What is the best way to check homework?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by jpablot, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. jpablot

    jpablot Rookie

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    Jul 19, 2013

    I'm going to be a first year teacher this year in a 5th grade classroom and I'm wondering what the best way to check math homework is. I know I can just go over the answers but I want to make sure the students understand what they need to understand. I want homework to serve a real purpose and not just something the students do and never get feedback on. Thanks.
     
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  3. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I don´t check the homework with my students. My TA goes through their homework and checks to see if they are done. Then she puts them in the in-box and I later check them for accuracy. Anyone who has not done hw I send an email to their parents.
     
  4. jpablot

    jpablot Rookie

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    What if some of the students did poorly on the HW? Do you do anything about that?
     
  5. CFClassroom

    CFClassroom Connoisseur

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    Does your school have a policy on homework? If not, keep it simple. My thought is that I have no way of knowing if a parent sat there and did an assignment with the child or if he completed it on the van on the way to the after school program at the Y. I don't like to actually grade it for that reason.
     
  6. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Of course. I don´t grade homework, I just check it for completion; however, anything they miss I send back home for them to correct. The hw is all practice of what we are doing in class, so though we do not correct it in class, they get plenty of practice of similar questions (hw is primarily math and reading) in class.
     
  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    jpablot,

    Personally, I try to go over the homework in class, but sometimes I just spot check certain problems (if I notice that most students struggled with #5, then we do more practice of that in class.)

    If I notice a student didn't do well, I have a stamp (I had it made at Office Depot) that says "Please redo for partial credit by _____date goes here____" and requires a parents signature and return. If it is a student who tends to lose things, I try to make a quick copy of it before I send it home. If it doesn't get returned the next day with the signature, I call home or send an email. Keeping parents in the loop really helps.

    I keep those signed and returned papers, so I have proof that the parent is aware there was a problem. Most parents are very pleased to be notified so they can take care of the problem right away.

    I also have a "Dear ____, I didn't turn in my homework" form. Same thing -- it has to be signed and returned, or I make a call or send an email.

    I think these things really help. I had almost 100% turning in homework that was thoughtfully done.

    Good luck with your class. :)
     
  8. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    My advice is
    1. don't give homework in elementary grades.
    2. If you feel you must, make it as authentic as possible. By this I mean give real genuine feedback. Go over it in class.

    In elementary school, if all you are doing is checking to see if it is done, giving them a smiley face, its a waste of time IMO.
     
  9. jpablot

    jpablot Rookie

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    The thing is, the textbook that we are using gives HW every night so I don't think I have any say in the matter as to whether or not I can or can't assign it. I would like to give students the opportunity to at least begin HW in class that way I will be there for questions but obviously I probably won't have the time for this most days. I just want to make sure the students are getting the most out of the HW if we are gonna be doing it.
     
  10. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    If you don't feel you have a say in the homework, then I would make time everyday in class to give feedback and to go over some of it.
     
  11. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    I've taught grades 5 and 6, and currently teach 4th.

    For math homework, I start our math lesson with two parts:
    a. "Does anybody have any questions or want clarification on any problem?" If so, I go over it on the document camera.
    b. "Okay, let's go over the answers." Then I randomly call on people to answer each problem: "Mike, #1?" "Rosa, #2?", etc.

    I remind students that if they get a different answer than is given to raise their hands and we'll go over it.

    As Iheartrecess mentioned, we really have no way of knowing what percentage of the homework was done with help and the caliber of help given... so I don't even record math homework.
     
  12. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I give math HW because my district mandates it. I wish I didn't have to, at least not every night. When I taught 3rd and 5th grades. I would display the sheet on the doc cam and review most of the answers at the start of class. Last year I didn't have time for this in my schedule (far too many kids being pulled for ESL, SpEd, and Intervention), and I really noticed a difference. If yoy can go over the HW, or at least some, at the start of class I think that's one of the best ways. I never grade HW, just check/check-plus/check-minus for completion & effort.
     
  13. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I'm hoping that this year I'll have time to go over homework at the start of each subject. Ted, I like your ideas, and RainStorm - yours too! The only "homework" I have ever actually graded has been the "projects" (Black History poster, etc.), and I was required to grade them. (But don't tell my kids :) )
     
  14. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    The thing is that many teachers do not have a choice. The district or school mandates homework going out. At my school, I think many parents would have a fit if homework was not going out. There is a huge debate on hw, but it does look like hw in the elementary level helps to form study habits.
     
  15. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yes, my district mandates it as well. I simply ignore it(I have students read each night) as it is not a benefit to my class and is a waste of time and resources.

    I personally do not see a benefit in homework in 4th grade. It usually only hits about a 1/3 of the class. Marzano's research does not support homework for teaching responsibility. In elementary school(especially lower) whether or not homework is effective is going to depend more on the parent than the teacher or student...imo.

    Homework is really hard to scaffold for your high, medium, and low students. It can be a waste of time for the high kids(too easy), way to hard for the struggling kids.

    Can't expect parents to sit down and help their child. I know for many parents its not about learning, its about a check list to get it finished and turned in.

    Research shows students need feedback on work for it to be effective. IMO, smiley faces, check marks, etc for finishing don't cut it. IMO, the work needs to be debriefed..needs classroom time.


    If my district forced me to do homework, I wouldn't be too upset, because I would just work it into class time. I would structure it so that they would have some class time to work on it and then time for us to debrief it.

    I always have some parents that want their children to have homework. I tell them they can give their child as much homework as they want. I just won't be assigning any and pretending to look at it and give some kind of mark to it. I am always willing to give parents ideas and "activities" that they can work on with their children at home.
     
  16. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I thought you said your district does mandate it?
     
  17. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    They do. Its on some line on some official paper somewhere. I ignore it, as it is a waste of time and resources. I just have my students read each night.
     
  18. GoldenPoppy

    GoldenPoppy Habitué

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    And how does your principal feel about your disregard of district/school policy?
     
  19. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Our district/school values student achievement. They have been pretty good at valuing teachers and their individual approaches to teaching.

    I have basically been told that as long as my students continue to achieve at the level they have and I continue to use reading as my homework, they do not have a problem. This could likely change with an outside administrator becoming principal at our school. Our school's student achievment has increased dramatically over the last 8 years. According to our principal and district office administrators we are given a lot of freedom. With that freedom comes responsibility.

    The second they act genuinely upset about it, I will implement partial homework time into the class day as well as time for debriefing.
     
  20. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Not only do I have to give homework, but I have to give the same homework as my entire grade level. They give way too much for first grade, IMO, but I do it anyway. I don't have a choice.

    Homework is a participation/behavior grade for us. I do not grade it, and we do not grade it as a class, but I'm in 1st. I do look over it quickly. This year, I want to get better at using it (especially the math homework) to pinpoint areas for strategy groups during Daily 5 Math, which I will be implementing. When I student taught in 6th, we did go over it as a class and correct it, but it still was not an actual grade - it was a participation grade. As others have mentioned, are we really grading what the students can do or what the parents can do? With my first graders, I don't penalize students for not doing homework because it's usually the kids who have parents who aren't helping at home. I can' t punish them for what their parents aren't doing. I do reward kids who do the homework, though.
     
  21. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    With all due respect, if they are doing it in class it´s classwork, not homework.

    I see your argument about having class time to go over it, though.
     
  22. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    I do not grade hw. In my classroom it is for practice. I use a punch card system-five punches and you go to treat basket, ten punches and you get a treat and a hw pass. It works REALLY well. I also require the kids to keep up with their punch cards and hw passes.
     
  23. CheleOh

    CheleOh Rookie

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    I walk around and stamp their homework for completion and then we go over a few problems together (students may ask for clarification on problems that they have has problems with, etc.).

    We have a weekly quiz that covers the homework. I choose 10 of the problems that we've gone over that week. Yes, the exact same problems. So, they've had plenty of time to review them to prepare.

    Finally, I give 10 points per day for the completed homework, or 40 points per week. I just keep track of who did NOT do an assignment and subtract it. It's easiest that way.

    So, they are still responsible and assessed on the work they do, but the homework itself doesn't impact their grade significantly (i.e. is the child doing it or the parent? That comes out in the assessment).

    eta: most of my students finish their work (I call the work their "assignment" rather than "homework") in class, but they have the option/time to finish it at home if they wish. Most parents appreciate that; some want to go over the work with their child while others are happy that their child finishes their work at school.

    Chele :)
     
  24. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I agree.

    I want to give them some time to do a few problems in class, I cannot expect all students to do the homework at home. I can't control what goes on outside of my classroom. So I would want to give time so that a few of the problems are worked on under set expectations and then debriefed in class the next day.

    By doing some of the problems in class I am basically skirting "homework", and like I said, I think homework in 4th grade is a waste of time...imo. So this is would be my way of "giving homework", yet having control over the expectations and meaningful feedback.

    So what I am saying is, if students had 10 math problems for homework. I would give students enough time to work on between 2 and maybe all 10 problems(students that finish can write some of their own at home). That way I know every student has been engaged in the classwork/homework under the expectations of our classroom. Students can then work on several problems at home (official homework), and the next day we would debrief the 2 problems they were expected to work on in class the day before. This way every student is engaged.

    This way I have avoided many of the negatives of homework and yet fulfilled the district mandate.
     
  25. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    This conversation has me wondering how I can logistically work in correcting hw within class time. Say we do it during calendar time, or it can be part of our math routine. I don´t know. Maybe even in small groups.
     
  26. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yeah, I have been lucky and I haven't been "pushed" to this point yet.

    I have 2 math times in my class. One is for Problem solving, where we look at a word problem and explore the mathematics of the problem, the emphasis is on exploring and making sense of math.

    The 2nd time is for practice. Typically what would go home for home work in other classes. Except it is all done in class with a short debrief of several problems. Many times students work in small groups on the problems, peer tutors..etc. However, the emphasis during this time is more on efficiency and accuracy.

    This 2nd part is what I would modify if I felt I had to send "homework"

    I would look at when students practice in math in your class. Not even sure if this happens in 1st grade, I have never taught it:(

    If I think of something that might appeal to you I will post it.

    Edit: I love the idea of small groups. Having them share out. That might work.
     
  27. hollydoris

    hollydoris Rookie

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    This discussion has been really interesting for me to read because I have been thinking about checking homework differently than what I did last year.

    Last year, we had a longer school day and longer required amount of time to spend on math per day, but not enough curriculum to fill that time. (Thankfully they are shortening the school day for next year which will help tremendously.) I gave all that the curriculum designated as classwork (and then whatever they didn't finish would have to get done at home) because I was grasping at straws to fill the time. My co-teacher just printed off math packets from the internet to fill the time so that she could save the math homework to actually be homework. I was torn on that--on one hand, she never graded the math packets so I felt like it was just busy work and I wanted to avoid that as much as possible, but on the other hand we are supposed to give homework every night.

    I think for next year I will use up time (if I still have this problem, who knows with the shorter school day) by going over the previous day's classwork/homework at the beginning of class and having students make corrections on any they got wrong, even though the grade in the grade book will just be completion points. Hopefully this way, they won't have time to do their workbook page in class and I can fulfill the requirement of giving them homework each night.

    However, I do want to make sure the students get a chance to start the homework in class, even if it's just one or two problems so that if there are any questions, they can ask before they take it home for the night.
     

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