Can anyone explain why my students don't do homework?

Discussion in 'High School' started by a teacher, Dec 4, 2014.

  1. a teacher

    a teacher Cohort

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    Dec 4, 2014

    I teach approximately a 50% low-socioeconomic population. I teach art classes of various kinds. I give homework periodically. 75% of my students don't do hw regularly. Typical reasons for most kids may be:

    1. Disorganized (didn't remember they had hw)
    2. Not writing things down (didn't know what to do)
    3. Too difficult (wasnt paying attention in class or asking for help)
    4. Indifferent (don't care abut their grade)
    5. Lazy (no work ethic)
    6. Choosing where to put effort (electives not worth the extra work)

    It's just plain weird that kids don't do the work. Am I missing something here? For myself, my wife, my kids and everyone I know, it was not and is not an option. You get work, you do it. Period. Why are these kids so pathetic?
     
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  3. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Did you mean to use the word pathetic?

    If they don't do homework, do they fail? I'm not saying they should. But, I am suggesting you consider what payoff a student gets by doing your homework. For some, the thought of disappointing a teacher is enough reason to do the homework. For others, the thought of letting down a parent is enough reason to do the homework.

    I don't give much homework because our kids get SO much homework in math and science that they would get little sleep if they had that homework, my homework, a job, sports practice, etc ...
     
  4. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Dec 4, 2014

    Some other possible things that could possibly be a factor for low SES kids:

    1) No quiet place to do homework at home
    2) Having to work after school to help make ends meet
    3) Parents may be working or otherwise not available to supervise homework
    4) If parents are around after school, parents may not be able to help with homework (parents did not finish formal education, speak another language, etc)
    5) Not seeing the connection between doing homework/succeeding in school and having more options in the future since they don't see this happening for the people around them

    The list goes on...I think if you are going to assign HW for this population, you have to make sure it is definitely something students can do successfully on their own, that they see the results of/purpose for doing the work, and that you offer your room/time after school (within reason/contract hours) so that students who need help or a safe and quiet place to work can do so.
     
  5. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    For my students, I have a classwide incentive: 10 points if everyone does homework, 8 points if one person doesn't have it, 6 points if 2 people don't have it and so on. There is a "reward day" every so often for the class that wins. Peer pressure is a great motivator. Kids will at least turn the assignment in 1/2 done 3/4 done, all the way done, etc.
     
  6. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Dec 4, 2014

    I also teach in a low SES school and I'm one of the few teachers I know who assigns homework every single night. My homework is always about 1 page of reading with 5 questions. It's important to me because they're actually pre-reading what we will be discussing the next class and it helps them understand if they come in with a bit of knowledge. So, I try to make it as sweet a deal as possible to encourage completion.

    First, I don't grade on accuracy, just completion. I read over to make sure they're giving logical answers, but if they answer "Grant" instead of "Sherman", I don't mark off. I figure they got at least something out of reading the material (which was my main goal). So, if they complete it's an automatic 100%. I also give them 10 points extra credit on the next day's quiz (I also quiz every day). Finally, if they don't complete it by the next class, but turn it in by test day, they still get 80%.

    Right now, I'm operating at between 65-90% completion for my regular classes. Giving them the 10 points on the quiz was the real difference-maker for me.
     
  7. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Mine don't complete homework either. Homework can only be 10% of a student's grade at my school so students see no purpose in doing it and many teachers see no purpose in assigning it.
     
  8. a teacher

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    Yes, of course pathetic was the word. Why?

    This is all really sad. What you guys are saying, it seems to me, is that not much is expected of students. Barely or no homework at all, begging them to do it by offering rewards like test credit (what's homework got to do with test points?), cajoling them, making it an insignificant part of their grade, or not even bothering with it? This all sounds like giving in. What if we all insisted on higher standards?
     
  9. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I personally don't do any of the above things. I just don't consider teenagers who are working to support their families "pathetic."

    I think it is possible to hold high standards while also being understanding and accommodating to an extent for our students who are dealing with circumstances that are often beyond our imagination.
     
  10. a teacher

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    I understand that but I don't think things are awful for that many kids. Are they really all (75%) supporting their families?
     
  11. a teacher

    a teacher Cohort

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    Yes their families are messed up in many cases, but we're not holding them to our upbringing standards. But do we have to aim so low?
     
  12. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    A lot of it depends on WHY you want students to do homework. If you're just assigning it because "homework is what you do" and imparting those "high standards", then don't try the new approaches.

    For me, the purpose of assigning the homework is to get the students to pre-read the content. I care far more about their personal understanding of the content than some number grade on a piece of paper. So, if 10 extra points on a daily quiz (that post said QUIZ, btw, not test) leads to a better overall understanding of the material, then I'll do whatever works.
     
  13. a teacher

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    I guess that makes sense. But I wonder what kind of message we're sending. The kids don't see it your way, they see it as "cool, we don't get homework in that class" or whatever. So when asked to do hw in the regular way, they have no clue.

    And by the way, I only assign homework when they a) need more time to get the project done or b) they need extra practice or c) it's something we don't have time for in class.

    An example of the incompetence I'm experiencing: kids who finally take large paper home to do a project and don't bring it back: "duuuuhh....I forgot it." These kids think they will survive a day in college?
     
  14. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Dec 5, 2014

    I thought maybe you meant apathetic.
    I don't think any of my students are pathetic, regardless of their homework habits.
     
  15. a teacher

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    I meant the behavior, not the individual. Though apathy does play a part in this issue, doesn't it?
     
  16. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Yes, that is why I thought you may have had a typo.
     
  17. TonyBalonga

    TonyBalonga Rookie

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    If, in general, only some teachers give homework (like math and science teachers), then the principal or all teachers could help the math/science teachers by telling the students why - giving a rational understanding. It might be that the math/science scores are lower and students need more daily practice. Explain that all teachers are helping the math/science teachers in this way. Maybe add that in English, for example, they are already getting practice with their texting, socializing, etc.
     
  18. TonyBalonga

    TonyBalonga Rookie

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    You might have the principal tell the students that math and science teachers are a cut above everyone else and so they are smart enough to figure out a way to make the grading of homework very efficient.

    Also explain that English, History, etc. are not really needed.
     
  19. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Mar 17, 2015

    Where is your sarcasm smiley?


    Unless...



    You really believe what you are saying??
     
  20. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I have found the following very helpful in getting my kids to do homework:

    1. Making it a worksheet instead of a book or something they have to copy from the board.

    2. Using remind.com to send texts to parents and kids reminding them of their assignments.

    3. Making the homework something they need to do to be prepared for the next day, such as reading a short story, or creating questions for a Socratic seminar, or something similar..

    4. Making it a big deal, like they have to check out the cameras to make a film or something. Then they see it's a big responsibility to do it!
     
  21. greendream

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    Mar 18, 2015

    Let's not pretend that there is any great percentage of teenagers working to support their families. I think the other reasons you listed for not doing homework are legit (no parents to help them, etc.), but a teenager who has to support the family financially is a rarity.
     
  22. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

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    Mar 18, 2015

    Forgive me...I haven't read the previous posts. But I was a student who didn't do homework. I have a nephew who didn't do it also. My issue was lack of organization and honestly I was just a lazy student (ironic since now I teach) my nephew many times didn't do it because "I already know how to do this, I get As on tests" his words. Followed by "even if I fail the class, I still get passed on to the next teacher!"

    We have gone round and round trying to rectify this...it's been a struggle. We needed up having to enroll him in independent study to make up units that he is short due to. Failing classes
     
  23. leeshis0019

    leeshis0019 Companion

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    Mar 18, 2015

    It's my firm belief that they require SOMETHING to do at home from my class. It doesn't have to be homework though. I assign a boat-load of "Practice" and I tell them that they get their grade back from it on their quizzes or tests.

    I do have homework at least 2-3 times a week, but they often have 10-15 minutes of class-time to start it and they should only be taking roughly 30 minutes to complete the assignment.


    The trouble comes along when they don't take notes or don't pay attention. There are certainly those kids that go home and forget about school altogether. I try to set it up like this because I do have students that go to work or they have extracurricular activities, etc; however, I do not give any leeway on it either. There is no late work accepted in my class. I'll often get responses like "I didn't get it" to which I respond "Can I see your notes from yesterday" and they almost never show me.

    I NEVER have complaints from my students that have jobs. They get the work done. If you have a good relationship with your students and you know the students that support family or work hard in other classes/activities just ask them. "Is this to much or do you think it's fair?" More often than not you'll get an honest answer. When I ask I usually get "It's a lot, but it was easy..." or something along those lines.

    Assuming this is sarcasm, but the ability of math and/or science teachers to grade homework efficiently wasn't in question. It's the amount of work that is given.

    Also, assuming it's sarcasm can I come up with a quip for how much History homework my students complain about? I don't know why people are saying "math and science give lots of homework". All I hear from my students is them talking about history PBL's (or w/e) and English papers out the wazoo. Again...I give practice and 30 minutes of homework if I do and this is in Chemistry and Physics.
     
  24. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    Mar 19, 2015

    This is an old thread, but I wanted to jump in and say that homework is not always needed to graduate or make something of yourself. I did the least amount of work I could get away with in high school and college, and still managed to end up in a decent place in life (with a master's degree). I don't think "pathetic" or "lack of a work ethic" always applies to kids who don't want to do homework. Sometimes they have other priorities, which may or may not serve us. Sometimes their work ethic shows up in other facets of their life that we are not privy to.

    But since homework is our reality, the tips on this thread are awesome. Yes, it would be nice if homework were intrinsically rewarding, but positive incentives can be very helpful.
     
  25. TonyBalonga

    TonyBalonga Rookie

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    Mar 23, 2015

    Many students are not used to getting hw nowdays. Many teachers have said they do not give homework because the students don't do the hw. My math dept.chair seemed to not want me to give hw to my 8th graders. I think it was because she didn't give hw to her 9th - 12th graders. When I explained the kind of circular reasoning going on, she seemed nervous and at one point I thought she was about to tell me not to give homework.
     
  26. a teacher

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    I think giving up on homework because kids don't want to do it is going down a slippery slope. We need to pull them up to higher standards. And I don't think another professional would dare to tell you whether you can or can't give homework.
     

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