Resources from Kate Knopp’s How Smart is Your Homework Program on October 16, 2012

Here is a video made by Kenneth Goldberg, Ph.D., about his theory, The Homework Trap.

Here is a chart to stimulate reflection for teachers:

Below are some other resources relevant to our workshop:

Coyle, Daniel The Talent Code: Greatness isn’t born.  It’s grown.  Here’s how.  Bantam Books. 2009

This source offers us principles of practice.  Coyle studies how the brain forms new patterns and breaks down how “deep practice” works.   The introduction and the chapter entitled “Deep Practice” are the most relevant to our discussion of designing homework that lets students practice discrete skills.

Kenneth Goldberg, Ph.D The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers. Wyndmoor Press 2012.

This source describes and analyzes the system that sometimes traps students in a downward spiral.  He discusses motivation and communication among student, teacher and parent.  And offers suggestions for keeping motivation and self-esteem secure in the face of homework challenges.

Kohn, Alfie, The Homework Myth Da Capo Press, 2006

This book lays out the argument that we don’t really know homework to be an effective tool for learning.   Research does not tell us homework boosts achievement, yet we act like it does.  We hope that it teaches hard work and responsibility, but it doesn’t necessarily measure engagement or learning.

Medina, John   brain rules: 12 Principles of Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School. Pear Press. 2008

This book is critical to designing classroom activities and homework assignmentsthat will engage practice for the brain.   He is a molecular biologist who knows how to give us all – teachers, students, managers, parents – practical applications from all the recent understanding of how our brains work.

Most relevant rules to the homework question are:

rule #3 Every brain is wired differently; rule #4 We don’t pay attention to boring things; Rule #5 Repeat to remember: short term memory; Rule #6 Remember to repeat: long term memory

Pink, Daniel  Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. Penguin 2009.

Read the book; it’s worth it.  But if you are in a hurry, treat yourself to the illustrated version on the web.  It will get you thinking about your gradebook and the value or recording all those check, check plus, check minus signs.  Pink’s research should inspire us to think about how we motivate our students and what those systems are teaching them about the value of learning.


Vatterott, Cathy, Rethinking Homework: Best Practices that Support Diverse Needs.

This source is useful for its historical review of the culture of homework in the United States and for its practical strategies for designing effective homework practices.    Brilliant overview of how entrenched we are in our paradigms and how we can pivot toward homework that works for students.  Copyright 2009. ASCD



About bsullivan35

I am an English teacher working with great students at an independent school in Ct.
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