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The truth behind summer homework

It’s warm outside, the sun is shining, and there’s not a cloud in the sky. You were just released from your last day of school and the last thing you want to do or think about is the homework you are expected to complete over the summer. Most summer homework is assigned to the students who are planning to take an an advanced class or an A.P. class the following school year. Normally, summer is a three-month-long break for students to relax, destress, travel, work and make money, participate in fun activites, hang out with friends, and spend time with family. Even though homework does help students learn, manage their time, take responsibility, be independent, and problem solve, students do deserve a break from working hard, studying, writing essay after essay, taking notes, and finishing tedious projects all year long.

In a survey at New Berlin West, summer homework is common in grades ninth through twelfth. All of the homework that has been assigned to students from ninth grade through twelfth grade over the summer are of the following: reading the first chapter and taking notes out of the A.P.  Psychology textbook as well as reading the first three chapters out of the A.P. Human Geography textbook and taking notes. For students who take a language class, students had Spanish and French packets that cover all of the material they learned throughout the whole year to do over the summer. Older students had to read and annotate a nonfiction book and write a rhetorical essay on what they read for A.P. Language and Composition. Older students also had to write a two-thousand page paper for A.P. Seminar, complete three A.P. Art projects, read chapters out of the the A.P. U.S. Government and Politics textbook and take notes, and read chapters out of the A.P. United States History textbook and take notes.

Many students surveyed said that they procrastinate on doing their summer homework until the very last minute, others finished their homework the day before school started, and others didn’t do their summer homework at all.

The reasons students gave on why they didn’t complete their summer homework includes that they didn’t have time because they’re busy with sports, said that summer break is meant to be spent relaxing, had no motivation, and held off until the end of the summer. Other students said that they didn’t want to and didn’t feel like doing their summer homework, were lazy and forgetful, worked a lot during the summer, and didn’t care enough about school to put forth the effort of finishing assignments over the summer.

In total, one-hundred students were surveyed. In ninth grade, nineteen students were surveyed. Ten of those students said that they did have homework to do over the summer, while eight of those students said that they did not have any summer assignments to complete over the summer. Of the nineteen students, seven of them also said that they did complete their summer homework on time, and three of them said that they didn’t finish their summer homework when it was due.

In tenth grade, thirteen students were surveyed. Thirteen of those students said that they did have assignments to complete over the summer and zero students said that they didn’t have summer homework to finish. Of those students, ten of them said that they did complete their summer assignments on time, while three did not.

In eleventh grade, fifty students were surveyed. Forty-three students said they did have summer homework to do, while seven students said that they didn’t have to do homework over the summer. Thirty-two  of those students said that they did finish their summer assignments on time, and ten students did not complete their summer assignments on time.

In twelfth grade, eighteen students were surveyed. Sixteen students said that they did have to do homework over the summer, and three said that they did not have to do any summer homework. Eleven of those students said that they did finish their summer homework when it was due, while five did not.  

Nicole Thompson, a Spanish teacher at West, assigns summer homework to her Spanish IV and Spanish V students.

Spanish IV students, receive a grammar and verb packet to work on over the summer. Spanish V is different, though, Thompson said.

“Spanish V is a dual credit college class, so there’s a speaking portion, like, a presentational speaking that you record, Thompson said. And then there’s a reading as well to do on top of the grammar workbook that’s part of the Spanish V class.”

Thompson gives summer homework to her students because she believes her students come back to class in the beginning of the school year with a stronger foundation if they do their summer assignments, as well as helping to start teaching new material more quickly and to move along throughout the year too.

“With a language, it’s so hard when you aren’t practicing it on a continual basis. And so, when I didn’t do summer homework, my first year or two here, we ended up having to spend a couple of weeks reviewing verb stuff from the year prior because that’s usually what people forget fastest,” Thompson said. “And then, once they started doing summer homework, it was nice because we could just go through it, and that would take, like, a day and that would be the review.”

Thompson said that every one of her students completes their assignments over the summer. Thompson also sends many email reminders to parents and students in August about completing the Spanish summer homework on time.

“Spanish V [summer homework] goes in as a grade because it’s an interpretive task and a presentational task,” Thompson said. “Actually, the grammar activities don’t go in as a grade, but, I don’t know, with CAPP, everyone’s pretty much doing their work all the time just because they’re getting so much credit and they’re also paying five-hundred dollars for the class.”

“And then Spanish IV, pretty much almost everyone completes [their summer homework],” Thompson said. “I know at the end of the year in Spanish III, Señor Braun gives his students a little bit of time to start working on [the Spanish IV summer packet], so I think that really helps.”

Thompson doesn’t go over the Spanish IV summer homework packet until the third or fourth day of school. In addition to this, she said, “people could do it [the summer homework] the first week of school if they wanted. In Spanish V, the speaking and the reading are due before school starts, and then the grammar, we go through, like, the fourth day of school.”

Thompson also believes that assigning students homework over the summer does benefit her students’ learning, especially in Spanish.

“With it [Spanish] being a language class, you need to know all of the things that you’ve learned from Spanish I until now,” Thompson said. There’s different concepts each year, but Spanish is kind of a continuable projectory, so having summer homework just helps keep that going and make the adjustments smoother.”

In order to prevent procrastinating doing your summer homework, Thompson said, “I think that a lot of time students spend July not thinking about it and then once August hits, the panic sets in because they have AP classes to prepare for. I would just say, like, do it sooner rather than later.”

In conclusion, with the student surveys and Thompson’s input, the majority of students do work on and finish their assignments over the summer, even though there are still quite a few students who don’t. Despite this, procrastination and putting off doing assignments is a reoccurring, leading issue.

According to ThoughtCo., “students may wait until the last possible moment to do schoolwork, and there are other students who do not see the importance [in] keeping their academic skills sharp. While a summer packet is designed to help all students, regardless of ability, the student who may not complete the work may be the very student who most needs the practice.”

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