Jay Mathew’s column in the Washington Post today lists seven ways that schools can save money without spending a dime. Three of those reasons are directly related to reading and I love them. But the best of ideas is #1 on the list:
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.
Yes! Yes! Yes! This would be absolutely invaluable for our students. And I can take it one step further- instead of questioning a few students each day, run reading workshop. Conference with students, have them complete letter essays in the upper grades, and otherwise engage them with their reading. If only this would actually happen….