#DBC50Summer 31/50: Ditch That Homework

Go back to your time in high school for just a minute. What extracurricular activities were you in? Did you play sports? Did you have a job after school and/or on weekends? What about younger siblings to take care of? How much homework did you have?

As I read book 31, those thoughts kept creeping into my head. I thought about my senior year, specifically. I was a cheerleader for both football (our football team won the state championship that year) and basketball (co-captain during basketball season). I served as secretary for both my senior class and Future Teachers of America. I was involved in multiple other clubs. I was the Drill Team Commander in our Army Junior ROTC program, and served as Battalion Command Sergeant Major and earned the rank of Cadet Major. I worked at Belk Department Store at least two evenings a week from 4-8 pm, and every Saturday and Sunday.

I took multiple community college classes my senior year of high school, and also completed an internship. Every night I came home to complete homework. Homework was assigned in each class: Calculus, Western Civilization, Biology, Spanish 3, English 111 & 113. Thankfully the only homework I had in Chamber Singers (an audition-based choral group) was to practice the songs and I could do that while driving my younger brother all over town (poor kid had to endure it). There were some nights that I would get in from a basketball game after 10:00 pm and still have at least two hours of homework to complete. Then I’d wake up at 6:00 am and do it all over again.

Which do you think was instrumental in learning responsibility, collaboration, and practicing leadership?  If you said anything but the homework, then yep, you’d be correct! I believe it’s time we dive into book 31 in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line up.  THE Matt Miller (of Ditch that Textbook) and THE Alice Keeler (of 50 Things, 50 Things Further, and Teaching Math with Google Apps) teamed up to bring us Ditch That Homework!


With a powerhouse duo like Matt and Alice, you know this book will knock your socks off! They give you multiple alternatives to the typical homework assignment. There are multiple infographics within the book that serve as visual reminders of these alternatives and more. As great teachers do, they start off with the “why”. Matt & Alice state that there is research out there that shows homework to be “beneficial” as well as research that shows that homework is detrimental. Truth is, research can typically be skewed by verbiage in questioning, groups involved in research, etc. to support nearly any claim we make. They state that most homework research shows a correlation. This correlation could be between homework and higher test scores. There’s an inherent problem with correlation within research. It doesn’t mean anything. Correlation just show a relationship of some kind between the two. What we should be looking for is causation… as in completing homework causes higher test scores. We know we won’t find that though; 13 years of experience in a typical public school should be research enough for each person. If you want to know more about correlation, check out Tyler Vigen’s Spurious Correlation website. In it, you will see that Nicholas Cage movies show correlation to drownings in a pool, consumption of margarine and divorce rate in Maine correlate, and total revenue generated by arcades almost perfectly correlates to computer science doctorates awarded in the United States. Do any of these cause the other? Goodness, I hope not.

While reading this book, I kept thinking about engagement versus compliance. Both topics are discussed heavily and it’s so important to be able to see the difference between the two as they can look very similar to the untrained eye. Compliance looks like “good students”. They play the game of school very well. Compliant students can follow directions, sit quietly in class, and I’ll be they even raise their hand to speak. Engaged students are “locked in and actively connected”. They are immersed in the learning; these students haven’t looked at the clock once since they walked in the door. Engaged students are LEARNING content. Do you want your students to be engaged or to be compliant? I will pick engaged students ten out of ten times. Alice tells us to pull them into your lesson immediately. She says the “first five minutes of class are golden”. Are you using that time to check homework, or to engage your students in a learning experience? If you’re checking homework, it’s time to rethink pedagogical practices.

Alice and Matt speak to Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) multiple times. I love the attention the four levels of DOK receives in the pages of this book. They do a phenomenal job explaining the difference between Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. We are challenged to create lessons that move into DOK Level 3 and 4 rather than memorization and completing worksheets.

As always, I took so many ideas away from this DBC, Inc book. I definitely would love to put several of the infographics in a file to reference as I’m co-planning with teachers. If we focus on creating experiences for our students, the students will want to know more.

Then they will likely return home and find more information on the topic on their own. THAT kind of homework, we should celebrate!

The implementation for Ditch That Homework comes from one of the alternatives to homework, research papers, book reports, lectures, etc. I have been discussing this with my administration in the past week, and we nailed down the platform today. Using the social media team (which is the implementation for Shift This by Joy Kirr), I will guide students to create a school blog showcasing weekly/daily student life from their perspective and sharing to an authentic global audience. The blog will be tweeted from our school’s social media accounts, as well as featured on our school website. Teachers will be given the opportunity to be part of the blog as well through student interviews featured on the blog. I am so excited and really hope the idea of blogging will take off in my school. By sharing my blog and the new school blog with teachers and students, I hope they will feel empowered to create their own. I will be sure to add a link to this post when our blog is up and running in the next week or so, as well as blogging about the implementation of the school blog and social media team. I hope you’ll return to check that out!

Find out more about Ditch That Homework by following along with the conversations on Twitter using the hashtag #DitchHW. I highly recommend the website for Ditch That Homework as well. More information can be found here. Justin Baeder of Principal Center Radio interviewed Matt Miller in a podcast. Listen to the podcast here. The Wired Educator also interviewed Matt and you can check that one out here. The flipgrid is available for global collaboration and Andrea Paulakovich (aka the genius educator who thought of using flipgrid for a reflective space on every DBC, Inc book) and I would love to hear how you approach the dreaded homework in your own classroom! Share your story!

Just in case you’re wondering – this is one of the things I almost got right during the end of my time in the classroom. The very first day of school for the last several years, I told students that if they would give me 100% from the time they walked in until the time they left, I would honor their time after school by not assigning homework. I still expected them to read (and yes, we had a reading log – school mandate), but there were no worksheets of math problems, no fill-in-the-blank notes, no word searches, etc. I truly believe my students were more focused and engaged because they did not want to have to complete any work we didn’t get to finish in class at home. There are still philosophical issues I have with this looking back, but as always Hindsight is 20/20 and I have learned and grown from that. If you’re looking for ways to remove homework from your class or school, definitely grab a copy of Matt & Alice’s Ditch That Homework for practical strategies to eliminate this headache for both you and your students!

Book 32 is one I have read before, and I loved it the first time around! The community for this book is incredible, and they are certainly ROGUE PIRATES! That’s right! The Four O’Clock Faculty by Rich Czyz is up next in #DBC50Summer!



5 thoughts on “#DBC50Summer 31/50: Ditch That Homework

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