Minimal written homework

Discussion in 'High School' started by dovian, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Aug 5, 2010

    We are encouraged by our principal to give homework every.single.night. It doesn't have to be written work but there should be something academic for the students to work on - reading, longterm projects.

    For the last few years I have wound up assigning some sort of written work every night. I no longer wish to grade that many papers. I would like to switch to quality of assignments over quantity. I am thinking of something like an informal essay due once a week on whatever text we're working with at the moment, or a related text (subject is English, grade 11). The other 4 nights I would like to keep as just read, or read and take notes, or work on a longer-term assignment.

    Potential issues I see:
    - Students not taking homework seriously because it's only once a week.
    - Students leaving their homework until the last minute because they "forget" to do it.
    - Students not doing the reading/notetaking I ask them to do n other nights because they don't feel accountable for it.
    - Parents and admins thinking I don't give enough homework.

    Does anyone else have a minimal written homework policy, either officially or not? Are my potential issues reasonable, and/or do you have ideas for dealing with them? In conjunction with this I am thinking about implementing a no-late-homework policy, or at least a stricter late-work policy than my current, which is basically turn it in when you can but everything is -50%.
     
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  3. BCPMWK

    BCPMWK Companion

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    Aug 5, 2010

    Maybe have the students get a composition book and reflect on the day, or write about what they're reading each night. You could also consider giving them one specific question that asks them to delve into the day's material on a deeper level (Write a paragraph explaining how _____ uses imagery in paragraph #__.) You could then spot check the work occasionally to keep them accountable for the work, and/or take up the books and check one random entry from each week and give them some feedback in their own journal. It would lighten your load, but give them an opportunity to write something each night.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2010
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 5, 2010

    Sorry, I'm math. I give 20 minutes of written homework every night, starting with the first day of school.
     
  5. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Aug 8, 2010

    I couldn't imagine not assigning homework. My class would be so boring if they did all the reading in class. All the homework I assign is completely necessary for the students learning and for their sanity and my own.
     
  6. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Aug 8, 2010

    I rarely gave homework, but that is mostly the culture of my school for general phase courses. most of the students never purchase the book. In a class of 30, maybe five would purchase the book. If you assign reading for homework, 3-4 of those kids will read it. Doesn't make for meaningful classroom discussions. And only 10% of their grade can be homework or based on homework.

    This year, I'm going to require my students to review one episode of a TV show or one movie each week. I have a simple form for this. (I'm teaching film this year, so the assignment makes more sense.) My speech students will have Tic-tac-toe homework options. They'll need to do one thing from each column: communication, grammar, listening. I'm trying to figure out how this will work, because we are moving to block this year, so it won't be due on the same day. I'm thinking of having it due whichever Monday I see students, but that would give them two weeks to do it.
     
  7. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Aug 8, 2010

    To clarify: I'm talking specifically about written homework that would be collected. The other 4 nights would be some combination of reading and notetaking, the writing process, or working on longer-term assignments. I don't like reading (for the first time) in class either, especially in 11th grade.

    What I would like to do is eliminate the giving of multiple short-answer textbook questions that the students put no effort into (and no, I don't give the whole page of questions, I try to choose the three or so I feel are the most important to understanding) and replace them with deeper analytical questions (eg. responding to a specific quote from the text, arguing for/against the author's point) in informal essays - one to two pages - that would be collected once a week. I'm thinking of a more collegiate model - when I was an English major we frequently had to write a 5-page paper every week, which I was unprepared for, so I'm trying to make sure my kids are ready for that kind of work. Many of them are freaked out by the word "essay" and I think that by having them write a few pages on a weekly basis they would probably get over it. These assignments would be less formal than a longer analysis essay and should not take as much time. I think that with a good rubric it would really help my students improve their writing, and it would be helpful to me because I would be collecting a lot less work than I currently am.

    I'm willing to bet that this sounds a lot like what other English teachers already do, but it would be pretty different for standard-level English in my school; my colleagues do a lot of questions from the book or packets and save the writing for major essays or upper-level students.
     
  8. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Aug 8, 2010

    Although I was in honors and AP english through high school, I was rarely up-to-date on the assigned reading. This was mostly because I prioritized the homework that needed to be finished first as the things tht I knew would be collected/graded the next day... and I was usually too tired (or uninterested) by the time I got to the English novel that I ended up behind. Class time was mostly discussion, and I could usually had read or could deduce enough about what was going on that I could fudge it. Of ocurs,e when it got ot the end-of-novel essay, I was usually way behind, but somehow it worked out.

    Because I wasn't being held accountable for a lot of the work, it didn't necessarily get done. I like BCP's idea about doing responses in a journal... it could be a reflective question or just a response to the reading... if you take them up randomly, the'yll have to keep up with the work, but it will lessen yours substantially... you might not have it due on a particular day, but take even, say, 5 per class up each day... they don't know when theirs will be due :)
     
  9. eddygirl

    eddygirl Companion

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    Aug 8, 2010

    HS English teacher here--I can't imagine grading everything I have my students complete. I'd be putting in at least 3 hours grading every night! Here's what I do to make the job more manageable:

    My kids do a grammar lesson and a vocab. page out of the book every night. However, I don't grade everything, and I don't let the kids know what (or when) I will or will not grade. I announce, "Today, I am taking a grade on _____." I give completion points for this work. If you do it, you get points; if you don't, you get a 0.

    As far as their own writing, I pick one or two assignments to actually grade. Again, I don't let them know which assignment(s) I'm grading. Sometimes I let them choose which assignment they want me to grade (they pick their best work).

    Most of them do all their homework every night because they don't know when I'm "taking a grade." I put 3-4 grades (either completion or actually graded) in my on-line gradebook each week, so parents can see how their students are progressing each week.
     
  10. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Aug 9, 2010

    Lines of Learning (LOL)
    one paragraph summing what was learned today.
    Type up and turn in at the end of the week
     
  11. SciTeacherNY

    SciTeacherNY Companion

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    Aug 10, 2010

    To my 9th and 10th graders, I give HW at least 4 out of 5 days. The HW is usually quick (10-15 minutes).

    For my 11th and 12th graders, I rarely, if ever, give official homework. Typically, they need to finish up the labs we start in class (They need to do the final write up).
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Aug 12, 2010

    I tend to assign too much work. I know this because it is too much for me to grade!

    When I student taught my partnership teacher had a few good methods of combatting this. I don't remember them all but one I do recall is her homework quiz. She would assign homework as practice for her students - some questions were reinforcement from the readings. She would tell the students the next day to write down the answers for questions 3 and 7, for example. She picked questions that should have obvious answers. Either she did a problem just like it for the class the day before or it was from the readings. It always seemed random though. That way students were always on their toes but she didn't penalize a student who was struggling with a new concept.

    I did a spin-off on it with my class last year. At my old school almost EVERYTHING had to be cooperative. I had "homework senate" Students would pool their resources and turn in ONE homework sheet for their group. I would grade that one sheet and give the same grade to everyone. Sometimes I would only pick a couple of questions to actually grade. Students were expected to come to a consensus about the answers and debate if need be. They were to fight for why they chose an answer, in essence teaching the other students. I gave them an out though: if one of the questions was really difficult and no one was 100% certain about the answer they could table the discussion for a later time. The could circle ONE answer and I would demonstrate how to solve it on the board and no one in their group would be penalized if it they got it wrong. They could also abstain from a vote if they were placed in a group of students who had no clue and no interest in getting it right. I would grade their entire paper on its own merits but they could not benefit from the group discussions.

    Cut down on grading and it really helped when the students explained things to each other.
     

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