Preventing Homework Completion Issues

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by surelyeuclid, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. surelyeuclid

    surelyeuclid New Member

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    Aug 17, 2013

    Homework completion has been on my mind a lot lately because I'm starting in a district where I know many students will not be getting much support at home (many of our parents work multiple jobs). This is a factor which I know contributes to a decline in homework completion. I have an idea of what I might want to do, so maybe you can help me decide if it's a good idea or help me pick apart potential flaws before I implement anything (by the way, I teach 7th grade math):

    Students are given a packet every Monday with their homework for the week (all content created by me, mostly a couple more open-ended problems rather than tightly packed practice worksheets), all packets must be put into homework section of 3-ring math binder by Friday. If students do not complete homework packet, they must fill out the Missing Assignment Tracker in homework section of binder, which asks for a brief explanation of why they did not complete their homework and will be shown as evidence to parents if homework completion is a continued problem. The reason I think this might be a good idea is that it gives students multiple days to complete the homework. Many of my students help out at home, and so it may be that they just didn't have the time on Tuesday night to finish the assignment due Wednesday. Also, I feel that remembering to turn in one packet every Friday is far easier than keeping track of which days certain things are due. I plan to keep the packets more general, based off the wider standards rather than a task that must necessarily follow the classroom activity, just in case students decide to work ahead in the packet.

    What does everyone think of this idea? Has anyone else done something similar and can help me catch some of the flaws before I bring it into the classroom? Do you think that assigning only one packet per week dampens high expectations and that students ought to be assigned more homework? Let me know what you think!

    Also, thank you in advance for sharing your opinions and expertise!
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 17, 2013

    I think that your idea is good and reasonable. One thing you might consider is that there are sometimes other reasons for homework non-compliance. Many students, especially in low-SES areas, fail to complete homework not because they don't have time or are helping at home but because they fail to see it as valuable. Do you have a way to address the value factor?
     
  4. surelyeuclid

    surelyeuclid New Member

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    Aug 17, 2013

    Thank you for taking the time to read and reply!

    That is an issue I could definitely use tips and advice for. I try to maintain connections between mathematics and real world applications, and will do so through the homework as well, in hopes that it garners more student interest. With the packets, I aim to stay away from repetitive practice and narrow it down to only a couple related problems or reflections per lesson so that students don't feel like their time is being wasted by worksheet after worksheet. As time goes on, I also hope to use the packets as a method of differentiating by having students work with me to set goals and self-assess, then create more individualized packets that will help them focus on their goals.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Aug 28, 2013

    The idea sounds reasonable, but it wouldn't have worked for me. I think daily homework practice is important, but it should also be a "safe" time for students to try to stretch themselves and also a place where failure isn't necessarily a bad thing.

    Here's what I did, and it worked very well.

    -20 minute rule. Students should spend no more than 20 minutes working on homework for my class. Now, "working" is just that. Work. No tv, no phone, no getting up and down for another snack. 20 minutes of honest work. If, at the end of 20 minutes, the full assignment was not complete, then the student was to take one more minute to write a sentence or two about what in particular was giving them trouble. Something like "I didn't understand subtracting negative numbers", or "I just can't seem to make the multiplication rule of equations work for me", or "problems 3 and 5 were fine, but when they got more complicated I couldn't figure out what to do next." would have all been examples of acceptable reasons. I did expect that the paper that was turned in to have some evidence of honest work by the student. I found that my students were very honest and didn't take advantage of this policy. Actually, when I started that, my homework "completion" rate skyrocketed.

    -Speaking of completion, that's all I graded for. I did not grade for correctness. Like I said before, homework is a time to work the bugs out. What I cared about was that students either practiced the topic or worked with it enough to self-identify what they didn't understand. It's no good for either them or for me if I get a class set of homework where everybody's copied the answers from everybody else. If I can see where they're screwing up, I know what I need to go back and reteach, which won't happen if they're scared to get an answer wrong on homework.

    -Grading policy: It was turned in or not. If it was turned in, the student got a check for the day. If not, they got a zero. No late work for regular homework. The homework grade was the number of assignments turned in divided by the number I gave. The entire category was worth only 10% of the grade (and would have been less if I didn't have a school policy requiring the 10%), so a few missed assignments when "life" happens, wouldn't have a huge effect on the overall grade, since I gave homework every single day. Because I graded on a 10 point scale, it's mathematically possible to have still gotten an A and done no homework at all. Unlikely, but possible.

    For background, I taught 7th grade math in an inner city school.
     
  6. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Aug 28, 2013

    Homework is typically based on the day's topic and some review of previous materials. I've always seen homework review as an essential piece of homework. Doing the work wrong and not knowing it doesn't help anyone. It just allows someone to do something for the sake of doing it.

    When do you go over the homework and how does the work done on Monday night's page in the packet relate to Tuesday's work.

    The flaw I see is using the homework as a learning tool, not just something for kids to complete without ever knowing if it was right or wrong.

    Maybe I missed something in the explanation.
     
  7. IdahoSpEdTeach

    IdahoSpEdTeach Rookie

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    Jul 22, 2014

    Many of my colleagues have stopped sending home work because it doesn't come back. This is a tough topic.
     
  8. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Jul 22, 2014

    Exactly. I don't give daily HW because kids don't do it; I may give one assignment a week.

    Also, Admin has declared that HW can be no more than 10% of a student's grade each quarter so kids tell me straight up it is not worth doing.
     
  9. mrs.whatsit

    mrs.whatsit Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2014

    Have you thought of incentivizing homework completion through class competitions or individual student points that they can earn to use on something they care about? When I started using a point system that incentivized homework completion, students turned in their homework consistently everyday and I worked in a 100% free or reduced lunch inner city school too.

    Here is a guide to setting up a point system I used.
     
  10. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Jul 31, 2014

    I would just like to chime in on one thing - kids sharing the work and calling it their own. I don't care if another student tries to help another - teaching the material is a great way to make sure you really know it. However, identical answers means one did the work, someone else just copied. I blame both in that situation, since the worker knowingly shared and became the accomplice. Hey, it's a sore subject with me, and I see it at high school. They didn't just learn it once they got here!
     
  11. sarahwilla

    sarahwilla Rookie

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    Oct 10, 2014

    home works!! people doesnt show interest in this kind of home work.. i set all my students free at home,
     
  12. teacherguy111

    teacherguy111 Cohort

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    Oct 20, 2014

    I assign homework - but not a ton. We usually start it in class and then the students finish it at home. I do not give it many points at all. My school uses the mastery system…. so we typically only really put weight in the grade book for mastery assignments (aka summative assessments).

    A lot of teachers at my school put it in the grade book but do not include it in the final grade. Then when someone does not do the homework or smaller assignments, they typically don't do as well on mastery assignments…. so it does come back to bite them, but does not affect the grade directly very much.
     

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