When I began teaching, we used the Saxon program and all kids had to do 30 problems each night. I graded all of them. I have no idea how/why I did this. It was completely pointless. Throughout the years, I have really struggled with homework. I find it to be much more of a stressor for me since there are always kids who don’t do it and I hate that I care more about doing it than they do. I do think it is very important for students to practice the skills we learn in class independently, and I really don’t like that we are moving toward kids not being used to having to do things like homework and I think we are setting them up to fail in high school and college when they must do these things or else they will just fail. Unfortunately, when I get a 7th grader who has already learned that homework isn’t important somewhere along the way, I don’t feel like I have a whole lot I can do to convince them.
What I have been doing for the last several years is assigning problems, but having the kids grade the homework themselves. I talk a ton at the beginning of the year, and whenever I feel like they are forgetting this, that I am letting them correct their own homework because it is so important that they know what they know already and know what they need to work on, but that this only works if they are trying their best on the homework, and actually correcting it and asking questions if they get things wrong. I have also been assigning a lot fewer problems at night (usually between 4 and 6 problems) and really trying to make sure it is not something that would provide them too much struggle. Then they come in the nexet day, open their notebooks and walk around to see who has it done and who does not. I comment on certain things I see or don’t see when I walk around as well. Then I do the entire homework assignment with the help of the students, on the Elmo so that everyone can see what they should have done. If they didn’t do their homework, they aren’t allowed to have out a writing utensil, but if they did their homework, they are required to fix and make notes on their assignment.
With our SBG gradbook, we also have a homework module where we can simply check off whether a student does an assignment or not. Then this combines into the “work management” section of our gradebook and gives them a score for how many assignments they have done. While I like this, I also know that kids figure out pretty fast that doing vs not doing their homework really doesn’t affect their grade at all, and so many middle school kids lack the motivation to do the work simply because it will help them out.
One thing that I think helps is that we have an assessment pretty much daily after the homework is corrected that is on the material we learned the previous day. So doing the homework often will have a big impact on whether they are able to easily take the quiz or not.
I don’t think it is a perfect system, but it is working well for me/us at this point!