Homework, Again


Today, I spent some time thinking about homework. Specifically, I want to avoid repeating what happened with Algebra II last year: I used homework I got from TPT (I’m not proud of it, but at the time I thought it would make things easier), which ended up overwhelming my students. Their work ethics were not strong already and I didn’t make it easier on them. I ended up doing daily checks of homework and putting them in the gradebook for parents to see, which was annoying. I don’t even do that for my middle schoolers.

The system I’ve used for my middle schoolers for the past 7 years has been pretty successful; it has certainly been better than what I did my first year (textbook? worksheets? it wasn’t consistent). I like that there’s fewer problems, that I include a vocabulary section, and that there’s some choice involved for the students: practice & regular or regular & challenge. I know that homework, and whether or not to give it, has provided a lot of debate not just among the #MTBoS, but with educators at large. I have considered giving up on assigning homework, but I’m just not there yet.

I weigh homework and notebook checks as 5% for the middle schoolers, but for Algebra II last year, my intentions were to put a grade in the grade book, but with no weight. That way I had a record of who did however much, but their overall class grade still relied wholly on proving their abilities on their assessments. As I said earlier, I ended up having a bad combination of poor work ethic and too much / too difficult homework, so I ended up throwing in a 5% weight for them, too.

I’m intrigued by the idea of lagging or spiral homework, but since I’m already redoing the pacing guide for this year, I’m not sure I’m up to the task of developing something like that yet. So, I think I’ll go back to my old standby of practice-regular-challenge for each skill. Hopefully I can get the packets for all the units finished before I go back to work in a few weeks.


2 thoughts on “Homework, Again

  1. Homework is the bane of every teacher’s existence, I think I’ve taught for 18 years and I think I have had 18 different homework policies. Sigh 😦 I like the idea of putting it in the gradebook with no weight, but how did you decide what grade went there? Do you take it up every day? Go around and stamp it? How do you deal w/ the paper? Thanks! 🙂

    • The grade that I put in the gradebook is based on completion of the unit’s homework packet. I do go around and stamp the homework every day so that when I collect the packets at the end of the unit, I can see who had their homework on time. Each stamped homework is two points, but an unstamped yet completed homework is one point. So, students who make up their work (but also students who copy someone’s answers) still get some credit.

      So, homework grades only go in a couple of times each quarter. The stamps make it easy to grade, so it doesn’t take long to grade all the packets. It’s not a great system for individualized feedback, but I try to do a better job of that on the quizzes.

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