How we work with homework at VRG . . .

In the past few weeks, articles about homework have appeared in many major media sources.  Do Swedish schools give too much homework?  Is homework helpful?  Do we give the right kind of homework?  Below you can read VRG’s answer to some of these tough questions.

homeworkAt VRG, we believe homework (assignments done outside of class) can enrich learning. We want our students to be able to take responsibility for their own learning.  We want them to understand a goal, see the action steps to achieve that goal, and then get there.  We do this through effective teaching in the classroom, carefully thought out guided assignments outside of the classroom, continual feedback during the process, and then measuring their success in a final task.

Homework at our school can take many forms, some examples:

reinforcement of a newly learned task

math skills, language vocabulary, song notes in music

curiosity builder before starting a new lesson

review a set of paintings before you learn about the artist in class, listen to three speeches in rhetoric, visit a museum

preparation for a more in-depth classroom task

flipped classroom, watch a film that will be discussed, research ideas before in-class debate

completion of an individual/group task begun in class

creating a business plan in entrepreneurship class, lab report, press conference in class/investigative writing

preparation for a test/hand-in assignment

review concepts learned

We do not assign unnecessary tasks for out of class work.  We consider – will this task enrich the learning?  do the students have the skills to complete this task?  what is an appropriate timeframe?  We follow up on all homework done.

Students study between 6 – 10 courses each semester.  We are conscious that from time to time, the workload outside of school can be heavy. At VRG, we run a block schedule with long class sessions – most students have a maximum of 2 subjects per day.  This schedule supports good homework habits in two ways:  it allows the student to focus during the day; you can have a max of two homework assignments due in a day and longer sessions with your teacher provides more in-class time to do the “real learning” there – not just lectures and introductions, but also discussions, debates, and problem-solving.  In longer lessons, the teacher has time to see and talk with individual students, coach groups, and connect big ideas of the course.

It is possible to affect student workload in other ways as well.  Teachers work together with teachers in other subjects to combine tasks, so that the student can be graded in two or three subjects at the same time.  Teachers also plan together to try and balance the workload so that the students have the opportunity to do their best on every assignment.  We publish all major tasks/tests in a workload planner.  This is available to all students at all times.  In addition, we publish all lesson plans/daily tasks directly into each students’ calendar.  Every student meets their mentor every week.  In this meeting, students have the opportunity to get support in achieving their goals.  We can ask students – how are you doing with your assignments?  We see managing the workload and building good study habits in our students as an important part of our job.

Do Swedish schools give too much homework?  At VRG, we choose our out of class assignments carefully and try to balance a doable workload for the students.

Is homework helpful?  Yes, if it is the right task.

Do we give the right kind of homework?  This is something we are constantly discussing and evaluating together with our students.

staff

Staff at VRG-Djursholm

About kristylundstrom

I currently work as Head at Viktor Rydberg Gymnasium in Djursholm. I am a student of learning. I am interested to see where it happens, when it happens, and how it happens. I am also a math and computer science teacher. I have lived in Belgium and in the USA. I really appreciate my multi-cultural environment - I believe it adds dynamics to our school.
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