I guess is special and not expected to do what every kid was told to do. ”

    No, my child is not special. But she is unique. As each child is. You are attempting to create a one size fits all, to make everyone average. Sounds like your reading homework is more about simple compliance than promoting reading.

    “As for teachers working for you, they do not. They work for your kids.”

    No argument there.

    “Studies have been done that show that the best way to get a child’s reading level to go up is to have them read.”

    Again, no argument there. We aren’t saying no reading. I don’t like homework in elementary and resent homework overload in the later years because it interferes with reading! We are saying no reading logs so our kids can use that time to read even more.

    November 30th, 2009 at 6:54 am
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  356. FedUpMom says:

    Ms. N. says:

    **********
    I emplore you to find a bet­ter way for a teacher to prove their efforts in reading.
    **********

    Now I realize what this means. You use reading logs as a way to “prove” to the principal that you are teaching reading! Give me a break.

    Your job is in the classroom, and your principal should assess you based on what you do in the classroom. The idea that your principal will assess the job you do based on how well you get parents to comply with your reading log is ridiculous.

    I’ve wondered this many times. What goes on during the school day? What does the school actually contribute to our kids’ learning?

    November 30th, 2009 at 9:30 am
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  357. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedUpMom writes: “I’ve wondered this many times. What goes on during the school day? What does the school actually con tribute to our kids’ learning?”

    That’s the crux of the question. We aren’t finally putting our feet down because we want to be a “pain in the neck” or raise, as has so often been suggested here, insolent, ungrateful and selfish children.

    It’s a new day. It’s the 21st century. And I’m still hearing about the same homework today I received as a child. It didn’t work forty years ago and it still doesn’t work today. How would you feel if your physician still relied soley on old methodologies and refused to embrace new research?

    Ms. N, your job is in the classroom. We need to know what you are doing there. We’d rather you spent less time monitoring us and more time using those six and a half hours as wisely as you possibly can. You say you only assign reading logs so kudos to you, you don’t overload. But that was not our case. Reading logs were just one piece of paper in the pile.

    I’m sorry about NCLB. I hate it as much as you do. I’m sorry your principal is breathing down your neck. But as FedUP says, you are using reading logs to CYA. You say we are not teachers. If we wanted to handle all the academics, we’d be homeschooling! We resent work sent home, and resent being told we are anti-education or don’t want our kids to read.Surely you know that’s not the case. It’s just a means of disarming us.

    Your job is to teach. Not to send it all home. Little by little, homework has crept into home life to the point where it has more than crossed the line. It’s out of control and needs to be reined in. There doesn’t seem to be any separation between the school day and free home time anymore.

    The few hours working parents have to parent each day are gobbled up by homework. Parents who, on top of getting dinner on the table and clean laundry in the drawers and driving their children to one activity (we don’t overload), are also forced to be afternoon and evening teachers. Which leaves us no time to be parents. To instill values and responsibility, to read to our children, to comfort them, to teach them discipline and restraint, to play with them, to enjoy them, to revel in the grace and beauty of their childhood.

    Ms. N, please spend less time peering into our living room windows and more time figuring out how to use those precious day time hours. We send our children to you every day. Please use their time and yours in the best and most efficient way possible.

    November 30th, 2009 at 9:58 am
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  358. FedUpMom says:

    Homework Blues says:

    ***********
    You say you only assign read­ing logs so kudos to you, you don’t over­load.
    ***********

    Not so fast, HWB! How much do you wanna bet that the reason Ms. N only assigns reading logs is because reading is the only subject she teaches?

    ************
    It didn’t work forty years ago and it still doesn’t work today.
    ************

    You know, I hated school forty years ago, but I actually think it’s worse today. It’s not so much that what didn’t work then is still being done — we’re actually doing more of the stuff that didn’t work then, and with much more pressure and stress on the kids.

    November 30th, 2009 at 12:39 pm
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  359. HomeworkBlues says:

    FUM, you have a point. Two in fact. (Notice FUM sounds like FUMING?!!!)

    You’re right about the reading logs, come to think of it. Only those come home because that’s where the test emphasis lies. The principal is breathing down Ms. N’s neck and she in turn leans on the parents. It’s not about reading, it’s about raising test scores. So what do you do with the kid who’s already acing the tests? Ignore them, they become inconsequential. Like all those other subjects that will not be on the test..

    As for still doing what didn’t work forty years ago, I’ve said it before. Right now education has all the disadvantages of the 1950’s and none of the advantages (children playing, little homework). As you’ve said, we’ve gotten the worst of all possible worlds.

    No question it’s much much worse for children today. One heartbreaking hint is how disaffected kids seem from their learning. You ask them their favorite subject and they stare at you blankly. It’s as if they didn’t realize they were supposed to like ANY of it.

    I thought of something else today. I thought of those little notes I would get in 5th grade (private didn’t send them). The ones that read, “your child didn’t finish this sheet in school today. Please see to it that it is done at home.”

    And it occurred to me. This is how you talk to an underling. I put myself through college by working as a lowly secretary. The bosses in those early days tended to be mostly men. Big powerful men. I was nothing on their totem pole, just an innocent college student, making ends meet. They would leave little notes: “please see to it that it gets done by tomorrow.”

    This is not the way you speak to an equal, in a partnership. “Please see to it that it gets done by tomorrow” is an order, not a dialog.

    November 30th, 2009 at 1:14 pm
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  360. PsychMom says:

    And isn’t it interesting that “school” and “homework” are now synonymous, and that both are dreaded by children and teens alike?

    There was an article in the Globe on the weekend about Roald Dahl and how he understood this sense that children have that adults don’t actually like them. I don’t know much about the man but I have a sense that were he alive today, he’d see things the way we do about children’s lives.

    The stress of adult lives in North America have left their mark in our children, and not in just the harried schedules we inflict on them.

    November 30th, 2009 at 1:43 pm
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  361. HomeworkBlues says:

    PsychMom, children really do feel powerless. But unlike the 1950’s, they do have a lingering doubt that adults don’t like them. I asked my daughter why the kids in her school don’t sometimes speak up about the homework overload and resulting sleep deprivation. She said, we’d be then labeled as trouble makers.

    When a teen screws up the courage, musters the strength, and approaches the teacher, quietly, respectfully, that he is having trouble managing the homework, the teacher may blow him off with, “it’s not too much, it’s time management.”

    That one little phrase. Student scurries away, never to dare speak up again. What’s the damage here? Stop and think. The child learns he is powerless and adults don’t care about him. So what happens to him when HE becomes the adult? Will the oppressed become the oppressor?

    So much better to take the time. Talk to the kid, explain, show you care. Why don’t high school teachers do more of this today? Was is the fear? That anarchy will result? That the kids will stop respecting you? Just as in parenting, respectful relationships breed respect. Disrespectful ones breed resentment and fear. What price power?

    November 30th, 2009 at 2:18 pm
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  362. HomeworkBlues says:

    Correction: WHAT is the fear? Not WAS.

    November 30th, 2009 at 2:20 pm
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  363. PsychMom says:

    And the sleep deprivation and overwork has just become accepted, as if they were medical interns and residents. You don’t complain because everyone must go through it. And you must go through it and excel despite it because that will mean you’re qualified….to….. do……….mmmmm…..hang on…it’s coming to me…….to do what exactly?

    I think what I’m trying to say is that high school, and especially middle school, are not supposed to be training grounds for some crazily scheduled adult work life, or university for that matter. They are supposed to be places that teach you how to handle life amongst other human beings. I dare say that if the premise of education was changed, we’d all be a lot happier. Suddenly the pressure would be off everyone and youngsters could get on with learning and teachers could get on with teaching.

    November 30th, 2009 at 2:47 pm
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  364. Disillusioned says:

    HomewworkBlues, PsychMom and FedUp Mom- Bravo for your well reasoned respones. In my experience, the “I work for your kids not you” line is justification to vilify any mother who even remotely questions a teacher’s agenda. Last I checked, my child doesn’t pay my rather substantial property tax bill (with many bond issues attached to support the school district). There truly is a disconnect for many working in public education regarding this fact. Ms. N- your principal’s salary is also funded mainly through property tax and bond issues (paid for by the homeowners in your district).

    November 30th, 2009 at 3:27 pm
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  365. HomeworkBlues says:

    Well put, Disillusioned. I was waiting for you, glad you jumped on this discussion.

    Sara, I’m sure you must sometimes wish a lot more people chimed in. To all those reading and nodding their heads, please come in. We are not a clique! It’s not a zero sum game. There’s room for everyone.

    Yet I find myself hoping PsychMom, FedUpMom and Disillusioned will comment because I love reading their thoughts. And to all the others like zzzzz and K and a host of other equally nteresting folks. It’s no longer just posting onto an anonymous blog, there is a sense here of shared insights and delving deeper and deeper into the root causes of this mess.

    And of course we welcome the opposition too. Sunshine is a good thing. The more light shed, the more change might even be possible. Hopefully in my lifetime.

    November 30th, 2009 at 4:19 pm
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  366. HomeworkBlues says:

    Oh, gosh. Mary, Mary. Mary Sullivan, thank you too. Didn’t meant to leave you out. And there are others too.

    November 30th, 2009 at 7:53 pm
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  367. Educ8 says:

    I’ll be short and cut to the chase…hopefully. Education is a delicate combination of art and business. That being said there are expectations from the student on the education/art side and there are expectations of the teacher on the business side. An expectation of the teacher is to ensure that students are performing well. This means that students meet expectations of the community on standardized tests. Now, many schools (such as mine) REQUIRE I send a reading log home at night as homework. I am OBLIGATED. The realy culprit would be the weight placed on standardized tests, not defenseless teachers who don’t need another useless battle with parents. If there were less pressure to “perform” I know my school wouldn’t REQUIRE homework.
    So, when I read your curt e-mail to the teacher needless to say it upset me. I feel sorry for her/him. He or she’s doing their job (whether you think so or not) and isn’t it always nice when a parent makes it even harder to do so? I think it’s great. I can’t fathom why students come to school and feel like they don’t have to listen to the teachers either, I would assume that’s not from anything they’re learning at home.
    Cut us a break. Most of us became teachers because we wanted to change lives. I didn’t wake up one day and say to myself, I’m going to give a pointless reading log to my students and wait for those e-mails to come rolling in. Be a partner and approach a teacher in a different way and if you really have a problem with homework/curriculum go to the board …. you know the ones who dictate what a lot of us do and leave the teachers alone in the trenches.

    February 1st, 2010 at 1:52 pm
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  368. HomeworkBlues says:

    So your point being, Educ8, it doesn’t matter if the education is medicore? You’re just following orders, the good public servant that you are. So it affects your kid in a very profound way? Suck it up.

    In the end, you at least got paid. What did we get?

    As for curt emails, mine happen to be respectful. Probably doesn’t matter. I’m sure I’m no more liked than if I was curt. It’s not about the emails.

    February 1st, 2010 at 4:10 pm
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  369. HomeworkBlues says:

    MEDIOCRE. I hit Submit by mistake and it went out before proofing.

    February 1st, 2010 at 4:12 pm
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  370. FedUpMom says:

    Educ8 — as I’ve remarked before, this incident took place at a private school. The teacher absolutely had a choice about whether or not to assign a reading log.

    Your note is a sad one, and paints a depressing picture of our public schools. You are a defenseless teacher, condemned to do whatever the principal tells you and have useless battles with parents as a result. Unlike a previous poster, you don’t even claim to be working “for the kids”. No, you work for the principal. Parents are a nuisance and the kids are interchangeable widgets who must meet community expectations on standardized tests. Really, the school would run a lot more smoothly if the kids and parents weren’t involved.

    *****
    I can’t fathom why stu­dents come to school and feel like they don’t have to lis­ten to the teach­ers either,
    *****

    What do you mean “either”? You think the parents have to listen to you? Parents are not your employees or assistants or underlings. You may enjoy bossing little kids around, but you’ve got no right to boss Mom around.

    *****
    Be a part­ner and approach a teacher in a dif­fer­ent way …
    *****

    And what way is that? How much bowing and scraping would I have to do to be taken seriously? I’m tired of being told I wasn’t deferential enough. The bottom line is you just don’t want to hear from parents, unless they’re telling you how wonderful you are. As far as you’re concerned, there is no acceptable way for a parent to complain.

    I’d like to see teachers treat parents with some deference, for a change. I never again want to get a letter from a teacher that says, “Do this. Do that. Sign here. Thank you for your partnership.”

    February 1st, 2010 at 4:13 pm
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  371. HomeworkBlues says:

    Bravo, FedUp. So Educ8, you only want to hear from us when we tell you how great you are. Even when you’re not. And you want our cookies and chaperoning and cleaning up. Beyond that, your day would go a lot better if you never had to deal with us pesky parents. And as FedUP says, you can’t possibly like your little charges any more.

    I agree. What a sad depressing listless joyless picture of classroom you paint. All gray and dull and washed of all color. You do what you’re told whether you like it or not. You fume and suck it up because that is what good little women do. Which makes you wonder why moms can’t do the same. Since your unions are ineffective, you want the parents to run all your battles for you. All this without a peep.

    Except for one problem. It’s the 21st century. It isn’t 1955 anymore. And mothers managed to get quite an education along the way. Your factory style top down model just doesn’t work anymore.

    We’ve upgraded. What about you? Get a backbone. Or get out.

    February 1st, 2010 at 4:49 pm
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  372. Matthew says:

    I agree with the others here about hearing from teachers who complain we don’t treat them as professionals, yet any time we go to them with a problem they push the blame to others.

    Don’t like a policy? Then how about actually trying to do something about it…use your union for something other than guaranteeing jobs for life, talk to the PTA about getting parents to support policy change, etc.

    As I wrote a note to school last week, I was reflecting on how my tone has changed over the years as I have gotten more and more frustrated at my interactions with teachers and administration. The first few years I asked for help and clarification and I was very deferential.

    My most recent note: ” will not be doing this assignment. It is tedious, and I cannot see any educational value in it. “

    February 2nd, 2010 at 7:26 am
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  373. Matthew says:

    Sorry, I forgot the site doesn’t like greater than/less than symbols. My “note” should read:

    (Son’s name) will not be doing this assign­ment. It is tedious, and I can­not see any edu­ca­tional value in it. (my name)

    February 2nd, 2010 at 7:28 am
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  374. FedUpMom says:

    The complaint from teachers that parents aren’t deferential enough just burns me up. And I am mystified that parents put up with this. We are not the teacher’s subordinates! We are all adults, let’s speak to each other as adults.

    It’s all about power, it’s all about control. Just telling someone “you weren’t polite enough” is sending a huge honking signal about who goes where in the hierarchy. No one addresses an equal this way. No one.

    And if you think the e-mail I sent to the teacher about reading logs was curt, you should have seen the rough draft.

    February 2nd, 2010 at 8:17 am
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  375. Anonymous says:

    Bravo FedUpMom and HWB! The default position of ” I became a teacher to change lives” is tired. Once again, why must we be partners when I have no choice in the matter? (Not much of a partnership). Moreover, your “alone in the trenches” line is also tired. How about you cutting us a break? Respect is a two way street and most people that blather on about it usually have no self respect.

    February 2nd, 2010 at 5:48 pm
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  376. Disillusioned says:

    HWB- I agree with your get a backbone or get out. However, it is shocking how much the stay at home mothers take from the teachers. Indeed, they are classic enablers. In order to get us out of the fifties, the people pleasing stay at home moms also need to get a backbone.

    February 2nd, 2010 at 6:35 pm
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  377. FedUpMom says:

    Disillusioned — please, let’s not get trapped in the stay-at-home vs. working mom wars! There are enabling SAHMs and enabling WOHMs, too. And, for reasons that escape me, they all wind up in the PTA.

    February 2nd, 2010 at 6:51 pm
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  378. HomeworkBlues says:

    You’re right, FedUP. But I have to agree with Disillusioned. Disillusioned, I enjoyed reading your tales of the moms at your school. Care to share some more? You were running some great essays there, vignettes of your school, the moms, your take, the fly on the wall as you volunteer, and then you stopped. I’d love to hear more. Write away!

    Yes, FedUp, we don’t want to start the mommy wars but if some of these moms got a spine, we’d be well ahead by now. And too many of those Stepford Wives commandeer the PTA. Which in the end, winds up just being an apologist for the school system.

    February 2nd, 2010 at 7:02 pm
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  379. HomeworkBlues says:

    Anonymous, I want to tie your comment in with Mathew’s. I was afraid I’d have my fingers slapped for being too harsh on Educ8 so thanks for the validation.

    Like Mathew, I started off far more deferential and respectful. I reserve my anger for those two elementary public school years. Much of the time, the respect was not returned and I was treated with condescension and disdain. At best, I was patronized (read: you’re an idiot and school knows best).

    I know better now and I’m much more firm. And like FedUp, I will not be lectured to about my “curt” email. I was at least respectful and could write a decent sentence. Wish I could say the same for some of the responses. It’s a two way street. If you want respect, you have to earn it. We’re not puppets.

    I like Mathew’s approach. “Emily” will no longer be doing textbook chapter outlines because they have no educational value and merely suck up precious time. And besides, that’s what the Table of Contents are for. In the time she’s sweating over outlines, she could be reading about history.

    February 2nd, 2010 at 7:10 pm
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  380. Disillusioned says:

    Hi FedUpMom- Not really trying to fuel the SAM vs. WOHM war (and meant no disrespect). Yet…..I do see the SAMS in my ‘hood as unempowered. It seems as if the SAMS and teachers battle it out in an illusory power struggle and the PTA SAMS OBSESS about whether their child will get a “good” teacher. Most join the PTA to “play the game” not realizing that the game is all in their heads.

    February 2nd, 2010 at 8:16 pm
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  381. FedUpMom says:

    Hoo boy, the PTA. One of the things I’ve noticed is that the PTA routinely schedules its meetings at times that a mother with a job couldn’t possibly attend. 8:30 a.m. seems to be a favorite. I don’t work full time and I don’t attend the meetings either, because I’d have to give up precious “me time”. How about the occasional evening meeting? BTW, this is true at both the public and private schools I’ve been involved with.

    February 3rd, 2010 at 9:05 am
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  382. HomeworkBlues says:

    FUM, I’ve heard that complaint from many parents, that the meetings favor SAHMs. I will say this. At my daughter’s school, most meetings are in the evening because many of the moms work. Occasionally they’ll run a morning meeting which I actually prefer. But I’m not coming to one that starts at 8:30. Ours has the good sense to give parents time to park.

    February 3rd, 2010 at 10:50 am
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  383. Disillusioned says:

    I stopped going because in our school it turns into a pity party of; ” the poor teachers do so much with so little.” I find it interesting that the person in charge of the paid employees (the principal) vents to the unpaid volunteers about how difficult it is for the paid employees to do their jobs.

    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:49 am
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  384. FedUpMom says:

    The last PTA meeting I attended was at my daughter’s public school. I brought my copies of The Case Against Homework and The Homework Myth. I presented my concerns about homework overload in elementary school, which led to the following dialogue:

    OtherMom: “My son is in high school. He wakes up every morning, gets on the bus, goes to school, comes home and does homework until 1 a.m. Then he gets up at 6 the next morning and does it all over again.”

    Me: “Doesn’t he get burned out?”

    OtherMom: “Oh no, he’s fine.”

    OtherMom sincerely believed that she was showing why they needed so much homework in elementary school; as we’ve all heard, it’s to prepare the kids for the ultimate trial called high school. This argument is supposed to shut up all the complainers. For me, it was just one more arrow pointing the way out of the public schools.

    February 3rd, 2010 at 12:06 pm
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  385. Sarah Pak says:

    I have read all the comments with great interest because I have just completed a study on the effect of reading logs on intrinsic motivation to read.

    I’m currently a high school junior in New York, and have had the blessing to live in a district with one of the strongest behavioral/social science research programs in the country. I’ve been a voracious reader since elementary school, a self-described bookworm, if you will. However, many of my friends don’t share my sentiments – they regard reading as a boring, obnoxious chore. And none of them looked back on reading logs fondly; in fact, I would say around 9 out of 10 of my peers outright lied on their reading logs. I myself lied – even though I read for hours at a time, I didn’t care to actually log it right after (I read in bed, and most times I fell asleep reading at night), so when the log was due at the end of the week, I would make up numbers (I rarely remembered how long I had read that week – time flies when you read!). However, things started to come together when I took AP Psychology. We learned about motivation and the overjustification effect, which states that external motivators decrease intrinsic motivation. With that, my research advisor and I began to flesh out the beginnings of a real project on motivation and reading.

    As I quickly learned from reading background literature, motivation lies at the heart of reading. Specifically, it is intrinsic motivation, or the pursuit of an activity for internal satisfaction of the activity in itself, that strongly predicts time spent reading, reading ability, enjoyment, interest, and attitudes. In addition, another theory of motivation, called the Self-Determination theory, states that individuals require a sense of autonomy (defined as the ability to choose one’s own actions) in order to be intrinsically motivated. However, because reading logs are external motivators, and because they strip away children’s sense of autonomy (they are unable to choose how long they read for, and when they want to read), I hypothesized that reading logs would decrease interest and attitudes towards reading. I used 2nd and 3rd grade students from two local elementary schools, and teachers were randomly assigned to give either mandatory reading logs or voluntary reading logs.

    Mandatory reading logs required that children read for at least 20 minutes each night, while voluntary reading logs were given to children and were entirely optional.

    I gave students a survey measuring motivation in October, and then surveyed them again in two months to measure any changes. My results were surprisingly concurrent with my hypotheses. I found that interest in reading decreased in the mandatory log condition, and interest increased in the voluntary log condition. The differences in interest between the mandatory and voluntary reading logs were statistically significant, p < 0.05. Attitudes towards recreational reading decreased in the mandatory condition, and increased in the voluntary condition. These differences were also statically significant. The increases in interest and attitudes were probably a result of increased reading proficiency over the two month period during which the study was conducted. Another explanation may be that teachers in the voluntary reading log condition may have made more of an effort to frame reading as a fun activity, although that would simply suggest that there are better ways to promote reading than through reading logs. The decline in interest and attitudes, on the other hand, was probably a result of a decrease in intrinsic motivation. These results strongly suggest that reading logs erode children’s intrinsic motivation to read. This has real consequences for children’s reading future, especially at a time when reading faces competition from computers, TV, and cellphones. I am entering this project in the Long Island Science and Engineering fair, and hope to spread the word about these results to change the opinions of elementary school educators.

    February 6th, 2010 at 8:19 pm
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  386. PeggyinMA says:

    Sarah Pak:

    Wow. What a truly thoughtful and timely effort. Good luck in the competition!

    Why does it seem so difficult for our education professionals to do likewise? We need more people who are willing to ask basic questions about the premises behind common teaching practices, such as mandatory reading logs and homework.

    February 6th, 2010 at 9:55 pm
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  387. FedUpMom says:

    Sarah Pak — excellent! I hope you’ll be able to post more about your work.

    I’m interested in what you say about 9 out of 10 students lying on their reading logs. So much homework, especially at the elementary level, is fake. I wish teachers would understand this.

    February 7th, 2010 at 11:06 am
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  388. PsychMom says:

    To Sara Pak:

    Read Dan Pink’s book “Drive” …you have just proven his drive theory in spades.

    And my point about the demotivating effects of logs! As soon as people HAVE to do something, they don’t want to, or at least their interest in it decreases almost immediately. That’s why homework, on the whole, is a bad way to start kids off in the elementary grades. You are training them early……to HATE school. All the other drawbacks are on top of just a fundamentally de-motivating tactic.

    February 8th, 2010 at 8:31 am
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  389. Anonymous2010 says:

    I am an educator, and while I agree with some comments made by both parties on this website, I truthfully feel that if a parent has tremendous issues with public education, they should simply educate their children at home. That comment is not meant to be mean or harsh. I currently teach middle school special education, but I plan on staying at home with my children through their elementary school years. I don’t have any children yet (I’m 26,) but I know that public school can only provide so much individual attention towards each child in one day. If I want my child to have the opportunity to play, explore, be creative, and have time to truly investigate all the questions they have about the world, I will have to make it my job to stay home and provide that sort of education to them.

    The system has changed tremendously since I was in elementary school. I remember my 3rd grade teacher making applesauce after we picked local apples. I also remember having eggs hatch in our classroom, and that same teacher played her guitar to us every afternoon. I was left in wonder and awe on many days, but now these same teachers (who have not retired) are required to give 2nd and 3rd graders daily geography worksheets and do DIBELS testing every few weeks. I also believe that children are being “worksheeted to death,” but if the principal tells a teacher that they must do certain things or get fired, a teacher only has so many options. It is one thing to tell a teacher to say “Just don’t take the standardized test.” You could tell your child to do that, but if a teacher did the same thing, they would be forced to resign that very day. Public education is more political than working for the government. (Education is a second career for me, as I ran a governmental program previously.) I thought I would have the chance to “change lives” and inspire kids to love reading and writing. But in all actuality, I less say on what I do in my job in my own private classroom than when I was under the direct line of fire from a politician.

    The public education system requries teachers to spend 90% of our time working with the 10% of students who perform the lowest. It’s draining work on the teachers, and the most hard-working, inquisitive, and dedicated children often spend a good portion of their 7 hours at school doing their own thing. I apologize that your child has not gotten what they deserve from public schools, but it is your right as a parent to pull them out of public schools and provide a different learning environment at home. Again, homeschooling has been in my long-term plans since I decided to become an educator. Homeschooling is a freedom and a right that you have as well.

    February 8th, 2010 at 7:25 pm
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  390. Anonymous2010 says:

    This part of my post” But in all actu­al­ity, I less say on what I do in my job in my own pri­vate class­room than when I was under the direct line of fire from a politician.”

    should have read ” But in all actu­al­ity, I HAVE less say on what I do in my job in my own pri­vate class­room than when I was under the direct line of fire from a politician.”

    Sorry for the typo. I had three IEP meetings today, and I am exhausted. :)

    February 8th, 2010 at 7:59 pm
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  391. Disillusioned says:

    Anonymous2010- I think all of us who post on this blog would not disagree with what you are saying re: policy in public school. You state that public education is more political than working for the government. I think you missed the point…..work-ing in public education IS working for the government. As someone who pays a hefty property tax bill with many school bonds attached, it is very frustrating to not to have a voice within the school system.

    Homeschooling should not be the default position because the system is broken. Many working parents do not have this option (nor do they want it). What they do want is a school system that does not erode their quality of life every day with substantial amounts of homework (you won’t fully understand this until you have kids).

    If the public school system were a private enterprise, the teachers would have to be more responsive to their clientele. I think you have hit on the crux of the problem As I think FedUp Mom stated; who do the teachers serve? From my experience, teachers seem to have much more latitude re: homework than you state. It seems as if the older, tenured, burned out teachers often give the most homeowork. In affluent suburbs, they know they can scare the parents into getting a tutor if they don’t want to teach. Who speaks for the children and parents when this happens? Why must children and parents put up with lazy, hostile teachers who know they have a job as long as they can pass of their job to the parents and still achieve high test scores? I have seen this happen first hand and it is very frustrating.

    The bad teachers know how to manipulate the parents and bully the kids. Yes, we can take our kids out and homeschool for a year if we get a bad teacher but why should we have to?

    I think we all agree the system has changed for the worse. Adding homeowork overload to a bad system doesn’t make it better. If the kids are “worksheeted to death” during the school day, why do they have to be “worksheeted to death” at home. When is enough enough?

    February 8th, 2010 at 8:33 pm
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  392. Disillusioned says:

    Sorry for all the typos and bad syntax today. Too many to fix.

    February 8th, 2010 at 8:38 pm
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  393. Anonymous2010 says:

    It is sad to say, but the system is beyond repair. I’m new to my current school, and everytime I voice a concern or suggest something research-based to another teacher, they report me to the principal. He tells me to just go along and play nice, even stating that the other teacher is wrong, but they have clout, etc. I struggle daily with the system, and though I love teaching kids, the adults in my profession make me miserable, depressed, and leave me drained. Since I am in the system and realize I can not change it, I know I will have to stay at home and run a homeschool program one day. At least at home I will not have to cower and hold in every opinion because I am afraid of losing my job. Standing up for what is right is difficult– school superintendents do not like adults or kids who are free thinkers. I am constantly reminded that they could revoke my license at any time (thus no teaching jobs anywhere after that) due to noncompliance and “insubordination.”. It makes me sad to imagine my future children taking any class that isn’t with me or my husband (who is also a teacher) because a large portion of these teachers have no clue what they are doing, nor do they want to buck the system.

    February 8th, 2010 at 9:33 pm
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  394. Anonymous2010 says:

    In regards to my last post, I should restate that a large portion of the teachers at MY PARTICULAR SCHOOL (not all schools) have no clue what they are doing, nor want to buck the system. The school I taught at last year was a completely different world (and in a different state with different standards.). I am sorry if I accidentally offended any other teachers out there. I’m in a very small district surrounded by people with tenure who refuse to try new things.

    February 8th, 2010 at 9:43 pm
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  395. Disillusioned says:

    Anonymous2010- I feel for you. This type of oppressiveness in the workplace can lead to burn-out and self-loathing. Whenever I interact with the predominately older teachers at our school, I am struck by how cantankerous they are (must not be a pleasant work place). In addition, the office staff is rude and offensive. It seems as if many public elementary schools are stuck with teachers way past their experation dates.

    February 8th, 2010 at 10:46 pm
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  396. Brianna says:

    I do see the parents point of view. My daughter loves to read and the logs were becoming another homework assignment to her. She was then starting to dwindle in her love of reading. So I just allow he to read at will and leave it at that. As someone who also teaches reading I also understand the teacher. Their are those kids who need to develope their reading and with out the logs they only go home to sit on the computer, tv, or videos. Which do not help them with their reading. What I do is give them a weekly log with instuctions to read whatever interest them. On the log they Give me the tile of what they read and a brief ( 3-5 sentences) summary of what it was. Then each day we spend about 10 min of class time sharing our summaries. They seem to enjoy that and there is not alot of pressure, as it could be a chapter in a book, a magazine article, ect……

    March 23rd, 2010 at 12:01 pm
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  397. Chelsea says:

    I am in 8th grade and soo far this school year my teacher has made us do two reading logs each week with at least 20 pages per reading log per day i HATE Them i personaly Love reading but haveing to write two paragraphs on 20 pages is quite difficult my teacher does not read them she only uses it to measure what we are reading

    April 11th, 2010 at 11:14 am
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  398. bryce says:

    how do you get homework out of my school please write back in my email thank you

    May 4th, 2010 at 12:20 pm
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  399. bryce says:

    my teachear makes us 6th graders do 20 mins. a night every week and at least 25 pages do u have any tips on how to get it out of our school please help and write back in my email thank you.

    May 4th, 2010 at 12:23 pm
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  400. Maria says:

    i am in 5th grade and i hate reading logs some times you get home late and you are not able to read so if i dont do my reading log i get bench and i dont like to be beanch.some times i make stories up but i am running out of ideas.my teacher makes us read for30 min every day and awer perents have to put thier signature.if you know eny books pleas send me a little summery about it.

    May 6th, 2010 at 10:47 pm
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  401. northTOmom says:

    Bryce and Maria: Perhaps you could get a petition going in your schools about homework or reading logs, and present it to your teachers and/or Principal. It might be helpful to get your parents on board. I don’t think you should feel totally powerless to change things in your schools.

    May 7th, 2010 at 2:59 pm
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  402. Shelbylee says:

    As a Mom and as a Reading Teacher, I see both sides of this debate.

    As a teacher, though, in an alternative school for students expelled from school for a variety of behavioral issues, mostly drugs and alcohol, the majority of my students don’t read inside of school or outside. In fact, many have never read an entire book, except picture books in lower elementary. Many have not read a book since 4th or 5th grade and are now in high school. I see them for 45 minutes a day and am required to show “progress” with every student as measured by our state assessment. I am frustrated because I get no parental support but yet I am trying to inspire kids to read, to expand their reading skills, to build critical thinking skills, etc. I use reading logs or journals to help students to be repsonsible for spending a part of their day reading (something they have chosen), to have something to guide my questions for informal assessment on their personal reading, and to help the students to actually connect with the text that they have chosen to read, otherwise, they read the words but make no personal connections. Some of these kids have little skill in choosing texts, completing texts, managing their time to include reading, or even seeing the relevance of having solid reading skills in their everyday lives outside of school. It gives both me and the student great joy and pride when at the end of the year they can say, “I LOVED that book!” or “Hey, I read four books this year! First time ever!”

    If this (reading logs) is so wrong and unproductive, could someone please give me some alternatives to accomplish some of these objectives?? (Not said sarcastically but sincerely seeking balance)

    May 9th, 2010 at 8:34 pm
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  403. HomeworkBlues says:

    Shelbylee, I hear you that you are in a tough predicament. And this is not to sound elitist at all because, well, we don’t have much money. But my child reads. Reads voraciously, voluminously. When I homeschooled on a shoestring budget, we practically lived at the library.

    So I ask you, why does my child need reading logs? They were assigned in her private elementary school and those kids were not the ones you describe. FedUpMom, who wrote this post, also has her daughter in a private school. Therefore, the rationale for assigning reading logs to this population does not hold any water. And I seriously doubt that any kid will read more because he’s been made to do a reading log. As Sara Bennett writes in her book, in the time it takes a child (often with her parents) to fill out those darn logs, she could have been reading another book.

    I’ll let you in on a secret. My daughter didn’t mind them too much. They weren’t as bad as painstakingly copying definitions out of the dictionary. I still didn’t see the point. A waste of time. And given her homework load, one more useless assignment.

    Shelbylee, I have to run. You asked in full sincerity so I’ll think of something. I am sure Sara will chime in and give you some advice. Thanks for being a caring teacher and for asking important questions.

    May 10th, 2010 at 7:07 am
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  404. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    I am frus­trated because I get no parental sup­port
    ***

    You’re teaching high school! How much parental support do you need?

    ***
    I use read­ing logs or jour­nals to help stu­dents to be rep­son­si­ble
    ***

    If you asked your students why they fill out reading logs, do you think any of them would reply, “it helps us be responsible”?

    ***
    they read the words but make no per­sonal con­nec­tions.
    ***

    I don’t know who started this “personal connections” deal, but I think it’s crazy. People should be allowed to immerse themselves in reading and experience it naturally, without watching themselves do it and trying to force connections on it that might not even exist. A book is a different world; that’s why I like reading.

    I’m reading a book about the search for the Northwest Passage (off topic, I recommend it: “The Man Who Ate His Boots”) and I don’t stop every few pages and try to relate it to my own life, which would be difficult. I don’t say to myself, “gee, they’re starving to death and trying to subsist on lichen they scraped off of a rock while wandering hopelessly in a hostile frozen wasteland. That reminds me of the time when I … uh … ” (what, exactly?)

    I just read and experience. Can’t we allow our kids to do the same?

    ***
    If this (read­ing logs) is so wrong and unpro­duc­tive, could some­one please give me some alter­na­tives to accom­plish some of these objec­tives??
    ***

    Have you tried asking the students? They’re almost adults. Tell them the goal is that you want all of them to read and enjoy reading. Ask them, how can you help to accomplish this goal? Tell them you will honestly consider reasonable suggestions. They might surprise you.

    Oh, and ask them whether they find reading logs helpful.

    May 10th, 2010 at 7:43 am
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  405. FedUpMom says:

    Here’s a message from the Pro Teachers Forum:

    http://www.proteacher.org/a/113002_I_let_the_reading_log_go.html

    I let the reading log go
    By maryteach

    I quit doing them. I did an anonymous survey with my kids at the end of the year and asked how many TRULY did the reading for their reading log. 40% confessed to lying about it! 40%!!!!!!!!! A lot of parents will sign the log, even if they know it’s a lie, so their child doesn’t lose the grade. Why should a lying kid with lying parents get the same grade that the honest, hardworking student with honest parents gets?

    Also–beginning this year–we are not allowed to flunk any child over not doing homework. Reading logs were the only homework I gave them. We do everything else in class. I was making the log worth a whole lot of points so if it didn’t get turned in, it hurt a lot….but what was really happening was that the same kids were reading, the same kids were not. Some kids who I think were actually doing the reading could not, for the life of them, remember to turn in that log every three weeks. So some kids who were really reading were being knocked down to half credit (ouch!) for a late log, while some of the little liars were remembering to get their lie turned in on time, so they got the A.

    And in the end–the kids who are going to read independently will, and the ones who don’t want to, won’t. I don’t think requiring reading logs had the outcome I had intended at all. You can require reading logs till you’re blue, and the students who don’t want to read, aren’t going to. So I’m done with them. I’m done reminding them over and over that it’s due in one week, six days, five days, etc. And I am tired of kids who still don’t get it in on time even AFTER all the reminders. I am tired of beating my head against the reading log wall. I was one of the only two holdouts in our English department, and this year, I’m not doing them.

    May 10th, 2010 at 8:05 am
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  406. PeggyinMA says:

    A good place to begin might be for teachers who use reading logs to consider what the true goal of the log is.

    It is sad that there are students who appear not to have time or to make time to read at home, but how much control can a teacher really exert here? What makes it a teacher’s responsibility to “assess” personal reading, done on a student’s own time?

    If the goal is to nurture a lifelong love and appreciation of reading, might I suggest with all due respect that teachers need to turn away from mandating reading logs and quizzes and think creatively about how to support students in their own processes of discovering the value of reading, in whatever form it takes. This is what the Book Whisperer book and blog are about (link is on Stop Homework home page). Teachers also can speak up in support of the crucial role libraries and credentialed librarians play in creating a culture of readers in their communities.

    May 10th, 2010 at 8:18 am
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  407. HomeworkBlues says:

    So some kids who were really reading were being knocked down to half credit (ouch!) for a late log, while some of the little liars were remembering to get their lie turned in on time, so they got the A.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    My daughter, on her own, was reading Wuthering Heights, Shakespeare, NY Times and Scientific American in 5th grade, just to name a few. She forgot to turn in her reading logs and got an F in reading. School called me, telling me she was going to be pulled out for remedial reading. I had a fit, ran in there, and told them, don’t you DARE! It was one of those times I forgot to be meek and let them have it.

    May 10th, 2010 at 10:09 am
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  408. FedUpMom says:

    HWB, I was reminded of you when I looked at Jay Mathews’ column this morning.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class-struggle/2010/05/child_resisting_school_try_a_s.html#comments

    Someone home-schooled their kid for a year and wrote a book about it. It sounds a lot like your story.

    Warning: the comments are disheartening.

    May 10th, 2010 at 12:10 pm
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  409. HomeworkBlues says:

    FedUp, I read it too. In fact, the woman who wrote the book interviewed me for my sabbatical after DD had returned to school. I will tell you that I coined the term sabbatical in this usage. Laura Brody contacted our state wide homeschooling organization, looking for people who’d done what she called “short term homeschooling.” They put Laura in touch with me. We talked for a while and she sent me a list of questions to answer. I referred to it as our “sabbatical” and Laura loved that term. I like what she writes, she had a wonderful piece in the Post’s Outlook some months ago, but shouldn’t she credit me for that usage? :(.

    I really enjoyed working with Laura on that article. I’m itching to read the comments today but I’d better wait. I have some deadlines today for a change (one after the other, all revolving around graduation, scholarships, college) and I must not get derailed!

    One quick thought, though. Jay Mathews presents a “sabbatical” when all else has failed and you need a time out, what he calls emergency schooling. In our case, my daughter attended what is arguably considered the “best” middle school in the county. I’m told parents fall all over each other to get into that GT Center.

    We left because homeschooling was heavenly while school was merely so so. And that’s on a good day. Not because she couldn’t hack it or we ran screaming but because what I could do, what we could do was head and shoulders over anything school had to offer. And that’s putting it diplomatically. The school we should have turned our backs on the second I laid eyes on that grim sour controlling 5th grade teacher even before day one was the two years of public school elementary.

    May 10th, 2010 at 12:35 pm
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  410. Disillusioned says:

    HWB- I am always struck by the same qualities you describe in public elementary school teachers. Volunteering always left me sad and depressed. It’s as if they want to make everyone as miserable as they are.

    May 11th, 2010 at 12:18 pm
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  411. HomeworkBlues says:

    Just being in the classroom left me sad and depressed too. Why are these places of learning not places of joy?

    May 11th, 2010 at 12:51 pm
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  412. FedUpMom says:

    Here’s an essay about “literacy kudzu”: love the term!

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/literacy-kudzu.html#more

    I feel that the main effect of all this promotion of reading skills is a generation of kids who despise reading.

    May 15th, 2010 at 10:06 am
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  413. Anonymous says:

    Research shows that young students that read at home will show more improvement in every other academic area than those students that do not. As a 1st grade teacher, I have taught years where I didn’t require a reading log and years when I did. I have noticed that when I let the Reading Log be more of a weekly “when I get the chance” assignment rather than a “You better do this every single night or you’ll miss recess” assignment that parents seemed to be more receptive. From a teacher’s point of view the last thing we want is for students to hate reading..especially in 1st grade when they’re just now starting to learn how to read! But, the standards set for students these days are so high that if we didn’t expect parents to help out at home most students would never meet the ridiculously high standards that are set for them. Reading logs aren’t meant to be a burden or a homework assignment for parents. Asking parents to sign a reading log isn’t a sign that teachers think parents wouldln’t read with their child if they weren’t being asked to. If you’re reading with your child at home anyway, what’s wrong with signing a piece of paper saying you did so? I love my students and I love having positive and open relationships with my parents and I would hope if any parent had a problem with homework that I sent home with their child or a better suggestion on how I could improve their child’s reading level or other academic areas without sending home homework that they would share it with me and not bad mouth my strategies for improving their child’s education on the internet or with other parents. I think if parents understood the amount of pressure put on teachers they would understand the reasoning behind a lot of things that we do. Yes, we get paid to be teachers and we are given about 5 and 1/2 hrs a day to teach children, but if we were “just teaching” that would be great..but we are doing mandated testing, paperwork, working with students with special needs, helping students below grade level in interventions, and trying to control 25+ kids. Parents expect us to teach students to be responsible, polite, honest, etc. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a little help from them as well.

    May 21st, 2010 at 10:34 pm
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  414. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    Research shows that young stu­dents that read at home will show more improve­ment in every other aca­d­e­mic area than those stu­dents that do not.
    ***

    Okay, I believe you. That’s why I am adamantly opposed to reading logs and anything else that causes my kids to hate reading.

    ***
    “You bet­ter do this every sin­gle night or you’ll miss recess”
    ***

    Why does anyone think this is OK for 1st grade? You teach very young children. They can’t reliably remember to do something every single night. You’ll hold many out of recess for nothing more than being normal 6-year-old kids. Terrific. You’ve not only made them hate reading, now they hate school. Plus they’ll come home and start bouncing off the walls because they didn’t get a break during the day.

    ***
    par­ents seemed to be more recep­tive
    ***

    Parents will be certain to sign the log, whether the child did any reading that night or not, because they don’t want their kid to miss recess. That doesn’t mean parents are “receptive” to the reading log or that the log is accomplishing anything useful in the child’s life.

    ***
    most stu­dents would never meet the ridicu­lously high stan­dards that are set for them.
    ***

    If you think the standards are ridiculously high, why do you spend your time enforcing them?

    ***
    I love my stu­dents
    ***

    Well, that’s what you tell yourself. But if you really loved your students you wouldn’t hold them out of recess because their parents neglected to sign a reading log.

    ***
    I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a lit­tle help from them as well.
    ***

    When you send home a mandatory reading log with mandatory parent signature, you’re not “asking for help”, you’re demanding compliance. No, it’s not the same thing.

    May 22nd, 2010 at 9:19 am
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  415. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    but we are doing man­dated test­ing, paper­work, work­ing with stu­dents with spe­cial needs, help­ing stu­dents below grade level in inter­ven­tions, and try­ing to con­trol 25+ kids.
    ***

    Teachers say they work hard, and I believe them. My question is, how much of that work is actually worth doing, and how much is just a waste of time and effort?

    May 22nd, 2010 at 9:32 am
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  416. HomeworkBlues says:

    “Research shows that young students that read at home will show more improvement in every other academic area than those students that do not.”

    But that’s our entire point! We aren’t arguing against READING, we’re arguing against reading logs!

    I sound like a broken record here but my daughter was reading The New York Times at age eight (while sucking her thumb. You know, those asynchronies) and grabbing Wuthering Heights off my bookshelf and reading it in its entirety at age ten. What does she need reading logs for?

    I know too many kids who despise reading and attack it like a chore, to be dispensed with quickly so they can move on to what’s really important, television. Reading logs, Accelerated Reader, DIBELS have all produced a generation of kids who by and large, do not get lost in their reading. I know many top students going to highly selective colleges who have dutifully read throughout K-12 but just don’t seem to love it. These are your cream of the crop. And even they’ve been damaged by our grade school system.

    “that they would share it with me and not bad mouth my strategies for improving their child’s education on the internet or with other par­ents.”

    We aren’t bad mouthing you. We are a group of intelligent smart parents who came here out of alarm. Your strategies by and large don’t work and we’ve spent considerable time proving that on this post.

    May 23rd, 2010 at 7:35 am
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  417. PsychMom says:

    Referring to the Anonymous teacher’s posting….can anyone tell me of another profession that serves the public that actually demands that the recipients of their service do part of their job for them? Yes, many public services have automated their services so that we access their services in more of a self serve manner. Mainly those are cost cutting measures. But to actually say to the public, “I can’t do my job in my normal work day so you have to pick up the slack”.

    Except it’s disguised as “parental involvement that enhances student learning”. I worry about my mounting debt too as I pay for private school, but when I read things like that posting, I worry more about public school and its effects on families.

    May 25th, 2010 at 7:36 am
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  418. HomeworkBlues says:

    PsychMom, yea, that letter took a lot of chutzpah. The teacher said in essence, I waste my day doing useless tasks that I am forced to do. Therefore, you must pick up my slack and “help” me.

    Except it isn’t even just “helping.” So many of us found we were doing all the work, essentially homeschooling our children from 4 to midnight.

    Given the stack of useless work this teacher moaned about, why would she (I think it’s a she) demand reading logs? Isn’t that just more useless paperwork, more time wasted? As FedUp wrote, garbage in, garbage out.

    May 25th, 2010 at 8:58 am
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  419. HomeworkBlues says:

    “Parents expect us to teach students to be responsible, polite, honest, etc. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a little help from them as well.”

    No, I don’t ask you to do that. That’s MY job. I ask you to teach. That’s your job.

    Yes, you can “help” me by reinforcing values we instill at home. In turn, I will “help” you by raising my daughter in an intellectual environment where learning is revered, where she trips over books because I litter the house with them.. That kind of partnership can live with. But that’s not what we have now.

    May 25th, 2010 at 9:06 am
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  420. Anonymous says:

    Maybe all of you complainers should try teaching a modern-day class before you sit here and blame us teachers. You read a couple of books and now you think you’re all experts about homework. You complain about the many teachers you have had problems with in the past. You say you have had such bad experiences in both public and private schools. You say you have hardly met any good teachers around. Maybe the schools and teachers aren’t the problem…maybe you are the problem. Did you ever think about that? I am very glad that your children love to read for hours and hours. As a teacher, I think that’s great, but I also want to say, “SO WHAT?!?” There are kids out there who read just as well and as much as your kids, and their parents aren’t on this web site declaring their hatred for homework, for schools, for teachers. One of you had a story about how your child read instead of doing another assignment and she got in trouble for reading. That is ridiculous. Your child did not get in trouble for reading. She got in trouble for not being responsible enough to do assigned work. Why couldn’t she do the assigned work (which should take hardly any time because she is so smart), then go back to reading some more? Stop making lame excuses for your kid. If you got pulled over for speeding and the cop says your license expired the day prior and you had to pay the consequences, would you tell him that you should be let off because you were too busy reading to renew it? Loving books, and being able to read, and enjoying the pleasures of reading are not passes to dismiss life’s everyday tasks. Just because a student reads above grade level does not make it acceptable for him/her to ignore other required assignments. Your kid’s not the only one who can read well!!! Lots of other kids read well too–even the ones with a low socioeconomic background. I had a parent in my class this year that said that her child was not going to be doing homework anymore because she and her son didn’t see the value of practicing skills he already possessed. She also mentioned that she didn’t see the point in him doing it because I never sent it back home with feedback (I am a teacher who trusts that parents and students communicate at home about their school work and homework, and that homework is practice of concepts learned during school hours so it shouldn’t be graded). Anyway, she said that it was a decision she made with her husband and son. I told her that it was fine, and I really do believe that it’s the family’s choice to do homework or not. I actually give every student a satisfactory grade for turning homework regardless of whether it is completed or not because I don’t believe it is a school issue as much as it is a home/family issue. However, there are a sharing activities my class does in school using the homework that they have completed. She walked in one day and noticed that all of the students in my class were sharing their homework, including their literature responses that accompanied their READING LOGS (I ask my students to write about whatever they would like to as long as it has to do with their book of choice). She saw that her child was uncomfortable and upset that he didn’t do his homework and had nothing to share. A simple homework task could have been completed by this student within ten minutes could have avoided the discomfort of feeling left out. Needless to say, the family started doing homework again shortly after this incident. Telling your child that homework isn’t important could be a lie. To the student in my class, it was important for him to have his voice heard in class that day like his peers. It was important for him to be able to share about what he read over the past week. Think about what social skills you are teaching your children when you tell them that they can read all night for homework instead of doing what was assigned. You might as well change the word “read” in that sentence to “eat 100 pounds of chocolate,” or “get drunk,” or “play with guns.” You are telling them that their choices override that of any authority figure…that there is no authority figure, and that you will support them on it no matter what. Stop making excuses for you kids and trust teachers. Why the hell would we purposefully try to “torture” your kids with homework? If I wanted to “torture” a kid, I could find better ways than that. We are their parents during the day.

    June 16th, 2010 at 10:49 pm
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  421. Anonymous says:

    In response to PsychMom’s posting “can any­one tell me of another pro­fes­sion that serves the pub­lic that actu­ally demands that the recip­i­ents of their ser­vice do part of their job for them?”

    Are you kidding me? It’s not like you’re just sending your car through the carwash or checking out a book at the library. Teachers deal with actual human beings. If you took your child to the doctor and you needed to check your child’s temperature twice a day and give him medicine three times a day, would you say no to the doctor because that would be like you doing his job for him? NO! You would try to help your child the best you could so that he/she would get better. Why wouldn’t you do the same when a teacher asks you to help your child?

    June 16th, 2010 at 11:11 pm
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  422. Anonymous 2 says:

    Anonymous- could you perhaps write in paragraphs, as it makes it easier to read?

    There is a difference between schoolwork and taking medicine and a fairly large one at that. The difference is that in many situations (not all), for the brighter children in the class, school is more about busywork rather than learning and may serve no benefit other than stressing them out- when you’re at the top there are few places left for you to go. Medication, on the other hand, is given to make people get better, only when they need it.

    Another thing you spoke about was reading instead of doing assignments and that you would not use that as a valid excuse if your license expired. It is true that you would not if you had many good reasons not to let your license expire which you most probably do- for example to stay on the road and experience the benefits of being able to move from place to place more quickly. But for many school students, particularly those who know their grade work back to front, their only reason to do a homework assignment is to prevent getting in trouble from the teacher. They may not experience any benefits from doing said homework assignment, unless it happened to be about something that they were passionate about (in which case the benefit would be the joy of doing it). The point of school is to learn and if a person is not learning because they already know the work then I see little point in forcing more work of the same nature down their throat. If the reason is “because everyone else has to do this work” then it is little wonder that there are many people worldwide who are too afraid to do things differently to other people.

    It’s nice to hear that in your class students get to happily discuss their homework, but do respect the fact that this is not always the case. In many classrooms, homework is simply collected, given a mark by the teacher and then handed back. It seems to me that this is the situation of many posters or children of posters on this blog.

    June 17th, 2010 at 5:04 am
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  423. PsychMom says:

    To Anonymous….who said
    “Teach­ers deal with actual human beings.”

    I know you deal with human beings. All the more reason for you to be accountable for what you’re doing and responsible for keeping up with the latest research in the area of education.

    You also said:
    “Why wouldn’t you do the same when a teacher asks you to help your child”

    If my child needed help, of course I would help. But I’m not asked to help. I’m told to teach. As far as I know, my child doesn’t have learning difficulties; she doesn’t need help. This is very different from your medical example. If there is so much that teachers have to cover that they can’t do it in class, then the curriculum is not appropriate. Young children in elementary school and their parents should not be forced to pick up the slack. School ends at 3:15…just like work days end at 5 pm.

    There just came out a new study here in Canada that reported that adult lives are totally messed up and that the future of our collective health is in jeopardy. We don’t eat with our families, we don’t get out of the house, we don’t go out to cultural events or national parks at the rates we did just 10 years ago, we don’t work regular hours…we are too stressed. And that’s the adults. Kids will fair worse. Homework is not necessary in our lives…it’s got to go.

    June 17th, 2010 at 8:16 am
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  424. PsychMom says:

    I meant “kids will fare worse”

    June 17th, 2010 at 8:18 am
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  425. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    If you got pulled over for speed­ing and the cop says your license expired the day prior and you had to pay the con­se­quences, would you tell him that you should be let off because you were too busy read­ing to renew it?
    ***

    You could write a book about control freaks just using the comments on this post. Teachers are not cops, nor should they be. Education should not be about training kids in compliance.

    The whole comment from anonymous was about authority and doing what you’re told. There’s not a word about learning. She doesn’t claim that her assigned homework actually teaches the kids anything.

    ***
    She saw that her child was uncom­fort­able and upset that he didn’t do his home­work and had noth­ing to share.
    ***

    In other words, you found a way to humiliate the child in class. Nifty. Couldn’t you just ask the kid to say a few words about his reading, if he didn’t have his reading log?

    ***
    I told her that it was fine, and I really do believe that it’s the family’s choice to do home­work or not … Need­less to say, the fam­ily started doing home­work again shortly after this inci­dent.
    ***

    Passive-aggressive control freak much? If you’re serious about letting families decide whether or not to do homework, stop humiliating kids who haven’t done it, and don’t crow about forcing families who don’t believe in homework to do it anyway.

    ***
    Think about what social skills you are teach­ing your chil­dren when you tell them that they can read all night for home­work instead of doing what was assigned. You might as well change the word “read” in that sen­tence to “eat 100 pounds of choco­late,” or “get drunk,” or “play with guns.”
    ***

    What the …? As a teacher, you should be aware that free reading is one of the best things our kids could possibly be doing for their education. No, it’s not equivalent to getting drunk or playing with guns, except in your world, where the only two categories are “obey the teacher” and “every other activity known to humankind.”

    ***
    Why wouldn’t you do the same when a teacher asks you to help your child?
    ***

    Mandatory reading logs with mandatory parent signature are not “asking for help”, they’re demanding compliance. I believe I’ve said this before, but it doesn’t seem to sink in.

    June 17th, 2010 at 8:36 am
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  426. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    If I wanted to “tor­ture” a kid, I could find bet­ter ways than that.
    ***

    I’m sure you could. That’s why you don’t belong in the classroom.

    June 17th, 2010 at 8:49 am
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  427. FedUpMom says:

    Here’s a list of “Top Ten Reasons I Hate Reading Logs”, from a teacher!

    http://blog0rama.edublogs.org/2010/03/24/top-ten-reasons-why-i-hate-reading-logs/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MrsLovesBlog-0-rama+(Mrs.+Love%27s+Blog-0-Rama!)

    June 17th, 2010 at 9:03 am
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  428. PsychMom says:

    To FedupMom,

    This teacher has a galvinizing effect…bringing into clear focus why what we’re saying and doing on this site is so important. It was that post that spurred my Open Discussion post today. I’m now for a ban…the total elimination of homework from the education system. At least we have data on our side.

    All the other side has is conjecture, intuition, and serious control issues.

    June 17th, 2010 at 9:09 am
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  429. Disillusioned says:

    Good Heavens! I am struck by the hostile, angry tone of anonymous. In order to be a great teacher, I think one really has to know herself and understand what is motivating her interactions with parents and students. The bad teachers I have encountered truly don’t understand what motivates their words and actions.

    June 17th, 2010 at 1:50 pm
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  430. PsychMom says:

    Yes, and anonymous told us to trust teachers.

    Parents have been far too trusting that the school system knows what it’s doing. I get wary when any institution says, “Trust us..we know what we’re doing.”

    Jeez…I never used to be so cynical.

    June 17th, 2010 at 2:01 pm
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  431. Disillusioned says:

    Agreed. Also, in reference to the doctor analogy; one is free to choose another doctor if he or she feels the need for another opinion. Moreover, if they choose not to follow the doctors orders, they don’t have to worry about a vindicitve doctor humiliating their child.

    June 17th, 2010 at 3:02 pm
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  432. HomeworkBlues says:

    I have so much to say and so little time to say it. Let’s start with this, shall we, and pick up next week.

    “You might as well change the word “read” in that sentence to “eat 100 pounds of chocolate,” or “get drunk,” or “play with guns.”

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    You must not like to read very much now, do you? Gee, what gave me that clue?

    Our children are made to feel guilty for…READING. NCLB goes crazy, twisting itself into a pretzel to raise those reading scores, and here are kids who read, and your response? So what. I pity the very rare Einstein or Mozart in your class.

    You equate reading with guns, drinking, excessive chocolate. Sinful pleasures, eh? Can’t have too much joy, we’ll all go to hell. Who says religion has been removed from the classroom?

    And while we’re at it, do try to compose an essay in paragraph form, easier on the eyes. It offends this English major’s sensibility. When I homeschooled my daughter, there would be hell to pay (hell again) if she submitted writing to me of that caliber.

    June 18th, 2010 at 2:42 pm
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  433. publicteacher says:

    Wow~ I’m a mother AND a public school teacher who absolutely LOVES my job. It sounds like a lot of lazy parenting here.

    Homework is a great way (especially in math) to reinforce what they learned in school.

    Reading logs ARE to hold them accountable…what in the world is wrong with that? Moms…as adults we are ALL held accountable for something in this life.

    June 18th, 2010 at 5:47 pm
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  434. HomeworkBlues says:

    public school teacher, yea, we’re pretty lazy in this household. You seem to think my daughter doesn’t do homework. I first joined this blog out of alarm. Homework was increasing exponentially each year and my child was staying up later and later.

    If you only knew what we parents have done, how much we’ve been involved, the things we do to ensure she learns and keeps up at school, you would never have the gall to call me a lazy parent.

    June 18th, 2010 at 8:45 pm
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  435. HomeworkBlues says:

    public school teacher, shouldn’t the accountability be in reverse? Why must we parents be accountable to you? You’re the one getting paid! Shouldn’t you be accountable to us, the taxpapers, the clients? How would you feel if I asked you to log everything you did all day? You know, just to make sure you’re teaching.

    June 18th, 2010 at 8:47 pm
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  436. FedUpMom says:

    publicteacher says:

    ***
    It sounds like a lot of lazy par­ent­ing here.
    ***

    Hey, thanks. But what exactly is “lazy” about an ongoing struggle regarding our kids’ education? The lazy (and very popular) solution is to simply fake the log.

    ***
    Read­ing logs ARE to hold them accountable…what in the world is wrong with that?
    ***

    What’s wrong with it? It causes kids to hate reading, that’s what’s wrong with it.

    June 18th, 2010 at 8:57 pm
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  437. HomeworkBlues says:

    I’m on a roll. Stop me before I wax wise! You’re going to say, but it’s the kids who must be accountable, not the parents. Well, you do ask for our signature, don’t you? And surely you must have figured out by now how many of those logs are faked, parents doing all the work. My daughter dutifully filled out those useless logs. In the time she was recording all these factoids, she could have been reading another book.

    And what did the teacher do with the mounds of paper flowing onto her desk? Nothing! Were they used in class as a learning tool? Never.

    But…when I respectfully broached the subject of its value, she listened to me. She really did. I was not rude, she was patient. She admitted she assigned the logs because that’s the way it’s been, an old habit. I posited, most of these kids are reading, why the log? She couldn’t think of a good answer. I suggested she already knows who the struggling readers are. Just about all these kids did their homework. I suggested she trust them, they would read, the log served no useful purpose. I don’t know a single kid who became a much better reader because she filled out a log. Many of us parents sought to instill a love of books in our children. It would never have occurred to us to ask them to fill out a log to nurture that budding passion. Who dreamed up this idiocy? Common sense should automatically dictate otherwise.

    My daughter had a fabulous teacher in 4th grade. She neither admonished the children when they read ahead (yep, hard to believe, but my daughter was always chastised for being unable to stop reading) nor forced a worthless weekly reading log on them. All your doing, teachers, is creating a bookkeeping nightmare. Why do you want to juggle all that paperwork?

    But that was private school. Time to drag public school into the 21st century. It’s been ten years. Time to shift course.

    June 18th, 2010 at 8:58 pm
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  438. HomeworkBlues says:

    Typo alert! All YOU’RE doing. Not, all YOUR doing.

    June 18th, 2010 at 9:00 pm
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  439. Anonymous says:

    Come and teach in a classroom in southern California. The minority population is the majority. I have kids in my class speaking Arabic, Spanish, Korean, and French. Their parents may or may not be educated adults. None of them speak English well. I encourage families to read books in their home languages as well as in English. Reading logs and literature responses have been useful and helpful to those families. While you live your American Dream, there are people who rightfully reside in this country who are desperately trying to get their children educated so that their children can read English just as well as your kids.

    Also, teachers are accountable for so many things already, including your children’s well-being each and every single day they attend school. Why is it wrong for us to ask you to be accountable for your child’s education at home?

    June 23rd, 2010 at 8:49 pm
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  440. Anonymous says:

    Forgot on the last post that I also have a student who speaks Hindi =)

    June 23rd, 2010 at 9:06 pm
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  441. HomeworkBlues says:

    “Why is it wrong for us to ask you to be accountable for your child’s education at home?”

    Not wrong at all. Pretend my daughter is in your class. Let’s go back, pretend she’s ten again. Ask me what we do at home. I’ll gladly tell you. We read, go on walks and hikes, free Shakespeare, free classical concerts, the library, museums, art exhibits, math and science competitions, Odyssey of the Mind, intellectual dinner conversations that would go on for hours, were it not for homework. And I’m just getting started. See, we do plenty at home. No reading logs necessary.

    You don’t need to be looking over our shoulder. We take our parenting and home learning responsibilities very seriously. Based on what I’ve seen, accountability needs to be on the other side. I’ve proven what I do at home. Now it’s your turn. And no, test prep doesn’t count.

    And by the way, I don’t live the American Dream. I know exactly what you’re talking about when you tell of immigrant children raised by non-English speaking parents. I was one of those children.

    June 23rd, 2010 at 10:32 pm
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  442. Anonymous says:

    Just because you were an immigrant child raised by non-English speaking parents doesn’t mean you aren’t living the American Dream. I am also an immigrant to this country. My parents were educated in our home country, but I can say that if we didn’t come to the United States, life would be very different for us. My parents were, and still are, very hard-working people. Growing up, we didn’t have a big house. We didn’t have a lot of money, and my parents didn’t have the resources to take me to the museum. They didn’t know about free concerts or art exhibits. I was lucky that I did have parents who thought dinner as a family, and family time in general, was important.

    Today, I send home information about free educational trips, events, and outings for families to attend. Our schools hold events in the evenings inviting families to join, including reading nights, picnics, concerts in the park. Most families do not come. Their kids are at home with a video game or TV as a babysitter. I have parents come in my class to ask me who Judy Blume is because they havve never heard of any of her books.

    Your family has more quality time together than most families. I applaud you for that. Don’t do the homework if you don’t want to, but you cannot expect teachers to stop giving it because there are children growing up in this country who do not spend quality time with their families. Most of them have never participated in a family dinner, own a library card, or have seen an art exhibit. I also have worked in a school where students lived in motels, so they could move any time during the year. They are replaced with new motel tenants. These kids move so often and are usually from broken families in which parents didn’t finish school themselves. They only own a couple of books. Their parents have the reading comprehension of a third-grader. I have met with parents who were illiterate, and the only thing they knew how to do was to write their name. There are parents who don’t do what you do with your daughter. They use homework as the quality time that they spend with their children. I have been asked by parents many times in the beginning of the school year when homework is going to start because they want to have it. We are accountable for many children, not just yours. We are accountable to students, parents, the community, the state, and the federal government. I work for a school district that believes in providing each student a way to succeed through dozens of programs, which are being cut little by little as funds from the government have dwindled.

    We also mainstream many students with special needs. I have had students who have been diagnosed with emotional disturbances, severe speech and language needs, autism, and ADD and ADHD. I have students who are on medication which affects their learning, especially if their doctors are just figuring out the correct dosage for them. Many of these students and their parents rely on systematic contracts and charts for both social and academic areas. They use a reading log everyday.

    I do use reading logs in my classroom. I have never asked parents to sign it. It is a very small part of my reading program. I have used them very consistently with families who think their children can benefit from them. I send a reading log with other students to fill out about one week of every month, which includes a response to one of the books that they read that week. It is more like a book report with a porttion of it being a log. The log part is to literally make a checkmark next to each day that they read for at least 20 mins. I encourage students to read more, of course. I don’t ask for titles or authors, nor do I ask for a parent signature. The students share their responses in class, and enjoy doing so. They recommend books for their peers to read, and they make comments or ask questions about what they read at home. Some students, of course, participate in this more than others. It’s not a perfect system. Some kids just don’t read as much, and some kids just don’t like sharing or speaking in front of a group.

    For every class that have each year, I can say that maybe a quarter of them will read with or without the log. That number is not enough for me to say that it’s okay to do away with them forever. With the way things are going right now in my state and in the country, it is also getting more and more difficult to individualize education for my students.

    Our school library doesn’t even have its own space. It is in the corner of our multi-purpose room. The librarian doesn’t allow kindergarten and first grade to take books that they have checked out of the school library home because it is too expensive to replace lost items! These kids have to get books some other way! It’s ridiculous! I use the reading log to see if they did some kind of reading at home, and to see if they read a legitimate book when they write a response and share in class. Like I said, not all students go to other libraries besides the one at school.

    If you have a problem with the education system of our nation, don’t blame teachers. Blame the politicians that run the system. The government requires us to do a lot with the very little money that they provide us. They also want us to raise class sizes, but find a way to individualize instruction and find a way to give more one-on-one time with students. Many of my colleagues were pink-slipped this year, and still don’t know if they are coming back in the fall. If they do not come back, then our class sizes will increase. On top of that, we have been asked to take 6 furlough days. So now they want us to teach the same things that we do each year with having more kids in a classroom, less resources, and in less time. I teach in a state where prisons receive more money per inmate than schools do per student.

    P.S. It is sad that someone would say that it is a guilty pleasure to play with guns.

    June 24th, 2010 at 12:33 pm
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  443. Anon Mom says:

    Gee, we flat out told the teacher in an email our kid wasn’t going to do his reading every night, especially if there was a choice between sacrificing sleep and his nightly reading. Life gets in the way and we do have one beside homework after school.

    June 28th, 2010 at 2:54 pm
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  444. Amazed says:

    These are hilarious to read! Thanks for the entertainment! You need to come to my school. Parents meet with a panel of teachers and adminisrators to voice concerns and together come up with solutions. It has worked out wonderully! Goodluck and hope some day your concerns are heard and dealt with.

    June 30th, 2010 at 11:32 pm
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  445. Anonymous says:

    you all sound extremely lazy. it is vital that you be a part of your child’s formal education. you’re making excuses b/c the work is hard/time consuming for you and/or your child. many parents no longer expect their children to do anything they don’t want to do. Teachers, parents, and students need to be accountable for their work. It’s a partnership formed for the benefit of YOUR child! Each year the work load increases b/c your child is older, has more skills, hopefully a longer attn span, and more stamina. If we never increased the expectations they will not be ready for college (which is the goal for most of the students at my school). I make my students write a reading log b/c I want to talk to them about what they’re reading b/c many parents don’t bother. They need to get used to responding to their literature in written form, writing in complete sentences and communicating their thoughts and feelings about the text.

    July 7th, 2010 at 9:33 am
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  446. PsychMom says:

    One thing and one thing comes to mind only when I read your comment Anonymous.
    Old School…
    Did you know it’s 2010, not 1963.
    I want more for my child than what you’re offering, which is not much. Same tired old stuff from 30 years ago. Same boring old things you’ve been doing for 30 plus years and more. It’s no wonder kids are dropping out of school at the rates they do.
    There is more to life than the drudgery you’re wanting my child to entrain herself to. I’m very much a part of my child’s formal education, just not the way you want. And just because I prefer my way doesn’t make me a bad parent, nor does it make my child a failure.
    It’s taking me weeks and weeks this summer to get my kid to love reading again because she was forced to read things she wasn’t interested in all last school year. School did that, not me. Old School.

    July 7th, 2010 at 11:45 am
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  447. HomeworkBlues says:

    I’ll second PsychMom here. Anonymous, in addition, I stopped counting all the mistakes in your post. Hope you don’t teach reading or writing.

    What I hear from you is drudgery, compliance and above all, numbness. You don’t convey a passion for what you do. Pity your poor students. If they do remember you years later, don’t bet it’ll be your inspiration and excitement.

    You say you are preparing your students for college. Trust me, a whole lot of college professors would rather you not “prepare” them if this is what you think preparation is. I have college professor friends who are tearing their hair out of their heads because some 5th grade English teacher ruined it for the kids. Please apply the Hippocratic Oath: “but first do no harm.”

    July 7th, 2010 at 3:56 pm
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  448. Anonymous says:

    any suggestions about what I could do, as a teacher, to get my students to read outside of school. Reading is a habit that needs to be developed in young people. I love to read, but when I get out of the habit of finding time and picking a good book, I find that I don’t read for months. that is not what we should want for our developing readers. would i, as a student, hate writing the log? yes. would it get me to pick up a book i like and read? yes.

    I have a very small class of fifth graders (8) in a private school. I believe, maybe foolishly, that 7/8 read each night and complete a valid log. I don’t think 7/8 would make the time to read if i didn’t require it.

    I’m sincerely interested in your input.

    July 7th, 2010 at 4:14 pm
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  449. FedUpMom says:

    PsychMom, HWB — could you stop by Kid-Friendly Schools and drop me a line? I’m pretty sure the comments are now coming through. It’s lonely over there! **crickets**

    http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com

    July 7th, 2010 at 4:48 pm
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  450. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    I believe, maybe foolishly, that 7/8 read each night and complete a valid log.
    ***

    There’s a post from a teacher somewhere in this list where she found that 40% of her students admitted to faking the reading log. What would happen if you tried an anonymous survey?

    ***
    any suggestions about what I could do, as a teacher, to get my students to read outside of school.
    ***

    Have you tried asking the students what would help them read more at home? Have you asked the parents?

    One thing I’ve noticed with older dd is that she’s very interested in recommendations from her friends. If you could harness some of that energy, you’d be in good shape.

    Also, take a look at the Book Whisperer — there’s a link on the side —

    oops, gotta run!

    July 7th, 2010 at 5:00 pm
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  451. FedUpMom says:

    From further up in the comments:

    ***
    The parents complaining here are the very parents teachers call “helicopter parents” – they hover and rescue.
    ***

    more recently:

    ***
    you all sound extremely lazy.
    ***

    I propose that we put the commenters who think we’re overinvolved helicopter parents into a conference room with the commenters who think we’re underinvolved lazy parents. We can send in pizza every few hours, and they can let us know when they’ve reached a consensus.

    Actually, I don’t care whether they reach a consensus or not. I’m really losing interest in teacher’s opinions of me as a parent.

    July 7th, 2010 at 11:27 pm
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  452. PsychMom says:

    Hi FedUpMom…I tried to post a comment yesterday but when I typed in my e-mail address (URL, right?) it said there were invalid characters in it….
    I love your new blog BTW.

    July 8th, 2010 at 7:21 am
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  453. PsychMom says:

    To the Anonymous private school teacher:

    You are demonstrating the classic problem that I have with educators these days. Children are not small adults. Just because you would find reading logs a pain BUT they would get you reading, doesn’t mean that kids operate the same way. They don’t have the reasoning skills necessary to say “This sucks but it’s good for me to do anyway”. Kids stop at …”IT SUCKS”

    Read to them! If you want to stimulate their imaginations…read to them. HELP them to love the books. You have to find a hook for each of the 8 kids…you’re lucky you’ve got only 8. But the issue is the same for each child. As far as I’m concerned, your primary job is to teach them to love books. Period. They can do the rest for the rest of their lives if you at least do that.

    July 8th, 2010 at 7:49 am
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  454. FedUpMom says:

    Aaah! Comment problems!

    When it says “URL” it probably expects a web address ( you know, http://… whatever.)

    Could you try again, and just use the “Anonymous” option?

    I’m using a preformatted blog page, and I’m still finding my way around in it.

    Thanks for your support!

    July 8th, 2010 at 7:54 am
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  455. PsychMom says:

    To FedUpMom: I posted as Anonymous and it worked! How come the other commentor doesn’t show up as a comment on the initial post?

    July 8th, 2010 at 8:29 am
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  456. PsychMom says:

    No worries… now both commentors are there…

    July 8th, 2010 at 8:32 am
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  457. Anonymous says:

    Mercy sakes – it seems that there are people who spend way too much time complaining about reading logs – get over it. Go live your life away from this forum. Take the advice from Nike – “Just Do It” (decide to support the homework or to what degree you deem worthy and then get on with life). It seems that you enjoy discussing this topic via this blog to the point that it appears obsessive.

    July 8th, 2010 at 11:18 am
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  458. Anonymous says:

    to psychmom

    Read to them! If you want to stimulate their imaginations…read to them. HELP them to love the books. You have to find a hook for each of the 8 kids…you’re lucky you’ve got only 8. But the issue is the same for each child. As far as I’m concerned, your primary job is to teach them to love books. Period.

    I do read to them every single day for at least 20. Then we spend time reading in groups. we only read books that the students select. they read with me, with partners, with a CD, and sometimes on their own. by the end of the year my students love reading. Reading on their own at home is just one more time during the day for them to read. it helps them transfer what we do at school to another setting. they read whatever they want, no restrictions. I have never had a parent or student complain about reading logs. ever. I have parents come to me at the end of the year thanking me for helping their child learn to love reading. not every kid or parent shares your point of view.

    July 8th, 2010 at 2:20 pm
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  459. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know who started this “personal connections” deal, but I think it’s crazy. People should be allowed to immerse themselves in reading and experience it naturally, without watching themselves do it and trying to force connections on it that might not even exist. A book is a different world; that’s why I like reading.

    ……………………………………….

    There are different kinds of reading and different purposes. Yes, every reader enjoys immersing themselves in a good book, being transported to a different time and place. But in school ONE of our requirements in the teaching of reading is to teach the skills of reading. One of the goals of the reading assigned inside and outside of school is to get the students to stop and think about what they are reading (ask questions, make inferences, make connections, understand the author’s purpose and possible bias). As older readers, we do all of this naturally. Most younger readers have not made these skills automatic. They are just enjoying the story (there’s nothing wrong with that but sometimes the purpose of reading goes beyond that). There is often more to enjoy beyond what the author has put on the page.

    July 8th, 2010 at 2:55 pm
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  460. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    I have never had a parent or student complain about reading logs. ever.
    ***

    Most people don’t complain, because it’s a big hassle. From the parent’s point of view, you have to deal with the teacher’s defensiveness, and there’s always a chance the teacher will take out her frustrations on the child of the complaining parent.

    So most parents take the easy way out and just fake the log. Between the parents faking and the kids faking, you’d be amazed at the small fraction of truthful reading logs.

    July 8th, 2010 at 7:27 pm
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  461. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    One of the goals of the reading assigned inside and outside of school is to get the students to stop and think about what they are reading (ask questions, make inferences, make connections, understand the author’s purpose and possible bias).
    ***

    The problem with making kids do this stuff is that they wind up hating reading. If your efforts to teach kids reading skills means that they never willingly pick up a book again, it just isn’t worth it. Let them enjoy reading and the skills will come naturally.

    This has been posted before, but it’s relevant again:

    http://thediamondinthewindow.typepad.com/the-diamond-in-the-window/2009/09/that-cursed-reading-log.html

    ***
    It’s as if someone came up to you post-orgasm and said, “How was that? Would you give it a five? Or a four? Please, just write it down on this form each time.”
    ***

    July 8th, 2010 at 7:43 pm
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  462. PsychMom says:

    Certainly not everyone shares my view of reading logs or my dissapointment with the way reading is taught in many schools today. I don’t expect that. On this thread, (the most often responded to thread on this site), I only write in now when teachers write in to say that what I believe is wrong and that I’m doing a disservice to my child by not blindly doing whatever teachers tell me to do.

    Children are not small adults. Echoing FedUpMom’s recent comment, if dissecting books turns young children away from reading, it’s not worth it. Sure, some children can handle the deeper meanings and nuances. Explore it with them. But when a 8 or 9 year old just loves to read, leave them alone to do it. The standards or criteria that many teachers say they “have” to follow should be subject to professional judgement. At the very least, the different rates of growth seen in young children should be respected.
    I, to this day, cannot understand the purpose of reading logs. This summer, I’ve asked my daughter to keep track of how many books she reads. I want the number…I could care a less about the title, author, or what the book was about. The spark is gone…it flickers when I read to her..but it lasts only a day or two.

    July 9th, 2010 at 7:37 am
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  463. Anonymous says:

    May I suggest the book, Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf. It is a story about how our brains develop into readers.
    >>>>>>
    “Let them enjoy reading and the skills will come naturally.”

    I work with children who by no fault of their own, their parents or their teachers, struggle with reading. They come from very diverse backgrounds and they simply cannot enjoy reading until they have been given the tools & strategies in which to do so. WE use reading logs to track progress – to celebrate milestones and successes. It is all in the perspective of the beholder in how the reading logs are used.

    Unfortunately for some children the skills don’t come naturally – no matter how much they read. But then again, our brains were not originally meant to read…how fortunate your children are if reading does appear to come naturally.

    July 9th, 2010 at 10:36 am
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  464. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    I work with children who by no fault of their own, their parents or their teachers, struggle with reading. … they simply cannot enjoy reading until they have been given the tools & strategies in which to do so.
    ***

    You know what? I don’t believe you. I think a child who is able to read is also able to enjoy reading. I think the “tools & strategies” you give the kids are exactly what prevents them from enjoying reading.

    The constant demands for “accountability” and “connections” are a lot of heavy lifting for a kid. You’ve taken something that should have been a pleasure and turned it into a chore.

    I loved reading as a kid. I never had to make “text-to-self” connections or predict what would happen next or any of the currently fashionable literacy kudzu.

    http://theconcordreview.blogspot.com/2010/05/will-this-is-brilliant.html#comment-form

    July 9th, 2010 at 2:07 pm
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  465. Anonymous says:

    You know what? I don’t believe you. I think a child who is able to read is also able to enjoy reading.

    ————————————–

    Yes – when they finally get to the point that they can read, they do enjoy reading. Until then reading is not enjoyable.

    Did you know that on average 20% of the children cannot read without getting additional ‘tools & strategies’ that allow their brains to grasp the skills needed to enjoy reading – these children may have dyslexia, dysphonia or another dysfunction of the processing systems within their brains that keep them from developing reading skills without intervention.

    ‘How the Brain Learns’ by David A. Sousa
    ‘Overcoming Dyslexia’ by Sally Shaywitz, M.D.
    ‘Brain Literacy for Educators and Psychologists’ by Virginia W. Berninger and Todd L. Richards

    July 9th, 2010 at 11:49 pm
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  466. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous, are you teaching kids how to read in the basic sense — that is, how to figure out what the word is on the page? That’s one set of issues.

    Or, are you teaching reading in the “language arts” sense — that is, how to write responses to the books (text-to-self, etc.)? That’s a completely different set of issues.

    July 10th, 2010 at 9:17 am
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  467. FedUpMom says:

    A quote from Diane Ravitch’s new book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System”:

    ***
    State standards for the English language arts are similarly vapid. Few states refer to a single significant work of literature that students are expected to read … Instead, they babble about how students “interact with text”, “apply word analysis and vocabulary skills to comprehend selections”, “relate reading to prior knowledge and experience and make connections to related information”, “make text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections” …
    ***

    Gives you an idea of how we got into our present mess …

    July 10th, 2010 at 9:44 am
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  468. northTOmom says:

    Anonymous,

    I’m not sure what “tools and strategies” you’re referring to, but the “language arts” strategies that FedUpMom mentions do not in my opinion teach reading, nor are they at all concerned with how fluently or well a child reads. I don’t even think they are concerned with “comprehension” in any normal sense of the word.

    When my daughters were in 2nd grade, the would consistently be given rather average grades in reading, because the assessment was based solely on sessions with the teacher where she would ask things like: “what does the cover make you think the book is going to be about,” or what does the story remind you of in your life.” My kids would often answer “I don’t know,” or “nothing” to such questions because they found the book boring, or they were shy that day, or the book didn’t relate to anything in their lives (this happened a lot). Once one of my daughters told me she answered “I don’t know” to a question about what the cover might tell her about the book because, as she said, “mommy you told me not to judge a book by the cover.” (I kid you not!)

    Yet these were kids who were reading chapter books well above grade-level (books like Little Women), voluntarily and independently in their spare time. If the teacher had even just asked open-ended questions such as “did you like the book,” or “what was the book about,” my daughters would have been able to answer, and the teacher would have learned something about their comprehension. (This teacher also rarely actually asked them to read to her. When I asked her why not, she said, “Fluency is not the issue; we’re not concerned with that.) As soon as this type of assessment was dropped (the next year), my daughters grades in reading went way up and stayed there. So I’m very wary of these “strategies”; they seem like a kind of game, one that my children didn’t know how to play very well, despite being competent, voracious readers.

    July 10th, 2010 at 9:44 am
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  469. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    Once one of my daughters told me she answered “I don’t know” to a question about what the cover might tell her about the book because, as she said, “mommy you told me not to judge a book by the cover.”
    ***

    I love this kid!

    ***
    So I’m very wary of these “strategies”; they seem like a kind of game, one that my children didn’t know how to play very well,
    ***

    Absolutely right. That describes so much of school. You’ve given me the theme of a blog post …

    July 10th, 2010 at 10:36 am
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  470. northTOmom says:

    Oops, in the last paragraph of my comment, I meant to write “my daughters’ grades” (with apostrophe!).

    FedUpMom: I’ll look forward to the blog post.

    July 10th, 2010 at 11:39 am
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  471. Anonymous says:

    it would be great if we could individualize homework based on student need and the amount of parent support/invovlement the child gets but in a class of 25 or more it is almost impossible. to take homework away from every student would be a disservice to some just as giving homework is a disservice to your child. it is a tricky situtation, not one that can be fixed just by eliminating homework/logs. it would be more productive to share points of view and brainstorm a solution that would meet the needs of many groups of students, not just the ones who come from homes w/ rich learning environments.

    the general vibe of this thread is quite hostile. it would be so much better if people who post and have strong feelings about these issues worked together to come up w/ workable solutions. complaining and spouting philosophy isn’t very productive. (In my head, I’m not saying this w/ any type of disrespect or hostility. I hope it comes across that way).

    July 10th, 2010 at 11:46 am
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  472. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    it would be great if we could individualize homework based on student need and the amount of parent support/invovlement the child gets but in a class of 25 or more it is almost impossible.
    ***

    OK, maybe it’s hard to devise homework that’s actually useful for every student, but as a parent, that’s not my job. It’s the teacher’s job, and in my district she’s paid quite well for it.

    If the teacher assigns homework that doesn’t help my child learn, then let me opt out. I will write a note saying “we’ve decided my child won’t be doing this homework”, and the teacher’s job is to accept it. No nagging, scolding, humiliating the child in class, taking her out of recess, or other consequences. Just trust the parents to make the right decision for their child and let it go.

    July 10th, 2010 at 12:10 pm
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  473. DumbfoundedEducator says:

    FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    I work with children who by no fault of their own, their parents or their teachers, struggle with reading. … they simply cannot enjoy reading until they have been given the tools & strategies in which to do so.
    ***

    You know what? I don’t believe you. I think a child who is able to read is also able to enjoy reading. I think the “tools & strategies” you give the kids are exactly what prevents them from enjoying reading.

    ***************

    Then you would be wrong. You should probably educate yourself on this topic unless you want to continue to look like a fool. sigh.

    July 10th, 2010 at 3:32 pm
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  474. FedUpMom says:

    DumbfoundedEducator, people have enjoyed reading for many centuries without teachers insisting on text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections, without reading logs, and without reading journals. They just read books they cared about.

    We are raising a generation of kids who hate reading. I know you educators want to blame TV, the internet, and us parents, but you need to take a good hard look at what happens in the schools. I am not the only parent to notice that my kid becomes less interested in reading the more she is pressed to account for it.

    Suppose you were watching a favorite movie, and then your boss showed up and insisted that you stop the show every 5 minutes and answer questions about what you thought the characters would do next, what the screenwriter wanted to communicate, and how it relates to your personal experience. Would you still want to watch the movie?

    July 10th, 2010 at 9:10 pm
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  475. Anonymous says:

    I am a first grade teacher of 16 years. And while many of you have valid comments regarding homework and logs there are 2 things you are not aware of or addressing…1. many districts have homework policies and teachers do not have a choice about sending something home for homework. and 2. if all parents did their jobs as parents instead of expecting the teachers to do all the work for them, then we wouldnt have to send homework home! It insures parents are doing their part and teaches responsibility! I am so tired of parents who expect us to be the teacher, the mom, the counselor, etc….. You had them so take some responsibility! And for the intelligent comment abouve about we get paid to do the job…you must not be aware of how little we get paid!

    July 17th, 2010 at 11:26 am
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  476. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous, in my district a teacher makes 48K in their first year, and the salaries go up from there.

    ***
    if all parents did their jobs as parents instead of expecting the teachers to do all the work for them, then we wouldnt have to send homework home! It insures parents are doing their part and teaches responsibility!
    ***

    Nope, you lost me there. It’s not your job to “ensure parents are doing their part”. It’s really none of your business how I choose to raise my kids.

    It’s hard enough trying to keep a classroom of kids under control all day. I can’t imagine why you make your job harder by trying to control what their parents do with the kids after the school day is over.

    And how exactly am I asking you to do my job? I’m asking you to do your job, namely teaching. Teach the kids during the school day, and I’ll decide how we spend our time at home.

    July 17th, 2010 at 6:01 pm
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  477. DumbfoundedEducator says:

    FedUpMom says:

    DumbfoundedEducator, people have enjoyed reading for many centuries without teachers insisting on text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections, without reading logs, and without reading journals. They just read books they cared about.

    We are raising a generation of kids who hate reading. I know you educators want to blame TV, the internet, and us parents, but you need to take a good hard look at what happens in the schools. I am not the only parent to notice that my kid becomes less interested in reading the more she is pressed to account for it.

    Suppose you were watching a favorite movie, and then your boss showed up and insisted that you stop the show every 5 minutes and answer questions about what you thought the characters would do next, what the screenwriter wanted to communicate, and how it relates to your personal experience. Would you still want to watch the movie?

    ************************************************

    1) I love reading your posts because you have no idea what you are talking bout. Like I said before…You should probably educate yourself on this topic unless you want to continue to look like a fool.

    2) you are so narrow minded…

    ….my little kid does this and my family does that …therefore the education system has to work this way…

    If you don’t like how things are done then a) speak out at your local school board meetings or
    b) home school your kid(s)

    July 18th, 2010 at 7:42 pm
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  478. FedUpMom says:

    DumbfoundedEducator, do you have anything useful to add to this discussion, or do you just like to insult people?

    There’s another option besides a.) and b.).

    July 18th, 2010 at 9:41 pm
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  479. DumbfoundedEducator says:

    FedUpMom says:

    DumbfoundedEducator, do you have anything useful to add to this discussion, or do you just like to insult people?

    There’s another option besides a.) and b.).

    ****************************************8

    sure, there are many other … complaining about it in the comments section on someones blog isn’t one of them.

    July 19th, 2010 at 12:25 am
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  480. FedUpMom says:

    DumbEducator, I don’t just comment on the blog, I wrote the original post, which has gone viral and has now been read by hundreds (thousands?) of people. If you think that’s a waste of time, that’s your problem.

    And if my efforts are a waste of time, how about yours? I may spend time complaining, but you’re spending time complaining about the complaints.

    July 19th, 2010 at 12:43 pm
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  481. DumbfoundedEducator says:

    FedUpMom says:

    DumbEducator, I don’t just comment on the blog, I wrote the original post, which has gone viral and has now been read by hundreds (thousands?) of people. If you think that’s a waste of time, that’s your problem.

    And if my efforts are a waste of time, how about yours? I may spend time complaining, but you’re spending time complaining about the complaints.

    ************************

    And how many people have read this that are in your school district that have the opposite opinion as you. If you want any change to happen in your area those are the people you need to reach (then you have to convince them that what you say has any validity…which it doesn’t). I’m betting that number is near zero.

    Post away … WH is an important tool in education … you are not going to change that.

    July 19th, 2010 at 12:53 pm
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  482. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    WH is an important tool in education
    ***

    What the heck is “WH”?

    July 19th, 2010 at 2:33 pm
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  483. DumbfoundedEducator says:

    FedUpMom says:

    ***
    WH is an important tool in education
    ***

    What the heck is “WH”?

    ********************

    sigh…

    Homework

    July 19th, 2010 at 4:58 pm
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  484. FedUpMom says:

    Don’t sigh at me, you’re the one who reversed the letters. I’m not psychic, you know.

    July 19th, 2010 at 5:19 pm
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  485. DumbfoundedEducator says:

    FedUpMom says:
    …I’m not psychic, you know.

    *******************

    Good to know….My apologies.

    July 19th, 2010 at 11:26 pm
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  486. FedUpMom says:

    Here’s a terrific post, “Reading logs killed the bibliophile”.

    http://wouldashoulda.com/2010/03/24/reading-logs-killed-the-bibliophile/

    July 25th, 2010 at 3:34 pm
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  487. Lisa says:

    I would like to see homework actually graded for correctness rather than completion. Not only does this show the child the work they are doing has a real value but also lets the teacher, parent and student know exactly what the child is learning.

    I am told homwork is “practice” and “children should not be punished by a grade if they do badly”.They are working and as such should be given a grade just as that teacher “earns” her pay.

    This also allows better all over grades for those students who test poorly, for what ever reason. It balances out the grades that seem to only count, those for test taking. Perhaps parents should be able to grade teachers for what our children learn and teachers earn rather than some benign statement as to a highly effective teacher. PLEASE !!!

    I hate the summer reading and math programs! First of all a child needs to be taught by a credited teacher not a mom or dad that never took geometry, calculus or literature classes. If a school is going to require summer at home programs then
    1. supply the book
    2. also supplies for these stupid scrapbook, building, cooking etc projects
    3. They cannot count as a grade if a teacher is not present to teach ( ours count as the students first 9 weeks grade ) look for ruling by the New York Board of Regents (1998 ?) on exactly this subject.
    4.Ensure that the students that are in remedial classes must do the work as well instead of being told they do not have to do it because they need a teacher to show them how to actually do the work. Most students in our middle and high school with IEP’s are not assigned any summer assignments but are not put in summer school classes either. Yet they can be up to 3 or 4 grade levels behind in reading. Go figure.

    I read voraciously every single day as can my sons but they hate being forced to read something they have no interest in. We spend a fortune at bookstores and come home from the library with arm loads of books that they all READ and not only comprehend but we have spirited debates over what they have read. I love it when my sons say” Mom, you have to read this-it is great or what a waste of time”. By giving them choice they have expanded their reading horizons on their own.

    Give them choice, have reading dicussion groups daily in class instead of numerous question sheets, crossword puzzles and book reports. By letting them discuss freely and by using their wonderful minds you will find they test better. They are drawn into the discussions and can even tell you who liked the book, who hated it and all about the characters and plot. And I know that as a teacher you can tell exactly where your students stand by this form of evaluation

    Why do you think there are so many reading groups out there for adults. Oprah sure started something…
    Even in our little rural community there are reading discussion groups.

    Reading logs are a total waste of time for all. More paperwork and less brain work. Annonymous really needs to be removed from the classroom. I do not want them teaching any of my kids.

    Forget the paperwork if it means nothing.

    July 27th, 2010 at 1:18 pm
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  488. Lifelong Reader says:

    I stumbled on this blog when I googled “reading logs” in an attempt as a teacher to do some research on creating a more meaningful way to support at-home reading.

    My passion for teaching is probably the same passion that many of you have for motherhood. It is clear that this blog is filled with people’s passionate comments. One thing that should not be happening is parents telling teachers how to teach, and teachers telling parents how to parent. Now, unfortunately, due to the way our school systems work, there is a need for accountability. Accountabilty from all aspects: children, parents, and teachers. Just as a dentist is accountable for your child’s tooth that he/she pulled, a teacher is accountable for the work he/she does. Sadly, due to how teachers’ salaries are paid, some parents feel that, in turn, they are able to control their children’s teachers. What seems to be forgotten is that teachers are professionals; they each have a degree that allows them to qualify for the position. As your dentist is a professional, your child’s teacher is too. A good start to this problem is communication, filled with respect that teachers are the experts at teaching and parents are the experts at parenting.

    July 27th, 2010 at 3:30 pm
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  489. Matthew says:

    @Lifelong Reader- I appreciate your reasoned tone, but I disagree with you on some points.

    Just having a degree does not necessarily make one a professional. Unfortunately, what I see is a pretty large percentage of teachers (not all) that are not “professionals” in the sense that I think of. I expect a professional in any field to approach his or her work with something like the scientific process: continually learning about the field, seeking feedback, experimenting to see what works best. Specifically with teaching children, teachers need to have a deep understanding of developmental psychology, but what I see often is that teachers’ teaching methods actively turn off children.

    As for why parents like me feel that I should be able to “control” teachers it is quite simple:
    1. I pay their salary through my taxes
    2. I have no choice in where I send my child to school (without forfeiting all that tax money)

    Believe me, I don’t want to be complaining as much as I do…I would like the interaction between parents and teachers (and between teachers and students) to be much more collegial. But when on the very first day of school the teachers (almost all of them) send home a contract for the student with lists of “you WILL do this” and “you WILL NOT do that” you’ve lost me (and my child) before I ever got a chance to be friendly.

    Finally, teachers cannot be compared to dentists. If I don’t like a dentist I leave and I don’t come back. I can’t do that with the public school.

    July 28th, 2010 at 6:50 am
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  490. Lisa says:

    I think in many ways we are all fighting over the same thing, teachers and parents alike. It all comes down to funding and the curriculum.

    We need to look at what is required to be taught by the states and how the money is spent to fund it.

    In my son’s AP history class he is required to read and finish report sheets during the summer before school begins. Instead of sending home the book (the kids might lose it) they xeroxed the 3 chapters and questions. Either the state requires too much in curriculum or the teacher cannot teach what is required during the year. The cost for over 60 students (small school) is what?

    In the elementary school children bring home a sheet every night copied out of their spelling and math workbooks, again not to be brought home becuase they might forget the book the next day. Cost again?

    In the middle school a teacher copied every page of the geography workbook rather than send it home nightly.
    Cost again?

    Do we need so many workbooks? Middle school math books have enough questions for homework to last the full year. So why are we copying worksheets and buying workbooks. The contracts are required to get the kids to be responsible and do the work, how about being responsible for bringing their books and homework back in each day and save us a fortune in workbooks and copying costs.

    I have no problem with reports for language arts, science, history etc. but expect more classroom work than they are doing. I expect my children to have to work and to succeed but am told I am either being too hard or that I enabling my children by expecting the computerized progress book program (that we are paying for) to be filled out with homework and grades at least every other day so that my child with an IEP ( short term memory ADHD etc) so we have a resource to make sure he is completing all assigned work. He is smart enough to know that the teachers will grade him on work completed rather than work assigned even though we insist that he be graded on assignments. But big deal 3 points for compeletion rather than actually being able to perform the work correctly and graded properly for it.

    I found recently that parents can be part of a program at the state board of education level that allows them to be part of determining curriculum as well as their point of view with the schools and they then go back and report these findings to schools in their districts and parents.

    Now how many parents can afford to take more time off of work to attend these meetings. It is hard enough to get parents to attend conferences because of their work schedules ( many 2nd shift) to having other children at home that must be taken care of. Why not use title 1 monies to have child care offered during the conferneces oops I forgot- title 1 monies can only be used for title 1 money can be used for title 1 families.Or can it?

    How many teachers ask the parents what their backgrounds are in their career fields? Many are teachers or stay at home parents now that previously taught for many years. Teachers take umbrage at our questioning them yet as parents we are denigrated by terms such as helicpopter parents etc. by these same teachers. Do you really want us to be involved or not?

    Now that being said I have found that the majoity of teachers in our schools are excellent but lacking the support of funding and parents.

    We had a middle school math teacher tediously explaining algerbra to a parent that is a mechanical engineer ( with many patents) that has a higher math degree than a high school math teacher. He (the parent) quickly explained that if a teacher felt he was to stupid to understand the math perhaps the teacher was to stupid to teach the class. He then explained his credentials in the field of mathematics and left the conference disgusted with the teacher and school in general.

    Before staying home with my children I ran a business that grossed over 28 million a year but becuase it was a small business the teachers and superintendent act as if I couldn’t possibly understand how to run the school.It is still a business or perhaps it should be run as one.

    Instead of sniping at each other about the curriculum we all get together in our prospective schools and work on a plan that could be used at the state or federal level that would improve our schools. In Ohio a new bill was passed for the “Family Civic Engagement Plan” yet I can guarantee you that the school will only use the select few parents that they use on every committee and not make it common knowledge to the rest of the parents. I have already asked and was not responded to in any manner. The Principal even said she had never heard of it but they passed it at a school board meeting that night.

    We have to work together or we might as all homeschool our children at this point. Children that need the help are not getting it and children that can easily do the work are forced to do more because of state testing results on the whole.

    Let us put our heads together on this board and think of ways to make things work for our children, parents and teachers alike.

    July 28th, 2010 at 11:31 am
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  491. FedUpMom says:

    Think how much time and money could be saved if we just abolished homework until high school.

    July 28th, 2010 at 8:18 pm
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  492. DumbfoundedEducator says:

    Matthew says:

    As for why parents like me feel that I should be able to “control” teachers it is quite simple:
    1. I pay their salary through my taxes

    **********************************************

    Make sure you tell that to the police officer that pulls you over

    ..I pay your salary through my taxes so you can’t give me a ticket.

    July 28th, 2010 at 8:47 pm
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  493. Matthew says:

    @DumbfoundedEducator: if the cop abuses his position as I feel some teachers do, you can bet I’m going to complain.

    I would also note that the police generally pay a lot of attention to public relations and modify their methods sometimes based on public opinion. I don’t see that in the public teaching field.

    The public schools (and I think the administrators are worse in this regard than the teachers) seem to have forgotten who they work for (the taxpayers). The point I was trying to make was not that I would actually say to a teacher “I pay your salary, you need to do what I say” but that I do expect responsiveness to parents, politeness, and a feedback loop that actually does change things over time.

    July 29th, 2010 at 6:20 am
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  494. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    Make sure you tell that to the police officer that pulls you over
    ***

    I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of hearing about the police on a blog about schools. Teachers aren’t supposed to be cops, and they’re not supposed to be bosses. They’re supposed to be “in loco parentis” — surrogate parents.

    July 29th, 2010 at 11:10 am
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  495. Anonymous says:

    FedUpMom says:

    ***
    Make sure you tell that to the police officer that pulls you over
    ***

    I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of hearing about the police on a blog about schools. Teachers aren’t supposed to be cops, and they’re not supposed to be bosses. They’re supposed to be “in loco parentis” — surrogate parents.

    *************************************
    The police was just one example. There are many professions out there where the person is being compensated through taxes. The vast majority of these jobs you personally have no control over even though you ‘pay’ for their wages.

    surrogate parents: Well I hope that isn’t the case. My wife teaches elementary school and she definitely wouldn’t consider that part of her job description. She definitely doesn’t advise students on their religious preferences, or many other issues, as a parent would. (I’m a college professor so all my students are ‘adults’)

    July 31st, 2010 at 12:53 am
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  496. DumbfoundedEducator says:

    Yes that is my post above….forgot to put DumbfoundedEducator in the Name section.

    July 31st, 2010 at 12:55 am
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  497. DumbfoundedEducator says:

    Matthew says:

    @DumbfoundedEducator: if the cop abuses his position as I feel some teachers do, you can bet I’m going to complain.

    I would also note that the police generally pay a lot of attention to public relations and modify their methods sometimes based on public opinion. I don’t see that in the public teaching field.

    ***************************************************

    Do you live in the USA…because this really doesn’t happen. The only time they seem to change, and this is only some of the time, is if one of their own gets caught on video doing something wrong.

    July 31st, 2010 at 12:59 am
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  498. DumbfoundedEducator says:

    Matthew says:

    The public schools (and I think the administrators are worse in this regard than the teachers) seem to have forgotten who they work for (the taxpayers). The point I was trying to make was not that I would actually say to a teacher “I pay your salary, you need to do what I say” but that I do expect responsiveness to parents, politeness, and a feedback loop that actually does change things over time.

    *****************************************

    If you don’t like how the schools is your district are being run then you should work to elect a new school board. This is where your voice can be heard. A Teacher could have 30 parents all trying to get changes to the classroom that are all different and most likely incompatible with each other. On the other hand, maybe all the ideas are great and if that teacher implements all of them he/she will only have to work 20-40 more hours in the week.

    July 31st, 2010 at 1:13 am
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  499. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    If you don’t like how the schools is your district are being run then you should work to elect a new school board.
    ***

    By the time a new school board is elected and any change has been made, my child will have graduated.

    I like this option: take your kid out of the public school.

    ***
    A Teacher could have 30 parents all trying to get changes to the classroom that are all different and most likely incompatible with each other.
    ***

    You’re saying that parents want different things, so the teacher is justified in ignoring them. Thanks a lot for the partnership.

    ***
    On the other hand, maybe all the ideas are great and if that teacher implements all of them he/she will only have to work 20-40 more hours in the week.
    ***

    If we ditched homework in elementary school, teachers would save time and energy. We’re not advocating more work for teachers at all.

    July 31st, 2010 at 8:43 am
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  500. FedUpMom says:

    Hey, this is the 500th comment! Woohoo!

    ***
    A Teacher could have 30 parents all trying to get changes to the classroom
    ***

    In my experience, the number of parents who take the trouble to try to get changes is extremely small. In a class of 30, I’d be surprised if you get 5 or 6 parents with persistent complaints.

    The fact that teachers freak out and feel like “the parents are always making my job harder!” shows a fundamental problem. Teachers really don’t believe parents have any right to complain about what’s going on. That’s why a few complaining parents gets blown out of proportion.

    A second point, which I apparently can’t stress enough, is that when I refused to do a reading log, I wasn’t trying to get a change in the classroom. I was trying to control what I did with my own child in my own home. That’s my right as a parent.

    August 1st, 2010 at 12:01 pm
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  501. dsLevy says:

    I will kick off by stating that I did not read ALL 500 comments and if what I’m about to say has been said, I apologize for the redundancy.

    I’m an 8th grade English teacher in a very high-achieving public middle school in California and yes, I require a reading log. Now, first of all, I will say that it wasn’t my idea but a convention in place at the school long before I arrived. Do I completely agree with it? Not on your life. Do I expect parents and students to complete it? Yes, I do. However, I do so not because I don’t trust the students (in fact, I think the reading log largely encourages academic dishonesty and fibbing) but because the state and federal education board has decided that voluntary independent reading be required (I won’t even get into the sick irony of the requirement itself except to ask: “How can something be voluntary and required at the same time?”). We, as public school teachers, MUST account for this standard and show that the students are reading. The community I teach in is very litigious and the district a bit gun shy due to a couple lost frivolous lawsuits some time ago so the reading logs do provide some accountability. On this point I’ll add that the state of education isn’t really due to the teachers but a government of people who have never stepped into a classroom on my side of the desk.

    With that said, I support the idea that parents should be allowed to monitor their students’ progress and independent reading but MOST do not. The 500 comments on this site really do represent the vocal minority. The reading log asks parents to review each book to make sure it’s appropriate (something, I hope we can all agree, parents should do) and to verify that their student is doing this homework. It takes no more than a minute or two and, as an avid reader myself, this is not going to turn me off of reading. It is a small request, all things considered. Furthermore, many parents are NOT the best academic educators for their children–they do not have the expertise in each content area a selection of teachers provides nor are they armed with the theory and technique that best fosters learning. I’m not saying that this is impossible to learn but there’s enough to it that I’ve spent years studying educational theory, psychology, and technique and STILL learn new methods almost daily. Also, many students do not want to learn academics from their parents. They want to learn morality, politics, and, most of all, acceptance, from their parents and there is no better teacher of these than a parent or caretaker who loves their child.

    Now, here’s the funny part. Parents started complaining at my school about the reading log and so a teacher decided to make the student write an analytical response in their reading log each and every time the child read. This got the parents off her back and she was even commended for her innovative approach to the log. However, the students complained to me that now they know that every time they read and log the pages they’re also buying themselves an extra homework assignment that night. This has encouraged many students to curtail their nightly reading in favor of large, laborious chunks once or maybe twice a week. And yet, I’VE been asked by my department to implement the other teacher’s method in response to pressure from the parents.

    The reading log is an accountability device and I use it as such. It is not meant to offend the parent nor do I honestly believe it will turn a kid off reading. What turns a kid off reading is not being allowed to read what THEY want to read and my logs do NOT do that. “Forcing” a kid to read will not turn them off of reading (research to the contrary is anecdotal at best). If a kid is going to dislike reading, there’s little that can be done to turn that kid into a voracious reader. However, allowing the kid to read what they like for enjoyment (magazines, comic books/graphic novels, scifi, music biographies, etc.) is the best way to encourage reading.

    Thank you, FedUpMom, for raising such a provocative issue. Cheers!

    August 1st, 2010 at 8:36 pm
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  502. FedUpMom says:

    dsLevy says:

    ***
    Thank you, FedUpMom, for raising such a provocative issue.
    ***

    Hey, you’re very welcome! Also, check out my new blog:

    http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com/

    ***
    I’m an 8th grade English teacher in a very high-achieving public middle school
    ***

    Ah yes, high-achieving public schools. Have you read “Doing School”, by Denise Pope? Also, Google “nominally high achieving schools”.

    ***
    It takes no more than a minute or two and, as an avid reader myself, this is not going to turn me off of reading.
    ***

    Oh really? Imagine that your principal required you to read for 20 minutes every night, and you had to keep a log that would be signed by your husband every night. Do you think your enthusiasm for reading would remain undimmed? Do you think your relationship with your husband would be unaffected?

    ***
    Furthermore, many parents are NOT the best academic educators for their children
    ***

    Well, thanks for the vote of confidence there. Look, if you don’t want parents to get stuck with the role of teacher, stop assigning homework. Glad we solved that one.

    ***
    a teacher decided to make the student write an analytical response in their reading log each and every time the child read.
    ***

    What problem was this intended to solve? You mean this way the parents wouldn’t have to sign?

    ***
    the students complained to me that now they know that every time they read and log the pages they’re also buying themselves an extra homework assignment that night.
    ***

    Mother of Pearl! Way to encourage love of learning.

    ***
    “Forcing” a kid to read will not turn them off of reading
    ***

    Yes it will, and it does. It happens all the time.

    August 1st, 2010 at 11:11 pm
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  503. Teacher says:

    After reading this, I realize that many of you hate homework. That is understandable. I agree that children need time to play and socialize after school. So can anyone explain to me the phone calls I’ve been getting about not assigning enough homework?

    I assign a minimal amount of homework, and I’ve actually had parents call me to complain! Apparently, I’m not preparing them for the amount of homework that they will have in the future. I should be assigning more things for them to work on at home.

    It’s just interesting to not the discrepancy between this blog and the reaction to my own low-homework policy.

    August 6th, 2010 at 7:43 am
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  504. FedUpMom says:

    Teacher, exactly how many parents have called you to complain about not having enough homework? How many parents did you have total?

    I ask because I think a lot of these anecdotes get blown out of proportion. If you had a class of 30 kids and 1 parent asked for more homework, you still don’t know what the other 29 parents thought about homework.

    By the way, you’ll get no objection from me if you provide the homework-loving parents with more homework. Just don’t make the homework-hating parents do it with their kids.

    August 6th, 2010 at 4:18 pm
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  505. Matthew says:

    I believe that there are parents out there clamoring for more homework. They are, I suspect, the same parents publicly berating their children for only getting second place in the county-wide science fair (I saw this with my own eyes).

    In my county, the official policy is that homework is to be differentiated. No teachers here follow this policy, but if they did that would let the parents who want more homework to get it and those who want less to be happy, too.

    I would also suggest that if the student is doing well to try to talk through it with the parent. Say that the student is doing well and doesn’t need more practice, ask if the parent thinks there is a specific area the student needs more practice in to narrow it down, and point out the value of non-academic activities (sports, recreation, hobbies, travel, reading for pleasure) in a child’s development. It may or may not help, but as FedUpMom said please don’t stick the rest of us with more homework just because another parent wants it for their kid.

    August 9th, 2010 at 7:40 am
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  506. Teacher says:

    FedUpMom says:

    Teacher, exactly how many parents have called you to complain about not having enough homework? How many parents did you have total?

    I find your comments very acidic. I was just noting a discrepancy. Each year I have 2 to 3 parents that call requesting extra work for their children. If you add those up over the years, that is a lot of parents. And despite those requests for extra homework, I do not give more work to the other children. I get the feeling that you think ALL teachers are unreasonable.

    August 9th, 2010 at 8:44 am
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  507. FedUpMom says:

    Teacher, I didn’t mean to be acidic. I was just trying to understand how many parents we’re talking about.

    If you get 2 or 3 parents a year requesting more homework, how many parents do you get asking for less homework, or indicating there’s been a problem with the homework?

    Most parents don’t say anything at all to the teacher about homework, even if it’s creating problems for the family. It’s much more common for parents to do just do the homework for their kids. Raising the issue with the teacher is a hassle, and most parents avoid it.

    August 9th, 2010 at 9:40 pm
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  508. joeyjoejo says:

    Everyone on this board who is griping, is only complaining because they have a child who performs poorly at school. Don’t blame the school or the teacher. Just blame your kid and yourselves parents.

    From

    Parent with smart kids

    August 10th, 2010 at 4:45 am
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  509. Anonymous says:

    BUNCH OF HIPPIES!!

    August 10th, 2010 at 10:43 pm
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  510. dsLevy says:

    We could go ’round and ’round on the reading log but I wanted to address and clarify one comment:

    “Well, thanks for the vote of confidence there. Look, if you don’t want parents to get stuck with the role of teacher, stop assigning homework. Glad we solved that one.”

    What I meant was that a mother who is a mechanical engineer is a GREAT resource to teach Math but probably not the ideal Literature teacher. We’re talking generalities here, of course, but there are few exceptions in my experience. Furthermore, an expert in any given field does not a teacher make. I didn’t spend the extra hours (years, really) learning how to be an effective teacher for nothing. Anyone can teach something they love if they take the patience but Teachers have specialized education that gives them tools and insight far exceeding the average parent. What a parent SHOULD be teaching is morality, good study habits, responsibility, accountability, etc. As a teacher, I shouldn’t have to teach a teenager the importance of completing work, meeting expectations, or studying for a test but I not only find myself doing that but also teaching general morality (not to bully, not to lie, etc.).

    Also, Teacher said that s/he doesn’t assign much homework and gets complaints. I’m in the same boat. Homework is assigned in my class for independent study and practice. My students are instructed that their parents shouldn’t be bothered by most of what I assign (studying and essaying are a bit different, of course) and I would rather they meet with me before school/class if they have problems. My students also know that I’d rather give an extra day on most assignments if a student requires one-on-one time with me. The point is, however, that I don’t really assign much homework and, wouldn’t you know it, I do get complaints. I would say I have approximately a 25%-30% complaint rate on not giving enough homework. Granted, that might only be six or seven kids out of thirty (sometimes as many as ten) and you can bet I’d get way more for TOO MUCH homework but six or seven emails and/or phone calls about this means I’m spending upwards of two hours per section talking to parents and that’s usually on a monthly basis.

    The homework issue is a big one and, getting back to the topic at hand, reading logs pile on top of that. BUT, and this is a big “but”, the reading logs aren’t a significant weight on that homework load. If it weren’t for the three hours of homework most kids average, reading logs would not even register.

    I commented: ““Forcing” a kid to read will not turn them off of reading” to which you replied that it will. Again, let me clarify: Of course it will! But that’s why I put it in quotes. Making a kid set aside time for reading will not, BY ITSELF, discourage a kid from reading. This is where I believe parents need to step in and remove alternatives to reading. Kids often don’t like reading because it’s 1. difficult and 2. keeps them from easier diversions such as video games, movies, TV, etc. Every kid in my class who does NOT have any of those things is an avid reader and often reads around 2K-3K words a MONTH. The kids who constantly boast about their new video games or the movies they saw over the weekend are, to a one, NOT reading the required 300 pages a month. They say they “don’t like to read.” And yet the readers in my class are expected to do the same reading log. I hope you can see where I’m going with this. Maybe it’s not the reading log that’s the problem at all. Maybe it’s that Reading is not seen as a reward anymore. I’d much rather parents reward their children with an extra fifteen minutes of reading time than an extra fifteen minutes in front of the television.

    OK…back to prepping for the year. Ironically, I’m actually trying to decide how I want to handle the logs this year. :-/

    August 13th, 2010 at 7:44 pm
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  511. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    BUT, and this is a big “but”, the reading logs aren’t a significant weight on that homework load.
    ***

    The problem with reading logs is not that they take a tremendous amount of time, because, as you say, they don’t.

    The problem with reading logs is that they turn reading into a chore, and make kids less interested in reading for pleasure.

    From the teacher’s point of view, there’s also the issue of faking. You may think a nicely filled out reading log proves something, but I assure you it doesn’t. Maybe the kid actually did the reading, maybe he didn’t.

    August 14th, 2010 at 9:01 am
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  512. dsLevy says:

    Oh believe me, I’m not fooled by those reading logs. I think it’s pretty funny when a kid reads EXACTLY the required amount.

    I disagree that the logs make reading a chore. Not at all. What makes reading a chore is that it takes time–time away from TV, from friends, from family, etc.–and not every kid is good at it. Some kids have a basic grade-level proficiency but that does not mean they enjoy the actual act of reading. It is a chore for those kids to read, reading log or no.

    I’m a big believer in Krashen’s work on the subject and his theory of FVR (Free Voluntary Reading) is spot on. If a kid is allowed to read what they WANT to read, they’ll read it and filling out a reading log at the end of the day, week, or month won’t be big deal. It’s like when I worked at Disneyland. We were required to clock out using this really inconvenient and tiresome computer system but it never once made me not want to work there! The job was fun. Reading can be the same. If a kid wants to read Jane Austen, let the kid read her but if they want to read AC/DC’s band biography, I say go for it.

    I’m sorry, but you just can’t convince me that reading logs are the only, or even the strongest, contributing factor discouraging reading among our students. It doesn’t gel with any of my practical experience on the subject.

    August 14th, 2010 at 3:39 pm
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  513. FedUpMom says:

    test to see if my comment will go through

    August 15th, 2010 at 9:11 am
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  514. FedUpMom says:

    dsLevy says:

    ***
    I disagree that the logs make reading a chore.
    ***

    When I say that reading logs make reading logs a chore, I’m not just spinning a theory. I’m describing what I’ve seen happen in my own home. Reading logs had no effect on my daughter except to make her less interested in what had been one of her favorite activities. They had no positive effect at all.

    If you won’t take my word for it, there are many other parents reporting the same phenomenon.

    I’ll put my list of anti-reading-log sites on my own blog, because I can’t get the comment through on this site. You can see the list here:

    http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com/2010/08/join-chorus-against-reading-logs.html

    August 15th, 2010 at 9:31 am
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  515. FedUpMom says:

    Here’s another voice of experience, from a teacher who is also a parent:

    ***
    I quit reading logs, too, a few years ago. I’ll tell you why I quit them: my (then 3rd grade) son, who LOVES to read (we’re talking the whole flashlight under the covers, can we PLEASE go to the library today-love to read) was doing his homework one night. He’s pretty self-directed, so I wasn’t paying much attention to him, but I noticed that he set the oven timer. Then, he sat down on the couch to read. When the timer went off, he slammed his book shut and announced, “Whew…glad that’s over!” I said, “Is your book not good?” and he said, “No, done with my reading homework!” This is the kid that I have to TELL to go outside and play and please put the book down for a little while. That was literally the last day I required reading logs. If reading logs do that to a reader,what do they do to a non-reader?
    ***

    http://blogs.proteacher.net/discussions/showthread.php?p=911908

    August 15th, 2010 at 9:58 am
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  516. Pat says:

    As a retired teacher I have this to say: I am glad I am retired from one of the lowest paying jobs with a degree. And I am glad I don’t have you as parents of my students. You should have thought of all the work parenting requires before you had kids and you should try being a teacher sometime.

    August 15th, 2010 at 11:16 am
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  517. dsLevy says:

    I think I see where my misunderstanding has been.

    You’re talking about teachers who require a set time requirement of reading each night. That’s not what I do at all. I only require that they log the pages they have read so I can see what their reading habits are. Nowhere on my logs does it ask for which days they read or for how long. If they read three pages in a sitting, they log three pages. If they read a hundred, log a hundred. If they don’t read that night, they don’t log it and there’s zero penalty. I set a requirement of 300 pages per month in line with my department’s expectations.

    The idea that “requiring” a kid who likes to read will dissuade them from reading is absolutely ludicrous and tells me that the parents in those circumstances have, quite honestly, failed. If you know, as their parent, that your kid reads more than the required time, simply sign off on the log and move on with life. The log is their to assist parents who can’t get their kids to read, no matter what. The kid who WAS an avid reader but stopped reading once it was required needed to be sat down and conversed with. The poster admitted that they were not monitoring their child. Sorry, but that’s your job.

    The sad thing is that if a kid DOESN’T read, blame falls on the teacher. However, the posters here don’t want the teachers to instill any system of accountability. It’s funny that NO alternative seems to be offered.

    When I was a student, my parents explained that certain things in school were simply required and that there is a difference between doing things for fun (reading, for example) and studying or doing the required work (you know…reading, for example). That ability to separate served me well in college AND in my professional life. I can hope that you aren’t poisoning your children with an inflated sense of entitlement because you think an exception should be made. You’d probably be happier in a private school but I would urge you to ask your child what they want first.

    August 16th, 2010 at 3:29 pm
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  518. FedUpMom says:

    dsLevy says:

    ***
    The idea that “requiring” a kid who likes to read will dissuade them from reading is absolutely ludicrous and tells me that the parents in those circumstances have, quite honestly, failed.
    ***

    Well, thanks for the support.

    My experience of reading logs is that they caused my daughter to lose interest in reading and created stress in our home. I posted a list of links to other sites describing the same problem. I quoted a *teacher* who saw her own son lose interest in reading because of a log.

    And you say that your reading logs couldn’t possibly cause a problem, and if they do it’s the parents’ fault. I give up.

    August 16th, 2010 at 5:55 pm
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  519. PeggyinMA says:

    FedUp Mom,

    Thank you very much for your persistence and strong voice for parents who work hard nurturing readers and nascent readers.

    A few issues have been missed or ignored here by supporters of reading logs:

    1. Parents are writing in that they have seen with their own eyes unintended, negative consequences of well intentioned reading-log requirements, only to have those concerns dismissed and even ridiculed.

    2. Compelling students to track their at-home reading sends the message that reading for pleasure is the school’s business, even outside of school, and must be monitored because students and their parents can’t be trusted. Put another way, the message is that reading is always work that must be checked and verified. I and many other parents disagree that self selected, at-home pleasure reading is the school’s business.

    This is different than reading literature in preparation for class discussion. We are talking about students’ rights, at home, to choose when and what they reading — without being monitored.

    3. Where exactly is the boundary between school and home? Parents can raise questions about what is a reasonable boundary and still be “team players” and “partners.” Schools and individual teachers really have no inherent right to dictate how the healthy habit of reading for pleasure ought to be nurtured in the home.

    By all means, suggest, urge, cajole, promote, advocate for your favorite method, sure. But dictate, no.

    No teacher or school department has the magic formula for creating and sustaining a lifelong reader. In my home, that has been my job since my kids were born, and it’s been going great except for when a well meaning teacher-for-one-year imposes a one-size-fits-all at-home reading “solution” on them. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Trust me when I tell you I know what works and what will just create a problem where there wasn’t one.

    It’s okay to back off when a parent says, “Enough.” Please consider that the parent’s concerns just might be genuine.

    August 16th, 2010 at 11:02 pm
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  520. PsychMom says:

    Oh great, now we’re poisoning our kids. Another teacher declaring me a lousy parent because I don’t legislate reading at home. I’m the parent with the child who stops reading every January when books get assigned and 6 questions per chapter have to be answered in Grades 1, 2, 3 and I’m certain, the impending 4 as well.. dsLevy is suggesting the answer to my child’s problem is a further reiteration of the RULES by me. The conversation should go like, how? “Listen, dear, you read because you have to, enjoyment and interest doesn’t matter. The teacher knows what kind of books you like..and she wouldn’t assign boring books or books that are above your ability to read.”
    Is that the conversation I’m supposed to have? I’m really curious…what is this “sit down” supposed to communicate to my child?

    I give up too.

    August 17th, 2010 at 9:00 am
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  521. dsLevy says:

    The more I read this thread, the more convinced I am that the so-called problem is not in the reading logs.

    I have approximately 100 English students a year (down from 200+ now that I teach Drama). A generous estimate would be that 75% of the students DO NOT read outside of class. Period. If you can honestly sit back and tell me that’s because I ask them to spend thirty seconds writing down how many pages they read (and that’s ALL I ask), I just don’t know how to respond. The effort is honestly akin to stopping for a few minutes to put gas in our cars. It’s inconvenient to some of us when we’re running late but we don’t suddenly stop driving!

    The REALITY is that most kids do not read outside of class. I’m not sure what kind of reading logs your kids are expected to fill out but because you, at home, have made a big deal of them, your kids see them as more than what they are.

    This year, I’m going to expect my students to complete reaction logs for their reading as well as journal responses to the character, author, and personal values reflected in their reading. This will be in their own books. My job is not to make them fall in love with reading. I can’t do that. My job is to teach them how to analyze a novel and write TO that novel. Students will ultimately have to present their analysis to the class much the same way an English major does in college. I’m so tired of people complaining about the thirty seconds it takes to write down that you read ten pages in a sitting. If I’M supposedly the reason kids aren’t reading, well then I guess I just have to “cajole” them to develop good reading skills, interpretative analysis techniques, and show them that ALL reading is a learning experience.

    I will expect my students’ parents to support that and set aside time for their child to read instead of shuttling them between far too many sports practices, dance lessons, or letting them watch TV. Again, I think all of that contributes far more to a child not reading than a simple log does.

    Instead of looking at why YOUR child doesn’t read, start asking yourself why a child in the same class DOES read.

    August 17th, 2010 at 12:54 pm
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  522. FedUpMom says:

    dsLevy says:

    ***
    My job is not to make them fall in love with reading.
    ***

    Actually, that is your job. If 75% of your kids don’t read outside of class, that means you have failed to inspire them. Stop blaming the parents.

    ***
    My job is to teach them how to analyze a novel
    ***

    There is no point in teaching kids how to analyze a novel if they never willingly read a novel again.

    August 17th, 2010 at 3:39 pm
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  523. HomeworkBlues says:

    “Everyone on this board who is griping, is only complaining because they have a child who performs poorly at school.” Really? You know this for a fact? My daughter is a National Merit Scholar. Just sayin’. Since you brought it up.

    You sign yourself a Parent of Smart Kids. You remind me of that bumper sticker I saw the other day: “Your kid may be gifted but you’re still an idiot.”

    August 17th, 2010 at 5:34 pm
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  524. HomeworkBlues says:

    Pat writes: “You should have thought of all the work parenting requires before you had kids and you should try being a teacher sometime.”

    Let me get this straight. I wanted less homework (none in elementary and none or little in middle) because I wanted MORE time with my child. Your comment is laughable, were it not so sad. I know many parents who don’t mind homework precisely because they DON’T want to spend so much time with their children and mandatory homework becomes a convenient babysitter.

    I’m going to scream the next time some teacher comes along here and accuses us of being lazy parents because we have serious issues with homework. Huh? I don’t get it. I wanted (I say wanted because for better or worse, my daughter graduated K-12 in June) less homework because Learning Is Everything in our household. I wanted less homework so daughter had time to do the one thing she’d rather do more than anything in the world, including food and sleep, read. We’re talking Wuthering Heights in 5th grade. We’re talking high quality literature. This is how we all wanted her to spend her childhood afternoons, not filling out some useless tedious worksheet that took a calm vibrant household and turned it into a nightly battlefield. Until I put my foot down and muttered, my house my rules.

    I wanted no homework to keep that fire burning, the passion of reading and writing novels. I wanted more time for museums and bike rides and literary discussions. Where on earth do you see evidence of lazy parenting here? Good grief, I homeschooled my child for a year. You think that was easy? You call that uninvolved?

    For the record, I did teach. And the first thing I threw out was denying recess as punishment.

    August 17th, 2010 at 5:45 pm
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  525. HomeworkBlues says:

    “It’s funny that NO alternative seems to be offered.” Frankly, after being utterly wrung out from the system, the only alternative I see, if I could turn the clock back, was to homeschool. There’s your alternative!

    August 17th, 2010 at 5:48 pm
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  526. dsLevy says:

    Homeschooling is indeed an alternative–one with which I don’t agree but that’s not the topic at hand–but it’s not what I was suggesting.

    I can ONLY speak for MY English class. I assign VERY little homework (I’d say it averages an hour to two a week, if that) and it is NEVER simply spillover from classwork (which is always the result of a teacher who didn’t time themselves well). Homework for my class is independent study on a particular topic that I want the child to do without the interference or input of their peers and without me as a safety net. If you can argue with that philosophy, I’m not sure we can have a productive conversation at all.

    I never said parents are LAZY by not wanting homework. Not sure who said that but that’s an asinine comment. Granted, homework is often a chore for parents to contend with, I’ll give you that, but it shouldn’t be. As a teacher, I can honestly say that I’d rather see the child NOT do an assignment because they didn’t understand it, come to me and ask for clarification, at which point I’ll grant them extra time. I give up each and every break and lunch time to meet with my students because there is simply not enough time in the class period when I have 33 students. I stay, on average, 45 minutes after school to meet with students. I also arrive no less than thirty minutes early to assist students on the previous night’s homework so they have enough time to complete it before school starts. I’m only stating these facts to explain to you that I definitely want to do my part in a child’s education and I’m not shirking any of my responsibility. My colleagues do that same and I’m fortunate to have such an environment at which to work.

    So, when I said that it is NOT my job to instill a love of reading, I meant it. If you look at the California State Standards for English 8, it does not state that I’m to make kids love reading. My job is to teach them how to analyze literature in preparation for their high school and college English and Literature classes. Reading for escapism does NOT enter into that. The outside reading requirement, as defined by the state education board, is to increase fluency and proficiency. The state couldn’t care less if your child actually likes to read. I do my job because it’s what’s expected of me.

    With that said, I read like I was a thirsty man in the desert and books were water. I bring in my books and share them with the students. I lend them out if I think they’re appropriate. I rave about authors and a great number of my students have thanked me for inspiring them to read. ALL WHILE STILL REQUIRING READING LOGS

    August 18th, 2010 at 1:21 am
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  527. dsLevy says:

    Sorry, my last message got cut off.

    The point I was trying to make is that despite the reading logs, I still inspire kids to read. They are not connected. I groan with my students about the logs (I’ve already stated I don’t like them) but my students, within the first couple months of school, get used to them and move on. I have NEVER gotten a complaint about those logs from parents and I’ve taught well over a thousand students so far.

    Other things I take them time out of my very heavy and tightly wound curriculum to do:

    1. I play music every Friday and we look at the lyrics as if they were poetry. By the middle of the year, the kids are reading Shakespearean sonnets and writing their own (two years before they’re expected to).

    2. I assign graphic novels as extra credit to encourage kids who wouldn’t normally read to find a new way to connect to Literature.

    3. I READ WITH THE KIDS. That’s HUGE and I wonder how many of you do that. What I mean, is that I read the same book as they do so we can talk about it. I’ll sit at lunch and we’ll read, stopping when we find something cool. At the end of the lunch period, I have everyone write down their pages on their log and I keep one myself. NONE of those kids hate the logs and a number of them have become better and more avid readers as a result. They like that they can connect with other people about their book (The Hunger Games trilogy was last year’s favorite, btw).

    See, I’m doing my part. My job is definitely not to tell a parent how to do theirs. Sometimes, parents ask me for advice on how to educate their child at home and I’m happy to give it (I taught a parent how to write an essay last year over the course of two, 45-minute meetings so she could better help her daughter at home). But how to actually RAISE your child…not my job and not interested in it, honestly. My job is to inspire and considering I’m one of the most requested teachers at my school and students routinely come back to tell me they’ve aced English in high school and are considering making it their college major, I can confidently say I’m doing my job.

    OK…I HATE being self-centered (no, seriously, I really do) but felt the need to make my point.

    Bottom line: us teachers are NOT against you, parents. On average, we all want to help your kids make a difference in this world. We’re not blaming you for anything. If anyone, we should blame the state education boards because they long ago forgot what the “product” is.

    August 18th, 2010 at 1:30 am
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  528. PeggyinMA says:

    Response to dsLevy:

    The lengthy comments above seem to illustrate well your struggle with the contradictions and pressures you experience in your role as an English teacher. Is it your job to inspire, or to get quantifiable results out of your students?

    You mention that California has a state standard for outside reading. I wondered about that, so I looked up California’s standards.

    Under 8th grade English standards, it states that “students read one million words annually on their own, including a good representation of narrative and expository text (e.g., classic and contemporary literature, magazines, newspapers, online information).”

    Do you interpret that as reading to be done at home or in the classroom? I’m not sure that that passage refers to reading as homework. I would think a standard that stipulates that volume of school-assigned work to be done at home would be challengeable. That is not curriculum.

    How can a teacher be held accountable for work done in a student’s home and not under the teacher’s supervision? It’s absurd. Why do teachers even tacitly accept that demand?

    Saying you are just following orders doesn’t cut it.

    August 18th, 2010 at 8:58 am
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  529. FedUpMom says:

    dsLevy says:

    ***
    I groan with my students about the logs (I’ve already stated I don’t like them)
    ***

    Then why are you still assigning them?

    ***
    So, when I said that it is NOT my job to instill a love of reading, I meant it.
    ***

    That’s so classic I made it into a post at Kid-Friendly Schools:

    http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com/2010/08/not-my-job.html

    August 18th, 2010 at 11:22 am
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  530. Anonymous says:

    FedUp Mom,
    If you are so “FedUp” with teachers, and are taking so much time to let them know what you will and will not do, why don’t you just save them and yourself the energy by homeschooling?
    Then you can do what you want to do without having to waste time writing a book to justify it.

    August 21st, 2010 at 6:20 pm
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  531. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous, how did we even get to a point where teachers think they can tell parents what to do?

    My motivation for writing is as a public service. I am not the only parent to be frustrated with the state of education these days. I can lend my voice in support to the many others, and hope that together we can make some changes.

    August 21st, 2010 at 7:10 pm
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  532. dsLevy says:

    I’m so thoroughly disgusted and incensed right now that it’s probably unwise to even post this.

    Use of my quotes, without my permission, is not only rude but also bordering on illegal. That you used my words out of context is also irresponsible.

    You twisted my quote and did not provide me with fair and respectful consideration. Had I known how self-serving you’d be, I would not have posted in this “discussion” (really, this blog is little more than teacher-bashing rather than a cooperative effort to improve education). Take a look at my job description and it says nothing about “making” kids love reading. I’m to give kids an appreciation of literature. Whether they love it or not is not within my power, plain and simple. I can do everything I know how to do to encourage kids to read (and I think I’ve detailed ways in which I do that which, I noticed, you didn’t bother to mention on the other site). So that brings me to the question no one seems to ask YOU:

    What the hell is YOUR job, then?

    Because, I doubt you’re very good at educating your kids to live in this Society. If I’m to understand you correctly, you teach your kids to disrespect their teachers for following rules put in place by the people who pay them. You teach your kids that it is NOT important to learn how to question the great writers and to learn from their work. You teach them that critical thinking is nothing more than jumping through hoops and playing games. And you teach them that reading is a passive exercise that requires no accountability or forethought.

    You quipped: “Ah yes, the preparation theory of education: the purpose of school is to teach kids how to go to school.”

    Did I ever say that? Did I even SUGGEST it?!?! NO! I stated that it is my job to teach them to analyze literature in preparation for High School and College. This is like a flight instructor teaching someone to fly a plane in preparation for a job as a commercial pilot. I’M teaching kids to write essays and think critically so they can take the next steps in high school and college when their intellectual maturity and cognitive development are solid enough to allow them to take those next steps with the ultimate goal of prepping them for whatever job they choose (especially those involved with rhetoric but not limited to such pursuits). How DARE you say that’s nothing more than teaching them to go to school which is, by its implication, suggesting I am teaching them to how to jump through hoops.

    Parents like you prevent any kind of real substantive growth in our educational system and whether you know it or not, you’ve thoroughly exposed your ignorance of education as a whole. You see, I stated earlier that sometimes parents aren’t the best teachers in content areas they aren’t comfortable with. Seeing as how you obviously don’t understand HOW a child learns and what a child needs cognitively, I am beginning to understand why you’re so angry.

    In short, I pity you and the children you think you’re helping.

    August 22nd, 2010 at 10:33 am
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  533. dsLevy says:

    You know, after reading that last line, I want to add something and, really, be the bigger person here. I apologize for saying I “pity” you. That’s not really how I feel. I was angry but let me tell you why:

    I read the other blog and the comments there and something has become clear:

    You’ve got tunnel vision.

    I get it, I really do. You’ve settled on an opinion and it’s probably been rooted in your heart for years. I can respect that. But WHY attack me?! Let me tell you why I don’t put much time into the whole reading log issue:

    1. Last year, a student of mine came into my room at lunch and sat down. It’s a common enough occurrence for kids to come in and chat about whatever but something told me this was different. This young lady took a deep breath and then burst into tears. It turns out her entire group of friends were ignoring her despite her constant support toward THEM. She asked me for advice and, the first thing I said, was that she should talk to her parents. What a mistake! She almost closed up and walked out but I thought to ask her why she was reacting that way. She said it was because she had already talked to her parents and they said that she should just deal with it because her friends’ parents were her parents’ friends as well. So, we talked and I gave her some advice (the advice being to talk it out with those friends she cared most about). She thanked me and by the end of the week she was smiling again and happy.

    2. Another young lady hobbled into my room on crutches having broken both her ankles and heels jumping out of her second story bedroom while trying to run away. She had recently been diagnosed ADHD and her mother was being less than understanding. I talked briefly to the kid because, as a teacher, I have to investigate and report on any situation in which a child might be endangered. I conferenced with the mother. She asked for my advice and I told her that I too was diagnosed with ADHD around the same age as her daughter. The parent asked how my parents “dealt with me.” I smiled and said, gently, that all I needed them to do was love me. The parent looked me in the eye and said “Yeah, easier said than done.”

    3. A young man was doing poorly on his homework and essays. He wasn’t reading at home (both the required and independent reading). I pulled him aside and asked him what was going on. He told me his dad had told him that he was stupid and would never get into a good school so why bother? I told him his father was wrong and that I personally believed he was a smart kid who just needed to learn how to work differently (the kid had some mild processing issues he needed help with). He almost started crying and I realized he’d probably never had anyone have a little faith in him. He graduated this past year and is going to UCLA.

    These are isolated incidences but, honestly, I deal with emotional, social, and educational issues in equal measure. In this age of double-income homes, I sometimes see kids more hours each week than their own parents (that is NOT condemnation, just observation). And when I have a dozen or more kids with terrible parents each year, it’s sometimes hard to listen to parents at all. I’m not saying I don’t (although I feel you’ll twist all of this) but I AM saying something very important.

    I’m NOT on the parent side. I’m NOT on the district or state side.

    I AM on the kids’ side. THEY are what matters, not our own opinions or puffed up sense of ourselves.

    This whole issue was about the reading log. I’ve offered up ways in which I address the issue but NOT ONE PARENT has offered up a solution for the kids who DON’T read! I get it: YOU’RE only concern is for YOUR kid. That’s fair.

    My concern is for ALL kids.

    Sometimes that means I have to use tools and techniques that are suitable for 99% of the kids but not the other 1% and sometimes that means I have to use theories and practices that are good for 10% but not the other 90%. It’s a constant battle but I have 30+ awesome kids I want to see succeed. I am ONE person and I’m doing my best. I ask the kids to understand and have compassion. I talk to them and ask them for alternatives (some good ones have become my standard practice over the years). I let students, not their parents, guide how I teach because it is the kids who benefit.

    Misquote me all you want. Misunderstand and twist all you want. Complain all you want that I’m not on your side (you’re right). But NEVER miss the fact that I am doing everything in my power to help YOUR kids be happier, smarter, and more productive. If you don’t get that, there’s nothing more I can say.

    OK…I’m done. Let the flaming and bashing recommence.

    August 22nd, 2010 at 10:59 am
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  534. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    You teach your kids that it is NOT important to learn how to question the great writers and to learn from their work. You teach them that critical thinking is nothing more than jumping through hoops and playing games. And you teach them that reading is a passive exercise that requires no accountability or forethought.
    ***

    I don’t do any of those things. I just don’t allow reading logs in my home.

    Well, I do teach them that reading doesn’t require accountability. Why should it?

    Look back on your own descriptions of what you do. You teach kids to do well in high school English. Right?

    Then you give me 3 examples where you defended kids against their bad parents. You say:

    ***
    And when I have a dozen or more kids with terrible parents each year, it’s sometimes hard to listen to parents at all.
    ***

    So do you understand how parents become frustrated with teachers, when they’ve had to deal with several bad ones?

    Also, if you feel attacked, how do you think us parents feel when you accuse us of “poisoning” our kids with a sense of entitlement?

    August 22nd, 2010 at 11:58 am
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  535. FedUpMom says:

    dsLevy says:

    ***
    NOT ONE PARENT has offered up a solution for the kids who DON’T read!
    ***

    You don’t have a solution for the kids who don’t read either. You said yourself 75% of your students don’t read outside of class. Your reading logs don’t solve the problem.

    August 22nd, 2010 at 12:11 pm
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  536. dsLevy says:

    I think with passion like mine, it’s often difficult to keep confrontational phrasing in check. I apologize for that but I hope you understand the intention (and frustration) behind it.

    I TOTALLY get why you’d feel frustrated at teachers. I guess I was simply taking this personally. Goodness knows there a lot of teachers out there who just shouldn’t be allowed in a classroom, let alone near kids! But, in my experience, they number in the minority as I’m sure the “bad” parents do.

    And anyways, I strayed from my point with those anecdotes. My point was that a teacher does so much more than teach academics. We’re confidants, sometimes parents by proxy (parents actually ask me to talk to their kids when communication breaks down at home), and often times surrogate/foster parents as well. It’s emotionally exhausting because, on the secondary level at least, we have upwards of 200 students pulling on us. I personally LOVE it but when a “nightmare parent” jumps down my throat for doing what I honestly think is best for their kid without first trying to DISCUSS the issue, it gets hard. And yet, the one constant–and this we should remember above all else–is that the kids will still need us, all of us, teachers and parents alike. I truly believe that and I really hope you do too, homework issue aside.

    OK, on to a couple things you said:

    “Look back on your own descriptions of what you do. You teach kids to do well in high school English. Right?

    Then you give me 3 examples where you defended kids against their bad parents.”

    I’m not sure how these two things are related. Honestly. I’d like to respond but I’m not sure to what I’m responding.

    You said:
    “Well, I do teach them that reading doesn’t require accountability. Why should it?”

    FVR (again, using Krashen’s term) should NOT require accountability, that’s true. Recreational reading should be fun and unrestricted. However, that’s NOT what the outside reading requirement is about (at least not in my class). Let me illustrate:

    When I was in my senior year of English at a university. I could not get into a class I needed to graduate. Instead, I took a graduate level course that would apply to the same requirement. It was a challenging class on early American literature with a focus on Puritanism. I was in HEAVEN! And then I got the reading list. I was required to read approximately 500 pages a week. I was also taking two other literature classes that quarter which each required about 100 pages. Now, it’s nearly impossible to read 700 pages a week but I did it and received high marks (As, I think) in each class. I did it by scheduling my time and how many pages I’d need to read each day. Remember, this wasn’t pleasure reading but required reading that, after the actual reading was done, I still needed to analyze and write essays about. It was my hardest quarter and had I not held myself accountable for the reading, I would NOT have completed it.

    Now, I’m not saying that all kids are going to become English majors. It’s a hard major and besides, some kids are more interested in Science and Math which are still a mystery to me! Hehe. But the point is that in all their majors, they’re going to come up against a hellish quarter like the one I experienced; if not in their undergrad work, at least in graduate studies. If they do not develop certain habits now and if they do not develop a healthy outlook (respect) on homework and study, I fear they’ll be ill-equipped to handle college. We call the outside reading for class “independent reading” at my school, not “voluntary” reading because it’s not. It is a required expectation no different than any other reading. The only difference is that they can choose their book. This is indeed in line with any state’s requirement to read so many words/pages a year (we honestly don’t have time to satisfy this requirement in class nor would I want to try).

    Reading logs may or may not encourage or discourage kids to read (I asked some students today and they said they don’t really mind the logs at all and that the reading requirement is probably too low to begin with…ask a different set of kids and you can probably get a different response). However, they DO reinforce study habits and scheduling.

    One of the students I asked today said that they weren’t concerned about the reading log itself but instead on the 300 page per month requirement. They pointed out that if a book is especially challenging and a student only reads 200 pages, they shouldn’t be penalized. I’m going to have to think about that because it’s a very good point. THAT comment is from a 13-year-old! This same kid said that they don’t really think it’s a big deal and won’t discourage them from reading–oh, and that they think it should be time-based instead of page-based which parents on this blog have said should NOT be the case.

    I think it comes down to the fact that you can’t cookie-cutter education. Each student should be handled individually to the best of the teacher’s ability and supported by their parent.

    August 22nd, 2010 at 12:34 pm
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  537. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    I only require that they log the pages they have read so I can see what their reading habits are.
    ***

    ***
    This year, I’m going to expect my students to complete reaction logs for their reading as well as journal responses to the character, author, and personal values reflected in their reading.
    ***

    Ouch. You’re requiring more this year, after this whole discussion?

    August 22nd, 2010 at 2:13 pm
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  538. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    I did it by scheduling my time and how many pages I’d need to read each day.
    ***

    Okay, you were in college and you did what you needed to do to succeed. And notice that this was a class that you picked in a field that you’re passionate about.

    One of the big problems these days is that teachers assign college-type workloads to younger and younger kids, who are not developmentally ready, and also don’t have anywhere near as much unscheduled time as college students. And your middle-school kids don’t get to choose classes that especially interest them, unlike college kids.

    ***
    If they do not develop certain habits now and if they do not develop a healthy outlook (respect) on homework and study, I fear they’ll be ill-equipped to handle college.
    ***

    See, we’re back to the “preparation” theme. In my experience, too much focus on the next year(s) of school results in burnt-out kids. Let’s focus on this year, and only assign work that is manageable and useful for the stage of life the kids are in right now.

    You said you teach 8th grade, right? Your kids are at a completely different place, developmentally and also logistically, from a college student. Work that might be appropriate for college is not appropriate for 8th grade.

    ***
    I’m not sure how these two things are related.
    ***

    I was kind of thinking out loud there — sorry if it’s not clear. I really have two unrelated points:

    1.) There’s a “preparation” issue running through your remarks — see above.

    2.) You give anecdotes about bad parents. Do I think there’s bad parents out there? Sure. Am I a perfect parent myself? Undoubtedly not. But it’s not really relevant to the reading logs discussion.

    ***
    They pointed out that if a book is especially challenging and a student only reads 200 pages, they shouldn’t be penalized. I’m going to have to think about that because it’s a very good point.
    ***

    Yes, it’s a reasonable point. The problem is that it’s very difficult to quantify reading in a useful way. Wouldn’t it be better to just encourage reading?

    ***
    I asked some students today and they said they don’t really mind the logs at all
    ***

    That’s hardly a ringing endorsement. Are there students who say the log is helpful?

    August 22nd, 2010 at 2:54 pm
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  539. dsLevy says:

    My anecdotes were more in self-defense but yes, off-topic they may have been.

    You said:
    “See, we’re back to the “preparation” theme. In my experience, too much focus on the next year(s) of school results in burnt-out kids.”

    I agree that next year prep shouldn’t be such a heavy focus but you can’t ignore it nowadays. School was different when I was a kid, to be sure, and some of what is different isn’t for the better. However, one thing I really like (and get positive feedback from students about) is the “new” educational philosophy of foundation and scaffolded learning. Nothing we do is without looking to the future. It works well for I’d say 95% of the students I teach but one fundamental difference is that I TELL them what we are doing. They respond much better and are FAR more relaxed about education when they know WHY you are doing something.

    You said:
    “Wouldn’t it be better to just encourage reading?”

    But I’m still waiting to hear a suggestion from anyone else that applies to the kid who reads one or two pages a week and says they “just don’t like reading.” You’re really telling me that that kid isn’t reading because of the log? No way, I simply will not budge on that one. After more feedback from students today, the general consensus is that “most” kids would rather watch TV, get on Facebook, or hang out with friends then read. They do not set aside time to read. Let’s take parents out of that (too much back and forth has been done about that and it’s not really something I care about anyway). What can I possibly do to “encourage” that kid to read at home? I can tell them about the intrinsic benefits–increased comprehension and fluency, sharpened critical thinking, wider base of knowledge from which to approach other content areas–but the reality is that that kid doesn’t care about any of those things. Unless it’s “homework/required” the kid won’t do it. Hate to tell you this but that describes the majority of my students. So, what’s your solution?

    You said:
    “Are there students who say the log is helpful?”

    Yes, there were a few. They stated that the logs help them remember to schedule time in their busy lives to sit down and read. Two of them also said that they treat it like a rest period or break from all the dance recitals, practices, sports, etc. they do while not in school. One of them also said that the log reminds them that reading is not only an escape but something that will help them in their thinking and academic growth (their words, incidentally). The others asked said it’s no different than getting a permission slip signed and for them it usually results in a discussion with their parents about the book they’re reading. The two negative comments I got were that they just don’t have time to read. I asked them if the log affects that and they said that no, with or without the log, they just don’t have time. I followed this up with this question: “But if it’s homework and part of your grade, won’t you make time?” They both replied that yes, they find time (in the car, at the dinner table, etc.) but they were honest and said they don’t always read the full requirement. One has lied on their log while the other simply puts down what they read. I remember talking to that kid about this one time before (they’re VERY involved in gymnastics and dance on an Olympic level) and lowering the requirement for them out of consideration for their individual need (again, something a teacher should do when able).

    So, in short, I go back to my original statement: Reading logs will NOT discourage reading if the student understands that it is simply a catch-all tool to teach accountability and to allow the teacher an efficient way to monitor reading habits. An avid reader will still read…you can’t stop them. A poor or reluctant reader will find an excuse not to read. BUT filling out a quick log that says “I read thirteen pages today” and asking parents to sign it isn’t enough to turn a kid off reading. I posit that there is ALWAYS another reason or two.

    August 22nd, 2010 at 3:33 pm
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  540. dsLevy says:

    Oh, and you said:
    “One of the big problems these days is that teachers assign college-type workloads to younger and younger kids, who are not developmentally ready, and also don’t have anywhere near as much unscheduled time as college students.”

    Wow, I wish I went to YOUR college! LOL :)

    I had a full-time job, 16 units (so, roughly 32 hours a week spent on school between classes and study), and was helping my single dad with my two younger brothers. And I’m not even unique! Sure, there are students who ONLY go to school but they often still have sports, meetings, committees, relationships, etc. that make scheduling an important part of their lives. I long for my younger years when my parents scheduled everything for me and I just had to wait for them to pick me up.

    As for what an 8th grader can do? I think you’d be surprised. My students write full MLA-formatted essays on topics ranging from the cycle of revolution to human experimentation and they often raise questions and have opinions that catch me off guard. Cognitively, middle school kids are like sponges and they process at awesome levels. This summer, I taught two sixth grade kids (both aged 12) to identify conventional and contextual symbolism in a poem, and to identify said symbolisms in objects they deal with every day. They struggled at first but got it after two hours and said they thought it was really cool. I was able to do this and STILL encourage them to read poetry! I had poetry shoved at me in such a fashion that I did not enjoy it or read it until college. These two, independently and without prompt, found poems to share with me and then went on to tell me what the symbolism is. They asked if they were right–that was the only sign that they were still kids who needed their teacher’s approval.

    So, do I think I’m giving work that my students can handle cognitively? Yep. I think most teachers are if they’re adhering to the state standards (despite their flaws, they’re often a fine guideline).

    August 22nd, 2010 at 3:43 pm
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  541. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    to identify said symbolisms in objects they deal with every day.
    ***

    Out of curiosity, what does this mean? What’s an example of symbolism in an everyday object?

    August 22nd, 2010 at 4:00 pm
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  542. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    BUT filling out a quick log that says “I read thirteen pages today” and asking parents to sign it isn’t enough to turn a kid off reading.
    ***

    All I can do is repeat that in my home, reading logs had an entirely negative effect, and I’m not the only parent who had this experience. I refer you again to my list of anti-reading-log sites.

    http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com/2010/08/join-chorus-against-reading-logs.html

    August 22nd, 2010 at 4:04 pm
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  543. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    So, do I think I’m giving work that my students can handle cognitively?
    ***

    It’s not only a question of whether they can handle it cognitively, it’s a question of how many hours there are in a day, and whether the students are just plain overloaded (sounds to me like many of your kids are).

    I highly recommend “Doing School”, by Denise Pope, for a closer look at these issues.

    August 22nd, 2010 at 4:13 pm
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  544. PeggyinMA says:

    With all due respect, dsLevy, much of this discussion has been covered here previously, above.

    There’s seems to be a pattern where teachers who vehemently defend reading logs acknowledge a belief that they must make students prove that they read at home. (Again, this is separate from at-home reading of literature in preparation for in-class discussion.)

    Such teachers seem to end up insisting that there is no other solution. Please note my previous response, number 63, copied below.

    “Linda (above)–I too do not know what teachers are to do when there are some students who don’t read, but the Book Whisperer (linked by Sarah on this site) and many other literacy experts do.
    What are teachers to do about some parents who don’t support education? Isn’t this a societal issue?
    Such students and their families are everywhere, among those who are privileged and those who are not.
    I do know, as a parent, that clamping down by giving all students one-size-fits-all out-of-school assignments is not the answer.
    I’m no education expert, but it’s become crystal clear to me that I cannot stand by and watch the love of learning driven out of my children by deadening projects, mind-numbing reading logs and inane AR quizzes.
    There are other, more thoughtful and meaningful approaches to reaching non-readers.

    July 29th, 2009 at 10:19 pm”

    August 22nd, 2010 at 5:56 pm
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  545. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    One of them also said that the log reminds them that reading is not only an escape but something that will help them in their thinking and academic growth (their words, incidentally).
    ***

    Holy cow.

    August 22nd, 2010 at 6:53 pm
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  546. Matthew says:

    @dsLevy, you said “the general consensus is that “most” kids would rather watch TV, get on Facebook, or hang out with friends then read.”

    Did it ever occur to you that one of the reasons students prefer these other activities is because the the schools turn reading into a chore? If I had to think about the symbolism in everything I read, to analyze the plot, to ponder character development then I would turn on the TV, too. I read books because I enjoy the experience of reading them; if I don’t like the book I toss it and move on to another one or something else.

    One of the problems with reading logs requiring “x” pages of reading is that every teacher seems to think that they can have an on-going assignment that only takes up “y” minutes of time a day so pretty soon every kid has 100% of their free time allocated to school. What happens in September – November when my son is in cross country or April when we have a lot of family birthdays and the weather turns nice so we want to go outdoors on the weekends? He may not read much at all then, but he certainly makes up for it at other times of the year. I don’t feel like we should have to justify our life activities to the schools.

    August 23rd, 2010 at 8:42 am
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  547. Anne says:

    I am a third grade teacher who found this site as I was searching for information on reading “blogs” instead of logs. In the past, I have passed out a weekly reading log on Friday and it was due the following Friday. Students were asked to read at least a little bit each day and their goal was to try reading a variety of genres. Real-life reading, such as the menu at a restaurant, could be included as part of the log. I assessed the student not on how much they read but the variety of texts they tried.
    Has anyone tried/experienced using a blog format instead? I’m considering asking the students to sign onto a class blog and write about personal reading 2 times a week. I would give ideas for the entries, but almost any response to reading would be acceptable. Any thoughts or suggestions on this? Thanks in advance!

    August 23rd, 2010 at 2:02 pm
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  548. FedUpMom says:

    Anne, if your question is “logs or blogs?” my answer is neither. Third grade is too young for homework. Your kids are exhausted by the end of the school day, and it’s not reasonable to assign them work to do at home.

    August 23rd, 2010 at 7:47 pm
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  549. Anne says:

    Unfortunately homework isn’t an optional assignment in my school. I’m attempting to lessen the load on my students by potentially having them write about their home reading in journal format once or twice a week instead of the more tedious “log.” While I don’t have children of my own, I completely understand and agree that kids need a break after school. This is why I’m attempting to decrease what is given to my class while still abiding by the administration’s policies.

    August 23rd, 2010 at 10:17 pm
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  550. Matthew says:

    Anne, if you have to do homework why don’t you just have them write whatever pops into their heads instead of writing about what they’ve read? It seems to me that creative writing (in whatever format that means to the kid…fiction, poetry, comics, journal entries, etc.) is a much more valuable use of time than turning reading into a chore.

    August 24th, 2010 at 7:03 am
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  551. FedUpMom says:

    Anne, if you can’t assign “whatever pops into their head”, could you at least approximate it by giving lots of choices? Could they write about what they did that day, or what they ate and whether it was any good, or what they hope to do on the weekend? Could they define their own topic?

    Matthew said:

    ***
    If I had to think about the symbolism in everything I read, to analyze the plot, to ponder character development then I would turn on the TV, too.
    ***

    Matthew, good point, but it’s actually worse than you stated. The kids aren’t just required to think about these topics, they have to produce written evidence that will be judged by the teacher.

    August 24th, 2010 at 7:10 pm
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  552. Anne says:

    Unfortunately, writing what “pops into their head” is sometimes as difficult or more so than writing about something that has been read. The writing would be a lead-in to discussions happening in the classroom. Free writing could absolutely be a choice for the blog, as well as writing to a prompt or about what they’ve read. When I say “respond to reading” I don’t necessarily mean thinking about the symbolism in everything. If a student can make a book recommendation and explain why, that is a perfectly acceptable response. When I “judge” a student’s work it is based on their individual level and their input in class discussions.
    I actually polled my class last year about the idea of a reading blog and all but 1 of 20 were excited by it. Unfortunately it was close to the end of the year so we were only able to try it out for a few weeks.

    August 24th, 2010 at 9:24 pm
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  553. FedUpMom says:

    Anne — sorry, I see my comment was confusing. The second half, about the teacher “judging”, wasn’t so much a response to what you wrote as a continuation of the previous discussion with dsLevy.

    August 24th, 2010 at 10:12 pm
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  554. Anne says:

    Thanks for clarifying :o)

    August 25th, 2010 at 6:49 am
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  555. PeggyinMA says:

    Teachers looking for ways to encourage students to read may want to consider this, from Horn Book:

    http://www.hbook.com/pdf/articles/13ways.pdf

    August 25th, 2010 at 10:15 am
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  556. PeggyinMA says:

    Additional suggestions on positive ways to encourage reading (written for parents but applies to teachers, too, since many commenting here seem to feel responsible for making students prove that they read at home):

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/reading/unconventional-ways-to-get-kid.html

    August 25th, 2010 at 10:20 am
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  557. CL says:

    I am a 5th grade teacher and I stopped reading logs last year. I agree they are tedious and seem to be a punnishment for kids instead. So, instead I help my students choose books they will love (sometimes my boys in class have the hardest time with that!) But we always find something. Great post.

    August 26th, 2010 at 8:50 am
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  558. FedUpMom says:

    CL, thanks for the support!

    I have girls myself, but I’ve heard that boys sometimes prefer nonfiction. They might like to read about war (yikes!)

    August 26th, 2010 at 2:53 pm
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  559. Anne says:

    There is a Star Wars chapter book series that the boys in my class have taken to. I can never find the books because they are always being borrowed! I love when that happens :o)

    August 26th, 2010 at 3:16 pm
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  560. Caring Parent says:

    I can across the message board randomly, but from what I read, it sounds like a bunch of uneducated people. Maybe if you actually did some research on the process in which children learn to read, you would understand the importance of reading at home with your child. The original poster seems to have no interest in their child’s education, nor having their child excel in anything since they don’t seem to want to put any “effort” into their child’s learning. Studies have found that PARENT INVOLVEMENT is one of the number one reason children excel in school. Also, you had a child, meaning YOU have to put EFFORT into that. So yes, it is your second job. Also, teachers work so hard and are so underpaid for their work. Plus, they buy tons of extra supplies and materials out of their own pocket for your child. That email was so abrasive and harsh that you sent to your daughter’s teacher. Don’t you think you could have been nice, or are you just a cruel human being that doesn’t care about their child? It’s people like you who should of never gotten pregnant in the first place. I care about my child, their education, and respecting my child’s teacher (as they went to school, studies years of research, and know what is best for my child). Grow up people.

    August 27th, 2010 at 12:52 am
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  561. FedUpMom says:

    The reason I’m against reading logs is because I care passionately about education, reading, and my child. Reading logs accomplish absolutely nothing. Their only effect is to cause stress in the home and turn kids off of reading.

    August 27th, 2010 at 8:28 am
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  562. PsychMom says:

    I’m trying to muster a response to Caring Parent, but I don’t have the energy anymore. I’m sure Caring Parent hasn’t read all 559 postings so she’s not in the loop in this discussion, and I’m not going to cover old territory.

    I, too, and a caring, totally involved parent but I am adamant that my child will not be doing reading logs. She doesn’t need to. She’s starting school next week, with a collection of stories that she’s written about her own adventures this summer, and she reads what she enjoys reading. Period.

    August 27th, 2010 at 9:38 am
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  563. PsychMom says:

    darn typo..I meant to write “I, too, am a caring parent”

    August 27th, 2010 at 9:39 am
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  564. FedUpMom says:

    Caring Parent says:

    ***
    It’s people like you who should of never gotten pregnant in the first place.
    ***

    Just because I have kids doesn’t mean I’ve gotten pregnant. You’re making an awful lot of assumptions here.

    August 27th, 2010 at 10:49 am
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  565. PsychMom says:

    I can second that too….being a proud adoptive Mom….

    See..I didn’t even see that comment in Caring Parent’s post. I just can’t read too far down when I’m called “uneducated” and told that I need to do research when that’s just about all I do.

    August 27th, 2010 at 12:49 pm
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  566. Laura says:

    I can’t help but wonder what you are all teaching your children with this “you don’t have to do as you are told” language. Even if you do not agree with the reading logs, you are teaching your children that if you do not enjoy doing something, then don’t do it! Don’t listen to authority. Do what pleases you!

    This is why American children are the way they are. Your children are lucky to have parents that care about how they do in school and don’t need a reading log. Lots of children do not have parents that devote time to their homework if it were not for a simple reading log. It doesn’t take much time to fill out. Lastly about the “Thank you for partnering in your childs education”— Why is this a bad thing? Studies show that teachers can drill children in school all day long but the children who retain it are the ones who have parents asking what they learned in school and helping them with homework. It is up to you if you want to make the most of your childs education, but bantering on here, when you know nothing about what goes on behind the scenes in the classroom is utterly ridiculous.
    Your children will be the ones that get fired for not doing as they are told in a job setting because “I didn’t feel like doing it, I didn’t need to do it”

    August 28th, 2010 at 10:20 am
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  567. FedUpMom says:

    Laura, school should be about learning, not compliance. If the teacher sends home a log which actually hinders my daughter’s learning, I have every right to refuse.

    I don’t see school as 13 years of unquestioning obedience in preparation for the corporate world. If that’s your vision, you’re in luck. The schools are set up for parents like you.

    The problem with “thank you for your partnership” is that there is no real partnership. Partners make decisions together. A teacher telling me what to do, and demanding my signature to prove I’ve understood the instructions, is not treating me as a partner.

    August 28th, 2010 at 11:09 am
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  568. Sara Bennett says:

    A few years ago, I wrote an article on the Parent-Teacher Partnership for Teachers College Record. Here it is:

    A Parent’s Perspective: How (and Why) to Turn the Parent-Teacher “Partnership” into a Two-Way Relationship

    by Sara Bennett — March 05, 2007

    At the beginning of every school year, in almost every school across the country-public, private, or religious-parents attend back-to-school nights. They meet the teacher, often sitting in their child’s chair, and learn about the year’s curriculum, class rules, and the teacher’s expectations. The teacher usually talks about how eager she is for parental support, how she wants to work together with the family, how the family and the school will be “partners” in the child’s education. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, “there is no topic in education on which there is greater agreement than the need for parent involvement.”1 The reason: a healthy parent-school partnership fosters student success.

    The concept of the parent-teacher partnership is not new. In 1994, when the Goals 2000: Educate America Act was signed into law, one of its eight goals stated, “Every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of children.”2 The goal sounded good on its face-all parents want their children to develop socially, emotionally, and academically, and they’re willing to do what it takes to accomplish that goal. Who could argue with the give-and-take promise of a “partnership?”

    But now, 13 years after Goals 2000, homework in kindergarten has become the national norm, children spend a good part or sometimes even all of their evenings on schoolwork, and many parents are frustrated and confused about what their children bring home every night. The reality of parent-school partnership, parents quickly discovered, was not quite the give-and-take they were led to expect. While the schools were happy to rope parents into doing more and more supervision and taking over more and more of the teaching and drilling at home, the parents had no say whatsoever in the content or the methods of their children’s education, either at school or at home.

    When I asked teachers what they expected from a parent-teacher partnership, not one mentioned listening for what the parent’s needs might be. “To me,” says the mother of a fifth-grader from Brooklyn, New York, “a good relationship is where people decide something together, where both parties have a say. But, with respect to homework, I don’t have a say. The teacher has decided what my child will do. If I want something different for her, I have to go through multiple emails and sound like a bitch and even then I don’t really have a say.”3

    Still, teachers do have firm ideas of what they expect from parents:

    Parents must check the nightly folders I send home. If they don’t, they’re missing important information. It’s important for them to see what their kids are doing. They need to establish that routine. Let’s face it, the kids are 5 and 6, it’s the parents’ responsibility. But if the parents don’t establish it, then their kids aren’t going to learn responsibility. – kindergarten teacher, Bloomington, Illinois4

    Parents should trust me, listen to their children, and not meddle. The parent should encourage and provide help when asked; the teacher should enlighten and inspire.–third grade teacher, Brooklyn, New York5

    Parents should provide a consistent place where their children can do their homework, make sure that their kids have any materials they need, and discuss the work that their kids are doing on a reasonably frequent basis. The parent needs to communicate with me any relevant circumstances that might impact the student as a learner. It’s my responsibility to communicate with the parent(s) if the student is doing extraordinarily well or extraordinarily poorly. -7th and 8th grade teacher, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania6

    Even if the teacher isn’t specifically asking for parental involvement, parents often experience the teacher’s expectations as a mandate that the parent must provide help. A 2006 poll from the NEA and Leap Frog found that parents help their 8 to 13 year olds on average 2 hours and 45 minutes a week. Says Frank, a single father of two from Sacramento, California, “I am going crazy over the load of homework my kids are bringing home! It started with a call from the school that my oldest was not turning in homework, so I tried helping her every night when I got home. Even when I help with the math and the answer is correct, the teacher marks it wrong because the ‘technique’ or ‘mechanics’ I use is not the so-called new math.”7 Frank ended up turning to an Internet homework site for help, something that, given the proliferation of these sites over the last few years, other parents must be doing as well.

    To top it off, many teachers explicitly require parents to be involved in homework, creating assignments precisely for that purpose. So-called family homework can be anything from quizzing the child on her math facts or spelling words, to reading a required book with the child and expecting the parent to turn in her own notes on the book, to being the subject of an interview, to getting supplies so that the child can build a boat that floats or a suspension bridge that holds weight. It’s no wonder that parents find the partnership to be a one-way street, the very antithesis of what they expected. Instead of feeling involved in their children’s schooling, they feel more alienated than ever. You know we’re in the middle of a crisis when the American Academy of Pediatrics issues a report lamenting the lack of play and recess in children’s lives and suggesting they be restored to ensure children’s mental and physical health, as it did in October 2006. Another indication of the crisis: the 2006 Scholastic/Yankelovich report finding that reading for fun declines rapidly after age 8 because of homework demands.

    If we are to stem the tide of disaffected parents and students and restore some sense of balance to our children’s lives, we must figure out how to change the current paradigm so that teachers and parents have an equal role in the partnership, even if that means taking into consideration parents’ and children’s unique situations and skills, as idealistic as that sounds.

    How do we begin? By establishing ground rules for dialogue between schools and parents. Like any good relationship, there must be room for give and take, with each party on equal footing. That means that parents and teachers should either be on a first- name basis or a Mr./Ms. basis, but the teacher shouldn’t be the only one with the honorific. At parent-teacher meetings, the teacher should not be sitting behind the desk, but should arrange the seating in a more egalitarian manner. And, just as the teacher has expectations and requirements, the parents should be allowed, even encouraged, to voice their own expectations and requirements. Then, they can discuss, negotiate, compromise, and, finally, reach an agreement that works for the parents, the student, and the teacher. Not all students will be doing the same work every night, nor need they.

    If this means that students end up doing less homework every night, that may just be a fair price for stemming an incipient rebellion among parents. And consider: homework research hasn’t found any correlation between homework and achievement in the elementary school years; research finds improvement in later years only on teacher- created tests.8 So by doing less homework, students will be losing very little, if anything, and will have more time for sleep, play, and socializing with their friends, and more time to pursue their own particular interests, whether they be academic, creative, or social. And then, the actual goal of the parent-school partnership will be realized: children who reach adulthood with their social, emotional, and academic skills intact.

    Notes

    1. Epstein, Joyce, et al., School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2002. 2. http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/envrnmnt/stw/sw0goals.htm 3. Telephone interview with WP. The interviews with parents and teachers were either conducted by telephone or were responses to an email query. Although the interviewees are not identified by name in the article, their identities are known to me. 4. Telephone interview with KG 5. Email exchange with PL 6. Email exchange with MS 7. Comment by FS in “One Father’s Internet Answer to Homework” on stophomework.com 8. In The Battle Over Homework (Corwin Press 2001, page 23), homework researcher Harris Cooper writes: “The effect of homework on the achievement of young children appears to be small, even bordering on the trivial.” He goes on to note that, in high school, where a positive relationship between homework and achievement exists, “It’s impossible to determine whether more homework causes better achievement, whether teachers assign more homework to students achieving better, or whether better students spend more time on home study.” Id. at page 33. In The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of A Bad Thing (Da Capo 2006, page 27), Alfie Kohn explains that when Cooper found a stronger association with achievement, the experiments “measured achievement by students’ scores on tests that had been designed to match the homework they had just done.”

    Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: March 05, 2007 http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 13716, Date Accessed: 4/9/2007 10:26:14 AM

    August 28th, 2010 at 11:26 am
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  569. FedUpMom says:

    Sara — yowza! May I post your article to my blog? Thanks! — FedUpMom.

    http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com/

    August 28th, 2010 at 12:01 pm
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  570. Helene says:

    The education of children is an art, not a science. As a teacher I must be willing to vary my approaches and strategies depending on the students I teach. I must actively seek training, usually at my own expense and on my own time, that will enhance my knowledge of child development and instructional strategies. I must spend countless hours reflecting on my practices and my students’ needs. I take time away from my own children and family to ensure that my students are served well. How dare someone make a generalization and clump me in with other people who are standing in classrooms but who aren’t really committed to the teaching profession!

    The argument here is with the wrong people. Our state and federal government agencies continue to pass legislation that ties a teacher’s hands and takes the time for creative solutions away from us. As far as unions, speaking up, and teacher organizations, because I know that will be mentioned in response to me, not all of us are fortunate enough to live and work in states where we are able to arbitrate. Because I am a state employee it is illegal for me to enter into arbitration with the state. If I do anything my employer deems insubordinate I can be fired immediately. Now, I teach because I love children but, lets face it, I can’t live without a paycheck. We have no power to change the laws, voters do.

    With all of that said, when I introduce my reading logs each year, and yes, I do assign reading logs, I do a couple of things. First, I discuss with my students and in my parent letter that I know many of my students already read constantly. That is not a question in my mind. I am just asking them to give me information about what they are already doing. Another aspect of my logs is the fact that I give students and parents freedom in the chunks of reading time. My students are given a number of minutes each week that they can spread over the week however they see fit. If they love to sit and read on Saturday afternoons then they can record all of that time at one time and be done. I realize that families have lives and requiring nightly minutes may not work for them. If they want to take a walk on a beautiful fall afternoon or play until sundown then I want them to have the freedom to do so without worrying about reading every night.

    Now, what have I seen in my 15 years of teaching? Those students I have who are voracious readers usually tell me “I read all the time anyway, I just write it down.” I take my reluctant readers into our school library, find a book that works for them, hold them responsible for reading it, and hear “That’s the first book I have ever read all the way through.” By the way, I teach 6th grade. I love children but very rarely do I come across a student who will just pick up and do what s/he is asked to do without some sort of external motivation, either positive or punitive. Students need to read in order to become better readers. This usually takes some sort of external incentive to get them there. My goal throughout the year is to get them to internalize the motivation but, no I typically don’t trust them because they are children and they aren’t responsible yet. I have a 16 and 17 year old, I know all about developing logic and responsibility. It is not usually innate.

    I get the sense that many of the people posting here have the erroneous idea that teachers should be solely responsible for their child’s education. I’m sorry, but you are your child’s first and best educator. They watch your every move. For those of you who don’t think that your derision and degradation of the teaching profession is being taught to your child you are deluded. I don’t care how careful you are not to expose your child to the words you write here, your reactions to the things s/he brings home from school or the nonverbal cues and reactions you exhibit do have an effect.

    I take offense to the generalizations being made about teachers. You would too if I were to generalize about parents. In my 15 years I have seen plenty of parents who were not willing nor equipped to parent their children. I do not, however, view all parents with that attitude. That would be called prejudice and it would be unprofessional. I have also had experience with parents who don’t trust me to do what is best for their child. There has been a lot stated about teachers trusting parents but, parents need to trust teachers as well. We may not always agree but, we need to be adult enough to agree to disagree. Assumptions are being made here that all teachers behave in certain ways and that we can’t be trusted to know our own profession. I don’t understand the mistrust. Do you question the doctor who treats you or the lawyer who defends you? You trust their professional opinions and knowledge. Where is that respect for the individuals who care for and instruct your children every day? If you feel you could do a better job then by all means, homeschool. If not then work on changing funding and legislation that ties our hands as educators. Just sitting back and complaining isn’t doing anyone any good.

    As this school year begins I will once again enter my classroom, smile at those eager faces, know that I have the best and most difficult job in the world, say a quick prayer that I have the strength and compassion to teach each student, learn from each student, and let them know that I love them and respect them as individuals. Somewhere in there I will also plan engaging Language Arts and Social Studies activities that will give them the knowledge and skills they will need for their future. All of the quarrels about strategies, policies, and legislation will take a back seat to loving, nurturing, and educating our most precious resource, the children.

    Thanks for letting me be a part of the discussion.

    August 28th, 2010 at 12:30 pm
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  571. Laura says:

    I do not feel that school is for the PURPOSE of compliance, but I do feel that with every situation you have the opportunity to teach your child something. You are choosing to teach them to argue and to always feel they are right.
    I am not saying all teachers are doing things the correct way, but what I am saying is that you do not realize what the teachers all deal with. They have standards and rules that they HAVE to cover, it may or may not be their choice. You giving them a hard time only shows that you are stuck up parents that think they know all.

    If you are so anti- then homeschool. Part of being in a CLASS is that your child is not the only one. They are thinking about the class as a whole. I agree that reading should be something the children learn to love– but you are criticizing without giving good options for what they should do. Trust would be a wonderful thing, but the fact of the matter is that time and time again, it is proven that most people cannot just be trusted. Even with the reading log, you will find those parents who find no problem signing without reading. If the teacher assigned no homework and 1/2 the class did NONE and then complained that their child’s reading wasn’t up to par, then what would you suggest? Reading practice is half the battle. If the child doesn’t practice reading, they will not get better. This falls on the teachers shoulders.

    Point being, if you are going to waste so much time sounding like stuck up soccer moms who can’t just comply with the school you choose to send your child to (the moms who send their kids to private) then use your time constructively by writing a nice formulated letter to your school district. The awful letter you sent to your students child was HARDLY constructive. If anything it made her upset or angry.

    August 28th, 2010 at 12:32 pm
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  572. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    The awful letter you sent to your students child was HARDLY constructive.
    ***

    I think you meant “your child’s teacher”. Actually, it was plenty constructive. I never saw a reading log again. For that matter, I never complained to this teacher again. She and my daughter worked out a good relationship, and my daughter told me later that she thought the teacher was “a really good Language Arts teacher.”

    August 28th, 2010 at 2:00 pm
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  573. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    First, I discuss with my students and in my parent letter that I know many of my students already read constantly. That is not a question in my mind. I am just asking them to give me information about what they are already doing.
    ***

    Why? If you know they’re reading constantly, why do you need a number of minutes and a parent signature?

    ***
    Do you question the doctor who treats you or the lawyer who defends you?
    ***

    Of course I question my doctor. You should too. They’re not infallible, any more than teachers are.

    ***
    I love children but very rarely do I come across a student who will just pick up and do what s/he is asked to do without some sort of external motivation, either positive or punitive.
    ***

    The problem with all these motivators is that they become a distraction. If you require kids to turn in a reading log, with rewards and punishments depending on compliance, you can get most of them to turn in a reading log. So what? Are they actually reading? Are they getting anything out of it? The reading log proves nothing.

    I’ve said this several times already, but I never seem to get a direct response. My experience of reading logs is that they caused stress in my family, and made my daughter LESS inclined to read. I am not the only parent to report this problem. So what are you doing to solve it?

    August 28th, 2010 at 2:14 pm
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  574. Curious Teacher says:

    FedUpMom,
    You make an excellent point saying that reading logs can cause stress and actually reduce the joy in reading. Do you have any suggestions that might help teachers like me motivate students who dislike reading? Sometimes it is just finding that series or topic a student is interested in, but unfortunately some students are just not interested. What are some ways to encourage a love of reading? Thank you for any tips you can provide!!

    August 28th, 2010 at 5:56 pm
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  575. Laura says:

    You ramble, but multiple people have asked “What would you do instead?” and you haven’t been able to answer.

    I guess my concern isn’t that you don’t think its useful, maybe to you and your children it isn’t. Is it so much trouble that it is worth creating a blog and checking it multiple times a day? I bet you have spent more time on this blog then it takes to fill out a reading log each night.
    Think about all the other things you could be putting your time into. Create a blog on human suffering or anything!

    Isn’t it sad to think about how some children don’t even get an education? Here we are complaining about something so ridiculous.

    On that note, I refuse to waste anymore of MY time reading this trash, because the fact of the matter is that you represent probably less than 5% of the population. So enjoy playing the victim role, you are quite good at it! Be happy your children live in a country like ours where they can get a good education and then can become a teacher themselves and not require reading logs. Isn’t America great? It is built on people who didn’t just sit and complain but did something about their lives! So go out and join the PTA and volunteer in your child’s classroom so you can understand where the teachers are coming from and can give good advice in a polite manner.

    August 28th, 2010 at 8:44 pm
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  576. Anonymous says:

    It is truly amazing how some commenters seem unable to accept the concept of parents asking questions and raising serious concerns.

    Requiring a student to submit a reading log proves nothing to a teacher about what goes on at home. The Book Whisperer (reading tracher

    August 28th, 2010 at 9:27 pm
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  577. Anonymous says:

    Oops — (continuing) reading teacher Donalyn Miller (the Book Whisperer) has a book and blog about effective ways to encourage reading. And as far as I know she is not the only literacy expert out there.
    Also: parents write here about their concerns precisely because they do care about education.

    August 28th, 2010 at 9:38 pm
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  578. Helene says:

    I think I need to rephrase some of what I said in my earlier post. First, instead of asking if you question your doctor I should have asked if you tell your doctor how to do his job, what medications to prescribe or what treatment to use. Or, better still, tell him his methods are bad and leave it at that, with no suggestions as to how to treat you. Healthy, respectful questioning is good but angry tirades are not.

    I acknowledge that the reading log has turned your child off reading and I will say that if she were in my class and you came in and discussed this with me, as her language arts teacher, I would use my professional judgement and knowledge to counteract that, given the opportunity.

    In response to using Donalyn Miller as an expert, I agree, she is a literacy expert and I read and loved her book this summer. She requires students to read 40 books a year. If your child came home with that requirement at the beginning of the year what would you think? All of that reading can’t be done at school. Some of it would have to be done at home. They read, record the name of the book, write a response to the book (that she then answers), and move on to the next book. How is that much different than a reading log, a record of what has been read? Yes, she allows time in class, she builds a community of readers, puts reading back in the hands of students (where it belongs, by the way) and models good reading habits for all of her students. However, even she has them record what they are reading, not as “proof” but just to keep up with what is going on. The only difference I see is that she doesn’t require parents to take any responsibility for the process. Maybe that’s the crux of it all, you feel offended that teachers seem to want to hold you responsible for what your child does or does not do with regards to education. Don’t get me wrong, I think you are very concerned about your child’s education however, it seems that somewhere along the way you have developed a mistrust and cynicism when it comes to those of us who do the educating. That can’t be good, for you, your child, your child’s teacher, or the relationship you need to have with said teacher in order to do what’s best for your child academically.

    The whole argument about length of time spent on schoolwork is a puzzle as well. When you look at other industrialized countries, who are beating the socks off of us on standardized tests, their children often work much longer and much harder on classwork and homework than American children do. Now, don’t misunderstand, I think moderation is important. I don’t want to see our children put through the stress that school 6 days a week and year round would cause. But, I do think perspective is a great thing. If your child comes home and plays outside and discovers new things to entertain himself every day then great, continue that. It has been my experience, however, that most students go home, sit down in front of a TV or a computer, and tune out completely. I’m all for down time but come on, all evening on a computer, really?

    I think it is quite humorous that here we have parents complaining about the amount of homework their children have when my main complaint from parents is that their child rarely has any homework other than to read. Its a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation.

    I guess all my rambling comes down to this, I accept respectful questioning as part of an educated populous. Angry tirades and empty complaining are counterproductive. In the original post on this thread reference was made to an email sent to a teacher. in rereading this email I don’t get any sense that you were willing to sit down and explain your reasoning face to face and give your child’s teacher the chance to explain the reasoning and pedagogy behind her decision to assign the reading log. I saw no request for a conference or any effort for a dialogue. Opinion was shared and the teacher was shut down, period. I will say this again, if you don’t like the way your child is educated, if you feel you can do a better job (which with only one student I could do a better job too), then do it and let teachers get on with their job of educating children. Oh, and by the way, we don’t want you to do OUR job, we want parents to do YOUR job, support and help us prepare your children for the future through a relationship that is mutually supportive and respectful. I don’t sense a whole lot of respect for teachers on this thread.

    August 29th, 2010 at 6:19 am
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  579. Anonymous says:

    We are talking here about what some teachers unilaterally tell families to do in their home, and circumstances where parents say the demands are overkill, unhelpful and even harmful for their own child. Of course a parent has the right to say no!
    By the way, I hope teachers who cite “competiveness” with other countries as justification for homework across the board take a serious look at countries they believe are “beating” the US. Relatives (including a teacher) we visited in Ireland this summer were aghast that our fourth grader was assigned summer homework (a 40 page math packet and reading). They said parents in Ireland wouldn’t stand for it. By the way, Ireland outperformed the US in all three subject areas of the PISA assessment, if one cares about that kind of assessment. As a parent my paramount concern is my child’s health and happiness. I will say no to homework that is unhelpful, and especially if it is harmful and demotivating.

    August 29th, 2010 at 8:20 am
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  580. Helene says:

    Well, first, I would like to reiterate what I said. “I don’t want to see our children put through the stress that school 6 days a week and year round would cause.” I am not using the practices of other countries as a defense, just a case in perspective, it could be worse. Also, I would NEVER assign ANY summer homework, especially the amount mentioned here.

    My point is not a defense of homework, reading logs, or anything of the sort. As a matter of fact, I rarely assign homework myself. I want my students to work on things when I am there to help them. In addition, I know family time is important and healthy. I have always been careful to remember that I am teaching a child, not a robot, and just as I have a life outside of school, they do too. However, I do see the validity of some requirements beyond the regular school day.

    Okay, so you don’t like homework, I get it. I do. You need to realize, however, that there is benefit in extending learning past the school day. There are studies and research on both sides. Dr. Harris Cooper, Duke University, compiled data from 60 different research studies and concluded that some homework is beneficial for student achievement. His findings showed that the 10 minute rule worked best, 10 minutes for every grade in school. In other words, 1st graders should have no more than 10 minutes, 6th graders should have no more than 60 minutes, and so on. The findings did say, however, that after 2 hours the effect is counterproductive.

    Family time, I understand. If you think about it though, most families don’t spend every minute together after school. How much of the time after school and on weekends is taken up with activities? Our kids are too scheduled with sports, dance, enrichment classes, the list goes on. True family time is about family, not activities. If the typical child gets out of school between 2:30 and 3:30 and goes to bed between 8:30 and 9:30 that gives roughly 6 hours of time. Can a portion of that time, even just 10 minutes, be given to reinforcing and extending the learning done in school? Another question is, how much of that time afterschool is spent in daycare, afterschool care, or some sort of child care capacity? How much of it is spent going from this practice to that event?

    The other question is, if students never do homework, never develop those independent study skills, what will happen when they get to college and have, as I did, 3 separate 15 page papers due in one week, with NO CLASS TIME to work on them, and two tests to study for? In the end are we enabling our children to “just be children” or, are we possibly setting them up to struggle later in life? Just a question to ponder. I don’t know the answer. I’d like to hear from someone who fought the homework battle, refused to expect homework to be done, and enabled their child to “just be a kid,” who has a college success story. I truly would.

    Yes, you always have a right as a parent to determine what your child does or does not do with regards to most things. I would propose, however, that if you have a question about something your child’s teacher requires that, instead of a knee jerk, how-dare-she type of reaction, you address your concerns in a diplomatic way. Teachers are human and, just as you do, we get defensive when someone addresses us in a contentious manner. The old adage is true, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. A little diplomacy will go a long way in keeping the parent-teacher relationship healthy.

    I guess my point is, why can’t we just get along? I am not attacking anyone’s right to decide what is best for their children. I am trying to add a voice of reason and moderation to say we need to compromise. Isn’t that what we try to teach our children?

    August 29th, 2010 at 10:46 am
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  581. Helene says:

    By the way, I’m not requiring reading logs this year but, my 6th graders will each be reading 20 books by the end of the school year. That is directly from Donalyn Miller’s book.

    August 29th, 2010 at 10:50 am
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  582. Tara says:

    For your information FedUp Mom, I am a high school senior in another state and I have a very different experience. I understand you trust your daughter but she is a fifth grader. Maybe she is a trustworthy fifth grader but you’ve got to understand that the teacher just wants to make sure she’s read her night’s reading homework because she can not supervise her in the classroom. In my opinion, I despise homework but it’s necessary. I would’ve never learned and understood the lesson the teach taught that day or week without daily homework. I used to hate reading but with the combination of what the teacher did (reading log) and what my mother did (enforcing it and showing the importance of reading) I ended loving to read. Reading is now a hobby for me. Over the summer I read 20 to 25 books. Maybe reading logs didn’t work with your daughter but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a bad thing. I just felt I needed to share a students opinion. Have a good day.

    August 29th, 2010 at 11:31 am
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  583. Tara says:

    Typo…I meant teacher not teach

    August 29th, 2010 at 11:32 am
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  584. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    It has been my experience, however, that most students go home, sit down in front of a TV or a computer, and tune out completely.
    ***

    You know what? It’s none of your business how your students spend their time outside of school. It’s up to them and their families.

    ***
    Our kids are too scheduled with sports, dance, enrichment classes, the list goes on.
    ***

    Again, none of your business, and not your judgement to make. Many parents sign their kids up for enrichment because their kids aren’t getting what they need at school.

    ***
    His findings showed that the 10 minute rule worked best, 10 minutes for every grade in school.
    ***

    Harris Cooper’s findings show nothing of the sort. The 10 minute rule is complete hogwash. What H. C.’s findings actually show was that homework was not correlated with any positive effect in elementary school. There was a very small correlation in middle school, and a slightly larger correlation in high school.

    ***
    if students never do homework, never develop those independent study skills, what will happen when they get to college
    ***

    There’s a whole generation of Americans, now in middle age, who grew up with a very small fraction of the homework that is now routinely assigned, and they started later, too. Many went to college and did just fine.

    ***
    you address your concerns in a diplomatic way
    ***

    How diplomatic was it when the teacher sent me a letter telling me what to do in my own home with my own daughter, and requiring a signature to prove my compliance with her rules?

    ***
    All of that reading can’t be done at school.
    ***

    I’m not against reading outside of school, I’m against practices (like reading logs) that make kids dislike reading.

    August 29th, 2010 at 12:11 pm
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  585. FedUpMom says:

    For more discussion of the 10-minute rule, see this post:

    http://stophomework.com/greatschools-posts-several-articles-on-homework/2015

    August 29th, 2010 at 12:18 pm
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  586. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    Maybe reading logs didn’t work with your daughter but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a bad thing.
    ***

    Actually, that’s exactly what it means. Reading logs are a bad thing because they turn kids off of reading. I’ve seen it happen in my own home, and I’ve compiled a list of other parents (and teachers!) reporting the same problem.

    http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com/2010/08/join-chorus-against-reading-logs.html

    August 29th, 2010 at 12:30 pm
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  587. Tara says:

    Well they weren’t a bad thing for me. Helene is also my mother. Reading logs have a different affect on different people. You need to stop attacking and judging teachers that do teh reading log technique. It’s so RUDE! I understand that you don’t like the reading log but no matter where you go and what school you put your children in you’ll more than likely still get the READING LOG! It’s part of every school. GET USED TO IT! It’s part of life as a student, teacher, and parent. And I understand you care about your children but attacking the teachers that do the reading log just shows that you don’t understand the whole story. My mother does it to understand her students more. SHE has books from our house in her classroom. I donated some of my favorite books to her classroom so her students may enjoy them. And of course everyone knows that teachers don’t do many creative things but my mother, Helene, asks me for help all the time. Everyone pretty much knows that you disagree with younger children getting homework and reading logs but it is necessary. But once your children get in high school and college they’ll have a lot more homework that they do now. The teachers are just trying to ready them for that. I see this kind of thing everyday and it pretty much sucks that we get homework but as I said before….IT’S NECESSARY! Stop attacking teachers that do the reading log because usually with all the children in my mothers class it works! Not all children stray from reading because they have reading logs. Get the facts straight before accusing all the teachers that use that technique please. If you don’t like that your child has homework over the summer then don’t let them take honor classes in high school because in honors english you have SUMMER READING! usually adding up to 2-4 books and essays for every single book.

    August 29th, 2010 at 1:43 pm
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  588. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    But once your children get in high school and college they’ll have a lot more homework that they do now.
    ***

    Maybe by the time my kids get to high school there will be less homework because of the growing number of parents complaining about it.

    Let’s deal with high school when the kids get there. I’m not a fan of the “better get used to it” theory of education. 6th grade should be spent doing things that are appropriate and necessary for the 6th grade, not overloading kids because they might be even more overloaded later on.

    ***
    it pretty much sucks that we get homework
    ***

    … exactly my point.

    ***
    It’s part of every school. GET USED TO IT!
    ***

    It isn’t part of my daughter’s school anymore. And why should I get used to a bad educational practice?

    August 29th, 2010 at 2:17 pm
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  589. New Cali Teacher says:

    To all who posted:
    As a new teacher, I am motivated to teach students! I also have to abide by the standards imposed on schools, districts, and teachers by the states and federal mandates! We are required to give children homework, and it is not a personal choice!
    There are many people who do not understand the process of teaching, and homeschooling as an option could be tried, but it is not as easy as it sounds! I HOMESCHOOLED my son for one year, and happily put him back into the public education system! It is very easy to do chores, watch tv, and HELP our children to the point of them not being able to do anything without assistance. My brother homeschooled his son, and I found him doing his son’s essay!!! What did the child learn? I have friends who are diligent about schooling their children at home, and they are brilliant and have learned a second language! But, they demand their children to learn while they teach them for seven hours a day! Is this something as a parent you are willing to do, and not to decide to wash the dishes instead (i did)?
    We have to have student accountability in all academic areas. Students who are going to become strong readers need to do reading logs, and dilectical journals because this allows for reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. In college, students must highlight and annotate their texts with critical analyses during the reading process. This is the point of reading logs, to prepare the child for future success. I am sure all of you want what is best for your children, and I have raised four within the public school system, and fought the rules many times. Now that I am in the classroom, I see how much time and effort is put into teaching students, and I truely am sorry for my ignorance in previous years of battling the schools who are only trying to assist the students in becoming responsible and sucessful members of society.
    Many countries require students to pay for the honor of attending school, and in The United States we give this honor to our kids for free. The result is that we don’t respect the system due to the fact it comes easy to us! Rather than stand face to face with your teachers while bereting them, why don’t your try to back them up?

    August 29th, 2010 at 2:48 pm
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  590. Tara says:

    Alright…What you think is appropriate is not the same as what the state thinks. Teachers teach what the state tells them too. If you don’t like it then take it up with the government or better go to Obama. But don’t attack adn judge innocent people because YOU can’t stand what the school is doing.

    August 29th, 2010 at 3:32 pm
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  591. FedUpMom says:

    For more on the 10-minute rule, see my blog:

    http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com/2010/08/10-minutes-per-grade-level-is-hogwash.html

    August 30th, 2010 at 9:15 am
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  592. FedUpMom says:

    Laura says:

    ***
    Point being, if you are going to waste so much time sounding like stuck up soccer moms who can’t just comply with the school you choose to send your child to (the moms who send their kids to private)
    ***

    Hey, thanks! We love you too.

    It’s amazing what strong feelings this post has stirred up. You might say, “OK, here’s a Mom who has found in the past that a certain homework assignment doesn’t work for her family, so she’s decided they won’t do it any more. Fair enough.” Why is this so threatening?

    August 30th, 2010 at 4:10 pm
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  593. Disillusioned says:

    Wow. I haven’t read this post in quite some time. Again, I am struck by the hyper-defensive tone of the teachers who post here. If parents (who are adults!) dare to question work our children are given in our own homes outside of school hours; we are lazy, uncaring, uneducated parents.

    In addition, there is no other job in the whole wide world harder than teaching. Many teachers think this because they have never experienced any other reality outside of academia. In reality, there are many jobs that are more filled with pressure and require much more specialized knowledge than teaching (and have the pay scale to go along with them). Moreover, unlike teaching, work environments that require interaction with other adults tend to reward people who are able to see other adults/co-workers/clients/customers/employees perspectives.

    September 2nd, 2010 at 6:26 pm
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  594. Curious Teacher says:

    Disillusioned says:
    “In addition, there is no other job in the whole wide world harder than teaching. Many teachers think this because they have never experienced any other reality outside of academia.”
    ***
    I am just wondering…have you taught? I personally wouldn’t tell a person who is a businessman/woman (or another profession) that his/her job isn’t difficult because I have never experienced it. All jobs have a level of difficulty that should be acknowledged and respected.
    That said, I also disagree with how some of my fellow teachers are approaching the writers of this blog. Whether you agree or disagree with what is being said, all parents have the right to question why and how their children are being educated. As teachers, we need to listen to the concerns of parents and have a conversation about the concerns. This is the only way the home/school connection can be a positive experience for everyone.

    September 2nd, 2010 at 7:06 pm
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  595. Disillusioned says:

    Hi Curious Teacher,

    As a matter-of-fact, I was a student teacher many years ago and decided the teaching profession wasn’t for me. I am not saying the teaching profession isn’t challenging or demanding. However, the teacher-martyr shtick gets a bit old. Is there any teacher out there with a sense of fun or a light touch? The teachers who post here seem to lack a give and take attitude that would probably hinder them in many other professions.

    September 2nd, 2010 at 7:25 pm
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  596. FedUpMom says:

    Disillusioned, I hope you’ll take a look at my new blog! I’m trying to continue, and expand, the great work done by our esteemed Sara Bennet.

    http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com/

    September 2nd, 2010 at 7:43 pm
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  597. Disillusioned says:

    Hi Fed-Up Mom,

    I’ve already have. Great blog!

    September 2nd, 2010 at 7:48 pm
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  598. Curious Teacher says:

    Hi Disillusioned,

    “The teachers who post here seem to lack a give and take attitude that would probably hinder them in many other professions.”

    ***

    I completely agree. That give and take is extremely important. I’m sure that the teachers posting are typing while annoyed or angry, but it isn’t making some of them look very professional. As teachers, we should be working WITH the parents. Isn’t that what is best for the students?

    September 3rd, 2010 at 9:47 am
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  599. Disillusioned says:

    Hi Curious Teacher,

    It would be fabulous to have teachers that worked with the parents (and probably more fulfilling for the teachers). Psych Mom should probably way in but in my opinion many of the teachers who post here are projecting their own internal dialogues about themselves (i.e. parents are narrow minded, acidic, judgemental) onto the parents.

    September 3rd, 2010 at 10:58 am
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  600. PsychMom says:

    I don’t profess to have any special insights into the minds of teachers….but my personal experience with teachers as a group is that they very much are an organized bunch and they like to be in the driver’s seat. We’ve talked about this issue before here…
    For any of us, a threat to that sense of control in our world can be debilitating. We do everything we can to regain control. I can well understand too the reaction of some teachers is to rant and then leave; we’re all just so threatening with our heretical thoughts on this website.

    I truly enjoy when a teacher like Curious Teacher finds us and reminds us that teachers do really care and are thinking professionals. This has been my experience with the teachers at my daughter’s school as well. But I still have disagreements with them on occasion. I see another way that’s different from the way education has been done for the last 100 years..and I don’t understand why these ideas can’t be entertained. Everything changes, …women have changed, kids have changed, technology has changed, everything seems to change except… elementary school in North America.

    September 3rd, 2010 at 1:48 pm
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  601. Disillusioned says:

    Thanks Psych Mom. Actually, it seems as if elementary school today is much more rigid, authoritarian and demanding then it was when I went to school in the seventies.

    September 3rd, 2010 at 3:33 pm
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  602. Anonymous says:

    I have sat here for about an hour and went through all the different posts. I find it very interesting that, while everyone has a difference of opinion, no one has really touched on what might be making those logs so hard. I was a student, and a poor one at that. Reading was hard, not the actual dynamics of reading, but understanding what I was reading. I just didn’t get it. Asking a student or a person in general to record something they aren’t good at is really setting them up for failure. But it tells the teacher something: there might be a bigger problem at work.
    I have students in my class that have been sent to me because of reading problems. Parents tell me all the time that their kids are miserable. I use those logs to see exactly why and then address the problems in the classroom.
    I also make those logs fun. Reading is not something someone tells you to do, but something you should enjoy. The kids get to choose their books, figure out what kind of book it is, and if they would suggest it to a friend. It also gives the parent, grandparent, friend, babysitter or whoever is willing, a chance to see what the kid can do. The kids come in, regardless of it they read the book, was helped with it, or it was read to them and tell me about it. That is all I ask. I also explain that those logs will help them to keep track of books they have read and what they like.
    I do teach Special Ed Elementary and many of my students need that extra reading support, but I make it known that even if students are read to, it counts!

    September 6th, 2010 at 8:17 pm
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  603. Matthew says:

    @Anonymous, I think many of us have touched on what makes these logs so hard. It sounds like many of us here are coming from the opposite side–we have kids that love to read and the logs are just tedious and disruptive.

    You may well be doing the right thing for your population of students and the fact that you look at the logs to help the students overcome their individual difficulties is excellent. In my experience with my own kids the reading logs are nothing more than a pass/fail item for the teacher. No evaluation of the work is done and the time the student spends on the log is essentially wasted.

    This year (5th grade) we’ve been given a slightly different format for a reading log and to me it is actually acceptable. The 5th grade curriculum states that students need to read 25 books during the year, so it is a set of pages with 25 sections for title, author, pages and dates read…nothing more. Every 100 pages (no rounding) counts as 1 book so kids don’t get punished for reading longer books.

    My son will have this log finished before the end of the first quarter so we only have to bother with it for a short time. Now if they try to make him do *more* after that then I will object…

    September 7th, 2010 at 6:45 am
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  604. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    I have sat here for about an hour and went through all the different posts.
    ***

    I think we should award a medal to anyone who makes it through all 600+ comments.

    ***
    Parents tell me all the time that their kids are miserable. I use those logs to see exactly why
    ***

    What do the logs tell you? Couldn’t you figure out the problem by talking to the kids?

    September 7th, 2010 at 3:07 pm
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  605. Anonymous says:

    Actually no you can’t figure it out by talking to the kid. Not the ones I teach. You have to go through their work and figure it out like a puzzle. Is someone going to come right out and tell you what their weaknesses are? I highly doubt it, especially kids that already have self esteem issues. On top of that, many parents have been told that their kids will grow out of reading problems and that just does not happen. Some parents are not aware, as some teachers aren’t either.

    September 7th, 2010 at 5:59 pm
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  606. FedUpMom says:

    OK, but what exactly is in the log? I’m guessing it’s more than just a list of page numbers and times.

    September 7th, 2010 at 8:58 pm
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  607. PsychMom says:

    I just noticed this on Alfie Kohn’s website this morning………..reading logs are number one on his hit list as a way to unmotivate readers.

    http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/nonreaders.htm

    September 8th, 2010 at 7:21 am
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  608. FedUpMom says:

    Thanks, PsychMom! I’ll add it to the master list.

    http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com/2010/08/join-chorus-against-reading-logs.html

    September 8th, 2010 at 8:55 am
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  609. Ana says:

    Wow, there are so many comments. I don’t have time to read them all, but I did want to say something. I think that the best way to encourage children to read is to show by example. My fifth grade teacher read to her students the “Hatchet” series. My fourth grade teacher had copies of the “American Girl” series that could be taken home by anyone who wished to read them. I think that providing children with a wide range of books to take home and by reading to them, you can open up the world of reading.

    By the way, I hated reading logs. I would always make up a book name and a plot when filling them in. I guess it helped with creative writing!

    September 12th, 2010 at 6:50 pm
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  610. Curious Teacher says:

    I agree Ana. I’m reading Stuart Little to my class right now. They’re begging me to keep reading whenever I finish a chapter. That’s the way I like it! It shows they’re loving the story. On the other hand, when I first began the book one student asked if there was going to be a test on it. How sad! Somewhere in his life, this student came to believe that he is tested on everything he reads. Hopefully my example of loving to read good books just for fun will be passed along to my students.
    I also let my students “take-out” books from the classroom library. So far, the students who claim to hate reading are the ones borrowing books. I’m glad they’re finding texts they enjoy :o)
    I told my third graders that my hope is for them to read every day. I am not assigning a log, but will ask the class to reflect on their home reading (not for homework, the reflection will be once a week during school). PsychMom and FedUpMom, does this seem reasonable from the parent perspective? I would love feedback!

    September 12th, 2010 at 7:03 pm
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  611. PsychMom says:

    Hi Curious Teacher:

    I guess it depends on what you’re expecting from the “reflection”. First, do they have to write it down or can they just talk about it..can they be given a choice on how they want to do it? I found my 3rd grade reader last year did not have the ability yet to make any thoughful comments on what she was reading. She either liked a book or didn’t..and it was based on how many words were on the page. If you asked her to comment on feelings and thoughts of the characters, or to place herself in the character’s shoes…she was not able to do these things. I think it’s a maturity/developmental step that she had not reached yet. Still way too egocentric…

    My gut reaction to your question is to leave them alone in their home reading. Home is home….and not your territory.
    All this analysis of reading shuts my kid down…and she’s not the only one. If you must try to do it…do it as a small group discussion, of a book that all of you have read together, like Stuart Little, that you’re reading right now.

    Just my own thoughts.

    September 13th, 2010 at 7:44 am
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  612. FedUpMom says:

    Curious Teacher, if you’re getting the kids interested in reading that’s the most important thing. The reflection thing is probably fine, although I wonder about the near-universal requirement to write about what you’ve read. Could you make the writing open-ended, so they could write about any subject they choose?

    September 13th, 2010 at 8:16 am
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  613. Curious Teacher says:

    Thanks for the tips! I can see where you’re coming from about writing about reading. For the reflection, I was thinking rather than writing, having small groups discuss their home reading (Discussions being: I like it because…, I didn’t like it because…). If a group was all reading about sports, they would be together. If another group all read Magic Tree House, they would be combined. This way kids of the same interest are discussing something they are interested in. Like I said, no more than once a week. It’s still a thought being kicked around in my mind…I haven’t quite figured it out yet.
    I appreciate the tips and feedback though!

    September 13th, 2010 at 4:56 pm
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  614. Anonymous says:

    Any other ideas for keeping students accountable for their reading? I’m a middle school teacher and also find the reading logs pretty useless. It’s only purpose is to show a record that the student is reading, but clearly the students can be filling in these logs without even having done the reading. Taking 10 minutes at the beginning of class everyday to discuss what they’ve read is not possible for me. Any other ideas?

    September 18th, 2010 at 10:49 am
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  615. Arizona Teacher says:

    WOW! I am surprised, shocked, and appalled at what I’m reading here. I am a public school teacher, have been for 10 years, and the parent of 2 children who are in public school. I cannot believe the lack of support for your child’s teacher that I read here. The relationship between absolutely IS a partnership – an equal one. I DO NOT work FOR you. I am NOT your employee. I pay taxes just like you do, so I feel that I contribute to my own salary as much as you do, and since YOUR child spends as much as 6 hours in MY care, I feel that makes us somewhat equals. I do happen to use reading logs in my 2nd grade classroom; all I ask is that when the child – if he/she happens to be one that CHOOSES to read – that they just write down what they were reading. If it isn’t a child that normally reads, that child usually (not always) exhibits difficulties in the classroom with reading, and could therefore use some one-on-one reading time with the parent(s). My daughter has homework, too, and it is reinforcing what she is learning in the classroom. If it doesn’t or takes more time than what is reasonable, then it isn’t what homework was intended to do – help the student. It’s parents like what I’m seeing here that make my job difficult. I hope I never teach any of your children.

    September 20th, 2010 at 5:37 pm
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  616. Anonymous says:

    Arizona Teacher
    Thank you for how wonderfully you said that. I am a teacher also and it hurts me to think that parents know how to do our job better than we do. Not any of us are perfect, by the way. But we all strive to make sure the students get the best school day possible. What we do in the classroom can’t work with out parent support. Don’t think for one minute that the teachers are going to bring up your kids outside of the classroom. That isn’t our job. You had them, then help make them into wonderful human beings. This is why so many kids come in with a lack of responsibility and a need for things to be spoon fed to them. Parents seem to pick on the petty little things and forget to look at the bigger picture. It could be that reading log that helps to engage them in being responsible for their work.

    September 20th, 2010 at 6:05 pm
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  617. Disillusioned says:

    Arizona Teacher-

    I hope you don’t teach my children either. As do most of the teachers who post here, you are missing the point completely. A partnership (by defintion) implies mutual consent agreed upon by both parties. No one consulted me as to the duration, skill level, difficulty, or lack of creativity of the homework I see. Moreover, our children are punished with lack of recess if they do not complete homework. No one consulted the parents re: this policy.

    Why are you suprised that a blog called “stop homework” would contain negative comments re: homework? Why do you consider any parent who questions work sent home and done after school in their home unsupportive? Why are you appalled at the comments? (Many of which don’t seem all that outrageous). Why do you consider parents “difficult” who question a practice that many professionals in the field of education have come to question? I know you don’t see it this way, but when you write comments such as “it is parents like you who make my job difficult;” you are really revealing a rigid, limited mind set.

    Why is the idea of no homework so threatening to you? Homework didn’t exist twenty years ago for gradeschoolers; why do you think it is a great idea now?

    September 20th, 2010 at 6:18 pm
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  618. Disillusioned says:

    Anonymous says “what we do in the classroom can’t work without parent support.” Why not? Do you consider teachers effective who cannot teach the curriculum without the invovlement of parents? Why is the curriculum designed to be taught with parent invovlement? Do you think that professional educators shoud be able to design a learning method that can be engaging and meaningful for the children in a classroom without parental involvement. As you stated, the children are in the classroom six hours a day. Don’t you think an effective method would be able to teach them what they need to know within this time? Shouldn’t that be the goal of professional educators? I am truly not trying to be “difficult”….just pondering the opinions you are stating as fact.

    September 20th, 2010 at 6:30 pm
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  619. Lori says:

    Research confirms that the only way to become a better reader is to practice, and that is what a reading log encourages. It is not a measure of trust but one of accountability and responsibility. What better way to reinfore reading as a liflong skill than to practice at home. Most parents are excited to see their child progress through the early stages of reading. I have used and will continue to use reading logs in the classroom as key reinforcement to practicing reading skills.

    September 20th, 2010 at 6:58 pm
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  620. Disillusioned says:

    But why do you feel a six year old must be “accountable and responsible?” A love of reading doesn’t need to be “reinforced”… it needs to be nurtured.

    September 20th, 2010 at 7:23 pm
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  621. Disillusioned says:

    Also, what does “being a better reader” mean? I love reading but if a book is boring and unengaging; I won’t recall or be able to summarize much of it. Again, our educational system seems to be a slave to data and research.

    Contrary to what you probably believe, most adults in the U.S.A. can read very well. If they choose not to read for pleasure or knowledge, it is probably their loss but it is also a personal choice they are free to make. Why do you feel it is your place to dictate to the kids how much they should read at home?

    September 20th, 2010 at 7:36 pm
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  622. Anonymous says:

    I seriously think that you all have nothing better to do than complain about silly and trivial things. Be thankful that your kid is able to do all these things. There are some out there that will never have that ability or live to see it. GET OVER IT!

    September 20th, 2010 at 8:40 pm
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  623. Disillusioned says:

    Get over what? Your argument of life could suck more is true. However, the good ole U.S. of A is supposed to be a free country where spirited debate is welcomed. The teachers (and people that support them) can never debate on logic or merit. (Notice how none of them can ever answer any logical or reasoned questions re: homework and the fact that they can’t educate our kids in the six-eight hours they have our kids?) Notice how none of them can ever admit that homework causes stress and frustration for many families? Therefore, they resort to the hostile and emotional answer of just get over it! We should just do exactly as they ask without question and life would be so much easier for them!

    Guess what? School is as government agency designed to foster compliance and dull-wittted obedience. I truly think the founding fathers (who signed a declaration against tyranny!) would be aghast at our government institutions of today. School has become a repressive, dull-witted, unthinking place filled with “don’t blame me I’m only following orders!’ teachers who lack the courage (and brains) to speak out against oppressive, dim-witted policies and rules.

    September 20th, 2010 at 9:46 pm
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  624. FedUpMom says:

    Arizona Teacher says:

    ***
    Don’t think for one minute that the teachers are going to bring up your kids outside of the classroom.
    ***

    A. Teacher, that’s exactly my point. I want all teachers to stop interfering with me bringing up my kids outside the classroom. When you send home reading logs and other homework, you’re intruding in my life. Enough already.

    September 21st, 2010 at 1:02 pm
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  625. Anonymous says:

    As a parent, I’m not so much against the reading logs (although our logs are less authoritarian than some described herein) but it is the 20-30 minutes my second grader is “expected” to read on top of 40 minutes to 1 hour of other homework (which teachers think takes less than 30). First grade was just as bad. I’m beginning to think that all of this is solely for the adults who want to point to high test scores.

    September 21st, 2010 at 2:41 pm
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  626. Arizona Teacher says:

    For starters, I didn’t say that I would not bring up someone else’s children outside the classroom. That was from the person who responded to me. There absolutely was homework 20 years ago in grade school because that’s when I was in grade school and I had homework every night. I do not deny a child his/her recess if they miss turning in a part of their homework. They are allowed to work on it during the day if they finish early or during our pencil sharpening time if they choose. As far as reading logs go, again, I do not punish the child for not having it completed. It is ENCOURAGED because as it’s been said, reading is a skill that takes practice and should be done so often. As for alot of what we teachers do in the classroom, it is something that our district has mandated that we do – many times it is not a choice. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act signed in 2001, the focus on schools is how well they are performing on state tests and if they are making their Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). If a school does poorly enough for long enough they are put on an improvement plan. If it continues doing poorly, the state can step in and remove the teachers and put in new ones. It’s hard enough to find teachers now – where does the state think it’s gonna find replacements?? All this is based on TEST SCORES. Our federal government has done this to our public education system. It’s not always ALL the teacher’s fault. Don’t be so quick to judge the teacher. You have NO idea what it’s like to do our job until you’ve done it.

    September 21st, 2010 at 5:07 pm
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  627. Nancy says:

    Arizona Teacher – I am interested, not challenging you. I saw for myself the huge pressure teachers are put under to get their students ready for the year-end standardized tests. Do you feel that the homework enhances the students’ preparation? Did the amount of homework assigned increase following NCLB?

    September 21st, 2010 at 6:14 pm
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  628. FedUpMom says:

    Arizona Teacher, you’re quite right. I should have quoted Anonymous above. I apologize.

    As for NCLB, what an unbelievable waste of time, energy, and, last but not least, money, it has all been. Test scores have hardly budged. I wish the Feds would just scrap the whole thing, but I don’t have much hope, because Obama’s “Race to the Trough” is just as bad.

    September 21st, 2010 at 9:42 pm
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  629. Disillusioned says:

    Arizona Teacher,
    You’re right. It isn’t all the teachers fault. However, the teachers’ union has made it near impossible to fire bad teachers (of which there seem to be many). The worst type of bad teachers I have seen (and the type that leads to bitter resentment on the part of the mothers), are the bullying, manipulative, hostile, lazy ones. As a parent, it is very difficult to navigate this type of teacher and not feel frustrated by a system that employs her. I think most teachers start out well-intentioned but (like any job where you deal with the public and have little autonomy), they burn out over time and become more authoritarian because it is the path of least resistance. Also, because most parents don’t want a confrontation, they just sort of go along to get along but silenty resent the burden of co-teaching their child (a job that many are shocked to find the school automatically assumes they should be fine with). In a way, teachers and mothers (who usually take up this job of co-teaching), are flip sides of the same coin.

    It is understandable that you would want to vent as well. However, the teachers’ union never reaches out to the parents in an organized way to try and stop the insanity of NCLB.

    September 22nd, 2010 at 1:57 pm
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  630. Teacher says:

    Did anyone here ever stop to think that teachers are not the ones responsible for the reading logs? It is just another requirement handed down by administration in many cases.

    September 23rd, 2010 at 4:48 pm
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  631. Stefanie says:

    My son’s 15-minute reading log in 2nd grade got him in the habit of reading 15 minutes. Problem was that he used to read 45-60 minutes and when he saw that his teacher only wanted 15 minutes he would watch the clock and end at the shortened time. Over the course of a year (and I blame myself for not speaking up) it changed my son’s reading habits to view reading as a job, only to be done when their was a requirement (no requirement on weekends or summer, then you don’t read then either) and watching a clock while you’re reading and stopping after a certain point instead of getting caught up in the book.

    I felt the process to be demeaning, that my parenting skills were being watched since I had to sign this month-long log and I once toyed with the idea of getting it notarized to make it truly official.

    I read aloud to my child almost every night – he’s 10 and still enjoys it. We’ve gone through dozens of great books. I can’t say that he’s read many books IN school with his teachers – less than a handful in 5 years.

    I’ve always read as a child, with the goal being to finish books because they were good and I enjoyed reading. I cringe at how my son’s school promotes literacy, including a semi-threatening letter sent to parents about a summer reading requirement (ONE book from a list) while no one on the school staff does a book talk or even tells the kids about summer reading. They don’t promote literacy all year and believe that telling parents (not kids) that they MUST (they used capital letters) read one book is somehow going to make up for their year-long negligence.

    Last thing I was going to do was give my child the expectation that reading ONE book over the summer was OK. I ignored the summer reading program other than the book list (it had some good choices). He read 6 or 7 books on his own and we read about 6 books together. We watch movie adaptations of books we’ve read and he has come to the conclusion that books are always better than the movie. He wonders why certain books weren’t made into movies and is learning there are far more choices in books than on TV. You don’t get these conclusions from promoting reading as a chore.

    There are also logs of when a child practices a musical instrument.

    I tell my son’s teachers I won’t teach my child to lie. It is unrealistic to expect him to practice every day and while it’s easy to sign and lie about this, I have enough respect that an experienced music teacher can tell if a child has practiced or not.

    A reading log came home again in 5th grade. Write the title of the book, genre and how long (30 minutes minimum). I need to sign it weekly.

    Right now, my son is reading and logging in. I don’t want to send my son mixed messages that I’m disagreeing with his teacher. I’ll see how long his honeymoon with the reading list lasts. I would prefer the teacher set a goal of reading 20-25 books in the school year and getting them excited about certain books and authors rather than nitpicking the time spent each night (and reading on the weekend being optional and worth extra-credit). That’s my approach.

    September 26th, 2010 at 7:38 am
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  632. Curious Teacher says:

    Stephanie,
    It sounds like you do a great job encouraging your child’s love of reading. It’s too bad that his school is promoting reading in a way that seems to lessen the amount kids read rather than promote it.

    September 26th, 2010 at 2:17 pm
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  633. Curious Teacher says:

    oops, I meant “rather than increase it” in the last sentence, not promote. Sorry!

    September 26th, 2010 at 2:18 pm
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  634. Shavonne says:

    Quit complaining!!! Parents are your child’s first teacher. Therefore, you should spend that time with your child. Give them 30 mins of your time. Homework is never meant to punish, only purpose it serves is to spend that quality one-on-one time with your child. Who told you to have so many children. If all you have is just one….. Shame on you…. Mr. or Mrs. Lazy…….. Grow up and do your jobs….

    September 28th, 2010 at 3:09 pm
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  635. Shavonne says:

    Quit complaining!!! Parents are your child’s first teacher. Therefore, you should spend that time with your child. Give them 30 mins of your time. Homework is never meant to punish, only purpose it serves is to spend that quality one-on-one time with your child. Who told you to have so many children. If all you have is just one….. Shame on you Mr. and Mrs. Lazy…….. Grow up and do your jobs….

    September 28th, 2010 at 3:10 pm
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  636. FedUpMom says:

    Shavonne, for heaven’s sake, I’m not against reading logs because I don’t want to spend time with my kids. I’m against reading logs because they have turn reading into a chore. Pay attention and keep up!

    September 28th, 2010 at 3:20 pm
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  637. Curious Teacher says:

    I decided this year that I would give the parents a choice on whether or not their child needed a reading log. It went over very well with the parents in my classroom. At open house they filled out a form checking either “My child reads on their own and doesn’t require a reading log” or “My child could use the reinforcement of a reading log.” I had about 50/50 for each choice. Both sides appreciated being asked.

    September 28th, 2010 at 4:22 pm
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  638. FedUpMom says:

    Curious Teacher, great idea. One solution to the homework problem is to make it optional, and let every family decide what works for them.

    September 28th, 2010 at 5:54 pm
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  639. Sara Bennett says:

    So glad to hear you’re doing that, Curious Teacher. That’s an example of a true parent-teacher partnership.

    What does your school think and have any other teachers adopted the same idea?

    September 28th, 2010 at 6:32 pm
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  640. Curious Teacher says:

    Honestly, I don’t know what my school thinks…but 2-3 other teachers in my school are trying it this year too. I told the kids and the parents at Open House that my goal is for all students to read a little each day. I’ve seen top readers lessen their reading because of logs, so I figured why not try this method. So far so good!

    September 28th, 2010 at 8:21 pm
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  641. PsychMom says:

    Oh, come on Curious Teacher…we hear from many teachers that they have no choice about these things. Why are you different? I’m serious about this….what is it about you or your school that allows you to make these decisions? You need to communicate to other teachers and get the word around that teachers are professionals who can make sound choices about what goes on in their classrooms.

    As a parent, I have no voice with those teachers who claim that doing reading logs is mandatory and out of their hands. You can be our reference point from here on, ….the teacher who made reading logs optional.

    September 29th, 2010 at 10:09 am
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  642. Nancy says:

    My second-grader has a reading log and a 20-30 minute-reading per night rule. I read all the posts above about the logs turning reading from a pleasure into a chore. Fortunately (for my daughter, not me) the teacher has an endless collection of Scooby-Doo books which my daughter is happy to read. So she’s reading a Scooby-Doo book every night, and I’m just quietly keeping up the reading log without making an issue of it. If the teacher is unhappy because the log is in my handwriting, we can discuss it.

    September 29th, 2010 at 12:29 pm
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  643. Curious Teacher says:

    I have worked in a school where the log was a requirement from the administration. The school I am currently teaching in doesn’t have a requirement, but it does seem to be past practice that never changes. This blog actually got me thinking about it and after discussing it with some collegues, we realized the only thing keeping us doing logs were the students who don’t like reading. I haven’t really announced our decision around the school but feel confident enough that I could back it up if need be.
    I must say that I used to be a teacher who thought I had to send home a reading log. Thank you to the parents participating in this blog for helping me to see alternatives. I don’t have children yet and wouldn’t have seen your perspective had I not happened upon your blog. Thank you!! :o)

    September 29th, 2010 at 5:15 pm
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  644. FedUpMom says:

    Curious Teacher, you are very welcome. And a big thank you to you for being open-minded and thoughtful. Teachers like you give me hope.

    Could you post again and let us know how it’s going? I’d be curious what the parents say about their kids’ reading. Do the kids seem more interested?

    September 30th, 2010 at 7:51 am
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  645. Curious Teacher says:

    I can definitely let you know. I send the first logs home tomorrow and am curious if the kids will be vocal about some getting logs and others not. That was my one concern with this system, but at the same time I tell the kids that everyone gets what they need. This is no different!

    September 30th, 2010 at 5:11 pm
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  646. Curious Teacher says:

    Oh, and thank you for the kind words! I’m on the newer side to teaching (7 years under my belt) and am always up for new thoughts or ideas. I hope the parents in my classroom will be as honest with me as you have been with your child’s (children’s) teachers.

    September 30th, 2010 at 5:13 pm
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  647. NIcole Costa says:

    I am saddened by what I read here!!! Really, you pay me as a teacher? Well then I guess I pay myself because I pay taxes like everyone else. Do you pay your own salary? Not to mention the $200 I just plunked down for a fingerprint card and renewed teaching license, or how about the $500 I spend at the beginning of the year for notebooks, folders, and art supplies so that the parents don’t have to and then probably another $500 during the course of the year for science supplies ect. You can’t do the small task of sitting with your child to find out what they are reading and hwo they are comprehending through the reading log? You trust your child to do it……..really? Heaven forbid a child have to do a little work to show what they have or in some cases haven’t learned. Good luck to you when your child whom you trust to do her job is living at home at thirty because she has no work ethic because mom said she didn’t have to do the work. A partnership is not you pay the teacher and the teacher does all the work, you work together to create a well rounded hard working individual who rises to the challenge and the job no matter what. Sorry if you are to busy to sit with your child and read for 30 minutes, should of thought of that before you procreated and is the very reason why teachers have to put certain procedures in place. Your philosophy is the very reason I left the classroom, society is a mess and I hated watching parents like you not invest in your child but make them an unproductive, entightled pain in society’s ass. Oh and by the way in 8 1/2 years I never did a reading log. The students were given a test on a computer and given a reading level from their score. They then were to read any book they liked on their own time 20-30 minutes a night that was at their level so they could have success independently and they could read whatever was an interest to them. They had to read enough books to get to a point goal I assigned them and if they did it by the end of the quarter I would by them out of my own pocket a pizza party. There was no grade or nightly log assigned to this task, just an encouragment for independent reading, and guess what in 8 1/2 years I averaged maybe 5 students meeting their goal per quarter, and you trust your child to read?

    October 4th, 2010 at 10:48 am
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  648. Matthew says:

    @Nicole Costa: Actually, I do pay part of my own salary.

    You use the word “partnership” but I don’t think you know what it means. To the public schools, “partnership” seems to mean “we take your money, and you do what we tell you to do.” That’s not a partnership. I throw out the taxpayer-salary link because, quite frankly, I’m sick of the attitude of school staff towards their customers/clients/constituents/whatever you want to call us and our kids.

    It would be one thing if I felt the schools were doing a really good job at educating my children, but they’re not. The schools think they are because they are quite effective at teaching standardized test taking skills. Unfortunately, that’s not going to help my kids in their adult lives.

    October 5th, 2010 at 7:01 am
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  649. Disillusioned says:

    Nicole Costa….you sound very hostile and angry. In addition, as are most of the teachers who post here, you are a very poor writer. Matthew hit the nail on the head re: the attitude most school employees have toward the kids, parents, etc. At my children’s high performing school, I was shocked to see how hardened and filled with hate many of the teachers had become over time.

    October 5th, 2010 at 12:33 pm
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  650. Jessica says:

    I came across this blog by accident, but I am very intrigued by the discussion here. I am a pre-service English teacher (aka: I’m in my last semester of classes and will be student teaching next semester) at a highly regarded university for education.

    I thought it would interest you to know that when they teach us how to make lesson plans, the “homework/extensions” section is a -required- section. This means I am to devise an activity for my “students” to complete at home each day or week (depending on my professor). These are -general- educational methods courses that all Secondary Ed. majors take.

    I can’t speak for the Elementary Ed. majors, but I laugh at my courses more often than not. My professor for general methods would lecture on why lecturing is bad and we shouldn’t use Power Points -as he read from a power point.- Keep in mind, my university is known for it’s education program.

    That said, I have had the lucky chance to work with some “guest professors” for my Writing: Methods course. The entire course was taught by an actual English teacher who was taking time off as she is starting a family. In there I was taught to only assign homework if it was necessary. We actually were required to provide a rationale for every assignment done in and OUT of class.

    On another note:
    I believe that Education/Certification programs are the ones that should be held responsible. You can make the comparison that we parent the way we were parented…and we teach the way we were taught. But the difference is that teachers have years of training followed by years of practice, professional development, more training etc. Parenting is something that is inherent, and there is no parental training requirement or certification that you need to test for in order to reproduce (hence the common reversion to our own parents’ methods). I think comparing teaching to parenting is an excuse for a number of things that are essentially irrelevant.

    October 11th, 2010 at 10:06 pm
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  651. Jessica says:

    Also, Ms. Bennet. I would like you to know that your book, “The Case Against Homework,” came highly recommended in one of my classes and was the subject of many lively debates. It now sits next to my J. Dewey books.

    October 12th, 2010 at 12:13 am
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  652. Matthew says:

    Jessica, you’re right…the teachers’ education system in this country is a mess.

    My school system compounds the problem by only hiring teachers from a small number of area colleges therefore ensuring that no new ideas ever get introduced and leading to exactly what you’d expect from large-scale inbreeding.

    October 12th, 2010 at 6:50 am
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  653. Nancy says:

    So teachers — there’s so much talk about the right and wrong ways to teach. Are there proven programs with outstanding results across the board, or haven’t they been found yet? Can a teacher who is forced to use a district specified program still get the results demanded, or is the problem the inability (due to time, $ and personnel) to provide teaching which is more narrowly tailored to each individual child? We all want the best education for our kids, and many of us can’t afford private school or home schooling. If an hour of homework every night and a reading log are truly the best way to establish a foundation for future academics, we’ll be with them to make sure they do it. But how do we know if the programs mandated by the District are just wasting years of their young lives?

    October 12th, 2010 at 5:12 pm
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  654. PsychMom says:

    Not taking anything away from your question, which is a valid one Nancy, I wonder if teachers are even able to answer that question. If a factory is supposed to turn out blue widgets, then the only thing the factory workers can tell you is perhaps how to make bluer widgets. Bigger widgets that are still blue….smaller widgets….but only widgets.

    That’s what I hear now….the solution is to give them more school, longer hours, more homework, more tests…make them bluer. But it doesn’t matter if the widgets are bluer if widgets are really not what’s needed anymore. “Future academics” may be the wrong goal entirely. And only we as a society can answer the question: “What are schools supposed to do?”

    October 13th, 2010 at 7:42 am
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  655. Disillusioned says:

    Psych Mom- Great analogy. I agree that teachers aren’t the best people to answer the question re: what is a great education. They cannot seem to get beyond the control issue for one. In other words, their answers usually boil down to “if I had a better method to control the kids who aren’t engaged I could do a better job teaching the good students.” Further, the parents (mothers) who seem most “involved” in the school system today are those who most relish the status quo.

    So, with hyper-involved parents who guard against change and teachers who equate more control with better teaching methods it’s no wonder no real change ever comes about.

    October 13th, 2010 at 6:00 pm
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  656. PsychMom says:

    Thanks Disillusioned….Thank heavens there are parents like us who can see that the Emperor has no clothes on.

    Many ,many years ago Gary Larson and his FarSide comic strip had a one panelled cartoon of a sheep standing up on his hind legs amongst his fellow sheep and indignantly saying, “What are we?……Sheep?”

    Baaaaa.

    October 14th, 2010 at 9:11 am
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  657. Jessica says:

    Not all of us teachers equate control with quality. Please do not lump us all into a group and then get mad when some do it to the students. I take offense to your assumption of my beliefs regarding classroom management and quality education.

    You want to know what I think a “quality education” means? I think quality education is re-instilling in individuals the natural curiosity we were all born with. I think that a quality education gives learners the tools they need to succeed in any number of societies. I think that, despite the ridiculous system in which I am required to work, I can put in the time and effort to differentiate my instruction so that the “gifted” students have authentic assignments, the “average” students are challenged in ways that create a sense of true accomplishment, and the students who “need more help” are encouraged to think not in terms of their limitations, but in terms of their ability.

    I wonder what happened to you to make such a negative sweeping generalization of myself and my friends an colleagues. I am not a parent, but I am a daughter, a big sister, and a teacher. I love your kids and care about your kids and I am a teacher not because I couldn’t “be” something…but because I am willing to put up with the hate and the sweeping generalizations to do my best to help your children become healthy, intelligent, and conscientious adults.

    I ask for you to be more specific in labeling of bad teachers. Believe it or not, we are not all incompetent idiots.

    October 15th, 2010 at 8:17 pm
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  658. TeacherFirst says:

    I love how people feel that they know what is best for a child’s education more so than a teacher. Just curious…do you go to your doctor and tell him how to handle your health needs?

    The problem with schools today is not the teachers, its the parents. Most parents do not want to be bothered with anything school related. They want to be their child’s friend, and make their life as happy as possible. Therefore, when their child comes home complaining about homework, parents feel they should complain as well because they hate seeing their child soooooo upset! Let me guess, your child would never do anything wrong either, right? So if the teacher calls to inform you of a problem at school, I’m sure you will support your child before backing up the teacher???

    When I was a child, I had homework, if not more. Every night, my parents sat down with me and never COMPLAINED! They didn’t even complain to the teacher. SHOCKER…I KNOW! They just knew that was their job as a parent. But here is the issue. For every parent that does not want homework, you have two more parents who are asking for more. Therefore, as a teacher you try to balance it out so that you make everyone happy. Also, personally, I do not look at homework as a way to reinforce what is being done in the classroom. It is more to teach these students responsiblity. Many students now a days do not have any responsibility at home. If your child does, good for you! Homework, not only holds them accountable for something, but it also teaches them how to organize and prioritize things. Aren’t these good life skills? Last I knew, many jobs today require you to do “work” outside of the typcial work day. Are you going to call your child’s boss one day and say they won’t be doing their work tonight because they don’t want to?

    Now, in regards to your reading log post. People, its a reading log. I could understand if it was asking the child to write about what they read, but its just asking for the book title, the pages read, and the parent signature. Doesn’t seem like a HUGE expectation to me???? I understand your concern that you feel you trust your child to read each night, so why must you sign it. I get that. HOWEVER…YOUR CHILD IS NOT THE ONLY CHILD IN THE CLASS! NEWSFLASH….some kids will not be truthful and say they read when they didn’t.

    In my own classroom, I have never made it a homework assignment to read. Although, this year I am. More and more I am finding that kids do not read at home. Although, I have those that do (which is great), I have many that WOULD NEVER pick up a book and read unless they had too. Therefore, for those kids that have always read, its no big deal. It is just forcing those students who don’t, to pick up a book. In fact, when deciding on doing this assignment, I called a parent (who is a typical helicopter parent) from a previous year to ask if they thought this requirement was too much on top of everything else. This was her reponse….”I wish you had done this when my child was in your classroom.” In addition, I will be using a reading log for two reasons. One it will help the child keep track of what was read, but it will also help for when I sit down with the child each week and discuss what they had read.

    Let me leave you with this one last note. I DO NOT WORK FOR YOU…I WORK FOR YOU CHILD! Until you and many other parents realize this, there will always be problems. Parents shouldn’t be against the teacher. It should be a partnership. Together, we could help the child be successful.

    October 17th, 2010 at 6:27 am
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  659. FedUpMom says:

    TeacherFirst says:

    ***
    The problem with schools today is not the teachers, its the parents.
    ***

    Yeah, thanks a lot. How does this improve the discussion?

    ***
    For every parent that does not want homework, you have two more parents who are asking for more. Therefore, as a teacher you try to balance it out so that you make everyone happy.
    ***

    Why don’t you let every family decide what works in their home? There’s no reason every student should have the exact same homework, any more than they should all do the exact same work at school. Parents have a right to determine their own home life.

    You say yourself that your homework doesn’t actually teach anything, you just assign it so the child will be “responsible” (you mean “compliant”, as usual.) In other words, it’s an utter waste of time.

    ***
    Parents shouldn’t be against the teacher.
    ***

    Why should we be for you, when you label us as the problem?

    October 17th, 2010 at 9:02 am
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  660. TeacherFirst says:

    First off, who labeled who first? The whole reason for your blog is to “bash” how bad teachers are and how you have all the answers.

    I love how you remark that my comment about the parents being the issue doesn’t improve the conversation? Is this because its against what you think? Parents like you, only want to hear their side of the story whether it is right or wrong. Well, this teacher is not a bobble head!

    Also, I never once said my homework doesn’t teach anything. OF COURSE it reinforces what was learned in the classroom. However, my primary focus is not for that. It is to teach responsiblity. DO NOT put words in my mouth. But thats right, you hear what you want to hear, or in this case read what you want to read. Plus, parents need to realize that school goes well beyond the typcial school day. Increasing state standards have required more of the child today. Therefore, this requires them to put forth more work outside of the school day. There is only so much that can get done with the child at school.

    I think its a little ridiculous for you to suggest that each child should get different homework. Yes, each child is different and requires different teaching styles. This is called differentiated instruction. But you probably knew this, since you have all the answers. HOWEVER, it is not fair that some students are held accountable for some things and other students are not. Explain that to a child. If this is seriously what you want, then home school your child.

    Also, I highly doubt that your child’s teacher’s goal is to determine your home life. Again, that is how you perceive it, so it MUST be true, right??? Nevertheess, if you didn’t want to deal with school, then why did you have a child in the first place. Clearly, you just don’t want to be bothered. School is the child’s job. Like I said before, as every other job requires work outside of the “office” so does school. Why is this unreasonable? This is what life is. Unless, you have been fortunate enough to be given life on a silver platter, most people have to work for what they have. When is the child going to learn this? When they are 25? Doubtful. This is why many kids today grow up expecting everything to be handed to them. They don’t know how to work for anything because their parents do not make them.

    Most teachers want the best for his or her students. They want them to succeed and do everything they can to make that happen, whether it is spending their own money to purchase resources or putting in numerous hours of planning and crafting engaging lessons (which, before you put words in my mouth, i’m not complaining about). This is why I say it needs to be a parntership and not parent against teacher. Nor do I feel it should be teacher against parent. However, when a parent questions EVERYTHING a teacher does (such as a reading log), how are the parents not the problem? Please explain to me how a reading log, as you say, “determines your home life?” Seems to be that you set very low expectations for yourself and your child.

    I leave you with this. If you feel you have all the answers to this “problem,” then how come you don’t become a teacher yourself? If we are all doing such a terrible job, please show us how to do it.

    October 17th, 2010 at 1:17 pm
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  661. PsychMom says:

    We don’t need to do your jobs, teachers. We’ve got our hands full being parents and full time employees in our own lines of work, and protecting our homelife from the encroachment of school. And please, don’t accuse me of being a neglectful parent just because I won’t do what you say.

    And no, most of us work very hard to keep our work lives out of our homelife. I have no intention of teaching my children that it’s OK to bring work home. It isn’t. It’s unhealthy. If adults, (like teachers) decide that their hours of work can be whatever they want…that’s fine…But for adults to insist that children work after hours because it’s “good for them”…show me the proof that it’s good for them.

    October 18th, 2010 at 9:03 am
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  662. Parent in Mass. says:

    Wow. I lost count of the sweeping generalizations and assumptions in the comments above from TeacherFirst.

    Thankfully, I know he or she does not speak for all teachers.

    The defensive, unreasoned, repetitive, close-minded and hostile, uncivil remarks — not to mention the sheer ignorance of the fact that those excuses some teachers give for assigning reading logs have been discussed ad nauseum above — are truly alarming if the writer is in fact a teacher. Really, consulting someone dismissed as a “helicopter parent” about what homework to assign?

    Altogether, ,just breathtakingly arrogant.

    October 18th, 2010 at 9:08 am
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  663. PsychMom says:

    To Parent in Mass…

    What happens is that they mostly just read the opening post and never read all the commentary that’s been going on for years now. Every once in a while a teacher will find this blog and explode and then go away again, dismissing parents as a group. Fortunately, sometimes a teacher will find us, take the trouble to read through all the comments and actually think about the topic and take a second look at whether reading logs are really the way to go. If just a couple of people do that, then it’s all worth it. Sometimes a parent will recognize too that they don’t have to go along with everything coming down from the teacher and they’ll make changes for their family. That’s worth it too…

    October 18th, 2010 at 9:38 am
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  664. TeacherFirst says:

    I think its funny how I am ignorant because I don’t agree with you. The simple fact is, you are looking for someone to agree wiith everything you say. Again, I’m not a bobble head.

    However, you yet again put words in my mouth by saying that I said you neglected your child. I don’t believe those words ever came out of my mouth. I’m sure you are a wonderful, caring parent, but I also think you are unrealistic to think your child shouldn’t have to do any “work” outside of their day. On an average day, my students have a half hour (if not less) of homework a night. I do not feel that is an unreasonable amount, nor do I feel this “determines the home life”. It’s enough to hold them accountable for something, yet not too much that it monopolizes their time at home. Family time is just as important. What I find even more funny, is that parents always complain about homework because it takes away from the home life, yet they never once complain about having 2 hours worth of dance practice or football practice. Isn’t this taking away from the home life?

    Again, I’ll say this. The problem in America today is everyone wants everything handed to them. They do not want to work for it. When I was younger, of course I did not like homework. However, my parents (who are well educated adults) always taught me that in life you have to work for what you want and that you might be faced with things that you DON”T like; however, you have to learn to deal with them. Your not going to like everything in life. They didn’t call the teacher and complain. Just like in my job, are there things I am required to do by my principal that I do not like…OF COURSE. However, am I going to complain about them and not do them. NO! This is why kids today do not know how to deal with problems. Mommy and Daddy always “come to the rescue.” Parents today hate to see their child disappointed, and personally that is only setting up the child to fail in life. Sometimes the best lessons in life come from situations where we are faced with a problem.

    I also think its laughable that you say you work hard to keep your work life out of your home life. Would it be great if we all could leave our job and not have to think about it untl the next day? Definitely. However, that is again not realistic. Most jobs today require work outside of the office. Perfect example…a teacher. I have a family, but I still have to grade papers, fill out paperwork, call parents, create lessons, respond to e-mails, oh and help do homework. Do I love having to do this, NO! Do I complain about it, NO! Its part of the job that I love doing! Hope your child never wants to be a teacher!

    In response to your comment about showing proof that homework helps, well it helps in a few ways. Again, it teaches students responsiblity, organization, and time management. It also definitely helps them to review what was learned that day in school. On several occassions in my own class, I have found that the child retains more; therefore, allowing them to be an active participant in class. For every article that you find against homework, I can find one to support it. Do I feel that their should be 2 hours of homework a night…of course not. But I do not feel a little is an awful thing. Again, you just don’t want to be bothered by it. I’m sure you all work very hard at your job; but it is YOUR CHILD. Just because you may have to sit with your child to help with homework, does not mean your doing the teachers job….please! It is funny to think though that you complain about finding the time to sit with your child and do homework, yet you have no problem finding the time to blog about how much you hate it..haha! Question though: Why is the child’s homework your issue in the first place? HOLD YOUR CHILD RESPONSIBLE! It’s their homework.

    I think its funny how you fail to respond to many of my points. You find the one or two points you feel you can comment on and you address those. Therefore, I’ll ask you again: How is it fair to give each child different homework? How does a reading log determine the household, and if you feel we are all doing so bad and that you have all the answers, then why don’t you become a teacher and show us all how its done?

    October 18th, 2010 at 7:12 pm
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  665. PsychMom says:

    “How is it fair to give each child different homework? ”

    I’m not quite sure what “fair” has to do with it. Each child should have a customized learning program. As I’m opposed to all homework in elementary school, the issue of fairness is moot. Nobody gets any. But if teachers insist..then homework should be given as extra help to students who need it. IF you think it’s unfair to give to only some students, then you are admitting that it’s a punishment…something no one wants to do. I would not see it that way. I would see it as an extra help to the kids who need it.

    “How does a reading log determine the household”
    I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. But I’ll guess you mean, “how does homework interfere with homelife?” I have roughly 2 hours each night to spend with my child. No where in my plan is school work a part of it. So when my child comes home and says “You have to help me with this, the teacher says”, I get my back up. The teacher could have called me and asked me….not put a youngster up to it. Why should children have to coral their parents? Homework is not how I want my time spent….nor my child’s after she’s been at school for 9 hours.

    Lastly, I don’t want your job…I’m just asking questions. Am I not allowed?

    October 19th, 2010 at 7:39 am
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  666. PsychMom says:

    ” Why is the child’s homework your issue in the first place? HOLD YOUR CHILD RESPONSIBLE! It’s their homework. ”

    If only it were so. Homework in the elementary grades is often unintelligible to the kids. They try, but they don’t know what to do. Or they’ve forgotten or they are just too tired to focus any more. Homework often says, “Have a family member help you do x,y and z……..” In the case of reading logs..instructions can say, (to the parent, not the child), “please check that your child has done such and such… and then sign.” All of this happens in my home…I did not agree to do this and I don’t want my young child feeling this pressure when she’s already been in school for 9 hours.

    Sorry teacher, my house, my rules.

    October 19th, 2010 at 12:17 pm
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  667. FedUpMom says:

    TeacherFirst asks:

    ***
    How is it fair to give each child different homework?
    ***

    What makes you think it’s fair to give every child the same homework? It will be too easy for some kids and too difficult for others. Some kids will rip through it in 15 minutes, while others will wreck the entire evening worrying about it. Some kids will experience minimal stress, while others will have major anxiety problems. Kids are highly variable human beings, not interchangeable widgets.

    ***
    Again, it teaches students responsiblity, organization, and time management.
    ***

    Homework teaches none of these things. If anything, it teaches kids to rush through busywork with as little effort as possible.

    ***
    Question though: Why is the child’s homework your issue in the first place?
    ***

    Homework is my issue because it is an invasion of my home life.

    ***
    For every article that you find against homework, I can find one to support it.
    ***

    Oh yeah? Why don’t you send in links to the well-researched, scholarly articles that support homework, and let us decide?

    ***
    It is funny to think though that you complain about finding the time to sit with your child and do homework,
    ***

    I’m not opposed to spending time with my kids, I’m opposed to bad practices like reading logs that do nothing but make my child dislike reading. You’d know that if you paid attention to the original post.

    October 19th, 2010 at 3:34 pm
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  668. TeacherFirst says:

    First of all, do not tell me that homework does not teach students responsibility, organization, and time management. I have seen it teach these things first hand in my own classroom. In fact, I had a lovely conversation with a few of my parents just the other day telling me how amazed they are with how organized their child is this year, and how they are learning how to prioritize their school work with their personal life so well…hmm…guess it doesn’t teach anything huh?

    Also, I don’t recall every saying that I give my students the EXACT SAME HOMEWORK. I modify their work all the time to fit their needs. What I was saying is it is not fair that one student gets hoemwork and the other doesn’t. Again, in no way shape or form does this indicate that I see homework as a punishment either. This is another one of your assumptions! I did love how PsychMom said “homework” is something no one wants to do. What a great lesson to teach your child. In life when you don’t want to do something, you don’t have to even if you are required to do it. I would love to see how that would go over with my boss or even your boss.

    In regards to the comment about reading logs determining the household: You said yourself that a reading log takes away from the homelife. HOW???? It takes 3 seconds to complete Seriously, how does that take away from your home life? Again, a reading log is helpful for when the child and I sit down to talk about what they read. It provides the teacher with information regarding their fluency, and it helps to keep the child focused on what they are reading. NOT ONE of my students are complaining about having to fill out a reading log. In fact, as I was going over how to complete it, one of my students asked “is that all we have to do…thats easy. It will only take a couple seconds.” Man, a 10 year old can figure that out but you can’t? And don’t assume that I didn’t read the above comments, because I did!

    In no way shape or form do I feel my homework takes away from family time. Nor do I feel my child’s homework takes away from our family time. Its a fact of life. In fact, I hardly even have to help my child with their work and they are an average student. It’s called teaching them responsibility and teaching them how to have a WORK ETHIC. In life you need to “work hard to play hard.” The problem today is that everyone wants to have fun but they do not want to work for it.

    Homework is defintely apart of my classroom. However, I have NEVER had one parent complain about it. Do I have students that don’t want to do it at times, of course. However, last I knew, they were KIDS! As adults, our job is to not always make them “happy.” In fact, my students LOVE SCHOOL, even with the homework! SHOCKER!!!

    Finally, as a parent, I think its wondeful that you ask questions. In fact, I encourage my parents too. However, what I don’t think is right is that you feel you can tell the teacher what they should be doing in his or her own classroom. Oh thats right, you think you can because as you say “we work for you.” Maybe if you realized that we don’t work for you and that we work for your child, we would listen more. Maybe if you didn’t call and complain about EVERYTHING you don’t like, then we would listen more. Maybe if you would LISTEN to the teacher and realize that they are not trying to “determine your home life,” they would listen more.

    So, parent, my classroom, my rules!

    October 19th, 2010 at 8:01 pm
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  669. Curious Teacher says:

    TeacherFirst,
    As a fellow teacher, I’m embarrassed at your outrage towards these parents. To me, the purpose of this blog seems to be a venue for giving another side to the homework dilema. There is much research to support both sides of the argument, but I don’t see a need to get angry about it. On the contrary, I find the opinions and research of these parents informative. It’s interesting to me to hear other viewpoints, especially since I don’t have children of my own yet. While I don’t necessarily agree with all the posts in the blog, I appreciate the opinions of the authors.

    To respond to one of your quotes:
    “However, what I don’t think is right is that you feel you can tell the teacher what they should be doing in his or her own classroom.”
    I think the parents writing here would say that by assigning homework we as teachers are dictating what they do in their own homes. If we are upset when onlookers tell us how to act in our classroom, don’t they have a right to be upset when others tell them how to handle things at home?

    October 19th, 2010 at 8:50 pm
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  670. FedUpMom says:

    TeacherFirst says:

    ***
    In no way shape or form do I feel my homework takes away from family time.
    ***

    This isn’t your call to make. If I say homework takes away from my family life, that means homework take away from my family life. Other families may have different experiences, but I’m telling you what my family’s experience has been. It’s not a debatable point.

    ***
    It takes 3 seconds to complete
    ***

    As I’ve said several times already, the problem with the reading log is not the time that it takes, but the psychological toll. It sets up a negative dynamic between me and my child and makes my child dislike reading. It’s not worth it.

    ***
    In fact, I had a lovely conversation with a few of my parents just the other day telling me how amazed they are with how organized their child is this year
    ***

    You have selective hearing. You only listen to people who agree with you.

    ***
    In fact, my students LOVE SCHOOL, even with the homework!
    ***

    How do you know? You don’t know what’s going on inside the kids’ heads. When my daughter was profoundly depressed in school, not one of her teachers figured it out. They thought she was “quiet”.

    ***
    So, parent, my classroom, my rules!
    ***

    When I objected to the reading log, I wasn’t objecting to what the teacher did in the classroom, I was objecting to what she told me to do with my own child in my own home. My home, my rules. Get it?

    ***
    I think its wondeful that you ask questions.
    ***

    You hardly encourage questions when you announce that the problem with school is the parents.

    ***
    we don’t work for you and that we work for your child
    ***

    Parents and children are not divisible. Teachers should not be for the kids and against the parents.

    October 19th, 2010 at 9:29 pm
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  671. PsychMom says:

    “I did love how PsychMom said “homework” is something no one wants to do.”

    To TeacherFirst: If you’re saying it’s unfair for one child to get homework and not everyone then it must not be something anyone would want to do. If you polled any classroom of students in public school and asked what’s the least favourite thing in their school life…I would bet alot of money that they would say “homework”. Hands down.

    And quite frankly I do not think that young children need to learn how to WORK. They are not adults. They do not need to learn responsibility, organizational skills and downright obedience from homework either. There are dozens of other ways for children to learn how to be responsible and they don’t need to do it all before they’re 10. Broken record time: organizational and planning skills are a function of the frontal lobes in the brain and they do not fully engage until young adulthood. And kids don’t learn to be organized because of school. It’s forced on them and they are punished if they don’t comply. Some kids are more sensitive to the punishment and they will nicely fall in line. But it’s still a developmental process just like walking, and talking. If you’ve mentioned what grade you teach I’ve forgotten, but these demands for 8 year olds to be time self-managed and organized are just plain unrealistic. Only some of them will be able to do it reliably.

    And as for your repeated (over and over and over) claim that we are telling you how to teach in your classroom…we are not. You are apparently able to do whatever you please from 9 til 3. What I and other’s are saying is that your reach ends there. You have no right to send work home for me or my child to do in our off hours and expect it to be done.

    I’m working very hard to have homework become a thing of the past, just like the strap is a thing of the past, forcing kids to write with their right hand if they are left handed, not allowing girls to wear slacks or pants to school, and all those silly, outdated, ridiculous habits of the past. That’s where homework belongs.

    October 20th, 2010 at 11:25 am
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  672. Disillusioned says:

    When I read tired rants like the one from TeacherFirst, it always makes me think that teaching should not be a lifelong profession. The anger and hostility she displays in her writing have made her unable to “hear” what anyone is truly trying to say. When I read these posts from teachers, again. it gives me litttle hope that the status quo will ever change. An organization is usually made up of like minded individuals (especially buracracies).

    October 21st, 2010 at 4:48 pm
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  673. Disillusioned says:

    One other point. TeacherFirst made an analogy (as many teachers do) to a boss in a work environement. Yes, many jobs have deadlines. However, if a boss were to fill ten hours a day with pointless paperwork and then demand you take it all home if you didn’t finish it within eight hours; I think most people would be looking for another job.

    October 21st, 2010 at 4:58 pm
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  674. Disillusioned says:

    Sorry, a few more things. TeacherFirst, the school day is usally 9-3. That is six hours with a break for lunch. You stated that you bring work home after school. Do you leave at 3:00? Shouldn’t you be at school until at least 5:00 p.m.? At my children’s school, the parking lot is empty at 4:00. If you bring work home instead of doing it in the classroom when your students are dismissed, your job as more latittude then most people’s jobs (who cannot leave two hours early and do the wrok at home). Again, I am struck by the hypocrisy of your position.

    October 21st, 2010 at 5:32 pm
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  675. PsychMom says:

    Hi Disillusioned,
    I’m discouraged by the spelling and grammar mistakes that we see from many of the teachers who write a message. I’m discouraged by the lack of a cogent arguement and the repetition of unrelated points that simply are repeated because the teacher thinks her personal upbringing is relevant.

    It just all reinforces my belief that teachers cling to tradition and myth to justify not changing what goes on in schools today. If that fails for them then they go one of two ways: Blame somebody else, or scream that they’re being attacked.

    A couple of teachers have said, Mmmm..hold on…let’s look at the research. Let’s look at what parents are saying. Let’s consider that it’s not 1965 anymore and life has changed dramatically. Let’s consider that children are under EXTREME pressure these days at ever younger ages. What is the role of a teacher? What is the role of school? I could talk with those teachers all day long.

    October 22nd, 2010 at 7:30 am
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  676. Disillusioned says:

    Hi Psych Mom,

    Very astute. I have a feeling that many of the teachers who rant and rave are older and have nostalgic ideals regarding children, respect, personal freedom, etc.

    October 22nd, 2010 at 2:30 pm
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  677. Matthew says:

    I really haven’t noticed that much difference between younger and older teachers. Granted, a few of the older ones have been the classic “coasting to retirement” types, but I’ve seen as many progressive, technologically advanced older teachers as I’ve seen younger clueless, rigid technophobes, if not more.

    October 25th, 2010 at 6:39 am
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  678. Disillusioned says:

    A few more points…although I think two hours of dance or football practice in elementary school is excessive; it is still a choice the family has made (although many parents do push their kids into after school activities). However, they are not spending six to eight hours a day at football or dance school and then going home to practice another two hours after dance or football school.

    October 26th, 2010 at 2:18 pm
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  679. Curious Teacher says:

    FedUpMom had asked me a while ago to update this blog community about the optional reading logs I gave this year. Parents had the opportunity to choose if their child got one or didn’t.
    So far it’s going great! I enjoy not fighting with kids about whether or not their reading log is done. About 10 parents opted for the logs in the beginning. Two parents saw their child reading every day and decided the log was no longer needed. I also had a student who requested a log! He wanted to do one, so I gave him a copy. It’s pretty incredible what can happen when you give kids and parents choices.

    November 2nd, 2010 at 5:45 am
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  680. FedUpMom says:

    Curious Teacher, thanks for the update. It’s good to hear from you.

    Choice is such a good idea. It’s a mystery to me why more schools don’t let parents choose what homework they want their kids to do. It would make everybody’s lives easier, and if anything, probably increase the dreaded test scores.

    November 2nd, 2010 at 12:42 pm
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  681. Nancy says:

    FedUpMom:
    Many teachers probably don’t openly provide a choice because they are afraid some parents will opt out of homework simply to save themselves some effort. Many teachers might “secretly” agree to choice if specific parents bring it up, and it’s clear that the students involved understand the material and are getting their reading in anyway.

    November 4th, 2010 at 1:12 pm
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  682. Curious Teacher says:

    Nancy,
    In all honesty, I feel like the parents in my class this year were honest. The ones who chose to have reading logs are parents of struggling readers or children who don’t enjoy reading. The ones who opted out of the logs have children who would read all day if I let them. I don’t know what home is like, but from what I see in school it was pretty accurate.

    November 4th, 2010 at 5:01 pm
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  683. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the fact that reading logs make reading seem like a chore, however, as a teacher, they do help us a bit with keeping the children on task. You have to try and look at it from both sides of the spectrum. I’m 26 years old, and do feel that there are various old-fashioned learning tools that we are still using that could perhaps be tweaked. The beauty of just reading is dwindling, which is why (and I know a lot of English teachers I work with do this) in class we do more than just check the reading log and the parents’ signature. I sit with them on the floor, open up the book and read to them, and then have them read to me. We discuss the book, and they ask questions. I show them pictures if there’s any word they may not understand (English is their second language). Reading is made into a fun experience.

    Reading logs are not fun, or the best invention ever, they’re just a necessity for large classrooms. I don’t believe it’s as dramatic as saying you don’t trust your child, or that you’re an unpaid worker. The child actually assumes responsibility by knowing they must do something on a daily basis and showing you, the parent, “Hey, Mom, I’m responsible.” A signature is hardly any work. If you trust your child, you know they will do the reading and come to you for your initials and that’s that. Being involved in your child’s educational career is hardly disrespect or mistrust on your part. It DOES take both home and school to mold a child into a an experienced, curious, and knowledge-thirsty person.

    I don’t know what kind of teacher your child has or what school she goes to, but the last thing I believe we need is negativity and complaints. I’m more that positive that your child is trustworthy since you feel so strongly about this, however, try to play devil’s advocate and see that it may not be so bad or so horrible to sign a piece of paper.

    November 8th, 2010 at 8:57 am
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  684. Carrie says:

    I am a public educator in a very low poverty area. First, I think it is wonderful that your daughter enjoys reading and will do it on a natural basis, without having to be coaxed, bribed, and/or threatened. Second, I think it is truly magnificant that you – the parent – trust your child to do her work diligently and do not want to harbor the idea that reading should be a chore, but a relaxing and adventurous journey that can take your daughter to wonderful and imaginative places!

    Now, having said that… you must remember that all parents are not like you. I have students who come to me with parents who work third shift, are never home, could care less what their children do, dump them off at school without breakfast, without socks on their feet, without having bathed in four or five days, and my district (the government, per say) says I have to teach these poor children who have nothing on their mind but where their next meal is coming from and whether or not mommy or daddy is coming to get them. The problem does not lie in the teachers who are trying to do their job by holding parents accountable, and students accountable for that matter, the issue lies in the system that continues to fail the teachers – and the parents and students – who are truly trying to make a difference.

    I am not condoning the actions of some teachers out there, but please remember that for every bad apple in the bunch, there are hundreds other that are juicy and ripe for the picking! :)

    November 8th, 2010 at 9:25 am
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  685. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    The beauty of just reading is dwindling,
    ***

    Anonymous, why do you think that is? Maybe it’s those reading logs that you say yourself are “not fun”. It’s not enough to try to make it fun again at school, after you’ve wrecked the child’s experience of reading at home.

    ***
    The child actually assumes responsibility by knowing they must do something on a daily basis and showing you, the parent, “Hey, Mom, I’m responsible.”
    ***

    No, the child forgets all about it until Mom starts nagging. Then they start up on the procrastination cycle. Everyone winds up aggravated. You’ve got some fantasy about what goes on at home. It’s nothing like the reality.

    Please take a look at my master list of anti-reading-log articles and blog posts:

    http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com/2010/08/join-chorus-against-reading-logs.html

    November 8th, 2010 at 9:27 am
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  686. FedUpMom says:

    Carrie says:

    ***
    I have students who come to me with parents who work third shift, are never home, could care less what their children do,
    ***

    And you send those students home with a reading log that requires a parent signature? It’s not fair to tell these kids they have to get a signature from an overworked, absent, possibly abusive parent. And then you scold or punish them at school because they didn’t get the signature, right? First they get stuck with a bad home life, then they get punished by you because of their bad home life! That’s crazy!

    November 8th, 2010 at 10:05 am
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  687. Disillusioned says:

    “The problem does not lie with the teachers who are trying to hold the parents and students accountable.” As a matter of fact, that is part of the problem. Again, why is it your job to teach accountability to adult parents of your students? It is very sad that you have students whose home life is not secure and happy. However, your job shouldn’t encompass teaching “responsiblilty” to adults whose children are in your classroom. This is a recipe for frustration on everyone’s part. If you were to re-frame your perspective,focusing on having your students learn to read within the confines of your classrooom it would leave everyone (including students) less frustrated.

    November 8th, 2010 at 5:04 pm
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  688. Special Ed Teacher says:

    I am currently a special ed teacher and have just finished with my parent-teacher night. I experienced an overwhelming amount of “Can you make the homework harder? Can you give them more?” I had to explain to the parents that the homework I give is basically to keep ideas fresh in the students minds and to show parents what their child can do. I have done away with home book logs, but I do ask that they read before bed, or try to, as a family. I do not believe that homework or reading for school should last beyond 15 minutes. I have the opposite problem, where parents want so badly for their kids to think like everyone else that they believe giving them hours of homework will help.
    There is a lot of anger on this thread, and while I see both sides, I really think that it takes two to tango. I am lucky because I have at least 6 out of 8 parents who will work with me and vice versa to help their student succeed to the best of their current ability. As for the other students, I teach what I can in school, from responsibility to academics, and hope that one day they will gain something from it, even if it is not reinforced in the home.

    November 11th, 2010 at 8:39 am
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  689. homeschool mom says:

    I appreciate this site as a mom whose children used to attend public school. We did everything to “make it work” and even went to the school superintendant with our concerns. It is true that if a mom speaks up for her child or has any concerns she is labled “that Mom.” We met a college professer one day at a park with his homeschooled children. He spoke to us about why we needed to get out children out of public school. He could tell homeschooled children from public school “people pleasing drones” right away. His daughter apolized to my children that they were “institutionalized.” We love homeschooling and miss nothing about our public school experiences. If a public school teacher is reading this, I understand you have a demanding job and you may very well do your best to give the child a good education with the unrealistic expectations from your supervisors. ing. If someone reads this who is considering homeschooling, go for it. We aren’t wealthy and manage to make homeschooling work because it is wonderful and worthwhile. We offically “gave up on” public school because is “broken.”

    Homeschooling fan : )

    November 16th, 2010 at 11:52 pm
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  690. Anonymous says:

    You all have such wonderful comments and ideas. Why don’t you become teachers??? Youa re exactly what our country needs!

    November 19th, 2010 at 11:28 am
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  691. Concerned Student says:

    Hello concerned parents and teachers and the like. I just wanted to say something, you know, put my voice in as a student. I’m only 14 and I had very prejudiced views on your discussion before I read it.
    I believe that things like reading logs are somthing to be discussed in a quieter tone. I, for one, have no problem with them now. I think that maybe you should thank about it with three views,
    As a Student
    A Teacher
    and A Parent.
    A student sees it as a hassle. A job that just has to be done whether you want to or not. Though, at our school it is a chance for reward. Our teacher takes them up, and anyone who has turned it in gets a piece of gum or a sucker, and those who didn’t, leave empty-handed.
    Now look through the eyes of a teacher. You have to take them up, give them out, grade them, and add them as a grade. This isn’t your choice. You just need more grades in the grade book so that people are happier with thier child’s grades. Not to mention the county office will be at your door if you don’t “teach” properly. You have to go through the job of making sure every child has the education to get them the next step of the way.THen you have to deal with parents who complain to you if their child doesn’t have the learning capability that they want him/her to have.
    Now view it as a parent. You have to sign the reading log and make sure that they actually do it. Or you can do it the way my mother does. She tells me and my sister that she knows we read all the time so if we don’t do our reading logs correctly she will sign them anyway and won’t care if we just make them up. Then you have to worry about making sure they turn in all their other home work and that they did it correctly. You feel as though it is your responsiblilty to make sure your child does their homework.
    My mom says it best, (to a child) “It’s your responsibility to get the work done and to make sure that you know everything you need to know to get it done,” If you feel like your child doesn’t need to do the reading logs then stop worring about them. THey aren’t the problem. They are for another time. Work with the places where the child isn’t good at. Like if they are horrible at math then work with them at that! If they are the biggest reader that you know, then let them read until they go CRAZY and reading logs will become less of a hassle because you can just quickly go and grab a book they have read and use that. Yes, they might not have read that this time but they have read it before!
    And to teachers? You work with those who need the help. And if you feel guilty that you can’t work with the ones that are great? Then maybe, give them a little bit harder work. Challenge them! Make that your day’s task. To challenge the one’s that challenge you.
    I hope that this isn’t judging and that it helps solve at least SOME of your problems. If it did, keep in mind. A 14 year old helped. Ask your kids. They’re not as unobservant as you may think. They could be a big help. :)

    November 22nd, 2010 at 2:42 pm
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  692. Concerned Student says:

    oh and I just wanted to add, I didn’t read all of this so if you aren’t even on the topic of reading logs anymore… well sorry!! And if you’ve already resolved your issues I’m sorry as well!

    November 22nd, 2010 at 2:44 pm
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  693. Anonymous says:

    you all are retarded

    December 2nd, 2010 at 1:31 pm
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  694. Anonymous says:

    There’s a lot of hate here.

    It seems like it’s parents vs. teachers. For kids to reach their potential, it’s really parents and teachers working together.

    We teach kids not to hate and be disrespectful to others. This site is dripping with sarcasm and rudeness.

    Stop hating.

    December 4th, 2010 at 4:31 pm
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  695. Anonymous says:

    Thank-you very much for helping me to decided to throw away my four-year Private College education and Not become a teacher…

    December 6th, 2010 at 4:35 pm
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  696. Respectfully Disagree says:

    It’s interesting to me that as a society we want to hold teachers accountable for student progress but balk at the idea that parents should play a part in the education of their own child because that’s “the teacher’s job” or everything should be done at school. Really? 30 or more kids in a classroom and each child is going to get instruction, correction and time to work in all subjects plus extra curriculars (ie band , art, gym). The idea that you can just trust a kid to do their work is funny. While your child might do that, there are more that will not. Should teachers leave them to fail, fall betweent he cracks because a parent is dreading doing their part as a parent? If yoiu don’t like the reading log, why not look at what the objective is and work with the teacher rather than attacking and throwing down the gauntlet. I would have worked out a reading log that would have worked for my child and the teacher rather than creating an adversarial relationship. How does that help your child? I assume that your intent is to help the child and not yourself? When you fight battles, you only get bloody. When you work cooperatively, you achieve greatness. Be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

    December 10th, 2010 at 4:38 pm
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  697. Anonymous says:

    FedUp you are insane! I am a 4th grade teacher and have been for some time now. I do not assign reading logs except over the holiday break. I understand that your perfect daughter may be accountable for her reading, but that does not mean every child in the class is. How are we supposed to how the children accountable for their reading when their parent does not support us? Homework is a necessary tool to learning. Yes- kids should be involved in extra curricular activities, however if they can’t handle balancing homework and activities, then they need to be pulled out. I have never heard of a teacher that gives no homework at all. It sounds ludicrous. Would we, as teachers, be preparing these kids for life if we did not give them tasks to complete at home? How will they survive high school, and college? What about in the work force when they become adults? With a lot of jobs, one does not finish everything at work. Sometimes things have to come home to finish. Do you work, did you go to college?? I am shocked at your comments about your teachers quote and response. As a teacher, one is just trying help children grow and learn! We became teachers because of our love of learning and children, but parents like you are the reason our education is going downhill!! Lastly- whomever said that parents are not responsible for their child’s learning, and that we get paid to teach your child. I literally laughed out loud, WHY DID YOU HAVE KIDS??? Obviously, you don’t want to take the time on them to help them complete homework assignments, and follow through with what a parent should do.

    December 10th, 2010 at 6:43 pm
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  698. Anonymous 2 says:

    “Homework is a necessary tool to learning.”

    I live outside of the US and some teachers at the school I attend set little or no homework. I do not believe that my education has been hindered by this. In my maths class, my teacher only makes us do the questions we haven’t finished in class for homework, along with the occasional small booklet containing 3-4 pages (double sided) of maths questions, due back the next week. Next door, the maths teacher sets her class a lot of maths homework every night. All of the maths classes of the same grade at my school have to sit the same maths tests at the end of each topic. In these, my class usually gets similar or even higher results than the class next door, despite having had to do less homework. However, this is only really proof if you equate learning with test scores.

    “I have never heard of a teacher that gives no homework at all. It sounds ludicrous.”

    I have heard that in Finland and Denmark, there are strict no-homework policies and these countries tend to do better in literacy and numeracy than the United States.

    “Would we, as teachers, be preparing these kids for life if we did not give them tasks to complete at home?”

    In the country I live in, primary schools tend to give only a really small amount of homework- generally just one easy maths sheet due back the next week. High schools give a lot more, depending on which teachers you have and teachers give even more when you enter the final years of high school. Despite not having much homework during primary school, it seems that nearly everyone is able to adapt to cope with the increased burden. It may be that we are not burnt out from having had a lot of homework previously.

    “With a lot of jobs, one does not finish everything at work. Sometimes things have to come home to finish.”

    “Obviously, you don’t want to take the time on them to help them complete homework assignments, and follow through with what a parent should do.”

    Perhaps the parents here went to work and had to bring things home to finish and they can’t finish those things while helping their children simultaneously?

    December 11th, 2010 at 12:43 am
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  699. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    I do not assign reading logs except over the holiday break.
    ***

    What part of “holiday break” do you not understand?

    ***
    How will they survive high school, and college? What about in the work force when they become adults?
    ***

    Anonymous, you teach 4th grade. High school, college and the work force are far in the future for your students. They have plenty of time ahead to figure out how to handle those stages of life.

    December 11th, 2010 at 1:19 am
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  700. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    How are we supposed to how the children accountable for their reading when their parent does not support us?
    ***

    Instead of holding children accountable, how about inspiring them for a change? I think you’d get better results.

    Respectfully Disagree says:

    ***
    The idea that you can just trust a kid to do their work is funny. While your child might do that, there are more that will not. Should teachers leave them to fail, fall betweent he cracks because a parent is dreading doing their part as a parent?
    ***

    Respectfully, what makes you think that the reading log is *not* leaving a child to fail? Many reading logs are faked. The fact that the child turns in a signed, correctly filled out reading log means absolutely nothing about whether they’ve done the reading.

    ***
    If yoiu don’t like the reading log, why not look at what the objective is and work with the teacher
    ***

    The objective of this particular reading log was that my daughter should read the assigned book, and I made sure that she did. I believe I explained this in the original post.

    December 11th, 2010 at 4:02 pm
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  701. PsychMom says:

    I had dinner with some folks the other night and the topic of excessive homework came up.

    “But how will they ever learn how to study when they get into university?” was the worry of one lady at the table.

    I said,”Adults go to university..they have a choice. If they want to go to university and achieve at that level, then they have to work hard and on their own. Children don’t have a choice. Plus, I attended university for 7 years and not once did I ever have a full week of classes for 6 to 7 hours per day each day…not once.”

    Homework in K-12 is overburdening our children. It’s not necessary and does more harm to children’s psyche and family cohesion than it’s worth.

    December 13th, 2010 at 9:58 am
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  702. Lynn says:

    Well, I am an educator with four children and I hate reading logs, too. However, in many states it is part of the educational reading standards/cirricula that your student read so many pages, books, genres, ect. so the reading logs are here to stay. At least for now. For the parent who “trust” her daughter, well I trust my students too! This is not an issue of trust, this is an issue of accountablity!!! We are all accountable, and until they are 18, WE PARENTS are accountable!

    December 13th, 2010 at 2:28 pm
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  703. PsychMom says:

    Sorry Lynn, but I feel your sense of accountability is misdirected.
    If my child was forced to something that even I hated, I think it would be my responsibility as a parent to correct the situation. That’s being accountable. What are we teaching our children every time we say, “Honey, I know you hate it…I hate it too, but we have to do it.” We are teaching them that we have no control over our lives, that some force on high can dictate to us and we have no choice but to obey, even if it makes no sense to us. I’m sorry, but I’m not teaching my daughter to ever be unquestioning. If something doesn’t make sense, the proper thing to do is to ask questions, not shrivel in a corner. I agree, we parents are accountable, and you as a teacher are even more accountable. So stand up and demand answers. Be the role model your children need, not some agreeable nice lady, who does what she’s told. Do you really want your children to grow up to be obedient? Is that what we send them to school for?

    December 14th, 2010 at 8:46 am
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  704. Anonymous says:

    Hello to all you moms out there! I am a mother of two and also a teacher in a public school. I have taught for eleven years, so I am not new to the game. As a parent, I highly dislike homework. Homework in our house is often like pulling teeth. There is always something better to do! Who wants to do homework? Knowing this as a parent, I assign much less homework than I did before I had children. Bottom line: homework stinks.
    All that being said, it is parents like you that have corrupted society and caused your children to be irresponsible, disrespectful, and lazy. What most of your comments let me know is that not only are you encouraging your children to be lazy, but you yourselves are lazy. Why are you not willing to help your child? All you are doing is showing them that it is okay to be disrespectful by not following the rules. You are showing them that they do not have to do what the teacher says because they know that mommy is going to come to the rescue. So while you continue to teach them that this way of life is acceptable they grow up unable to follow the rules, laws, and norms of our society. While you may not see the benefit in homework, you should understand that its purpose is not only to give you quality time with your children, but to teach them that we all have responsibilities and that this is one of them. When you are asked to pay taxes, do you tell the IRS that you are only going to pay half your taxes because you do not believe you owe the other half? Do you tell them that their system goes against what you believe, so you will not participate? Do you call them and say, “Trust me. NO. You do it. That’s the rule. If not there is a consequence. What you all don’t realize is that when you make a big deal out of something as ridiculous as a reading log, you hurt your children more that you help them. They are the ones that are affected by your inability to do what you are supposed to do. They are the ones that come to school and cry to their teacher because their parents just will not take the time to sit down with them and help them on their homework. They are the ones that are saddened because yet again they have let their teacher down. They are the ones you hurt because of your stubborness and inability to just follow the rules. They are the ones that do not have many friends because of overbearing and controlling parents. You say that you do not want to micro manage? You are doing just that by trying to dictate what work you want and don’t want your child to do. You are hurting your children.
    Last, but certainly not least, the fact that someone would be upset about going unpaid for doing your teacher’s job is perhaps the most idiotic comment of all. Let me let you in on a little secret from one parent to another: YOU ARE THE TEACHER. When you decided to have a child, you decided to take on the responsibility of parenting and teaching your child the ways of life. YOU ARE THE TEACHER. Not anyone else, but you. Not I, not the classroom teacher, not anyone!! Are you keeping up with the game? Or have you placed all of YOUR responsibilities of parenting on your child’s teacher? YOU ARE THE TEACHER. Are you teaching your child to be a good person or a difficult person who thinks their rules are the best? YOU ARE THE TEACHER. You set the standards. Shouldn’t you be happy that someone else loves your children so much that they are willing to dedicate their life to loving them and helping them grow? As a mother, I have come to learn that I am a teacher. A teacher of good examples, a teacher of morals, a teacher of life. I have done my homework. HAVE YOU?

    December 16th, 2010 at 5:46 pm
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  705. Anonymous 2 says:

    Anonymous, your comment is well-intentioned but I would like to point out a couple of things.

    You said that parents writing on this blog should understand that homework’s purpose is to give them quality time with their children. You also said that getting kids to do homework is often akin to pulling teeth. I think you are contradicting yourself a little as I’m not sure how something so painful could be considered “quality time.”

    You also said that the purpose of homework is to teach children that they have responsibilities but there are other ways to do so. Some kids have household chores which also teach responsibility. In some extreme cases homework could actually cut into the time required to do these chores. A lot of the time on this blog parents are talking about more extreme cases of homework such as countless amounts of busywork which harms more than it helps. Also a lot of the parents on this blog have stated that their children are more than capable of completing the homework without their assistance, in which case the academic benefits are greatly reduced anyway.

    For those doing well at school, homework could be preventing them from learning other things that they are interested in. I am fortunate that I live in a country where not as much homework is set, so I have time to study foreign languages and music, which are both things that I love.

    December 16th, 2010 at 7:07 pm
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  706. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    All that being said, it is parents like you that have corrupted society and caused your children to be irresponsible, disrespectful, and lazy.
    ***

    Actually, it’s teachers like you who have corrupted education and caused our children to be stressed out, anxious, and depressed.

    ***
    While you may not see the benefit in homework, you should understand that its purpose is not only to give you quality time with your children, but to teach them that we all have responsibilities and that this is one of them.
    ***

    “Quality time?” Are you kidding me? I’ve got a million better ways to spend time with my child. Homework is one of the worst things that ever happened to family life.

    Let me teach my kids about responsibility in whatever way I choose. That’s my privilege as the parent. You, as the teacher, should focus on actual academic subjects — remember them? Reading? Writing? Math? You’ve got my kid for upwards of 30 hours a week — that’s plenty of time.

    ***
    All you are doing is showing them that it is okay to be disrespectful by not following the rules.
    ***

    If the rules don’t make sense, the right thing to do is to speak up. There’s nothing “disrespectful” about it. School is supposed to benefit the kids, not the teachers. You are not the boss, and the kids are not your employees.

    ***
    They are the ones that come to school and cry to their teacher because their parents just will not take the time to sit down with them and help them on their homework.They are the ones that are saddened because yet again they have let their teacher down.
    ***

    You shouldn’t put children in a position where the behavior of their parents, over which they have no control, will let the teacher down. It’s child abuse. It’s your fault for assigning homework that the child can’t possibly complete on his own.

    December 17th, 2010 at 1:11 am
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  707. PsychMom says:

    There are so many things I would like to say to the latest Anonymous teacher, but it’s really not worth it.

    The only thing I will say, is that there is a world of difference between paying taxes (which any REASONABLE person would understand is a societal good) and doing what I’m told to do just because somebody else thinks it’s a good idea. I’m sure it would surprise you that I stop at red lights too…all by myself. BUT, one day I happened to be at a red light when I saw a fire engine with lights and sirens blaring barrelling down on me from behind. He couldn’t go around me…so I checked for traffic and seeing none, I drove through the intersection to let the fire truck through….Oh my goodness, I broke a law…I thought for myself and did the right thing. And that’s the kind of sense that I’m trying to teach my child, in this world where there are so few people in positions of power who do the right things.

    Good luck with the blind obedience and your children.

    December 17th, 2010 at 9:17 am
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  708. Anonymous says:

    Yes, homework is like pulling teeth initially, but it is my responsibility as a parent to make it fun because it is something that is expected of my child. I don’t always want to clean my house, but I have to make the best of it because it is something I must do. So yes, obviously unlike yourself, ANY TIME I spend with my children is quality time.

    December 17th, 2010 at 3:25 pm
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  709. Anonymous says:

    ***As for extreme amounts of homework, I highly disagree. It is in my opinion that home work should not take more that 20 minutes, preferably 10-15.

    December 17th, 2010 at 3:29 pm
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  710. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    Yes, homework is like pulling teeth initially, but it is my responsibility as a parent to make it fun because it is something that is expected of my child.
    ***

    Why should I waste my time trying to make homework fun when I can see that it serves no useful purpose? You can’t make silk out of a sow’s ear.

    December 17th, 2010 at 4:02 pm
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  711. Disillusioned says:

    Interesting analogy about paying taxes. I often file an extension because I usually get a refund and want to make sure I have everything together. Even the IRS doesn’t penalize me for a late return if I file an extension. In other words, even the IRS has some give and take in its system. Contrast that to elementary school where children are penalized and punished for one day of late homework.

    As Fed Up Mom (and many other have stated), why do you feel it is your job to teach “responsibility” to the adult parents of your students? Society has, and will always have, independent thinkers. These thinkers don’t corrupt society, they move it forward by putting forth new ideas instead of clinging to tradition and myth.

    December 17th, 2010 at 4:39 pm
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  712. Anonymous says:

    ***You have helped prove my point. Thank you. Stop coddling your children and allow them to be independent, problem solving children. Why would you teach them that they are “entitled?”

    Corrupted educators? Maybe some are….it’s easy to pick them out. You should talk to your legislature about the quality of teachers. I’d much rather study and take a test to assure that I am of the best quality teacher you can possibly get, and make the money that I deserve, rather than put those burdens on my children.

    **”Let me teach my kids about responsibility in whatever way I choose. That’s my privilege as the parent. You, as the teacher, should focus on actual academic subjects — remember them? Reading? Writing? Math? You’ve got my kid for upwards of 30 hours a week — that’s plenty of time.”

    Thank you…you help prove my point exactly. It is your priveledge. THEN DO IT. Core subjects in schools are mandated. We don’t have the option of NOT teaching those subjects. Curriculum is assigned. Your hostility really shines through in this comment. Yikes. Are you saying that teachers should not care about their students well being? We should not care about children enough to teach them to be responsible? So if what you are saying is that I shouldn’t care about your child….ONLY ACADEMICS, then yes, you should consider me a corrupt teacher that has caused stress, and blah, blah, blah. Does that mean that you want me to spank them too?

    Anyway, I am done with all responses. I happened upon this website while searching online for a meaningful reading log for my class to do for homework. Yikes. This is what popped up. If you all are unhappy with the education system, you should do something about it. Maybe you should consider home schooling your children, since you know best. I mean unless ofcourse that is not your responsibility.

    December 17th, 2010 at 4:51 pm
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  713. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    Your hostility really shines through in this comment.
    ***

    MY hostility? You led off with this remark:

    ***
    All that being said, it is parents like you that have corrupted society and caused your children to be irresponsible, disrespectful, and lazy. What most of your comments let me know is that not only are you encouraging your children to be lazy, but you yourselves are lazy.
    ***

    Yeah, thanks a lot for your helpful attitude there. Glad you’re not hostile.

    ***
    Does that mean that you want me to spank them too?
    ***

    What the #%&*$? You think that’s a normal part of raising a child? (Why am I not surprised?)

    ***
    I happened upon this website while searching online for a meaningful reading log for my class to do for homework.
    ***

    Good. We’ve had several people stop by this site who actually had open minds and learned a lot. I’m glad the site comes up early on a web search.

    ***
    If you all are unhappy with the education system, you should do something about it.
    ***

    We are. Speaking up and writing about it on the internet is a start.

    ***
    Anyway, I am done with all responses.
    ***

    Bye! I’m so thankful my kids don’t have you for a teacher.

    December 17th, 2010 at 6:28 pm
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  714. Disillusioned says:

    The teachers who rant and rave here (and have very poor writing skills……paragraphs anyone?), can’t see their own hostility shine through. Fed Up, it is fascinating to me that a teacher would call you insane when your arguments are so logical and well conceived. It’s as if they truly can’t comprehend what you are saying! Also, the only solution most seem to have to the educational morass is…..if you don’t like it why don’t you home school!

    The blind spots (and prejudices and biases) they have are so internalized. It astonishes me how reactive and judgemental some can be.

    December 20th, 2010 at 2:15 pm
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  715. PsychMom says:

    The trouble too is that they just read the opening blog and breeze thru a few posts….and it’s like lighting a fuse.
    What concerns me is the total lack of reasoning skills…how can they possibly be stimulating childrens’ thinking if they can’t voice an opinion properly? Their analogies don’t make sense or are weak. As Disillusioned said, their solution is to throw their hands up, storm out and throw us out of school.

    When I started reading this site, I took days to read old stuff…not everything resonates, but I ignore that stuff.

    Chill pills all around.

    December 20th, 2010 at 3:18 pm
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  716. Teacher says:

    Wow, this posting is a hot topic.

    As a teacher, (not a parent), I see both sides of the argument. In a perfect world, teachers would be able to teach every child in a way that exactly meets their needs. This may or may not include homework. In my perfect world, I wouldn’t give homework other than asking my students to read because there are so many amazing things out there to read, or do some math, because there are so many fun things they can do with math, and they might just enjoy it! However, we don’t have a perfect world and from what I see in these posts the parents are fed up with homework, rightfully so in many cases, as their children can read and hate being forced to put it in a log.

    On the other hand, the teachers seem frustrated probably because they are feeling criticized for doing what they have been taught or told to do. Also, the bottom line is teaching is a tough job where you often feel overworked, underappreciated, and poorly compensated.

    Why do we do it? As someone mentioned, the reward of seeing someone “get it” or know that you made the difference in the life of a child is the only reason I can think of.

    So, to all the teachers, maybe you can take to heart what some of the parents are saying and reflect on your own practice and see if there isn’t room for improvement somewhere, and to the parents, maybe you can find it in you to find something positive about teachers and their practices, or try to find a way to calmly and positively discuss why the practices don’t work for your child. Also, remember that there are a lot of teachers out there and while the ones that your children have are the only ones that matter to you, that doesn’t mean that your bad experiences sum up the whole field of teaching.

    I implore all of you to use your efforts in a positive way to make positive changes to our educational system rather than beating each other up. Parents and teachers are the only stability many children have. It would be nice if we could all support each other.

    December 20th, 2010 at 3:55 pm
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  717. Disillusioned says:

    Hi Teacher,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to our posts in a calm and thoughtful fashion. In my perfect world, the teacher to child ratio would be about one to five. I know there are many districts where teachers are overworked and poorly paid. However, in most of the affluent suburban schools we are referencing that is not the case. Volunteer mothers do an enormous amount of the clerical work (make homework copies, grade homework and test, etc.). In addition, the tenured teachers in affluent suburbs are pretty well paid (about $80,000/year) for a part time job (summers, long holdiay breaks, and most federal holidays).

    December 20th, 2010 at 4:54 pm
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  718. Disillusioned says:

    Hi Teacher,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to our posts in a calm and thoughtful fashion. In my perfect world, the teacher to child ratio would be about one to five. I know there are many districts where teachers are overworked and poorly paid. However, in most of the affluent suburban schools we are referencing that is not the case. Volunteer mothers do an enormous amount of the clerical work (make homework copies, grade homework and test, etc.). In addition, the tenured teachers in affluent suburbs are pretty well paid (about $80,000/year) for a part time job (summers, long holdiay breaks, and most federal holidays).

    December 20th, 2010 at 4:54 pm
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  719. Anonymous says:

    I guess I need to move! I actually come from an extremely affluent school (my students have Tiffany necklaces, Coach shoes, Hollister and Abercrombie everything, etc.) probably the most affluent in my large county and I have a doctorate and only make $49K. As for the part time job, I have spent more time working as a teacher than I have in any other job. Going in at 6:30am, working until 7 at night and then coming home and doing more work, working every Sunday all day long doing lesson plans, and during those breaks, I am also thinking about things I can do to help my students, researching teaching strategies or ideas from the internet, planning lessons, reading kids’ books so I am prepared, and taking classes. Oh, and to make ends meet and to further my own career, since none of the “extra” work I do for teaching will ever get me a bonus or a promotion, I also am an adjunct professor teaching preservice teachers, which I get a measly $400 a month. Also, it is against most district rules for anyone but a certified teacher or paraprofessional to grade papers, and in my school only teachers can use the copy machine. I have not had a volunteer in my room except for parties. Summer breaks are what allow most teachers to keep teaching year after year.

    I do understand the point about the homework, which I thought was the point of this forum, but I do not like the stereotype that teachers are paid well for a part time job. I encourage anyone who thinks that to become a teacher in a large school district where you must deal with NCLB, state standards, benchmark testing, pacing guides, lack of time, lack of resources, and a general feeling from the public that you are a public servant who can’t do better than to become a teacher. I overlook this because it is my students that matter and because I love teaching and making a difference in the life of a child.

    That being said, I must go make cookies for my students for a holiday treat tomorrow.

    December 20th, 2010 at 8:07 pm
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  720. Disillusioned says:

    Anonymous- I can only speak abour what I’ve seen in my district. No doubt, other districts have other pay scales. Once the lesson plans are in place, do they change from year to year? How much time do you spend grading homework each week? Do you think your time could be better spent?

    Many professions require on-going education. If your schedule is as full as you say, summer break is probably needed to restore yourself. You don’t say exactly what you are doing during these long days from 6:30 am to 7:00 pm. Respectfully, it sounds as if this is a recipe for burn-out. I didn’t mean to offend you (you sound very hard working). However, most professions don’t get two months off every year.

    December 20th, 2010 at 8:33 pm
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  721. Disillusioned says:

    Anonymous- I can only speak about what I’ve seen in my district. No doubt, other districts have other pay scales. Once the lesson plans are in place, do they change from year to year? How much time do you spend grading homework each week? Do you think your time could be better spent?

    Many professions require on-going education. If your schedule is as full as you say, summer break is probably needed to restore yourself. You don’t say exactly what you are doing during these long days from 6:30 am to 7:00 pm. Respectfully, it sounds as if this is a recipe for burn-out. I didn’t mean to offend you (you sound very hard working). However, most professions don’t get two months off every year.

    December 20th, 2010 at 8:37 pm
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  722. Disillusioned says:

    Anonymous- Sorry a few more things. What are the consequences for teachers if their students do not live up to the NCLB standards? I’m sure you feel pressured for the kids to perfom….yet, it seems as if there aren’t any real consequences (other than the principal talking to you) for tenured teachers if students do not perform well on these standardized tests.

    December 20th, 2010 at 9:21 pm
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  723. 90/90 Teacher says:

    Disillusioned: What are the consequences for teachers if their students do not live up to the NCLB standards?

    I don’t know how it works everywhere, of course, but in my district and state there are pretty severe consequences. After being on a “list” for several years, despite making more than a year’s growth each year, our school was placed on a list of Persistently low-achieving schools. That meant we needed to make many changes, both in staff and in instruction. We have a lot of new teachers this year (some veteran, some genuine newbies), but many of our instructional practices had already begun to change based on what we saw our students needing. (I teach 8th grade, less than 30% of our kids read at or above grade level… we have 30% special needs – which our district says is “too high,” eye roll…. most of our students not at grade level are between 2 and 4 years behind.)

    I originally found this post because we have a 20 minute period a day in which our students are supposed to be reading. Until my teaching schedule changed I was in charge of a group of about 20 kids during that time. I read… they read. We read the same books, we read different books. They sprawled around the room (except for one kid who was happiest walking with his nose in a book… and yes, he was actually reading, it was very funny to watch). It was rough the first week or two of school as the expectation was set out for them. They adapted, they became good at it. Like I said, my schedule changed so I’m now teaching a class for kids having more difficulty with reading during that period, but I’m hearing from my kids that the other teachers aren’t “making” them read like I did. I had googled “reading logs” so that I could have my kids fill them out and turn in to me despite the fact that they’re in another teacher’s room. Maybe not…. anyone have any other solutions out there? I should say, the other teachers are WELL aware of the expectation. I’ve modeled it, and the teachers still say it’s too tough to make them read (and it is, if you make them sit in desks and not be comfy and you never talk to them about the book… or their day… or know their name…). Perhaps I’ve answered my own question.

    Regardless, while I appreciate the original poster’s comments about the ridiculousness of reading logs I had a final thought… my 1st grader, who loves reading and is reading at about a 4th grade level has a reading log too… we never remember to fill it out because frankly, though he’s reading, and we’re sitting reading or talking with him, it’s usually bedtime and at the beginning of the year, learning new teacher procedures, a reading log just escaped both my memory and his. Meeting with his teacher (from whom we’d had no problem commentary about the log), I apologized for being forgetful about the homework. She laughed, told me it was not a big deal, that SHE KNEW MY CHILD WAS READING.

    I think that’s the difference. She assigned a log to cover all bases. She told me she had several kids who she wasn’t worried about with reading, that they were the kids who would pick up books immediately during free time. My son happened to be one of them. She actually apologized for not letting me know not to worry about it. Because she knew I was a teacher, too, we got into a discussion about how it would be so much better if we could just have different rules for different kids… and parents. If a student in my classroom demonstrates his ability to do the job WITHOUT a reading log (like my kiddo), as the teacher, I relax my accountability requirements from that student. Unfortunately, it’s the vast majority of kids who will NOT read unless I require it. Heck, I have a huge majority of kids who have to borrow books from me to do their homework because there are not ANY books in their home. That’s just their reality.

    Ok, enough ranting from me… but dsLevy, I’d happily teach next door to you. Cheers.

    December 30th, 2010 at 12:44 pm
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  724. Disillusioned says:

    Hi 90/90 Teacher- Thanks for your detailed response to my question. It seems as if you are really motivated (yet creating a relaxed atmosphere) to get your students reading.

    You stated that the school was “on a list” for a couple of years. I’m sure this created pressure for the teachers and the principal of your school. However, my question was in regard to tenured teachers being fired if a school failed to meet NCLB requirements.

    In regard to your first grader’s teacher, do you think there is any professional courtesy re: the reading log? (You mentioned she knew you were a teacher). Anyway, thanks for your response and good luck with your students in the new year.

    December 31st, 2010 at 7:52 pm
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  725. duane says:

    i want like copies of finished reading logs

    January 2nd, 2011 at 6:22 pm
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  726. Ann says:

    I was looking for a decent reading log for my little first grade bilingual kids when I came across this site. I’m so glad I did. I send a book home with my kids and I know who practiced and who didn’t. I was going to send a log home just like my co workers, but what for? The parents can’t even read with the children because they are non English. I was reluctant to send a log home, because I don’t think they are really necessary for my students.
    Now for the homework part….my son is in 7th grade and is a gifted student. So far this year, his grades have taken a HUGE nose dive. Why? All that his pre-AP classes AND his G/T class have for him are senseless projects and assignments. He has gone to school with as little as 2 hours of sleep because he has so much to do. If he takes time to do anything else, he can’t keep up, therefore not turning in assignments. This has caused him to receive many zeros. He will not be in the junor honor society and could care less about school anymore. The teachers assign a HUGE amount of projects and them have the kids present them in class. They also use them for, get this, TEST grades! I am just trying to get him and myself through the year. Wish me luck because I will receive his report card today and there’s a good possibility that he has gotten an F for his G/T class for the six weeks. Does anybody see anything wrong with this picture?

    January 6th, 2011 at 1:37 pm
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  727. PsychMom says:

    Welcome Ann, to our world, where we see the problem you are writing about. The picture is very sad when you see good kids give up under the relentless pressure. What is the point if the kids burn out?

    I, for one, am glad you found this site before you started down the reading log trail. How come you “get” it when so many teachers find us, just the way you did, and are totally outraged by parents’ refusal to comply. You’ve done more to encouraging readers than a reading log would ever have done. The best way to keep them hooked on reading is to read to those little first graders, building their imaginations and connecting to them through their emotions. Bravo!

    January 6th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
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  728. Anonymous says:

    Wow. This has been a very interesting read. It is now 3:30am in the morning. Ironically it started for me looking online to find an alternative to reading logs in my classroom.

    I started at ProTeacher and then followed a link to this site. My decision after reading ALL the posts is that I am not going to require the children to write a reading log for homework. I will still have the expectation that they are reading out of school. It is their choice of material and topic and the purpose is to read for the enjoyment gained by reading. As a teacher it is very easy to know who is reading when you work with them during the reading tumble in a small group. I can see that from the comments of the parents on this site how strongly they feel about it and the rationale behind their argument.

    I have to admit that I am lucky in that I teach in New Zealand and that as a teacher I am respected enough by my school to be able to make that decision and that I will be able to justify my professional judgement. I am also going to encourage other teachers to view this site so that we can discuss it as a school. We are also able to make decisions as a staff to implement change to school policy more easily here than in the US.

    I am also lucky in that I taught for a year in the USA and understand and empathise with the US teachers for the prescriptive text and schedule they are expected to teach to.

    To the parents I assure you this debate is a global issue and funnily enough I have had numerous conversations with parents here wanting more homework as well as the ones that want less. I believe strongly that children should have the opportunity to be children and play is a critical part of a child’s growth – once again I am lucky to be in NZ where recreational and family time are still highly valued, and in fact an integral part of our NZ Curriculum.

    Thank you all for the comments you have made! I know I can make effective use of my class reading time to cover what I got out of the reading log. If I have a particular child that needs support with their reading then I can discuss that with their individual parents.

    Good morning to you all I know I will need a sleep in tomorrow. Just as well it is the weekend.

    January 7th, 2011 at 10:22 am
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  729. PsychMom says:

    Good for you for reading all that..and it’s wonderful that we’ve been found by another teacher “just in time”.

    Children do need to be children and not be constantly harrassed to grow up faster. Adult thinking and perceptions just do not hold when it comes to growing children and teacher’s need to help protect kids even when their parents want more rigor and homework. Thanks for the dedication, and welcome to all those new New Zealander readers.

    January 7th, 2011 at 11:01 am
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  730. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous from New Zealand, you are the first winner of my special award to anyone who reads all the comments on this post.

    I call it the “Herculean Effort” award, and it will be cast in bronze, with an engraving of Hercules cleaning the Augean stables. Congratulations!

    January 7th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
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  731. Teacher 76 says:

    As a parent, I can totally relate with other parents who are tired of the endless mounds of homework, silly logs to sign, and repetitive worksheets. My first grader is advanced in all subjects. The other day, I received a note from his teacher stating, “Dear Parents, we are sending home extra math sheets as well as a test pro sheet that needs to be completed each night as our math scores are low.” This new homework is in addition to the 20 minutes of nightly reading and list of 15 spelling words that need to be written three times each every night. In my mind, my child is being punished with extra work because others in his class are scoring low in math. On the other hand, it is his work, he needs to learn to be responsible and get his work done. After a long day of teaching other’s kids, I dread having to spend more hours helping my own children with homework that they don’t really need, but the real problem is this: Standardized Testing. Parents and lawmakers have decided that our system of educating children is broke (and it is). Too many students fall below proficient in reading and math. There are ever growing demands placed on educators to get all kids proficient in reading and math. Let’s face it, there are more children performing below proficient, than children performing at or above proficient. So what does this mean? Money, time, and energy is being spent on trying to get the lowest scoring students to do better (remember no child left behind?). This also means that our already smart children will be hammered to death with the same mundane assignments because the other kids in his or her class aren’t getting the concepts. If you want to grow a field of tulips all the same size, what happens to the tallest flowers? You cut them off. This is the sad state of our educational system. So what can you do about it? Many of you are great at complaining–start writing your local law makers. If you are really passionate about education, make some changes, formulate some ideas, help us fix this system! Personally, I believe in charter schools–parents should have options! Take your anger and frustration and help us make some changes! There are good teachers and good people in this system that do care about your children. Trust me, we are not the bad guys–as much as I hate my child’s extra homework, I know it is not his teacher’s fault. We work in the same school, I’ve seen the data that she is held accountable too. Our math scores overall are LOW. What’s the answer??? I’m waiting…

    January 11th, 2011 at 11:14 am
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  732. PsychMom says:

    I counted 8 spelling or grammatical errors in Teacher 76’s post. From now on I’m counting them because it matters.

    The posting from a New Zealand teacher two or three posts behind that one clearly shows what we parents are trying to do about the situation. We’re writing about our experiences and conversing with other parents and teachers who see the need to do things differently, and are doing it. That’s what we’re doing here.

    In our lives, we’re talking to other parents, we’re writing letters to TV programs and newspapers, we’re reading books, we’re talking to teachers, principals, psychologists, superintendents, and various other politicians. Lots, Teacher 76…we’re doing lots of things.

    But right now, we’re outnumbered. And a lot of people yell back when we ask questions, so we have trouble being heard.

    January 11th, 2011 at 11:51 am
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  733. FedUpMom says:

    Teacher says:

    ***
    In my mind, my child is being punished with extra work because others in his class are scoring low in math.
    ***

    That’s correct.

    ***
    On the other hand, it is his work, he needs to learn to be responsible and get his work done.
    ***

    Forcing your child to do homework that you and he both know is pointless for him is not teaching him responsibility. It’s teaching him that he has no recourse. It’s teaching him passivity and hopelessness. Are those the lessons you want to teach?

    ***
    I dread having to spend more hours helping my own children with homework that they don’t really need
    ***

    So — I hope you’re sitting down while you read this — DON’T DO IT. Tell the teacher that your kids don’t need this homework and you will make your own decisions about how your family spends your free time, which is rare enough already.

    January 11th, 2011 at 12:32 pm
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  734. Teacher 76 says:

    “Forcing your child to do homework that you and he both know is pointless for him is not teaching him responsibility. It’s teaching him that he has no recourse. It’s teaching him passivity and hopelessness. Are those the lessons you want to teach?”

    I guess I’ve never thought of it in this light–but my heart tells me that even if I don’t agree with a homework assignment, my kid will do his work. I will talk to his teacher about my disapproval, but I am not going to undermine her authority, especially in front of my kid, and then expect her to put up with him all day long every day.

    I see a common thread throughout these posts amongst teachers and parents. Homework haters are tired of meaningless assignments, and don’t we all want some down-time after a long day at work/school? But the parents on this site who are taking the time to voice their opinions probably have proficient or above proficient children. Am I right?

    What I hear teachers trying to convey is that it’s not about your kids–it’s about targeting low level students and bringing them up to average.

    I have two gifted children. I did not expose them to educational programing designed for infants, or show them flashcards, or sit at the kitchen table and do math facts with them. Rather I played with them, spent a lot of time outdoors, and made reading two books a night part of their bedtime routine. That’s it. I thought because I did these things, and all of my friends did these things, then that was the way it was for most families. Wrong. I didn’t realize, until I started teaching, how little interaction most kids have with their parents. Most kids spend their free time watching TV, or playing video games. Many kids have never been read to at home at all. Homework, even in its most mundane state, at least prompts parents to sit down and spend some time with their kids. It’s sad that society has gotten to this state, and it will tick you off if you are a parent that is accustomed to spending time with your kids already, but it is the direction that we as a whole have taken.

    If you are mad about homework because you want to spend your time at home eating dinner with you family, doing chores, and visiting with your kids, then I empathize with you completely. But a teacher’s job does not start and end with your kids and we need parents who care about children to be on our side. Educating a child is a team effort. A teacher will not be successful without parental support.

    I may be tired when I get home from work, but if my kid has an assignment, I will be there to help him. It’s not a question of me teaching him passivity and hopelessness, it’s about teaching him that life doesn’t always go the way we want it to, that hard work and sacrifice do pay off, and that sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to.

    January 11th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
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  735. Disillusioned says:

    Hi Teacher 76- You touched upon a lot of interesting issues re: homework and school. When parents discuss (and vent) about how homework has affected their home life, they are voicing opinions about their own lives. To label them as “complainers” isn’t really constructive. On the other hand, to label all teachers as “the bad guys” isn’t constructive either.

    I often hear teachers say that the system will not work without supportive parents. I’m not sure if this is true or not because our educational system has never tested this theory in any meaningful way. I do think the boundaries between school and home have been blurred to such an extent that there is a big, big grey area that no one can define.

    When you speak of life lessons (such as doing things you do not want to do or personal responsiblity) these are life philosophy issues. As with every life philosophy, there are pros and cons to each philosophy (most people don’t adhere to just one and many change their life philosphies as they mature). What many parents are saying is let us decide a life philosophy that works for us (and might change over time according to circumstance).

    January 11th, 2011 at 5:20 pm
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  736. FedUpMom says:

    Teacher 76 says:

    ***
    Homework, even in its most mundane state, at least prompts parents to sit down and spend some time with their kids.
    ***

    Homework poisons the time that parents spend with their kids. Who wants to spend their time nagging? Without homework, good parents could spend time with their kids productively.

    And you know what? The bad parents still won’t spend time with their kids, no matter how much homework the teacher assigns.

    ***
    What I hear teachers trying to convey is that it’s not about your kids
    ***

    Well, why shouldn’t it be about my kid, and yours? You think it’s OK that bright kids are expected to coast while the teachers work with the less advanced kids?

    And, even if we accept the idea that the school day is not designed for the bright kids, why is it OK to take up the child’s home life with more unnecessary, inappropriate schoolwork?

    Look at this from your son’s point of view. First he spends a long school day in a classroom where there’s not much going on that’s helpful to him, because he’s bright, and the teachers are mostly worried about advancing the low achievers. Then, he finally gets to go home, but he still doesn’t get a break. His own mother makes him do homework which isn’t appropriate for him either!

    January 11th, 2011 at 6:29 pm
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  737. FedUpMom says:

    Actually, here’s a much more direct response. If the teacher says it’s not about my kid, I say, “That’s what I thought. That’s why my kid isn’t doing this homework. Give it to the kid it was meant for.”

    January 11th, 2011 at 9:57 pm
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  738. teacher 76 says:

    FedUpMom,

    When did I ever say that it was “OK for bright kids to coast while teachers work with the less advanced kids”? If this is what you have taken from my responses, then I am sorry that I have not made myself more clear. Let me try it this way:

    1. The system is broken–agreed?

    2. Because we as a nation are falling so far behind regarding our education, efforts are being made across the board to bump up academics in hopes of closing the gap.

    3. This means an excess of homework, and more time in class being spent on test prep materials.

    4. The pressure is on teachers to focus on getting kids to be proficient (very little time is spent on addressing kids who are advanced).

    5. In no way, shape, or form do I support these practices, but it is my job–it’s what I am instructed to do and I don’t make the laws. I do the best that I can with what the state mandates, and I teach because I care about my students. Personally, I do not give extra homework. My lessons are designed to be completed in class. If a student chooses to talk and waste class time, then he or she will have to get their work done at home.

    6. If we can agree on nothing else, can we at least agree that chocolate is divine?

    January 11th, 2011 at 10:46 pm
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  739. PsychMom says:

    Agreed, chocolate, especially imported dark, is fine.

    But how do you get #3 naturally falling from #2?

    That’s the biggest fallacy out there….if something is not working, do it longer and harder? The system needs to be scrapped…not applied with more vim and vigor. That’s like saying: there are a few planks missing from that old bridge over there, but if you just gun it on your approach, you can clear it. Our kids are falling through the planks everyday….and driving 90 mph with a loadful of kids in the back might get those few across, but for how long? The bridge is old, and it needs to be replaced. And it needs to be double-laned, built of steel, not wood…and perhaps built in a different place altogether because things have changed. The people don’t live here anymore..they live 5 miles up the road and there are twice as many cars as there used to be…
    Are you catching my meaning?

    Re your #4 and #5 Teacher 76…Are you going to continue to drive kids across that rickety bridge? Are you the old guy who comes along every week and puts a new plank down on the old bridge, just like he’s done for the last 60 years?

    January 12th, 2011 at 11:55 am
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  740. FedUpMom says:

    Teacher 76, we can agree on two points:

    1.) The system is broken.

    2.) Chocolate is, indeed, divine.

    Your last post was about what you do in the classroom, which is one issue.

    But the other issue is how you handle your kids’ homework at home, which you described in previous posts. You say your son is an advanced student, and he’s being assigned math homework that he really doesn’t need, because it’s so basic. You dread having to spend time with him every evening getting through this unnecessary homework.

    So what I say to you is: DON’T DO IT! Don’t make your evenings unpleasant just because your son’s teacher has blanketed the class with math homework in the hopes of bumping up the standardized test scores. Tell the teacher that your son doesn’t need this homework, so you’ve decided he won’t be doing it.

    Trust me, the world will still spin on its axis, the sun will continue to rise in the morning, and we will all continue on our merry way.

    OK, back to your classroom. You say, “If a student chooses to talk and waste class time, then he or she will have to get their work done at home.”

    How often does this happen? If it happens frequently, then you’re in the habit of assigning homework.

    Also, the way you describe it makes it sound like homework is the kids’ punishment for misbehaving in class. That means the child will resent the work and is very unlikely to learn much from it.

    January 12th, 2011 at 12:21 pm
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  741. FedUpMom says:

    What it comes down to is that we’ve had teachers on this site before who say things like “Oh yes, I hate homework too. It’s so tedious, it ruins my evenings with my kids.”

    It’s a plea for sympathy, and a bid for common ground. And I am sympathetic, up to a point.

    But I lose the warm fuzzies when it become clear that the complainer has no intention of trying to make a change.

    When Teacher 76 says:

    ***
    it’s about teaching him that life doesn’t always go the way we want it to, that hard work and sacrifice do pay off, and that sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to.
    ***

    she’s telling me that no matter how inappropriate, tedious, and time-consuming her son’s homework may be, she will continue to make him do it. That’s where my sympathy ends.

    January 12th, 2011 at 12:42 pm
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  742. PsychMom says:

    FedUpMom’s post tweaked something in me…

    A lot of people believe that starting something means that you must finish it. If an authority figure tells you to do something, you do it, no questions asked. The world seems to be such a black and white, zero/one world. Why is it essential to teach this to children when it is inherently not true.

    On the lines of what FedUpMom was saying about the world falling off its axis…..a grown woman with a home and two children has every right to decide what goes on in her own home. I’ve often thought to myself…why don’t I allow smokers to smoke in my home? Because it’s unhealthy for me and for my child. Why do I not allow homework in my home? Because it’s unhealthy for my relationship to my child. I have other things to do with my time with my family. I’m allowed to feel that way and I’m allowed to put up that boundary.

    You are too, Teacher 76

    January 12th, 2011 at 12:48 pm
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  743. Disillusioned says:

    PsychMom- You bring up an interesting point. I think because teachers live in a world where much of what they do is mandated from above (and are isolated from other adults), many believe the rest of the work world is like that as well.

    The most cutting edge corporations and employers have long abandonded this rigid structure for a much more fluid one. Even in tough economic times, the smartest businesses know they should keep their employees happy.

    January 12th, 2011 at 2:07 pm
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  744. Teacher 76 says:

    At last, I think we are covering some ground.

    To answer your question regarding how I do homework in my classes, most of my students get their work done in class–if they do not complete their work, then it is their choice to take it home and do it (some kids prefer this because they find they can focus better at home).

    @ PsychMom:

    No, I do not want to add boards to the rickety bridge, but I do want to keep my job. I stumbled on this site in an attempt to find a reading log for my sped students. I have to document that I am working towards helping them improve their reading skills. Finding this site has provided much food for thought. I realize that the initial post was about parents opposed to reading logs, but I have seen all kinds of ideas presented here, many of them were helpful, some of them were just nasty and unprofessional.

    I am curious to know what most parents on this site would rather do with their kids in lieu of homework. When I think back to my childhood, I never had homework in the first grade. I couldn’t wait to get home and go outside and play. We made our own games, or rode bikes, or went roller skating. I managed to make it through college.

    Childhood has changed and I don’t believe for the better. Most of my students talk of playing video games and watching TV when they get home. I rarely see kids play outside the way they used to when I was a kid. My kids play, but that is because I limit TV (we don’t have cable), and I limit video games. Could it be that a major societal shift has taken place and teachers are left with the task of trying to fix the problem? You’re right, teachers should not be infiltrating your private home time, but don’t you think that maybe the average american families’ home life is effecting kid’s academic performance?

    As for my own son, I spoke to his teacher about the increase in homework. While she was defensive and said I was the only parent who had any problem with the new increase, she also said that I could modify the length, or not do them at all. It is nice to have options.

    January 12th, 2011 at 2:08 pm
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  745. FedUpMom says:

    Teacher 76, I’m glad you talked to your son’s teacher, and I hope you will use your option not to make your son do work that isn’t necessary for him. Also, I think it’s hilarious that even another teacher is given the old “nobody else complained!” song and dance. I’d like to have a dime for every time that’s been said to me.

    ***
    Most of my students talk of playing video games and watching TV when they get home.
    ***

    My feeling is, maybe the kids go home and veg out with TV and video games, maybe they fight with their siblings, maybe they play sports or practice a musical instrument, maybe they do any number of things that you might or might not approve of.

    But the bottom line is, after school is time that belongs to the kids, and it’s up to them and their families to decide how they should spend it. It’s none of my business, and it’s none of your business either. Let them figure it out.

    A teacher’s job is difficult enough without trying to extend her influence over the child’s entire life. You do your job, and let the parents do theirs. They might make different decisions than you would, but that’s their privilege.

    January 12th, 2011 at 4:58 pm
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  746. Disillusioned says:

    I do think a major societal shift has taken place but I’m not sure it is a problem. The world moves at a very chaotic pace
    today. Being able to “go with the flow” is a skill these kids will have to master. All through history, generational conflict has been with us. Even in the fifties (an era which many idealize), the older generation condemmed the younger for going home and listening to rock and roll (the devil’s music).

    January 12th, 2011 at 5:21 pm
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  747. Anonymous 2 says:

    Re: watching TV and playing video games- the fact that children may choose to do these things may not be all bad. A lot of video games have strategy and puzzle elements to them, for instance. There are also many interesting educational TV programs out there such as Animal Planet. Kids who do well academically and are interested in learning about animals are probably going to benefit more from watching Animal Planet than from doing homework.

    January 12th, 2011 at 7:42 pm
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  748. PsychMom says:

    To Teacher 76…

    You’re right, there’s a treasure trove to investigate on this site….I don’t want you to lose your job either. All I would like is for teachers to stop and think. That’s what happened to me. I was a total believer in traditional schooling 4 years ago. I believed in academic rigor, in homework (for older kids) and parent’s obligation to support the school and teachers. I believed that university was a natural progression and the only goal my daughter should have. In other words…..I was 180 degrees away from where I am now.

    When my smart as a whip kid started telling me she didn’t like certain things about school, I looked at why she didn’t like them. I didn’t just say to a 6 year old, “well tough honey, there are lots of things we have to do in life that we don’t like.” A 6 year old should LOVE school. “Suck it up, buttercup” is not an appropriate response to a child who is miserable about school. There’s more to it than that, and it’s my job to look deeper. When the teachers sent home instructions FOR ME indicating how I was a part of this Grade 2 project, I went along, but it was a disaster. Suddenly I stopped believing. Not everything that was happening was making sense. And I believe it’s a parent’s job to question, and to teach their children to question. Sadly, teachers and administrators don’t know how to handle that, treating staff, kids and parents all the same…”You do what we say or else.”
    You asked, what should kids be doing after school that contributes to their academic success? Nothing and everything. Play is what kids do. There’s nothing wrong with computer games …they just need limits…there’s nothing wrong with chores….there’s nothing wrong with just sitting and staring at the wall and saying “I’m bored”. Children don’t have to be academically successful. What does that even mean? If they just live their lives and play nicely together they are miles ahead.

    But you know, it’s just a very generalized problem in society now…we all have to be “doing” something to be worth anything.

    January 13th, 2011 at 9:12 am
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  749. PsychMom says:

    Teacher 76 said
    “but don’t you think that maybe the average american families’ home life is effecting kid’s academic performance”

    Absolutely. Some kids have terrible homes, living where no one cares where they are. But homework isn’t going to help them.

    Did you see the research study that says that the biggest single predictor of future success of children is whether they eat meals together with their family?
    I’ll try to find the reference.

    You heard that the baby Mozart stuff is bunk? Most of the “jumps’ that some experts make between functional abilities and right brain/left brain skills is dubious at best.

    The things that a family can “do” to foster childrens’ success don’t have much to do with academics or purposefully stimulating the brain and everything to do with relationships. So, if you spent time with your child playing a board game, or reading a book or getting him to help you stir a pot on the stove, you’ll be doing more for him than if you sat together and agonized over homework that neither of you need.

    January 13th, 2011 at 2:10 pm
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  750. Curious Teacher says:

    “What I hear teachers trying to convey is that it’s not about your kids–it’s about targeting low level students and bringing them up to average. ”

    This quote from Teacher 76 caught my attention. Unfortunately I work in a district that requires us to give homework. I disagree with this policy, but since I have to send homework I send as little as I possibly can (a one sided activity that takes very little time). Yes, I have low level students who need practice to improve, but my high students never receive the same activity as the lower students. Isn’t the point to differentiate for the needs of our class? A good teacher provides practice or re-teaching for those who need it and extensions or challenges for higher-achieving students. One size definitely doesn’t fit all.

    January 14th, 2011 at 7:27 pm
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  751. FedUpMom says:

    Wow, Curious Teacher, I don’t think I’ve ever seen different homework given for different kids in the class, in either public or private schools.

    January 15th, 2011 at 10:36 am
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  752. Curious Teacher says:

    I guess I just don’t see the point of giving kids who have mastered a skill the same work as kids who haven’t. I want my students to love learning. If I give work that is frustrating for some but super easy for others, who is benefiting? My students didn’t all come from the same mold, so I believe their work shouldn’t either.

    January 15th, 2011 at 12:57 pm
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  753. WOW says:

    Boy am I depressed now! I found this site looking for a beneficial reading log to use with my sp. ed students for the second half of the year. I actually had parents request it again this year so they can use it to get more reading out of their children. What I found instead is stunning – everybody on here can do a better job than all of the teachers busting their butts in the classrooms with no resources and testing out the ear. As a teacher of academically gifted students I know that some of the assignments my girls get at school are not 100% suited to them – but I never say anything in front of them because teaching them to do things that don’t always make sense is important. I can’t imagine what that kid will do in college when an assignment seems a waste of time – mark through it and send it back to the professor? Your boss wants you to put together another report – refuse because it’s a waste of your effort?

    Some of the comments here are very disturbing – when do we expect children to be held accountable? Differentiation should be done in the classroom as much as possible – but some teachers and parents confuse that with raising and lowering standards. Don’t get me wrong – there are bad teachers out there, just like there are bad doctors, bad dentists, etc… Please don’t damn the entire profession

    Most of us work hard to create meaningful lessons for your children. I use research based methods to overcome reading difficulties and create multiple opportunities for success.

    I REALLY don’t get the comments about hating homework or reading logs because you are not on the payroll….. I’m sorry aren’t you the parent? I think assisting in learning is a big part of that job description and there is no over-time.

    I think it’s great that parents recognize the strengths of their own children and help to mold a learning experience that best suits them – but please remember two things before you trash the entire system. First, public education serves families that don’t have the insights or resources that you have. Second, your children are eventually going to have to face a world that is not molded specifically for them – will they have the skills to succeed as well then?

    January 19th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
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  754. Disillusioned says:

    Wow- One the one hand you say sarcastically, “everybody can do a better job than the teachers busting their butts in the classsroom.” On the other hand, you say that parents should be teachers (and do it as well or better than teachers) because that is part of the job description of being a parent. Which is it? Should we leave the teaching to the teachers “busting their butts” or should we take on the task of teaching at home? If the answer is the parents should teach to fill in the gaps because teachers can’t do it all, do you think a better system could be designed that would benefit both teacher and parents (and might not include homework).

    Teaching children to do things that don’t make sense doesn’t make sense. To foster critical thinking skills, one should question things that don’t make sense. Looking back, many of the college assignments I had didn’t make sense. I did them anyway because I was motivated to get a college degree to further my earning power as an adult. Sorry to say, but much of what I learned in college wasn’t really applicable to the real world.

    In the work world, if you are given tedious, dull tasks, this will become a motivating force to either a. change careers or b. accept more responsibility or c. start a business yourself and be your own boss or d. refine your skill set to advance in your career or e. play the lotto and retire young, etc. etc. etc. My point is that there are many more options in the adult work world and this is a good thing. Teaching your students to never question why they are doing something will lead to unhappy, burned out adults.

    January 19th, 2011 at 8:01 pm
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  755. Disillusioned says:

    Wow- One the one hand you say sarcastically, “everybody can do a better job than the teachers busting their butts in the classsroom.” On the other hand, you say that parents should be teachers (and do it as well or better than teachers) because that is part of the job description of being a parent. Which is it? Should we leave the teaching to the teachers “busting their butts” or should we take on the task of teaching at home? If the answer is the parents should teach to fill in the gaps because teachers can’t do it all, do you think a better system could be designed that would benefit both teacher and parents (and might not include homework).

    Teaching children to do things that don’t make sense doesn’t make sense. To foster critical thinking skills, one should question things that don’t make sense. Looking back, many of the college assignments I had didn’t make sense. I did them anyway because I was motivated to get a college degree to further my earning power as an adult. Sorry to say, but much of what I learned in college wasn’t really applicable to the real world.

    In the work world, if you are given tedious, dull tasks, this will become a motivating force to either a. change careers or b. accept more responsibility or c. start a business yourself and be your own boss or d. refine your skill set to advance in your career or e. play the lotto and retire young, etc. etc. etc. My point is that there are many more options in the adult work world and this is a good thing. Teaching your students to never question why they are doing something will lead to unhappy, burned out adults.

    January 19th, 2011 at 8:01 pm
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  756. PsychMom says:

    I had a whole rebuttal for Wow….but it’s just not worth it.

    Wow, you need to read Kurt Vonnegut’s “Catch 22″.

    Enough said.

    January 20th, 2011 at 9:08 am
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  757. PsychMom says:

    Oooops…sorry, Catch 22 wasn’t Vonnegut..it was Joseph Heller..

    January 20th, 2011 at 11:38 am
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  758. FedUpMom says:

    WOW says:

    ***
    teaching them to do things that don’t always make sense is important.
    ***

    I’m going to put together a post of “teacher’s greatest hits”. Why bother writing satire when the work is already done for me?

    January 20th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
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  759. billy. says:

    i wish this woman was my mother(:

    January 20th, 2011 at 8:04 pm
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  760. PsychMom says:

    Good idea FedUpMom…there have been some doozies.

    I had three paragraphs or retort for WOW but it just got to be so ridiculous. I thought better of posting it.

    January 21st, 2011 at 10:24 am
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  761. teacher says:

    wow! this is unbelievable! I can’t believe all the trouble over a reading log…. really?!?

    January 28th, 2011 at 12:42 pm
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  762. Anonymous says:

    What a lot of crappy whining from a bunch of parents.

    February 27th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
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  763. Love2Learn says:

    After reading through these posts, I have to admit that I’m disheartened by the lack of support and trust displayed with the relationship between parents and teachers. This isn’t a competition to see who knows best for a child. Parents always want what is best for their children and teachers choose their profession based on that shared desire to help students learn and grow to their full potential.
    As a teacher myself I can honestly say that any assignment I give to a child is in an effort to help that child learn. This issue has become more of a power struggle between parents and teachers instead of focusing on what is best for the child. Encourage your children and students to read what they enjoy and to learn from it. It breaks my heart to think that a child is being put in the middle of a situation where they know that their parents and teacher are at odds over a reading log.
    Less focus on the power struggle and more focus on finding a happy medium or productive way to encourage children to read.
    Any suggestions?

    March 2nd, 2011 at 10:57 am
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  764. PsychMom says:

    That would be fine Love2Learn, if our experience as parents weren’t one of being ignored and humoured, at best.
    I like my child’s teachers, I like her school, but if I don’t like something about the way something is taught, I get that benign smile. ….. And the teachers continue to do exactly as they wish.
    My suggestions would be
    a) that principals should ensure that parents know they are welcome to speak with the teacher and the principal at any time if there is an issue.
    b)A teacher must be able to present understandable, research backed evidence, as to why a certain approach or method is being used and proof that this method is successful with the child in question.
    c)The parents’ experience (concern) must be reviewed and a plan for addressing the concern put in place (i.e. some action taken, and then review in one week, one month etc)

    If b and c had been done in the two situations I have encountered with my school, I would have felt listened to and respected. Neither happened. I got placation and no explanation, and no change.

    March 2nd, 2011 at 12:23 pm
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  765. Love2Learn says:

    PsychMom,
    I’m sorry to hear that your experience as a concerned parent was not a positive one. Unfortunately there are some teachers that are open to working with parents in order to differentiate instruction and some that are not.
    My best advice as a teacher would be that next time you encounter a problem such as the one you listed, be sure to have a few suggestions for what you would like to see for your child. When I speak with parents that have specific concerns I always want to know what it is that they desire for their child as an alternative to what they see now.
    It is frustrating for both the parents and teachers when a miscommunication occurs. Personally I have had parents approach me with problems and they are already angry and ready for a confrontation before I show them that I am willing to listen and work with them. Both parents and teachers have their hearts deeply involved in the matter and because of that these situations can become heated quickly.
    In response to your 3 requests of the school I have 3 suggestions for parents that increase the odds of being heard and seeing the change you would like:
    1. Approach the situation with the teacher first. (some teachers feel betrayed when a parent goes straight to the principal with a concern/complaint which will automatically hinder the chances of peacefully finding a solution)
    2. Have a few solutions ready to suggest. As with any situation, your odds of solving the problem are increased when you have possible solutions to recommend.
    3. Be sensitive to the fact that a teacher works very hard and studied for ongoing years with the intent to give your child a quality education. It’s hard for anyone to hear unrequested criticism, especially when it involves your profession in which you use much heart.
    Don’t forget, teachers are people too!

    March 2nd, 2011 at 2:53 pm
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  766. PsychMom says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful response Love2Learn…..those are good suggestions. I have high expectations of people who call themselves professionals and I hold them to that standard.
    But there is much in education that is based on tradition and habit (reading logs being one of them) rather than research and that’s where I lose patience. If a teacher could sit down with me and show me the evidence for what they’re suggesting aside from, “this is the way I teach”, or “this is what we do at this school”, then I’d have more faith. Asking the question “Why?” should not leave the teacher stymied…and stymied is what I’ve gotten as a response to my issues.

    March 3rd, 2011 at 8:48 am
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  767. A funny sort of student says:

    hahahahaha this blog is really interesting ive spent three seperate days reading it like a book. now i believe its time to throw my story in there, you see im 17 (just turned) and in high school.i have had to deal with a ridiculus county called henrico they are seriously in need of better teaching skills they still have reading logs in some of the class’ for HIGHSCHOOL!!!!!! and its really kinda stupid anyway that isnt the worst of it. i barely have time to do any homework in any class because of my work schedule but im really smart so i ace the tests and quizzes and classwork and ive gotten by for awhile but suddenly my teachers are giveing me failing grades because i found a way to beat the system so anyway henrico is really trying to be a bootleg beverly hills with tough work in school so i dont know what to do but this is a taste of the life of a funny sort of student……..

    March 3rd, 2011 at 9:53 am
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  768. Nancy says:

    I have found that sometimes, the difficulty is not a stubborn teacher, but a dedicated teacher stuck with a program dictated from above. My pet peeve this week is the Saxon math, which the District prescribes, and has some absolutely horrible and frustrating homework worksheets. Not only could my 2d grader not answer some of the questions, neither could her parents. I wrote comments about what was wrong with the questions on the worksheets. The teacher, I expect, will let it slide, because she’s stuck with the district- mandated programs.

    March 3rd, 2011 at 2:14 pm
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  769. S,teacher says:

    So, I wonder how many of you that hate reading logs, homework, etc. are from families whose children qualify for free and reduced lunch. I ask because research and my experience teaching in low income public schools tells me it is a luxury to hate the practice teachers assign as homework. I teach students whose families do not always have the time, money, or language (school with over 50 home languages) to model reading. Reading logs are a way for students who do not already know good-reader strategies to practice them explicitly (something else research says is good for reading). I have also seen a lot of students (from all economic backgrounds) that don’t really get the idea that in life there will be times that they will need to do things they may not want to do. I often make reference to their future bosses that may expect them to do a part of their job that is not their favorite activity. For example, I don’t love staff meetings, but I go to them. Should I refuse? Get a staff-meeting waiver because I believe I already know everything I could possibly learn from them? No, because I live in reality. So I hope along with instilling a love of reading in your children, you also teach them or allow them to see that their life may not be always be rainbows.

    March 7th, 2011 at 8:28 pm
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  770. Curious Teacher says:

    S,Teacher
    I think a big part of this blog is that the parents are seeing their children dislike reading because of the reading logs. They seem to be parents of children who enjoy reading. Their children are beginning to dislike reading and are actually reading less due to the logs. I believe they are just asking for teachers to be aware of the different needs in the classroom. If a child doesn’t need a reading log because they already read at home, why assign it?

    March 7th, 2011 at 10:01 pm
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  771. S,teacher says:

    Curious Teacher
    I would ask parents to consider the idea that just because a parent does not see the value in the log (or any particular assignment), doesn’t mean there isn’t value in it. Just like, I may not see the value in not giving antibiotics to my child for every ear infection so that we don’t completely overrun our environment with antibiotic-resistant bugs, but I place trust in my pediatrician, a professional who trained for his job, just like a teaching professional trained for theirs. I would also ask parents to consider the many things our children don’t like to do or don’t find value in, but that we see value in (brushing their teeth, taking a bath, etc.). Do we allow them to give these up because they lose interest in it when it is a requirement? Or do we try to explain the value in it and expect them to still do it? Perhaps parents should consider that there is value in the log for the teacher to know what the student is reading and to know if the student is understanding what the student is reading and at what level so that the teacher can teach more to that child in the classroom. There is also value for the student in articulating what he/she is reading and sharing that with the teacher (research based). Perhaps parents could help frame this value for their student (just as teachers do for many subjects at school) and thereby avoiding the decrease in the interest in reading. Maybe the parents acquiescence and attitudes are the root of the decrease in reading interest (the child has found a way to control the parent) rather than the logs.

    March 7th, 2011 at 10:43 pm
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  772. Curious Teacher says:

    S,Teacher
    I think we need to ask ourselves what the purpose of the reading log is. If it’s to get children to develop good reading habits, why does the log need to be given to students who already have good reading habits?

    March 8th, 2011 at 6:28 am
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  773. S,teacher says:

    Curious Teacher
    Developing good reading habits is one purpose of reading logs. If a student already has good reading habits, it can help them develop summarizing techniques, literary analysis skills, critical questioning techniques, metacognitive thinking, just to name a few. Like any other lesson, it can be differentiated. And as I already mentioned, it can help teachers know where students are and differentiate more in other lessons. If a teacher gets no or very little feedback it makes it difficult to differentiate for them, something I’m sure these parents also expect from their children’s teachers. So I’m curious because I am really trying to understand the people that question teachers so much, do you question other professionals you deal with in your life to this extent: i.e. doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc.? If not, why not?

    March 8th, 2011 at 7:41 am
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  774. FedUpMom says:

    S, of course I question my doctor and dentist. You should too.

    You keep coming back to this issue of parents questioning teachers. It’s all about control for you.

    What would school look like if it was about helping kids learn, instead of about teachers being in control?

    March 8th, 2011 at 10:31 am
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  775. Nancy says:

    I think it would be ideal if the teacher looked at the reading logs and got a sense of what the child was reading in order to assess their progress and needs. But I was just informed by my child’s teacher that due to the large class size, she doesn’t have time to look at the homework packets and that it’s the parents’ responsibility to know how their kids are doing on their homework. Excuse me – I know how much my kid is reading. In fact, I deliberately don’t put down some reading on the log just so it stays “fun”. But if the teacher isn’t even looking at the homework, how does she know, and how can she do the assessment?

    March 8th, 2011 at 2:12 pm
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  776. PsychMom says:

    Having just had a weekend of dealing with hospitals and health care for a family member, damn straight I ask alot of questions and challenged what revolving doctors seemed to decide about my loved one’s diagnosis. Just because someone thinks that they have the power, doesn’t make it so. And just for the record, the challenge wasn’t well received by the doctor either…”Well, you have every right to take your loved one home”………

    In the past I’ve also told my dentist that no, I don’t want a root canal…..I want the tooth removed. He tried to talk me out of it, but I didn’t buy all the negative sequelae he was suggesting would happen. And guess what? They didn’t. My mouth did not become inoperable because I didn’t do the conventional thing.

    More importantly, I worry when a teacher is miffed by parents challenging them. That means they also are upset by my child questioning them….so they will probably shut down the challenge from a child and decrease, subtly, my child’s interest in asking ….”How Come?” or “Why” or her even saying…”I don’t think that’s right Miss Teacher.”

    On a separate vein altogether. S Teacher makes reading sound so dull. Reading logs form good reading habits? How dull can you make it? I would never equate tooth brushing and making one’s bed with learning to read! That’s like standardizing creativity…reading logs are a buzz kill to some young readers. Hey, if a kid loves to do a reading log…fabulous. Let them fill their boots. But don’t force it on anyone.

    March 8th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
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  777. Curious Teacher says:

    S,teacher
    Yes I question the professionals in my life. I want to know why they’re suggesting certain things and if it is really the best option for me. As for parents questioning teachers, I welcome my students’ parents questioning me. It shows they are invested in their child’s education. I understand your logic for reading logs and used to feel the same way. Talking with other teachers and parents caused me to change my views.

    March 8th, 2011 at 5:43 pm
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  778. S,teacher says:

    Fed Up Mom, Psych Mom: As a professional, I welcome parents and students questioning and challenging me: with respect! That’s what I don’t see in your posts and attitudes and in general what I don’t see from people in the “education debate.” That would also be my answer the claim that this is about control. It is about respect. The fact that you think it is about control and not about kids learning and being prepared for life in our society (one purpose of education in any culture) tells me you really don’t understand or have respect for my chosen profession (chosen, certainly not for the money in our society).

    And yes, I ask questions of professionals in my life but I also recognize them as professionals who have knowledge and experience that I don’t and that I should consider in a respectful way.

    March 8th, 2011 at 11:08 pm
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  779. S,teacher says:

    Nancy-

    It is unfortunate that your child is in such a large class. While, I don’t agree with that teacher’s response, I do know the pressures of large classes. I definitely advocate for smaller class sizes, which always helps a teacher’s ability to differentiate instruction and give meaningful feedback to students. That is why I vote for bond issues when they are on the ballot in my voting district. I would vote for and am willing to pay higher property taxes to help get more money to our public schools. I write to my state and federal elected officials to ask them to advocate for more money to our public education system. Perhaps if enough people are fighting for our severely underfunded schools, we can get this changed.

    March 8th, 2011 at 11:19 pm
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  780. PsychMom says:

    To S, teacher,

    I have always been respectful to teachers I have had to interact with….I’m respectful to everyone. But I tend to react in kind. I encountered a professional recently who did not approach me as a thinking adult, but as an annoyance who dared to disagree. She got the same back from me.

    When I have asked questions of teachers, in the context of very pleasant conversations, I have gotten no answer. I have received “this-is-the-way-it-is-take-it-or-leave-it” responses more than once. Is that respectful? Why one teaching method on a certain topic over another? No answer, except “that’s what we decided to do this year, and the kids seem to like it”. That’s not an answer I would expect from a professional. The teacher shuts down because a parent dared to ask why….they aren’t prepared for it and they can’t handle it.

    March 9th, 2011 at 8:51 am
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  781. Disillusioned says:

    S, Teacher, the problem with respect is that it is a subjective standard for communicating one’s outlook on educational topics. I might assume I’ve addressed you in a “respectful” fashion. However, you might not “hear” what I have said as respectful. When one has to “walk on a tightrope” in regard to communication, it is very difficult to convey what one means.

    Unless one has a debilitating disease, a Dr’s orders don’t impact one’s life much. However, excessive homework in the lower grades has a big impact on families quality of homelife every day of the week. I see a Dr. maybe twice a year and to be honest, his advice doesn’t have much impact on my day to day life. This analogy to comparing homework and reading logs to “Dr’s orders.” is a weak one. What Dr. prescribes hours of work after a long day to “stay healthy?”

    March 9th, 2011 at 7:55 pm
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  782. AR Hater says:

    My annoyance with reading logs is that in our district our kids have to read Accelerated Reader books. Well, my son likes to read, but he likes to read science and history books, not always books that your can take AR tests on. If he is reading every night, why should it matter what he is reading?

    March 9th, 2011 at 8:32 pm
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  783. S,teacher says:

    Disillusioned-

    I believe doctors do prescribe work after a long day to stay healthy. It’s called, exercising, cooking instead of eating fast food, being aware of what you put in your body, etc.

    In general everyone else is unfortunate that your individual negative experiences have become so generalized to the teaching profession. I have had negative experiences with individuals from various professions, but haven’t felt the need to generalize it to the profession. The negative attitudes of our society toward teachers is a big reason so many good teachers don’t stay very long. Long term I can’t see our education system getting better by driving out talent. So what are your solutions? Will it all be fixed if we just get rid of all homework?

    March 9th, 2011 at 10:51 pm
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  784. PsychMom says:

    It’ll be a start. Renovation of the educational system in North America (I live in Canada),will not do a thing to improve the lives of children and families. What is required is a complete re-think of what education is for, who delivers it and how.

    My own personal vision of education readjusts the lives of families with young children (under age 12) completely. In the new world, parents would have far more flexibility in their work lives and would be able to reap tax benefits if they were with their families more, providing real foundations for families in our society. Yes, I’m suggesting that parents be rewarded for being parents. No more of this insane up at 6:30 and rushing around to farm kids out to early morning caregivers, then school 5 days a week and then everyone collapses on two days called weekends. No formal schooling until age 7 or 8, but opportunities for play groups and special activities (art, music, hiking, swimming lessons etc). School’s would become family learning centers, and be open all year…I’d do away with the 10 month school year; in a world where most adults in families must work, the “summer off” idea is a logistical nightmare. Food would be available at these centers, childcare would be available, learning programs would be available, tech support would be available, …..a system like this would address the issue of poverty and need which is at the root of many childrens’ problems with learning, and give some power to families to show them they do matter and they are important. The benefits to young children would be exponential. In terms of formal learning, learning goals would be set up for each individual child and groupings, if they occurred, would be centered around shared interests, not age and academic ability, and be constantly dissolving and reforming with different groups of kids, again, depending on the interest or topic. Not everyone needs to learn the same things. Not everyone has to learn things in the same way, at the same time.

    Anyway…you get the idea…the changes that are needed are systemic and go far beyond teachers and kids in classrooms…our whole society needs to shift to something new that works, instead of hobbling along with an old fashioned idea that serves no one well at all.

    March 10th, 2011 at 9:18 am
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  785. Disillusioned says:

    Wow….I second Psych Mom’s vision for educational reform. S, Teacher, Dr’s do not prescribe exercise and healthy cooking for their patients…..they SUGGEST it. I put it in caps because there is a big difference between a suggestion and a demand with consequences such as missed recesses, field trips, etc. I am not trying to bash your profession, however, you state society has a negative attitude towards teachers (I’m not sure this is really the case). Respectfully, why, in your opinion, does society have a negative view of your profession?

    March 10th, 2011 at 8:00 pm
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  786. Anonymous says:

    How do we show the importance of education, if state officials feel that they can cut education budgets and feel good about it? I am a special education teacher in a public school and understand how parents feel about homework and reading logs and the like. I also work in a school where there are many parents that are well involved in their child’s education and some that are not. I think that reading logs are a “crock” because children can write down that they read, and parents will just sign off so the teacher is off of their backs and left alone. Some parents don’t want to be bothered with their child’s education. Well, what is that showing your child?? Is their education and what they do not important?? On the subject of homework….homework is mandatory in the school where I teach….if homework is not given the principal asks “Why are you not giving homework?” I sometimes don’t like to give homework but I have to.

    March 13th, 2011 at 3:53 pm
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  787. Anonymous says:

    Teachers should not be the be all and end all of a child’s education. Yes, teachers see the children for approx 6+ hours, but teaching should begin and continue in the home. Teachers have enough to handle when the child is at school. They have to deal with discipline problems, environmental home issues the child may come to school with, and other extrinsic factors that may have an effect on the child while at school. When the child goes home, there should be some accountability on the parent(s)’ part to extend and/or review the information with the child using the appropriate amount of homework.

    April 4th, 2011 at 6:38 pm
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  788. Lauren says:

    I’m a girl myself, and I truly HATE the reading log. It’s just rediculous.I never read anyway so I just fake what I read. And the grade I get for not turning it in? A letter grade less than the one I had.

    April 19th, 2011 at 6:10 pm
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  789. christie says:

    I just stumbled upon this blog, and here’s the irony… I typed in 1st grade reading logs hoping to find one so I don’t have to re-create. I am a first grade teacher and thought I’d finish the last month of school using reading logs. Apparently, I should think again…

    I’ll be perfectly honest with you as and educator I hate homework! Wait that wasn’t strong enough! I HATE homework!!!!! I would rather spend time doing something else than creating homework packets and then grading them (which I don’t do, because I use standards rather than letter grades).

    So here is my question to you all. Should I skip homework for the month of May and say enjoy the weather?

    Side note as to why teachers say thank you for supporting your child’s education and other seemingly condescending remarks. 60% of the predictors for success in education are home related but teachers are blamed for failing students and in my state my pay will now be based on student test scores. The remaining 40% includes teacher effectiveness, curriculum, and class size.

    April 29th, 2011 at 7:35 pm
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  790. FedUpMom says:

    Christie, yes, please, skip homework for the month of May! If you’ve been giving homework all along it might be a good idea to write a letter to the parents giving some reasons for your decision. Let us know if you’d like some ideas for that.

    Good luck and happy Spring to you and your students!

    April 30th, 2011 at 4:28 am
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  791. christie says:

    Thanks FedUpMom. YEAH no more homework packets- I hope I’m not the only one cheering :)

    April 30th, 2011 at 10:56 am
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  792. FedUpMom says:

    Christie, believe me, most of the class, students and parents alike, are cheering right along with you. You may find this is the best month you’ve ever taught. Write back and let us know how it’s going!

    May 1st, 2011 at 4:38 pm
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  793. Fedupwithlazyparenting says:

    I rather think your teachers are not asking you to do enough at home with your children, assuming they are reading at a certain level where you can assess comprehension – if you looked at reading related logs that worked on reading related activities, such as commenting on the effects of a particular word or phrase on the reader, exploring characterisation, motivation or how the writer builds a particular atmosphere etc, you are looking at senior school level work and who better to break it down to your child’s level than parents as you know your children the best. If parents see monitoring reading as a chore by recording info in logs, so will children and furthermore, if encouraging your child to read becomes annoying as it takes the enjoyment out of it or means you now have to find time to get involved in your child’s learning- well welcome to teaching and times that by thirty pupils per hour to get some semblance of how difficult a job it is. Is it really ideal to say to a class, some of you are great readers and so don’t need to hand reading logs in because your parents trust you – others you do oh and if one of the readers that we trust doesn’t feel like doing her homework because she’s got right into a book, well that’s ok for her but not for others. Typical of parents wanting one rule for their children and another for everyone else.

    If education is purely a teacher’s job then surely teaching your own children how to behave would be yours as is to equip them with morals and values so they don’t bully, fight, disrupt, disrespect, actually attempt a task they can’t be bothered to do, have basic hygeine standards and meet the deadlines for work they have been given – or rather are we more of a partnership because parents and children have to lookout for the whole welfare of the child and teachers have to encroach more into the traditional parental role – so parents also have to evolve into supporting teachers. Remember there are various high standards a teacher has had to meet to qualify to do their jobs (even if they are not particularly successful in their role) but as far as I can see, minimal standards in which parents are given the right to parent exist so it falls to teachers more and more to fill the void. If you are patting yourselves on the back for writing to your teacher to say that you are not signing a reading log – why not simply write a letter in saying you are far too lazy to support the learning of your child, you clearly know more about education and are enabling your child to undermine the school’s expectations of them so they can do what they want when they want. That’s parenting at its most destructive. Rather than dismissing the task – ask for further reading related activities based on what they should have read at home – you are much more likely to get these put into the reading logs and define them into a more purposeful task where you can show a week’s worth of reading in an activity. Remember it’s not just books that count, websites, local newspaper articles and or charity leaflets can all count as part of reading. There are many pupils out there who are reluctant readers and many parents who don’t value reading at home and reading logs enforce a certain level is met.

    Reading logs enable a teacher to check that pupils are reading, to check that what they are reading is suitably challenging, to enable pupils to pursue independently of peer pressure, their own reading interests, to reflect on what they have read in order to advance, to recommend good reads and to engage parents into assisting to enforce the importance of reading – which remains the quickest way to improve literacy skills. Not to mention other skills such as meeting task deadlines and recording info – necessary with many jobs (not least teaching).

    I am a parent of a US child on the autistic spectrum in a far more rigorous academic structure than the US hosts mainstream and as a teacher at a senior school with 17 years teaching under my belt, I understand both teacher and parental concerns. I don’t like devisive websites which empower parents to make perhaps ill informed choices which will not support the educators who are trying to educate pupils. Look for ways to support if you are wanting to effect some kind of positive change.

    May 2nd, 2011 at 7:04 am
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  794. PsychMom says:

    Read all 792 messages before yours Feupwithlazyparenting, and then we’ll talk. I’d like to point out in particular, the postings from teachers like Christie who posted just before you

    May 2nd, 2011 at 9:15 am
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  795. FedUpMom says:

    Fedupwithlazyparenting says:

    ***
    Reading logs enable a teacher to check that pupils are reading, to check that what they are reading is suitably challenging, to enable pupils to pursue independently of peer pressure, their own reading interests, to reflect on what they have read in order to advance, to recommend good reads and to engage parents into assisting to enforce the importance of reading – which remains the quickest way to improve literacy skills.
    ***

    Don’t you get it? Reading logs are FAKE. People (yes, including parents) fake reading logs all the time.

    Even if the reading logs were filled out truthfully, which I can assure you they’re not, some of the goals you mention aren’t even worthy goals. It’s not appropriate for a teacher, or a parent, to constantly monitor a child’s reading. Reading is a private pleasure, and we should let kids experience it that way.

    May 3rd, 2011 at 4:48 am
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  796. Michelle Skamene says:

    Reading logs are not for everyone, I can certainly empathize here. I remember loving them as a child, the pride I took in watching my reading tallies grow.
    As a mom of 3, 2 of which were reluctant reader boys, I set up an online reading log/incentive program at http://www.reading-rewards.com to try and get them reading more. It has since grown to include tools for teachers who still want to use reading logs, but maybe find a better way. Kids can see their classmates’ virtual libraries and share reviews, and some get a kick out of trying to ‘outread’ each other. It might not be for everybody, but maybe those of you who are fed up with reading logs would like to give it a try… :-) Happy reading!!!

    May 11th, 2011 at 12:58 pm
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  797. Karen says:

    I love our reading log.

    My daughter and I read together a lot, and she has a log where, at the end of each book she fills in the author, the title, and writes a few sentences about what she liked/disliked about the book. She adds a sticker to each entry with smiles or say “super” or “so-so” etc. There is room on each page for three entries. It’s so fun fill out and look back at to see what she’s been reading and what her thoughts about that book were. These are the types of logs that can make reading fun, I think. We started out with me reading the book and writing in what she told me to write, now I read the book to her and she writes in the log herself. I can see it carrying over to where she is reading the book and logging herself.

    She is in first grade, but we don’t have reading logs like the ones described here that are assigned from the school. .I am glad of that, after reading these comments! Reading is one of the single most important things to encourage kids in, I think!

    May 29th, 2011 at 11:33 am
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  798. cheap multi gyms says:

    I’ve been looking round for this website after asked to visit them from a colleague and was pleased after I was able to find it after looking for some time.

    June 11th, 2011 at 6:24 am
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  799. christie says:

    FedUpMom~
    I’m finally responding to post 792. I wrote a note home explaining there would be no homework for the rest of the year (except for spelling- but that was only for 4 weeks). I didn’t hear anything from parents, so I’m assuming it was fine and everyone was cheering! :)

    Now that school is out, I’m re-thinking homework in general. I’ve never been a fan of homework at the elementary level because often parents are responsible for it not students. I use homework as a way to communicate what we have been doing in class and to build skills. I have never graded it or require it to be turned in. I send home a 2-3 page packet that should take on average 5-10 minutes to complete and I let them turn it in at any time. I have about 5-8 kids turn in homework on any given week, and usually they are not the kids who need the practice. I’ve never been a stickler for homework because I grew up in a home listening to nightly fights over homework, my sister was ADHD and it was miserable for her, my parents and I when she had homework. I didn’t want that for my students, so I’ve been pretty laissez faire about homework.
    Thanks for your help!

    June 12th, 2011 at 11:03 pm
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  800. Sara Bennett says:

    I always love to hear from someone who is rethinking homework or, rethinking anything for that matter.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

    June 13th, 2011 at 4:09 pm
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  801. FedUpMom says:

    Christie, good for you.

    ***
    I’ve never been a fan of homework at the elementary level because often parents are responsible for it not students.
    ***

    I agree with this, but I would replace “often” with “almost always”. It’s a very rare first-grader who will consistently remember to do homework, and get it done without help (or nagging, or screaming …) from Mom or Dad.

    ***
    I send home a 2-3 page packet that should take on average 5-10 minutes to complete
    ***

    Have you ever asked the parents how long it actually takes to complete the homework? You’d be amazed at how long it can take a kid to get through a task at the end of the day, when they’re exhausted.

    ***
    I have about 5-8 kids turn in homework on any given week, and usually they are not the kids who need the practice.
    ***

    Yep. The kids who need it don’t do it, and the kids who do it don’t need it. Ooh — that sounds like an old-fashioned riddle!

    It’s great to hear from you — I hope you’ll keep in touch!

    June 14th, 2011 at 5:23 am
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  802. Anonymous says:

    I am a teacher in an inner-city elementary school, where sometimes the only communication the child has with their parent is asking for a signature. What do you suggest in these cases when it comes to a reading log?

    June 19th, 2011 at 6:51 pm
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  803. FedUpMom says:

    What do I suggest? I suggest you don’t do a reading log.

    If parents are neglectful or absent, do you honestly think making their kids get their signature will improve their parenting? That’s crazy.

    It’s more likely the kids are just faking their parents’ signatures. That’s the reasonable response.

    It isn’t your job to control the parents of your students. Let it go.

    June 20th, 2011 at 3:14 am
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  804. Anonymous says:

    Did it ever occur to any of you that a reading log, especially in the older grades, is a way to get a kiddo to THINK about what they read? A good reading log is like a journal, it can help the reader summarize what they read and get a deeper understanding of the content. I taught Social Studies for 10 years. And yes I did reading journals, that were signed by parents monthly (daily is silly). We now have a 4 year old who LOVES talking about what we read and getting a star on his chart/log to show how far he has come.
    I agree the letter was worded badly, but the intent was to have a partnership in education. Some parents might need a gentle reminder that the teachers are not the only ones responsible for YOUR child’s education. Even if you are paying them, it is not a drop off service and the teachers do it all. Step up parents and SHARE the responsibility!
    Give the teachers a break. A snippy, rude response to the teachers request is never a good way to help you r child grow. If you truly believe the teacher is asking too much of your time, discuss it with them. Many teachers would love to explain their justification behind an assignment. No matter what you are paying for your child to go to school, the teacher is not getting paid enough for you to be rude to them.

    June 21st, 2011 at 1:10 pm
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  805. FedUpMom says:

    I can’t tell you how tired I am of hearing that my e-mail wasn’t polite enough. Do you hear how very patronizing that is?

    I don’t know of any other relationship in the world where one side is continually chided for not being polite enough. Nobody criticizes me for not being polite enough to my doctor, or plumber, or cable guy, or … it’s only schoolteachers, and only when addressing the mothers of their students! What is that?

    If I were a man, would you still call me “snippy”? I doubt it very much.

    June 21st, 2011 at 3:46 pm
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  806. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    Some parents might need a gentle reminder that the teachers are not the only ones responsible for YOUR child’s education.
    ***

    It isn’t your place to give me a gentle reminder about how to be a parent. It’s really none of your business.

    June 21st, 2011 at 3:48 pm
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  807. FedUpMom says:

    ***
    Step up parents and SHARE the responsibility!
    ***

    Following the teacher’s directions is not “sharing the responsibility”. Now, if I had a say in choosing curricula, or any of the issues of the school, that might be sharing the responsibility.

    June 21st, 2011 at 3:51 pm
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  808. Anonymous says:

    Hey FedUp Mom,
    Go get your teaching degree, get a job, and then please report back. Until that happens, you have NO idea about education and the higher thinking reading logs initiate. Lazy, stuck-up, know-it-all mothers make lazy, stuck-up, know-it-all children who do not value an education. Maybe when you teach what you have created you will understand the error of your ways.

    But wait, you don’t teach…you refuse to even sign something that is given to benefit your kid…

    June 30th, 2011 at 11:33 am
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  809. FedUpMom says:

    What higher thinking is initiated by writing down the page number you started on and ended at, and the amount of time it took? That’s all that was on the reading log.

    July 2nd, 2011 at 10:46 am
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  810. Anonymous says:

    How do you feel about “Choice Activities” as homework? For example, A student picks 2 choice reading activities and 2 choice math activities a week and log them in a journal.

    Example choice reading activity:
    Write a story using 5 of this week’s spelling words.
    Word Hunt: Look around your house for words that contain this week’s phonics sound (short a)

    Example choice math activity:
    Create a math story problem using the math concepts from this week (addition, fractions, fact families) etc.
    Play addition frenzy (using a deck of cards, students draw cards and add the numbers)

    July 15th, 2011 at 5:28 am
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  811. PsychMom says:

    As long as it’s done at school, within the school day, I’d have no problem with it. That way the child has the teacher as a resource when problems arise.

    “Play addition frenzy (using a deck of cards, students draw cards and add the numbers)”

    We don’t have students at home, we have our children. The students are at school. Some teachers write parents notes that tell us about our “students” and what we should be having them do at home. If these suggestions came home as a suggestion to parents about ways they can incorporate math and reading into their children’s lives that would be giving parents a say about what goes on at home.

    July 15th, 2011 at 6:58 am
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  812. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry but in a class of 20 students (and with the current school budget crisis that would be an AMAZING class. There are classes in Oregon with 30+ students) I don’t think its feasible to expect all learning to happen during the school day. Furthermore, all students learn at different levels and even with attempts to differentiate instruction, 8 hours is simply not enough time to reach every student every day.
    Not to say it is the parent’s job to educate their own children, but why would you object to playing a game with your child that happens to incorporate math skills? Why would you object to going on a word hunt looking for ways to make phonics authentic in the world around your child? Assuming you were given a newsletter weekly explaining what your children were learning for the week, you shouldn’t have trouble helping them write a story using spelling words. These are things that do not need to be considered “work” but can be made into fun. As a parent I would WANT to do these things with my children at home because I am interested in what they are learning.
    In the deck of cards example when I say “students” I say that because this is how teachers communicate the game to each other. Obviously, at home the word would be “children”. I don’t think its fair to pick apart every word (“student” v. “child”, etc) teachers use in communication letters.
    I can understand the objection to worksheets. Frankly I think worksheets are pointless as well because I don’t believe they foster higher order thinking. I can also understand the objection to reading logs.
    Learning does not stop at school and should be continuous. As a teacher, there is nothing I can do if parents think the work is a waste of time, and choose not to do it. But I do believe that helping your child with work at home shows that you are invested in their education, I believe that homework built on authentic learning experiences is valuable, and I believe that homework teaches organization and time management skills that children need to be successful in life.

    July 15th, 2011 at 8:19 am
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  813. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    I’m sorry but in a class of 20 students (and with the current school budget crisis that would be an AMAZING class. There are classes in Oregon with 30+ students) I don’t think its feasible to expect all learning to happen during the school day. Furthermore, all students learn at different levels and even with attempts to differentiate instruction, 8 hours is simply not enough time to reach every student every day.
    ***

    That’s a terrific argument for homeschooling. Actually, what you propose IS homeschooling, except it’s set up in a crazy way. Who in their right mind would send their kid to low-quality daycare for 8 hours a day, with the intention of teaching them academic subjects at night, when everyone is exhausted?

    ***
    Why would you object to going on a word hunt looking for ways to make phonics authentic in the world around your child?
    ***

    Why? Because it accomplishes very little, with a maximum of aggravation for both parent and child. Because we’re supposed to do it at the end of the day, when the family is exhausted, and we’re trying to get the kids to bed on time. Because (silly us!) we thought the evenings belonged to our family to spend time together however we choose.

    ***
    why would you object to playing a game with your child that happens to incorporate math skills? Why would you object to going on a word hunt looking for ways to make phonics authentic in the world around your child? Assuming you were given a newsletter weekly explaining what your children were learning for the week, you shouldn’t have trouble helping them write a story using spelling words. These are things that do not need to be considered “work” but can be made into fun.
    ***

    That’s because you don’t know what fun is. None of these activities are fun when a parent and child are told to do them by the schoolteacher. They are chores. They are no less irritating than the worksheets you object to. Actually, these free-form projects are often MORE irritating than worksheets, because they eat up unlimited amounts of time and effort, and nobody can tell when they’re done.

    ***
    As a parent I would WANT to do these things with my children at home because I am interested in what they are learning.
    ***

    Be my guest. As a parent, I DON’T want to do these projects. My opinion is valid too.

    ***
    Learning does not stop at school and should be continuous.
    ***

    From your description, learning doesn’t even START at school.

    ***
    I believe that homework teaches organization and time management skills that children need to be successful in life.
    ***

    When you assign homework in elementary school, Mom winds up doing the organization and time management. The kids don’t learn time management at all. They’re too young.

    July 15th, 2011 at 9:47 am
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  814. Anonymous says:

    A low quality day care? Dare I say you have no respect for the teachers that many of you gripe about not respecting you? Granted, not all teachers care about the profession, but some have a passion to teach and spend countless hours at home (homework? WOW) researching activities to enhance their lessons. No, better funding would not completely solve this problem, but lower class sizes would give those teachers a better opportunity to teach. Homework should not be *Teaching* concepts, homework should build upon concepts learned in class. Practice.
    As a matter of fact I do know what fun is, and i have it everyday, including in the classroom. I think learning can be fun and also done in a way that kids don’t even know they are learning. How does it “eat up unlimited amounts of time” to suggest to read a book with your child and count a specified phonics sound or spelling word? If a school day ends at 3:00pm I am quite confused about why it is difficult to spend 15 min a night working on ACTIVITIES with your child.
    By the way, my kids go on word hunts all the time in class, bringing their books up to point out the spelling words of the week, faces glowing. I have been told by parents they do this at home as well. Perhaps YOU are making the homework a chore? Perhaps YOUR attitude is influencing your children. If you introduce a math card game with a dull, drab tone, who would want to play? If, on the other hand, you make it exciting, you can change the energy completely.
    What DO you want to do with your children at home if you don’t want to spend SOME time asking about their learning? I have no problem with play and talk, family dinners, some TV and video games, household chores (is that done in your home, since its boring and doesn’t promote higher thinking?) You can ultimately do whatever you like, in first grade I’m not going to punish a student because his/her family is so offended by homework, but I am going to ask they do it because as a teacher and a parent I appreciate it and believe it or not, I have seen results from it. If you have a superstar student, great, good for you. Don’t do the homework and instill that attitude in your child. But if your student is on grade level and not doing homework, compared to the student who is also on grade level DOING the homework, yes, I have seen a difference. Again, I can do nothing in this case but pity the student.
    Nowhere in my previous comment did I describe learning not happening at school. In first grade, students grow leaps and bounds in reading, math, social studies, social skills, and reasoning. Nice try.
    To me, it sounds like you should be homeschooling rather than picking apart the teachers and their teaching style in public and private school.
    And I disagree, I have seen plenty of students organize their own work. In third grade, I myself was extremely organized without the help of my parents. Again, this sounds like a personal issue-maybe YOU should not spend quite so much time helping your child organize! Even if mom is saying “did you finish your *gasp* homework” the student is learning to prioritize and can also learn through your organization, if you take the time to work on it.
    I’m done here. I see good points in the reading log and the PURPOSE of homework, but honestly this sounds like a bunch of bitter gripes from parents who want no responsibility for working with their children at home, even on alternative activities. You don’t want to be “told” what to do and it seems as if nothing a teacher does could please you short of pulling all homework altogether, which frankly would NOT benefit all children. Please, for the sake of your child and their eventual teachers, HOMESCHOOL if you are so unhappy, since it seems you know it all anyway.

    By the way, your quick facts against homework also had good points. In Japan, students are not “assigned” nightly homework. However, a vast majority of Japanese students attend nightly Juku or “cram schools” after the regular school day and late into the night. They go home after Juku and are expected to study even longer. There is an enormous amount of pressure to succeed, so much so, that there are high rates of suicide in Japanese students. No, they do not have homework, but the families EXPECT and ENFORCE study at home, long after the school and Juku day is over.

    July 15th, 2011 at 6:03 pm
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  815. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    A low quality day care? Dare I say you have no respect for the teachers that many of you gripe about not respecting you?
    ***

    Look, you’re the one who said there’s so many kids in the class that you can’t possibly teach them what they need to know in 8 hours a day.

    ***
    How does it “eat up unlimited amounts of time” to suggest to read a book with your child and count a specified phonics sound or spelling word?
    ***

    That might not eat time, but it sounds like a very effective way to remove pleasure from reading. No thanks.

    ***
    What DO you want to do with your children at home if you don’t want to spend SOME time asking about their learning?
    ***

    It’s none of your business how I choose to spend time with my kids. Period. End of story.

    ***
    Don’t do the homework and instill that attitude in your child.
    ***

    Okay!

    ***
    Nowhere in my previous comment did I describe learning not happening at school.
    ***

    Sure you did. You said:

    ***
    I don’t think its feasible to expect all learning to happen during the school day. Furthermore, all students learn at different levels and even with attempts to differentiate instruction, 8 hours is simply not enough time to reach every student every day.
    ***

    ***
    Perhaps YOU are making the homework a chore? Perhaps YOUR attitude is influencing your children.
    ***

    What hideous parallel universe have I stumbled upon, where I’m expected to be chipper and perky about homework? I hate the stuff. No, your “fun” activities don’t make me like it. And believe me, kids are more than capable of hating homework whatever their parents’ attitudes might be.

    ***
    By the way, your quick facts against homework also had good points.
    ***

    I didn’t write any quick facts against homework. I’m not the same person as Sara Bennett.

    July 15th, 2011 at 10:25 pm
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  816. FedUpMom says:

    Anonymous says:

    ***
    this sounds like a bunch of bitter gripes from parents who want no responsibility for working with their children at home, even on alternative activities. You don’t want to be “told” what to do
    ***

    Darn right, I don’t want to be “told” what to do. Why is this an outrageous position? Why do teachers think it’s part of their job to tell parents what to do in their own homes with their own kids?

    It’s a mystery to me why “Anonymous” thinks that her alternative activities will solve the problem of kids and parents who don’t want to do homework.

    July 16th, 2011 at 8:29 am
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  817. Jennifer says:

    I am a fifth grade reading teacher and mother of four ages 3-21. Every year about this time I look at my homework practices and try to improve. I am a FIRM believer in making the most out of the instructional day. We have the kids 7 hours a day, they need to focus