Monday, June 18, 2012

Tracking Down Incomplete Homework

In my Homework Incentive Planning post, I ended by asking what you should do about students who still don't complete all of their homework. This is what I did.

As I said before, I made a list of all the homework that I assigned for the week and I used a letter to denote each particular homework assignment. Let's say that I have a homework assignment for each a) through f). I will use letters a) through f) to make note of who completed what assignment. If a student didn't complete a particular homework assignment, I would leave a line with a blank where the letter corresponding to that assignment is supposed to go. I count how many students had not completed each homework assignment. If any of those homework assignments were worksheets, I make sure that I have enough copies of that worksheet. That way, students can't make the excuse “I don't have it,” “I lost it,” “Its at home,” and etc.

My boss gives the students a break on Fridays. He gets a movie for them to watch. I intervene a little on that. I tell them that if they want to watch their movie on Friday, they will need to complete their their homework. Before they watch their movie, we have an hour of instructional time. I use that hour for students to catch up. If there are students who need to catch up with their homework, they will do nothing but finish up any missing homework in that hour. As such, before the class day starts, you want to make sure that you have every students homework packet paper clipped/bundled and ready to hand out. That will save you the time of sorting out your papers while class is in session and thus, giving your students more time on completing the homework which they should have finished in the first place.

What about the students who don't need to catch up? For those students, I have fun worksheets ready for them on irregular past tense, adjectives, and adverbs, because those are all things that majority of my students need additional practice on. They like to do word searches and crossword puzzles, so I'm building my collection of such worksheets.

I think it's a fair question to ask whether an hour a week should be put towards getting students to catch up on their homework. Why do I do that? Well, at least in my case, the purpose of giving my students homework is to reinforce what they learn in class. So, if they don't do their homework, then they are not reinforcing that learning. And, if future lessons will be based on their understanding of previous lessons, then they will fall short due to not completing the homework. That is how I justify spending that hour of time to get students to catch up on homework.

Any alternative or additional thoughts are welcome. 

  Ignore the unhappy faces and asterisks. Blanks mean that that homework assignment was not finished. Letter on a blank means that it was at one point unfinished, but later finished in class. Letter without a blank means it was finished prior to the day of catching up on homework.

Home that each of the letters denote. Sorry if some of my writing isn't very legible.

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