Homework Guidelines

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by Ceyber, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. Ceyber

    Ceyber Rookie

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    Aug 4, 2008

    Heya, first year teacher here. I am working in Canada, at a small independent school, with about 15 per class.

    I teach Grades 6-9 Math and Science.

    Now, a question: How do some of you manage homework within the middle school environment, specifically for Math and Science?

    My current thoughts are this, feel free to make corrections.

    1. Generally, each day practice work will be assigned. I plan to budget about 15 minutes for the students to finish it at home, and if they are not done in 30, tell them to stop and we will look at it tomorrow. The students have the answers for Math, so they can correct it themselves, and this will be part of the requirements.

    2. Incomplete homework needs to be completed during the next piece of free time the student has (recess, lunch, prep period, etc).

    3. I will record which questions the students do not complete, so as to have a record to show parents. (I'm reasonably tech savvy, use a little PDA, and can do this at the students desk, only takes a few seconds)

    Now, my concerns with my plan :)

    In regards to taking up homework, I plan to do this each day. I will take up questions that the majority of students had trouble with, if any, and any individual questions I will deal with during free work time/lunch.

    My concern is that students who did not complete the homework can simply copy some answers that we do on the board (probably the more challenging questions!), providing them with a reduced learning experience. On the other hand however, the point of the teacher going over work is to help students who didn't understand, so obviously they need to copy it! I don't see any way to differentiate between "I'm too lazy to do my work last night, so I will copy the board", and "I didn't get question 5, can we do it together".

    Part of me says that as long as they are paying enough attention to copying, they are actually learning something, and by this age, should be responsible for some of their learning. The other part says however that there should be SOME consequence for not completing work!

    So, I leave it to the guru's of this wonderful website to fill me in. What do you middle school teachers do with homework? How does it work? Mistakes you made when you first started?

    Thanks all!
     
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  3. kyblue07

    kyblue07 Companion

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    Aug 4, 2008

    Can you grade for completion or attempting to solve the problems rather than for accuracy or correctness all the time? Then go over the problems so student can correct or complete what they didn't do. I don't teach science or math, but in SS I do grade homework for completion to see if they did it rather than for correctness all the time. It saves time and to me, homework is practice for what we did in class. I give frequent in-class quizzes to check for understanding and correctness as we progress through a unit.
     
  4. NUMB3RSFAN

    NUMB3RSFAN Rookie

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    Aug 4, 2008

    I'm going to be teaching 6th grade math this fall and I'm planning on grading based upon the roll of a die each morning.

    If it lands on a 1 or a 2, I will grade the homework due that day for completion only.

    If it lands on a 3 or a 4, I will grade the homework due that day for completion and the accuracy of one particular problem that I choose. (probably one of the middle of the road problems that will measure if they understood the lesson).

    If it lands on a 5 or a 6, I will collect the homework due that day and grade it for completion and accuracy.

    I also collect homework by hand rather than allowing students to turn it into a tray. Then I paper clip them together right away. Any homework that gets turned in or "found" after I've collected it, gets paper clipped to the same stack, just in a different direction. That helps me distinguish who actually did their homework the night before and was busy finishing it during class rather than paying attention.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Aug 4, 2008

    I don't grade for correctness at all, for many of the same reasons you're stating. There's too much "cheating" room in homework. All I care about is that they spent some time working out the problems. The great truth teller is the test. Those students who actually did the homework will almost always do well on the test, and those students who merely copied from somebody else will almost always do poorly. Math homework, in my opinion, is just practice. If they could do it right as soon as I teach it, then they probably shouldn't be in my class. I wouldn't expect homework to be completely right all the time. It's also not weighted very heavily. I count up all the homeworks I assigned, and all the homeworks they turned in, and divide the number turned in by the number I assigned to get a percentage completion. That, in turn, is only worth 10% of the final grade.

    In my mind, they should be taking some personal responsibility for their own success by 7th grade, so I let them make their choices and deal with the consequences of those choices. I also have a no late homework policy. My students are required to turn their homework into me as they walk into the room and before they start the bellringer activity. I record the names of the students who have given me homework and mark the rest as 0's. I don't accept it after that and I really don't care what the reason is. I tell them that lack of responsibility on their part is not a crisis on mine, and to make sure they get it done next time. They learn very quickly not to even bother with excuses, but then again, they get really good, really fast at getting it done.
     
  6. Catcherman22

    Catcherman22 Companion

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    Aug 4, 2008

    I'm using the die idea in regards to warmups. I plan on giving a warmup *think Quiz* daily and rolling a die to see if its collected. I then go through the class during there group work and check the homework for completeness only.
     
  7. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Aug 5, 2008

    My Policy on Math Homework:

    -Written assignments are given every night, format and length. vary, but may include anywhere from 10-30 problems and should take about 30 minutes to complete. Your Geometry Journal, hands on activities and projects may also be given as homework.

    -Book Work must contain a header noting the student's name and date, section, page number(s), and assigned probelms.

    -Pencil must be used on all assignments or 5% will be deducted from the assignment's grade.

    -Please circle your final answer and make sure that your erase cleanly.

    -All graphs must be done on graph paper.

    -Homework assignments will be usually graded out of 5-10 points for effort and completion.

    -Graded assignments are generally worth 20-30 points.

    -Homework assignments must be stapled (if more than one page or have pages of work) and ready to be either checked or collected at the beginning of each class period.

    -Students will be allowed the use of their homework assignments on their quizzes (2 a week usually), as some probelms on these quizzes may come directly from the homework or mirror them. These quizzes are generally worth 20 points.

    -As homework is gone over with the class, students must correct their paper. It is neccessary for students to copy down the correct work and answer for any problem they got wrong.

    -A notebook quiz (covering homework) will be given at the end of each chapter to make students accountable for correcting their homework. This quiz is worth 25 points. Students may of course use their homework and notebook on this quiz.

    -At the end of each unit the notebook will be collected for a 25-30 point grade, this will ensure that students are keeping their homework organized.
     
  8. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Aug 6, 2008

    <<I don't accept it after that and I really don't care what the reason is. I tell them that lack of responsibility on their part is not a crisis on mine, and to make sure they get it done next time. They learn very quickly not to even bother with excuses, but then again, they get really good, really fast at getting it done.>>

    I will never understand this philosophy. You are simply telling the kids that the product is what matters not the learning. While that may be true in assessment situations it shouldn't be the case with homework.

    Just further adds to my theory that homework is a problem in education not a benefit.
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Aug 6, 2008

    The whole object of homework, in my opinion, is for them to take some responsibilty in their own learning. When would you suggest that kids learn to be responsible for themselves? I would rather it happen when the consequences of not doing so are not that great. What is assigned should take them no more than 20 minutes. The value of homework as far as the grade is concerned is very little. As far as product over learning, that is so far from the truth it is laughable. How is a kid supposed to go home the night something is taught and do it perfectly? I ask them to go home and work through 5-10 problems depending on the complexity of the topic. They "get their hands dirty", so to speak, then come back the next day and are able to ask real, thoughtful questions. They don't stress about it because they know I'm not going to count mistakes against them. They're more willing to try, to stick their necks out and make mistakes. I can do an awful lot more teaching when I can see where they're making mistakes than if they were so concerned about correctness that they cheated in order to get the problems right.

    My kids learn very quickly that I won't accept excuses for late work. An amazing thing happens...they actually do their homework...every night. Imagine that. Another amazing thing happens...they learn the material. Considering my kids consistently outperform their peers (in the school) in testing situations, and I was able to not only catch them up (they were behind where they should have been), but advance them so they can call themselves "honors" students with a straight face, I must be doing something right.
     
  10. Electron

    Electron Rookie

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    Aug 6, 2008

    I totally concur with the above post. In math as well as in the theoretical math side (and the experimental lab side, actually) of physics, there are three ways to get better:

    1. Do problems.
    2. Do problems.
    3. Do problems.

    It's as simple as that. That's why I was working on my classes over 90 hours a week, some weeks, in grad school, yet the total classroom time for all three classes in a semester was approx 9 hrs. Obviously that'd be a brutal ratio for middle school, but the principle is the same.
     
  11. kimberd

    kimberd Rookie

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    Aug 6, 2008

    I agree with mmswm. In math, actually trying the homework to find out your weaknesses is absolutely essential. While homework may not be quite so important in other courses, in math it takes practice, practice, practice, and only through the practice can you discover where you have problems and what questions you need to ask. I plan to make the same requirement for my students. They will never get more than they can do in 20 or 30 minutes, but they have to at least attempt it so they know what the didn't catch in the previous day's material.
     

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