By Mark Pechenik firstname.lastname@example.org Novemeber 8, 2018
SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — A review of the superintendent’s “homework listening tour” highlighted the SAD 35 board of directors meeting Wednesday night.
Superintendent Mary Nash said she began her tour by researching homework policies across the district. For instance, at Eliot Elementary School, she learned homework packets encourage parents to play an active role in their students’ development by engaging in practices such as reading aloud to their youngsters.
Meanwhile, students at Central Elementary School in South Berwick focus on homework that applies skills to everyday tasks such as math used in measuring recipe ingredients.
In the district’s upper grades, from fourth and fifth grade at Marshwood Great Works School to Marshwood middle and high schools, executive functioning is given special attention among students engaged in homework assignments. Such an approach seeks to boost students’ abilities to plan, organize, attention and self-monitoring skills that are the building blocks of academic success.
Following discussions on what teachers want from their students regarding homework, Nash is encouraging teachers in transition grades (third, fifth and eighth) to focus on executive function abilities that will better prepare students for academic expectations at Marshwood Great Works, the middle and high schools.
On the high school level, Nash recommended teachers expand upon their efforts to use homework as a “formative assessment,” a tool to determine what a student knows and whether he or she can do their course work independently.
Finally, Nash suggested parents work with their students to decide upon an academic and extra-curricular course load that best meets each student’s needs.
“What is an appropriate course load for one student may not be appropriate for another students,” Nash said. “The purpose of homework is to provide students an opportunity to practice, reinforce and apply previously taught skills, acquire knowledge, and prepare for future lessons. I am happy to report that our teachers’ practice indicates that they believe and embrace this purpose of homework wholeheartedly.”
The board welcomed Lisa Flynn of South Berwick, who was elected Election Day, Nov. 6. Regarding the homework discussion, Flynn suggested college admissions counselors be invited to speak to Marshwood High students on the importance of selecting a course load that best meets their academic goals.
Student representative to the board, Makenna James, reported the Marshwood High Marching Band won a silver award in recent competition. “Their hard work and dedication is reflected in the awards that they have earned,” James said.