students will not do homework

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by rks_langarts, Jan 15, 2015.

  1. rks_langarts

    rks_langarts New Member

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    Jan 15, 2015

    I am getting ready to start my first teaching position. I just accepted an end of year position as an 8th grade language arts teacher. The current teacher is retiring. I was talking with her the other day, and she told me not to bother giving homework as most of the students will not do it. I was stunned! I realize I'm brand new and have a lot to learn, but I just can't believe the majority of the class will not do it. She also advised me that the principal will not allow the teachers to give a 0 as a homework grade either. The lowest you can give is a 50 - even if they don't do it. I'm not out to load up the kids with homework, but I can't imagine not ever giving homework. Any suggestions about how to approach this? Thanks for any advice!
     
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  3. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Jan 15, 2015

    Can you do homework quizzes, from time to time? (probably easier in math, obviously...so half-kidding with that suggestion)

    I'd suggest making sure that whatever you give them will support their learning and is something that they have already learned in class - don't expect new learning to take place, but instead that they will be solidifying already-learned skills. Do you have any study hall / other possible consequences for not turning homework in? Perhaps ask other teachers at the school if they notice the same problem, and if not, what strategies they are using? If the teacher is retiring, they might have just gotten to that point where they "gave up" in a sense (note: "might" was used...).
     
  4. daisycakes

    daisycakes Companion

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    Jan 15, 2015

    Hahaha, welcome to teaching. I also taught middle school and was never allowed to give students less than a 50 on anything, even if they refused to do it in-class. They could sit there and not even write their name on a test and still get a 50%. Teachers who were ethically opposed to it (as I am) and refused to do it (I went along with it), were fired.

    So, the person you are replacing might be bitter, tired or something else. I would try giving homework (less than 1 hour a week). However, I can tell you that most kids will not do it. I would be prepared to have them sit out of recess/lunch to do homework if it is not done at home. Otherwise, no one has any incentive to do it. If you take away their recess for about a month, they will eventually get the idea and start doing homework.

    Teaching is about sheer will to control any and every situation. If you want them to do homework, you have to have a consequence. That means you have to also suffer the consequence of being frustrated and missing your own lunch to monitor/help them. Maybe you don't want to deal with it and wait until next year when you can set a tone more easily. I would assign homework, but not everyone would in this situation.
     
  5. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Jan 16, 2015

    Or a reward. Give extra credit points on something that really doesn't matter gradewise anyway. Let them work towards a larger reward (5 days in a row of hw earns X). Praise those who do their hw loudly and often- make positive phone calls home. If you work in a school where a majority of students have computers, try online homework. I once had a class (I'm HS history) go from 34% HW completion to 87% HW completion (sustained through entire second semester) just by giving them the option of submitting homework online.

    It's worth giving a few things a shot, because (hopefully!) "they just won't do it" won't fly when they get to high school.
     
  6. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Jan 16, 2015

    You may have to go along with it but those 50-F's will add up and their lower grade will show it.
     
  7. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I think giving homework every single night (even just the smallest item, like one or two sentences to correct) gets them into a routine. Then, check it every day at the start of class and have a reward for those who bring it back, like a sticker or raffle ticket. I use both. The routine helps the most though, IMHO. Don't overwhelm them with too much. Build the habit first, then you can assign tougher or more problems.
     
  8. msleep

    msleep Rookie

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    Jan 17, 2015

    Why would you ever give less than a 50 percent? A 50 percent is failing. Do you need to give a 0 to show that they really, really, really failed?

    If you gave a 0 and then a 100 on two separate assignments, their grade would only average to a 50. That is still failing. It is hard to come back from a 0. Especially for homework which is practice and should not be reflected in a grade. If you absolutely must grade homework it should probably be no more than 5 percent of the grade.

    Remember, a grade should not reflect whether they turned in homework, if their notebook is clean, etc... But should reflect their knowledge of the standards.
     
  9. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Jan 17, 2015

    A 0 and a 100 shows that they have not mastered the standards...that they do not have the knowledge you want them to have.

    Giving them a 50 on the first assignment and a 100 on the second one shows that they have a mastery of the standards and have acquired the knowledge you want them to have...not true in your scenario.

    THAT is why you give less than a 50.
     
  10. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Jan 17, 2015

    That's A. an opinion (that many, including I don't share) and B. often not our decision anyway. If a student didn't complete an assignment at all, then I have no way of knowing whether they mastered the standards at all. They certainly didn't master half of them, so why would they get credit for knowing half of them?
     
  11. msleep

    msleep Rookie

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    Jan 17, 2015

    It is not an opinion that a grade should reflect their understanding and not the method to gain the understanding.
     
  12. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Jan 17, 2015

    So the only thing you grade is tests and/or quizzes that they use no notes/sources on? Sorry, woudn't fly in my district. Knowing HOW to use the standards and showing mastery of skills (rather than straight content) is just as important.
     
  13. msleep

    msleep Rookie

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    Jan 17, 2015

    Mastery of skills can be shown in many ways, not just test/quizzes. But grading something that is practice is not something that should be graded. One student may grasp the concepts quickly. Another may take more time.

    Why would not grading homework be unaccetable to your district? Just because we have done things a certain way for a long time does not make it right . Check out anything by Rick Wormeli. He explains this idea of standards grading way better than I can.
     
  14. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 17, 2015

    I give 0 % on something if the student has not done it. Why would they get 50 % if they didn't even put in 50 % of the effort?

    This reminds me, a probation officer asked me at school how did a student fail my class? I told him, the student is a senior, he was ut in my class, and he claimed he didn't need it and he wasn't going to do anything. I said ok, as long as he doesn't disrupt, it's his choice. I still encouraged him time to time, but he probably did 20 % of the work. He failed.
    The prob. officer said: "I thought they get a D if they at least show up to class, even if they did very little work" I almost fell off the chair. Where did he get that from? is there even such thing? I told him my students work for their grades, they have to earn even a 59 % , which is still an F. And yes, I have had students fail with 59 % (and didn't bump it up to a 60 to help them pass.)
     
  15. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    But you're making assumptions that assigned homework is just mindless practice. If that's the type of homework that you assign, then I could see someone not seeing much value in it grade-wise. If you assign meaningful homework, though, it would be a reflection of skill mastery. My homework is never mindless practice. It has value and my students earn the credit they get.

    However, if they don't earn credit, they don't get it. I don't believe in fluffing up a student's grade with fake 50s. My job is to help them develop, not pass them along just for showing up.

    As far as the district, our gradebooks are set and categories are weighted by downtown. We don't decide what each type of assignment is worth- they do. We are also required by my school to give a certain number of homeworks per semester (although my students have homework every night by my choice). My school is very strict and regulated to provide structure to a student population that needs and thrives on it. It works for us and our students.
     
  16. MiamiMathMan

    MiamiMathMan Rookie

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    Jun 30, 2015

    Grading took over the homework thread but I will share what I think is fair on larger chapter tests.

    I do not grade below a 50% on a test and I will share why that is and how it actually curtails a lot of problems and unnecessary parent teacher calls/meetings, etc...

    Student bombs the test, likely has a weight of 10% or greater in 1 quarter, if they get an F/20% it could wipe them out for the rest of the quarter and I want to keep as many kids in the game as long as possible each grading period, it curtails a lot of behavior issues. Children without much hope become a nightmare to try and cheer/push on. So instead I have a method of dealing with this.

    Student misses more than half on my test they bottom out at 50%, you got that part and are ready to choke me through the screen, just wait and this will all make sense.

    Step 2: I send them home with their test filled up with a lot of red pen marks everywhere. They are to write out all the questions they missed on a separate sheet/sheets of paper, they have to find the right answers to all of them(I check each one), they must must must have this signed by their parent with a working email/phone # attached in case I want to ensure the authenticity of the signature. They bring that back to me and I will move them up 1 letter grade to a 60% which is a D- but passing.

    This does several things. First it gets mom and dad active and either up off the couch to help or sometimes they want to actually bring their kid in and apologize for their lack of paying attention in your class. It also lets mom and dad see you are not unreasonable, all the responsibility is on the student. It really takes the burden off you and there is no way you can have mutiny in the classroom or be accused of being unfair, in fact you are being more than fair.

    I know some might ask, but what about the students who legitimately scraped a 63% and studied...how is this fair? I have them do the same exact thing, get it signed by mom and dad, they can pull their grade up to a 70% on those tests. Anyone in the "C" range I make it optional for them(I will swing it to 80%, B-) and I have never had one student who got an A/B on one of my tests throw a fit because those students have to go inform their parents how dumb they are for not studying.

    In the end I win because the student one way or the other is going to learn the materials I ask of them. Whether they take the long road and do the same amount of work for a lot less grade in the end or the ones who study hard and never have to take tests home to be signed by a parent. It's their choice but nobody is allowed to take a dirt nap and continue to score 25% on my tests, do no work in class, never take notes, I understand all of you know teachers who allow this, not saying they are bad teachers but we work hard in MMM class. Flip side is I don't assign a lot of homework.
     

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