KateAndrews' Page

Hi everyone! My name is Kate Andrews. I live in the hot and sunny Chandler, Arizona. I have lived here twelve years if I make it through this summer's heat!. I moved here to finish college and decided to call this home after graduation. I was born and raised in Upstate New York (in the middle of nowhere)! I have taught in the Tempe Elementary school district for ten years, currently I teach third grade. I have taught third grade for four years. My passions and interests these days are focused around my two daughters, ages two and six. I love the outdoors and exploring new places. I am taking this course in order to complete my master’s degree in Elementary Education. If all goes well I will graduate in December! I am looking forward to this class; I am interested in learning about what problems other teachers face. I look forward to working with you all!

What’s the Problem???
The problem that I am going to address in this critical analysis is the lack of time in the school day. Even after ten years of teaching (pretty much the same grade levels) I find it incredibly difficult to find enough time in the school day to fit in the required minutes of instruction. In the beginning of the year the principal hands out that paper that lists the content areas, and the required numbers of minutes they should be taught each day/week. It is such a challenge to figure out my schedule each year. It is difficult to find large chunks of interrupted time. When I put together my schedule I incorporate specials, keep in consideration and keep in mind when certain students are being pulled out of the class. We have a designated lunchtime, and any other scheduled requirements that must go into the schedule. It is very hard to fit in all content areas. In our district the required daily reading instruction is ninety minutes, math is sixty minutes, our writing program requires sixty minutes, we have a reading intervention block that is forty minutes, and typically a thirty minute special a day. I work in a school that does promote science, social studies, and art. It’s nice to have at least forty-five minutes to teach a lesson in any of those subject areas.
George Posner addresses temporal frames in his book Analyzing the Curriculum. He writes about how this issue of time causes another problem being breadth verses depth (Posner, 2004). My main concern is my inability to teach all of the science and social studies standards. As the school year starts to wind down I start going through the science and social studies standards that I haven’t taught yet. I start teaching them at too rapid of a pace. I know that I’m not giving them justice but I feel like I’ve run out of time.

What Can We Do?
The school day has been the same length of time for over one -hundred years, 6 and ½ hours a day and 180 days a year. Schools in some states are starting to take part in extended day programs. Schools that have been participating have shown a significant growth on their state assessments (Baker, 2013). Maybe it is time that we started looking at changing our traditional school schedule. It might be time to look into either going to school additional days or longer days. Of course this would be a funding issue because teachers would need to be paid for more hours and buildings would be occupied/running longer which would cost more. The idea being if I literally had more time I would be able to teach all standards in depth not breadth.

Another option, one that I have more control over would be for me to do a better job teaching across curriculums. It’s not that I don’t already, but I need to do a better job. What really gets in my way is our “reading program” that our district mandates. We use a Harcourt series (basal?) to assist in teaching reading. At my school we are required to use it but not down to the script. The Harcourt curriculum has a weekly focus skill and reading strategy. These could easily be applied across the curriculums. As far as the weekly story that Harcourt uses that could be their nightly reading (although I really like the students to choose what they read). They wouldn’t have to read it every night, maybe just two nights?
This upcoming school year we will be implementing the Common Core Science Standards. Just like the reading and the math there are less standards that go more in depth. I’m thinking because there are a manageable amount of the science standards it would be easiest for me to start there and teach across both the reading and science curriculums. Of course this could be mixed with social studies or any other standards. This would now bring up the when? As I have mentioned our grade level shares (groups) students throughout the day. Our reading block is ninety minutes. We spend thirty of those with our homeroom students and the other sixty with our “skills groups”, our leveled groups. This would be something that we would have to sit down and discuss as a team.


Baker, D. R. (2013) Learning Takes Time: Growing Movement Seeks to Expand Length
of School Day. Deseret News.

Posner, G. J. (2004) Analyzing the Curriculum. McGraw Hill.

Critical Analysis II

I have decided to explore deeper into the issue of homework. I have read some articles (Kohn 2007, 2007, Marzano, 2007) in hopes to help analyze the pros and cons of assigning homework. Then I can determine how I am currently feeling about my philosophy on homework. At the beginning of each school year when I am typing up my “Classroom Procedures and Expectations”, I often squander around my homework philosophy. I know that there is a lot of debate out there about whether or not homework is beneficial.

My Current Homework Philosophy:

Currently I am a believer in homework. This is why…I like the idea of parents being aware of what their child is learning. It also gives a parent immediate feedback as to how their child is doing on grade level skills (or whatever differentiated work is being given). As a parent I can immediately see what my child is mastering and what she needs to further develop.
I also feel that homework allows for the opportunity to build responsibility. In our grade level we provide each child with an agenda. I do think that filling out the agenda, and making sure that you have all needed materials is a responsibility. Not to mention the completing and bringing back of the homework.
I think that sometimes homework offers the opportunity to practice some skills that the school day doesn’t allow for (math facts).
I believe in involving family with homework. Even when homework isn’t a project I expect students to either complete their homework with their family or have someone in the family check the homework.
I am most of all a believer in the idea that children need family time. As well as time to explore and just be a kid! I don’t think that homework should take any loner than thirty minutes. I am aware and do keep in mind that not all students will finish the homework in the same amount of time. I also know that my students will benefit from differentiated homework, and that they will not all receive that same amount of home support.
In the recent past I have assigned nightly homework. I always assign what I consider to be meaningful homework. Part of my student’s nightly homework is the read (students choose what they read). They have to write less than a paragraph after they read either summarizing or reflecting o what they read. I found it reassuring that recent studies found that time children spent reading for pleasure was strongly correlated with higher scores (Kohn 2006).

What I Ponder?
I find it interesting that the debate over homework has been around at least since the early 20th century. Until the 1940’s it was commonly believed that homework helped to create disciplined students. In the 1940’s concern grew that homework interfered with home activities. This trend seemed to reverse in the 1950’s when the Soviets launched Sputnik. This led to the concern that there were not enough rigors in schools and homework helped add to that rigor. By the 1980’s the trend turned again and homework was frowned upon again. Since then arguments over homework have continued (Marzano/Pickering 2007). This issue isn’t new or consistent. It seems to change over time.

As I read more into this issue of assigning homework or not? I am left to ponder some ideas. One being that research on the effects of homework is inconclusive. The results range from positive effects, to no effects and even negative effects (Kohn 2006). What I didn’t find mixed was the repetitive information that research shows that homework in the primary elementary level has no positive impact on student performance (Marzano/Pickering 2007). This was repeated article after article.

I also ponder the negative effects of homework on students. As a parent of a newly school age child I relate to the pain sometimes associated with nightly homework. The night goes by so fast and sometimes getting homework in is a stress. Homework then has a negative association in the house. This is especially true for students who struggle with the skills and those who the skills are way too easy for.

I don’t want to waste student’s time. I certainly don’t want to steal time away from families. After analyzing this issue thus far I am leaning towards offering homework as a choice. That way parents still have the opportunity to see current skills and can decide for themselves if they want their child to complete the homework. I feel like I want to look further into this issue. I want to feel more confident about my homework philosophy as I enter a new school year.


Kohn, Alfie. 2006. Does Homework Improve Learning? The Homework Myth.

Kohn, Alfie. 2007. Rethinking Homework. January/February 2007. Principal.

Marzano, R. J, Pickering D. J, . 2007. Special Topic/The Case For and Against Homework. March 2007. Volume 64. Number 6.

Wilson, Micheal. Homework: Why Do it? education.com

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