April 10, 2014

Think about It Thursday

I'm joining Comprehension Connection's new linky, Think about It Thursday. The topic this week is one that makes me groan...well, at least smirk! HOMEWORK. It is necessary, but often a HASSLE!

Sixth graders are experts at homework, and experts at avoiding homework! By this point in their academic career they have perfected the routines of school, and homework is no unchartered territory. When I first began teaching, the majority of students completed homework without question and generally by themselves. Most would begin an assignment the minute it was announced using spare moments throughout the day to finish items.

Not so today. MANY of my students do NOT complete homework, and often bring notes from home with some excuse for why they didn't get it done. Some of these excuses are even of the" my child forgot" ilk and ask for extended time. They can't seem to understand why they don't get good grades and question why they don't get credit for their work because mom/dad wrote them an excuse... sigh! This is a topic for another day!

Over the years I've developed one method that helps handle some of these homework hassles with my homeroom students, and one method that was gifted to me by our school. The gift came in the form of an online grading system. All work is documented and recorded. Assignments can be posted ahead of time, allowing parents to see what their student has completed and still needs to complete. It is easy and immediate for parents and students to see the correlation between completing work and improvement or failure. Of course, this online grading system also requires teachers to stay on top of all assignments, getting materials evaluated and logged in a timely fashion.

The homework helper that I've come up with over the years is extremely simple, but it helps me avoid MANY a hassle, particularly the excuse of "I didn't know I had to do that." It's as simple as writing all homework on a board, in plain sight for all to see. I use to just write the assignments in chalk on the blackboard, assigning this job to a student each week. We would pause throughout the day to write assignments as they were given and do a final check at the end of the day. Students were encouraged to write the assignments in their planners (provided by the school). Habitual offenders were required to have me check their journals to make sure ALL the assignments and proper due dates were recorded. If so, I'd initial the day's entry. If not, the student made corrections until it was accurate.

This simple method worked well but did come with two drawbacks:

1. I would sometimes forget to point out the assignments and encourage journal use. We all have those busy days when it seems like there is no time to even breathe. Inevitably after a day like this I would have at least one student who didn't do his/her work say, "You didn't remind me!"...sigh!

2. Sometimes, somehow an assignment or two would ACCIDENTALLY get erased, and I would hear, "But it wasn't on our list!"... sigh!

Thus, what I use now, pictured below... a portion of one of my bulletin boards. On it are laminated signs, one per subject area. Throughout the day, assignments are recorded with dry erase markers. The signs are high enough that even the tallest student can not ACCIDENTALLY erase an assignment.

Is this method foolproof? No! Does it eliminate missing work? No, but it sure has elminated a lot of the excuses. There is a LOT less homework hassle for me nowadays! I'm looking forward to reading more of the blog posts about this topic, perhaps picking up some new pointers to help me in this area. Be sure to stop by Comprehension Connection and check out all the posts for this linky.

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading your post, Angela. Yep...homework is a necessary evil for all, and even for the most organized, it can be a challenge and disruption to the classroom routine. I appreciate you linking up, and I am anxious to read the other posts too.


Leave a little message and let me know you've visited!