Bell to Bell Teaching and Homework Questions

Discussion in 'High School' started by notalawyer2010, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. notalawyer2010

    notalawyer2010 Rookie

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    Mar 7, 2012

    2 Questions:

    1) How do you get kids to do your closure activity in the last 5 minutes of class?

    I teach bell to bell per our building policy, but many students do not do the 5 minute closure activity, though it is managable (all who do the activity get it done correctly in 5 or less minutes).

    2) How do I get kids to do homework?

    Not assigning homework is not an option and obviously I make it relevant, managable (15 minutes or less per night) and worth points. I try to make it interesting, but my kids just tell me-- "We don't do homework." Lots of teachers in my building have given up assigning it altogether. A lot of people say if the kids see it as worth while they'll do it, but my students don't see school as worthwhile. Most of my students want to do manual labor as soon as they can graduate or drop out.

    I digress. I was saying, I assign homework and they can't pass without doing it--so I have students who are failing ( a lot more than I would like) and who cannot participate the next day because they didn't do the assignment.

    Then at the end of every quarter they want to do every single assignment, which is senseless because then it's pretty much a meaningless cram session of half-assed work. The real problem is these kids do it every semester--that is they do no work until the last 2 weeks of every quarter and then they do all their assignments and turn them in and all their parents and other teachers expect this to be okay. It's not okay with me to slack off and then be able to turn work in late.

    Ideas...? BTW, I teach English (if that matters) to kids who mostly don't like reading and writing with very low self-efficacy and sense of self-worth.
     
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  3. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I don't do a closure activity. I just keep teaching until the bell rings. I might be in the middle of something, but then I'll just get back to it the next day. Usually, kids who are aware of that the period is coming to an end will zone out. So, when you say "this is a closure activity", they probably won't do it because they'll be thinking about how they have lunch next period or something.
    About the homework...I'm not sure on this one. I used to teach in a school where no one did their homework, and there wasn't much I could do about it. I tried to make the assignments very short and simple, but some of the kids just didn't do it because they didn't see the point of it. They also had to work after school. Could you do the readings during class by any chance?
     
  4. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Mar 7, 2012

    Can you use the closure as an exit slip? They have to have it done to leave the room. Assign an alternate time to complete it for those who still refuse, such as after school or at lunch.
     
  5. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Mar 7, 2012

    Like Orangetea, I just keep teaching until the end. I don't worry about doing a closure activity.

    As for homework, it's a constant battle. Most of the teachers in my school don't give it because so many of our kids work every evening. I also teach English, and the only time I assign homework is when they need to finish whatever we were working on in class.

    To help with students who try to do nothing all semester until the very end, I do a number of things. Firstly, I constantly monitor the room. This is easy for me because my classes are very small (9 is my largest). Secondly, I give a lot of mini assignments or break big writing assignments in to chunks. Students who hate reading/writing generally shut down when you say, "You have a paper due at the end of class (or the next day)." But if you say, "you have 7 minutes to write the first 4 sentences of your introductory paragraph", they tend to get more done. Then I have them read it out loud to a partner or small group. I just make it as difficult as possible for them to keep functioning in the room without the work. If we're reading, then I assign a paragraph at a time with a very specific goal. "Read X paragraph and find the answer to this question..." Something like that. I also use an interactive reading strategy called "Say something" that keeps them talking with me and each other as we read.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Mar 8, 2012

    There's simply no question about it-- they work until the bell rings and they do the homework. I don't do any closure activity, I just keep teaching.

    If a kid started to pack up while I was teaching, regardless of how much time was left, I would stop mid sentence, and ask if he had a pass of some sort requiring him to leave early. When he said no, I would wait, not terribly patiently, as he reopened his book. Then we would chat after class.

    Likewise, the expectation is that they'll do homework, and the vast majority do.

    Admittedly though, the culture in my school is very different from yours.
     
  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Mar 8, 2012

    As you can see from the replies, expectations and results are different from school to school. I also work at a school, not high school, where homework is not viewed as important by children or parents. I can't count homework for a grade because of that issue. The reality is, for many of us, we teach in a different climate than many other teachers and we need to deal with our reality.

    Can you restructure homework so that, unfortunately, it doesn't carry as much weight, or be necessary for the next day's activity? Maybe you can do some hands on activity in the classroom to get your students more engaged and complete the concepts that you would have assigned as homework.

    You don't need the stress of dealing with this issue, since it seems like isn't going to change. So, even though you may not get through material as quickly as you would want, because you are making allowances in class to basically teach the homework, you may get more cooperation from your students if you back off this issue (yes, I know it's contrary to what we normally do).

    Another thought, you say that your students are mostly not moving on to college. How about bringing in reading material and writing assignments that may be more relevant to their lives and goals?
     
  8. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Mar 8, 2012

    Homework completion does vary from school to school. When some families don't value an education, it's tough. I tried to make the assignments shorter and include the most important questions. I copied problems on worksheets so they didn't need to use a textbook. It helped a little bit. I felt bad because the students in that class really needed the practice if they wanted to pass the MCAS and graduate. They were just so far behind.
    Now, I teach in a different school, and the homework always gets done.
     
  9. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    Mar 8, 2012

    Maybe not relevant, but we don't have bells at my school. There is a schedule, of course, just no bells. I teach to the last minute or so: no formal wrap-up activity, though I will often summarize/contextualize what we have learned. Then I typically say,"Thanks kids, see you tomorrow," and off they go!

    Students here generally do their homework. Some teachers will accept late homework; some will not. It's a multiverse.
     
  10. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Mar 8, 2012

    notalawyer2010 - From what I gathered from your post, my classes are EXACTLY like yours in many regards. School is a place to put in time until they are eligible to drop out or they manage to graduate (with the help of some bogus "credit recovery" program or the principal just passing them), maybe spend part of a year fooling themselves with a semester of community college before dropping out and looking for some manual labor job.

    There's not much you can do fight the mentality that's been in place LONG before either one of us got into the profession. Try to find some method that allows you to keep your sanity and as little stress as possible.

    The only homework I assign is whatever they didn't finish for classwork and I don't do a "closure" activity.


    :dunno:
     
  11. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Mar 8, 2012

    Maybe you can do the first (or the few most difficult) part of the homework with them as guided practice during the last 5-10 minutes of the period...at least you know they'll have started it, and thy might finish it because they've already started it with you. Also...maybe have a policy where they can turn in late HW three times (or whatever) a quarter, and only if it's turned in within a day (or a week) of the day it was due. That way they can get a break if they need it due to work schedules or sports, but are responsible for turning it within a reasonable time period. I firmly believe that being responsible for completing HW can help them learn, among other things, time management and responsibility, and those skills are valued by employers. But letting them make up all the HW at the end of the quarter isn't good for them or for you - all the lessons from the concepts to the time management and responsibility aren't learned, and it gives you an unrealistic amount of work to do at one of a teacher's busiest times of the year (grading time.)
     
  12. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Mar 8, 2012

    For the closure activity, I would make it more of an exit slip. They cannot leave until they finish it.

    As for the homework, that's difficult to change the behavior. They really have no desire to complete it. Changing your policy to limit the amount of late work would definitely have more students fail, but maybe that is what needs to happen to get the students more invested in school. It may not change anything....

    I try to make sure that my tests and quizzes add up to more than the homework assignments as I want to see what my students know. If the students understand the material without doing homework, they should be able to pass a high school class. However, students who don't understand the homework, will not pass the tests/quizzes and should fail.
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Mar 8, 2012

    I've never heard of exit slips aside from this forum. So please forgive the question.

    What happens if the period ends befor the work is completed?
     
  14. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I think they'd have to come after school maybe?
    But that might encourage low quality work because they'll be rushing to get it done.
     
  15. notalawyer2010

    notalawyer2010 Rookie

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    I do exits slips, but many of the students do them half-heartedly and still pack up and chat. They know they can't leave until it's done. If they flat out refuse to do an exit slip it could get ugly, but that's never been an issue. My kids don't want to miss out on hallway time socializing with friends, so they always do the exit slip. I feel like I'm fighting them for their attention.

    I really appeciate all the responses, but I can't justify not giving homework to myself because while many of my kiddos think they are going into manual labor and may end up doing so, they all have the potential to do anything they want and are really limiting their own possibilities.

    About 75% of the kids go to a community college or four year school, but my classes are a greater portion of that 25% who do not.

    My own father went to school where I teach and he started out as that bottom 25%. It was the late 1960s and he went right to work after high school. He didn't start at a university until he was 30 years old and didn't grade from college until many years later because he worked over 40 hours a week and took care of 2 kids.

    Plus, the homework that gets returned the least is the homework that results from them not finishing their classwork. What I mean is: 5 kids finished the activity when the bell rang, 20 did not. It will only take those twenty kids 10 minutes to finish at home, but they don't.

    I would like to be as strict on them as my teachers were on me, but no one else is and so I seem like this sadistic unfair person. I don't like the sort of behaviors we are condoning when we (at my school) let them turn in all this stuff late or let them fail. I don't see the benefit of the kids retaking the same class they failed.

    That's probably another part of my problem, about 20% of my students have already failed the class I am teaching. They come in already hating the class.

    I feel lost.

    I came from teaching reading recovery to middle schoolers and teaching seniors in another district before that. My seniors did all their work (they were almost done with school so why not), while my middle schoolers were seeing me for supplemental help (i.e. no homework).
     
  16. notalawyer2010

    notalawyer2010 Rookie

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    Exit slips are designed to only take about 5 minutes. If they don't finish, they don't leave until it's done (i.e. no time with friends in the hall during passing periods). They don't usually want to miss out on friend time so they get something done so they can leave, but depending on the type of activity they may not try very hard.
     
  17. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Is there anyway for you to either make sure that most students finish the classwork, collect what is finished, or assign it as part of their homework?
     
  18. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Mar 9, 2012

    Exit slips won't work at my school - we are not allowed to hold them past the bell. We are not allowed to cause them to be tardy to another class.

    My "closure" activity is usually a journal. Journals are silent writing time. If they don't write in their journal, they get a long writing assignment for homework... and a quick call home to let Mom/Dad know they have the extra homework. It only takes one or two times for them to understand that I *really* mean "write until I tell you to stop."

    If I'm lecturing and they start packing up, I death-glare them back into paying attention.

    As for homework - the % of homework I receive back from the students increased dramatically when I started assigning weekly homework rather than nightly homework. It gives them the opportunity to pace themselves - with the work, with extracurriculars, etc - rather than me pacing their outside lives. It works great in English; I don't know if it would be particularly effective in math, though.
     
  19. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    In my school, passing time is for getting to class, not socializing. Exit slips wouldn't be allowed.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    The same in my school. When that bell rings, the period is over and the classroom belongs to the next teacher.

    The 4 minutes we have are needed to get from room to room on time.
     
  21. notalawyer2010

    notalawyer2010 Rookie

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    we have five minutes between passing also, but our kids squeeze all the social time in that they can. our school is large so they have a ways to walk, which also makes the pressure to leave on time intense. Arriving on time to class is the students responsibility and arriving late too many times results in suspension, so even the most apathetic of students finish on time.
     
  22. notalawyer2010

    notalawyer2010 Rookie

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    That is what they won't do. If they don't finish before forty-five after they just give up. I may just cover the clock.

    Other than having them finish what was started in class the other2 assignments are weekly.
     
  23. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    But this will stress finishing on time, so the quality of work will be lower. They will only worry about getting done on time. I thought you wanted quality work?
    I don't think it's fair to punish kids who don't finish on time by having them be tardy to their next class. Our passing periods are only 5 minutes, but if you are walking from one end of the school to the other, then you need the whole five minutes because of the crowd. If I ever need to keep a student after class, even if it is for misbehavior, I always offer to write a pass in case they are a little bit late to their next class.
    I would not recommend exit slips in high school.
     
  24. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I guess the ultimate answer is that you will have to come up with another way to assess the skills you want mastered that will work around your current issues. I don't have a clue what might work for you in high school, but, someone here might.
     
  25. Silmarienne

    Silmarienne Cohort

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    Since I'm switching to HS next year, I am reading these posts with interest. I also managed to observe some HS classes and pick the brains of the teachers briefly.

    It seems like a lot of it boils down to making your expectations clear and enforcing them with what one teacher called "force of personality" (i.e., the "glare" Chebrutta referred to, or the up-to-the-bell teaching others insist on).

    It seems like closure activities would be good if there is extra time, but as a daily thing some of the kids will just view it as fool-around time. And I wouldn't want to keep them after-- they have enough time pressure as it is (I have a daughter who is a junior and she complained to me that when it's "that time of the month" she doesn't find the 4 minutes they get to be enough; and having to tell a male teacher that she was late because of having to address that is a horrible embarrassment for a teenage girl).

    Someone did mention circulating around the room. I teach K and find that to be very effective. I find some kids not doing the work because (1) they don't really understand what to do, (2) they are distracted by other children, usually the bright ones who can talk and work at the same time, or (3) some don't know how to organize themselves to get started. A little help getting them started or re-focused is all it takes. And they know I'm going to look at their work before they're finished.

    Hope something there helps! :)
     
  26. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    At my school, we are expected to do closure activities. I got dinged on my first evaluation this year because I just taught until the bell rang. So now I have the students answer a question or write a paragraph during the last 5-10 minutes of class. They write 4 on one page, and then I collect the paper for a grade. If they don't finish on one day, I post the prompts on the class website so that they can complete them on their own time. Students who are absent also have to complete them. Most of the students do them, and it has made a difference in the students' understanding. Apparently, before I started doing this, some of the students would take notes and look like they were paying attention, but when I had them do the summary activity, they had no idea what to answer. Now, they know the summary is coming, so they pay better attention during class.
     
  27. Silmarienne

    Silmarienne Cohort

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    They write 4 what?

    The way you are doing it sounds very beneficial, KateL.
     
  28. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    We are required to have bellwork (opening question) and an exit slip. Typically an exit slip is designed to review what they learned, it can be answering a MC or a short response. The bellwork is like an anticipation-will revolve around what you are going to discuss. You create your lesson to fit into the 5-7 minutes of bellwork and exit slip. It is told to us that both should not take more than the first 5 minutes/last 5 minutes. My students get their exit slip and are finishing it and walking out the door as the bell rings.
    They are used to it and most will actually ask me if we have one. I always have the one or two that does neither, but this year I give points for doing it. They put them in a composition book and at the end of each week I check the books (real quick with a stamp) and then at the end of the 9 weeks I add up their scores and they get a grade, for me its added into their Participation grade or notebook grade.
     

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