EppsNet Archive: Homework

Teaching Computer Science: The Phones Aren’t Helping You

I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week at a local high school, helping out with computer science classes. The way the classes are taught, via an online curriculum, provides a great temptation to kids to get off-task, which they do, usually by entertaining themselves with their phones. They get off-task in other ways too — web surfing, doing homework for other classes — but the main distractor is the phones . . .   “As I mentioned before, I worked with another CS class a couple years ago. No phones allowed in the classroom. “I remember one day the assistant principal was in class observing . . . a student had a phone out, looking at it . . . he was holding it under the table so no one could see it, but this guy, the assistant principal, he did see it. “Oh man, did he hit the roof!… Read more →

More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of: X Hours of Homework

School is back in session and I’m listening to one of my colleagues say that his son started junior high school this year and had 6 hours of homework last night. It’s a way of bragging: My kid’s school is more academically oriented than your kid’s school. Maybe your kid is just slow. Maybe other people’s kids are finishing the homework in an hour. Or maybe your kid finished his homework 6 hours after he said he was starting his homework because he worked for an hour and spent 5 hours surfing the net for pornography. It doesn’t make sense to say the school assigned X hours of homework . . . Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Today Was Not the Best Day to Say What You Just Said

I asked the class to pass in today’s homework and a student said, “I couldn’t figure out what homework was due today.” I wasn’t feeling at my best to begin with. I was tired because I was up late making sure the class website was updated with all relevant materials, homework assignments were listed at the top of the page under the Homework header with due dates listed in bold font next to each assignment so that there’s no way anyone looking at the website, assuming they’re old enough to read, could fail to understand what is the homework and when is it due. So when that kid said that he couldn’t figure out what the homework was, I felt the futility of life grabbing me by the throat and I was mad . . . Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Mindset

I’m not comfortable giving people advice that they didn’t ask for, so I usually preface it by saying “Feel free to ignore this . . .” That being said, I want to talk about the mindset I think you should have for this class, maybe for other classes, maybe even for things outside of school. Feel free to ignore this . . . Education has allowed me to make a living doing things that I like and things that I’m good at. A lot of people are not able to say that. Most people, I think, are not able to say that. Most people are like “I hate Mondays” and “Thank god it’s Friday” and that sort of thing. I have had jobs where I spent the day doing things that I don’t like and I’m not good at and it’s painful. And the amount of money you get paid… Read more →

We Need Better Parents

Kids can’t do well in school unless their family has a lot of money, according to an op-ed in the New York Times, which goes on to argue that massive intervention by “policy makers” is needed to confront this issue head-on. The authors, Helen Ladd and Edward Fiske, are a husband-and-wife team of academic researchers. Education reform in a nutshell: First thing, let’s kill all the academic researchers. Helen and Ed cherry-picked the results of a Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) study to show that students with lower economic and social status had far lower test scores than their more advantaged counterparts. But they didn’t actually link to the PISA results, because if they had, people would see that Helen and Ed just ignored the three main findings, which are: Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher… Read more →

High School Seniors Do Not Appreciate 17th Century Metaphysical Poetry

“Have you read ‘Break of Day’ by John Donne?” my son asks. “I haven’t,” I reply, “but that’s more of a failing on my part than a reflection on the greatness of John Donne.” “John Donne sucks.” “You can’t talk about metaphysical poetry without giving it up for John Donne.” “I don’t want to talk about metaphysical poetry. How is that ever going to help me?” “Someday you’ll quote a snippet of Andrew Marvell in a status meeting and people will be very impressed. Verrry impressed.” Read more →

Homework Follies

Worked some physics problems with my boy last night . . . the subject at hand was torque, which his textbook expresses in units of mN. “Back in my day, we used to measure torque in foot-pounds,” I said. “What’s mN? Millinewtons?” “I don’t know,” he said. “I guess so.” “OK, we’re off to a great start!” Read more →

What Am I Thinking About?

High school roller hockey starts tonight. To prevent the use of ringers, each kid has to turn in an enlarged color copy of their school ID card. I reminded my son about that requirement last night as he was doing homework in his room. “Why don’t you go ahead and make the copy now while you’re thinking about it?” I said. “I’m not thinking about it,” he said. “You are thinking about it.” “What am I thinking about?” “Okay, do it your way,” I said, and left. “What did you come in here for?” he called after me. Hilarity is really going to ensue when he shows up for the game tonight and can’t play because he doesn’t have a copy of his ID card . . . Read more →

Things I Love to Do on a Hot Summer Evening

My son’s going into 11th grade next week. He’s got a couple of honors classes, a couple of AP classes, Spanish 3 and a music class. It looks like a very tough schedule to me — he’s also got college entrance exams this year — but that’s where his academic history has brought him and he says he wants to do it. One thing I didn’t know about AP classes is that they start giving kids assignments during summer vacation. He’s working on ’em right now! He asked me for a little help on the physics assignment so I get to do two things I love to do on a hot summer evening: sip premium tequila on ice with a lime, and solve problems like this: A kangaroo jumps to a vertical height of 2.7m. How long is it in the air before returning to Earth? Oh I’m in heaven! Read more →

Whatever Helps

It was after 11 p.m. last night. I was already in bed but my son was still downstairs doing homework. He’s got a hockey game tonight in Huntington Beach and he wanted to work ahead a little bit. Then I heard: “WOOOOOOO! WAAAAAAAH! BABABABABABABABABABABABABA!” I got up, went out to the stairs and yelled down, “What are you DOING?” “It’s my homework war cry!” he yelled back. Hmmm — having a homework war cry actually sounds like a pretty good idea to me so I let the matter slide and went back to bed . . . Read more →

Father-Son Conversations

FATHER: Would you take out the trash please? SON: Are you KIDDING?! I’m doing homework! I’ll take out the trash if you read To Kill a Mockingbird and tell me what each chapter is about. FATHER: I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird. You want to know what it’s about? ‘Racism is Bad.’ Now take out the garbage.   SON: Mom said my dinner was going to be ready by now and she hasn’t even started cooking it yet. FATHER: You’re a big boy. Why don’t you make something yourself? SON: I’m really not happy with the service I’m receiving here.   SON: So was Mom pretty horny when you first met her? FATHER: Oh Jesus . . . Read more →

Homework Follies

My son just came downstairs for a visit . . . “‘What’s due tomorrow?’” he says in his Dopey Dad voice. Then back in his normal voice: “Math and Spanish. (Dopey Dad voice) ‘Are they done yet?’ (Normal voice) Spanish is done. I still have a little bit of math. (Dopey Dad voice) ‘Do you need me to check anything?’ (Normal voice) No.” Now he’s waiting for a reaction from me, which he’s not going to get. “I just did your job for you,” he says. “Thanks!” Read more →

The Dog Ate My Homework

It’s an old joke but does it ever really happen? My son’s science homework for last night was to build some Lewis dots using Froot Loops. This morning, the dog ran out and managed to take a couple of bites of a Lewis dot before we were able to fend him off . . . Read more →

Homework Follies

“This is racist,” my son says. I look over to see what he’s talking about. He’s sitting on the sofa doing math homework. “What’s racist?” I ask. “The math book?” “Yeah. They have answers in the back for problem 9 and problem 13, but not problem 11. Because I’m a Mexican.” “You’re a Mexican?!” “I’m a mixed kid,” he corrects me. His mom is Asian. “You think the white kids’ book has the answer to number 11?” “Yup. The Asian kids’ book has got all the answers.”   “Dude, check this out. Jackson collected s seashells. Petra and Tyrone collected 13 less than twice s. Now here’s the stupid part: I have to figure out how many seashells each person collected! COME ON! And the racist book doesn’t have the answers!” I say, “Jackson’s pretty lame if a girl collected more than he did.” “He’s pathetic!” Read more →

A Lesson in Procrastination

My son’s supposed to be finishing up his first 8th grade assignment — a math collage for his Algebra class — but instead he’s bouncing a basketball around the house. “Finsh the assignment!” my wife says. “No more procrastinating!” “I’m not PRO-CRAS-TI-NA-TING!” the boy yells, punctuating each syllable by slamming the ball on the floor. “You are procrastinating,” I say. “Stay out of it,” my wife says. “You see how long it took him just to say ‘procrastinating’? That’s procrastinating.” Read more →

Homework Follies

My son asks for help with a homework problem in math. The main point of contention with math homework is that when he asks for help, he’d like me to just do the problem for him, while I prefer to try and steer his thinking in the right direction, even though it takes a lot longer. “This is like the problem you helped me with last night,” he says. “Let’s try not to have a one-hour conversation about it this time.” Read more →

How Homework Gets Done at My House

My son’s reading Catherine, Called Birdy for his 7th grade Language Arts class. The book is set in medieval England and written in the form of a 14-year-old girl’s diary. “It’s got no theme, no plot, no flow, no fun, no nothing!” the boy says. “It’s gay!” I sympathize with him — it reads like a 13th century MySpace blog — but that doesn’t change the fact that he has to read it. “I refuse to read this book!” he says. “You can’t,” his mom replies. “I have a restraining order! Catherine has to stay 10 feet away from me.” And he tosses the book into the middle of the living room. I look over at my wife . . . her eyes are now closed and she’s biting on her lower lip, accompanied by a slow, dramatic intake of breath, all of which suggests that clowntime is just about… Read more →

101 Ways to Say No

My son’s got a seemingly endless number of ways to answer no to the question “Are you done with your homework yet?” Some recent examples: — Pretty much all done, yeah. — Yes I am! (Long pause) Except for a little reading… — What? Read more →

Why I Don’t Own a Hatchet or a Gun

I’m in the processing of converting all the old content here into WordPress, which among other things, lets me assign categories to each item. I filed one item, principally about a woman who ran over her husband with a car, under several categories, including Murder and Kids. My son, who’s sitting next to me on the sofa doing homework, says, “You’re posting stuff about murdering kids?!” I say, “No, it’s about murdering husbands.” “You’re posting stuff about kids murdering husbands?!” “No, it’s about wives murdering husbands, which happens a lot, unfortunately.” “It would happen around here if Mom had a hatchet or a gun.” “That’s exactly why we don’t have those things.” Read more →

Great Orators of the 7th Grade

I can’t really hear what my son is holding forth on downstairs — just snippets about tyranny, racism, slavery, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, civil rights and child abuse — which means his mom must have asked him to turn off the TV and get started on homework . . . Read more →

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