Ok, I teach 7th-grade. Remember that in light of this entire post.
Here’s what I’m thinking…if I squeeze EVERY LAST MINUTE out of my 52 minute (or whatever it is with the new schedule change) period, do they NEED homework? I’m anticipating an average agenda looking like this:
*Bellwork–review yesterday’s concept, scaffold today’s concept, spiral review old concepts
*Answer questions from the “homework” (See below)
*Conell Notes for today’s topic
*Some sort of activity for application–video, graphic organizer, SMART board activity
*Some sort of “practice” through various games and activities
*Exit slip/summary/writing prompt to show mastery of that day’s lesson
Homework: If I give homework this year, I’m thinking of a MAXIMUM of 15 problems a night (and maybe students only choose 10). I’m also thinking about giving them the answers the day I assign the work. I stopped grading homework several years ago, so really, is giving them the answers going to hurt anything? No. There are already some in the back of the book, and all I’m looking for is to see it’s completed with work. Nothing changes if they have the answers ahead of time. The work is what’s still required. What’s it going to hurt for me to give them the answers so they can self-check? Nothing. Then if we discuss homework the next day, it’s because they couldn’t get to the right answer and they want to know why. I’ve been guilty of assigning too much homework and I really want to do my part to make sure my students don’t have over 70 minutes of homework a night.
The other option would be to give the answers the next day and then have them grade. I could use their scores to check understanding but not penalize their overall grade. I’m not crazy about this option, but it’s one I’m considering.
Here’s the thing, should the homework be required? Why? I know the arguments for they need practice and work ethic, but I’m not sure either of these arguments really push students toward better mastery of standards or really teaches them anything about responsibility. Plus there’s the issue of constituency. Many of my students face trials far worse than I could ever imagine. They are raising their younger siblings, homeless, working by candlelight because utility bills weren’t paid, etc. I don’t blame them for not making my homework a priority. Survival is reality for some of my students. All of this makes me think homework should not be required….then I remember that I teach 7th-grade. What do I do about that? They’re young. Do they still need me to tell them what they should do? If I pack in that class period with the practice that would be completed during homework, will it matter as far as achievement goes? I’m interested in responses on this from both middle school and high school teachers. Middle school, what do you do? Why? High school, if I stopped giving homework, would they be “ruined” when they got to you? How would you respond to this?
Our grades are currently 25% assignments and 75% assessments because that’s where we compromised when I pushed for SBG last year. That’s basically 25% participation because homework, classwork, and general practice goes in that category and we hardly grade any of it. If I do away with required daily homework, that category is literally giving them points for all those things completed in the above daily agenda. How do I assign points for that fairly? There’s also talk about putting quizzes in this category and making assessments literally the tests. What would SBG say about this? Teachers weren’t crazy about the tediousness of replacing scores on quizzes when students did better on tests. We listed objectives in the gradebook twice, once for quizzes and once for tests. If they did better on the tests, we replaced quiz scores. The logic in moving quizzes to the assignment category meant they were a much smaller portion of the grade, so if scores were not replaced it wouldn’t be a significant impact on the grade. We also discussed only putting each objective in once and then replacing scores on each assessment, but no one wanted to lose previous scores to track progress. This mess is also why I’m particularly interested in Mr. Cornally’s new SBG program.
I know this is essentially a word/idea vomit, but comments and push-backs would be appreciated.