Holding Students Accountable for Homework

Today I thought I’d share my new homework policy for next year which I’m pretty excited about!

My homework assignments are worth 2 points each and I grade them only for completion.  While students work on their do now problems on Socrative I walk around and record grades for each student.  In the past I’ve given out 2’s, 1’s, and 0’s.  Next year I decided to get rid of 1’s, so students will get a 2 if they attempted every problem AND showed their work.  If they didn’t do the homework, only did half of it, or didn’t show their work they get a 0.  After students finish their do nows we go over homework answers as a class and then I answer any questions about the homework.  Most of the time I don’t spend more than 10 minutes on this entire process, including the do nows, so that I have 30 minutes for my new lesson.  (You can read about & download my homework grade recording sheet here).

In the past I haven’t accepted late homework because we go over the answers in class so it seemed too easy for a student to ‘borrow’ a classmate’s assignment for their late work.  Next year I decided that I will accept late homework, but it will be a separate (but similar) assignment to the original homework assignment.

So…here’s the part I’m excited about.  I created a ‘Homework Accountability” Google form to hold students more accountable for their work.  While I’m walking around checking for completion, students who get a 0 need to fill out the form, which I will keep a link to in my Google Classroom for easy access.  The form is pretty simple: they will fill out their name, their reason for getting a 0, and either check off that they want to complete a make-up assignment or that they are accepting the 0.  Since all students are on their chromebooks at that time working on their do nows it will not be disruptive to have them fill out the form, nor will it be embarrassing for the student.

Math-in-the-middle.com| Homework Accountability Form

Here’s the link if you want to make a copy of my form and edit it for your own classroom.

At the end of the day I will check responses to the form and email/share make-up assignments with the students who requested them.  All make-up work must be handed in by the unit test day.  I will not accept make-up work after that point since the idea is that completing the homework should help prepare students for the test.

I will give students full credit on the first 2 make-up assignments they complete in a marking period, but they can only earn 1/2 on any additional make-up work they complete, to hopefully discourage students from taking advantage of the system.  While it will require a little bit more work for me to come up with make-up assignments it isn’t a huge deal.  When I write my lesson plans each week I will simply come up with a 2nd homework assignment each night so that I’m prepared.

I am excited to try this out because it gives students a chance to explain their reason for missing an assignment (without wasting class time on excuses), gives them a chance to make up for it, and gives them responsibility as they will not have the opportunity to make up an assignment unless they fill out the form and ask for one.  I also have documentation from the student that can be shared with parents, should a pattern form that needs to be addressed.  (I still plan to record student grades each day on my own record sheets, as well, so I am not relying solely on students filling out the form, but they won’t be able to make it up unless they fill out the form).

(If you missed my post on a free homework poster you can download, listing the requirements for an acceptable homework assignment, you can find it here.)

What are your thoughts on this homework policy?

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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Planning Ahead for Next Year (and a Free Poster!)

I’m trying something new this year…I’m planning ahead! 🙂  I typically don’t even start thinking about the next school year until August (school starts for me in September), but my goal this year is to have my year pretty much figured out BEFORE August so that I can relax and enjoy my last month of Summer.  I know I will still have things to do in August like setting up my classroom, but I am hoping to have as much done by then as possible.

So far I have brainstormed some classroom policy ideas that I want to change next year, which I will write about in future blog posts, and I have started writing out my curriculum maps/scope and sequences for each of my classes.  To keep me motivated I am breaking up the more “serious” planning with some fun projects for my classroom that I enjoy doing, like making posters & decorations.

Here is the first poster I made for my classroom that you can download FREE from my TpT store!  I made it because I am tired of having students show me “completed” homework that is NOT up to my standards and having them look at me blankly when I tell them it needs to be redone….so I thought it would be helpful to post the components of an acceptable homework assignment.

hw poster

In my next blog post I’ll start sharing my curriculum maps and other plans for the year!

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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Fun (Free) Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in the Middle School Math Classroom

With my school going from pre-k – 8th grade, I have always felt kind of bad for the “big kids” on Valentine’s Day because it is business for them as usual while the lower grades are having parties.  That’s why I always try to do something a little different than a normal math class, but still academic.  I thought I’d share a couple of the things I have done with my students on Valentine’s Day for other teachers who are looking for easy, free, no-prep ways to bring some holiday fun into their math classes.

valentines day math in the middle

I have shared before that I LOVE problem-solving and give my students word problems daily.  (You can read about my daily problem solving here).  On Valentine’s Day I use a set of Valentine’s word problems on fractions that I made a few years ago instead of the normal problem of the day.  (Download them free from my TpT store by clicking on the picture below).  The word problems are a great challenge because they combine two areas students typically struggle with – fractions and word problems.

valentine freebie pic2

I break the class into groups of 4 and have them work together on the problems.  I make it a contest – either the first group to get all the problems correct wins, or any group that gets at least 5 problems right within a set time limit wins, etc.  Students don’t necessarily love working on word problems (the understatement of the century), but working as a group and making it a contest definitely ups the fun-factor!

After the word problems, play a game of “Attack”, reviewing whatever concept you are currently studying.  On Valentine’s Day I have them draw hearts as the thing they are attacking and have them attack by drawing arrows on the hearts.  (If you missed my post explaining how to play, you can read it here – trust me, it’s worth the read because students absolutely LOVE this game!)

Finally, show your students some love by giving them a homework pass.  You can download mine free by clicking on the picture below.  (Write the student’s name on the 1st line and sign the 2nd line.)  Either give one to every student as a Valentine or use them as a prize for the groups that won the word problem race and “Attack” game.  (I use the point system of grading, and homework counts as 2 points a day in my class, so I personally allow my students to either use the homework pass to get credit on a night where they didn’t do their homework or they can turn it in at the end of the marking period for 2 extra credit points.)

hw pass pic

I hope you are able to use some of these ideas in your class.  Please feel free to share what you do to have fun with your students on Valentine’s Day in the comments below!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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Keeping Track of Homework

Organization is probably the thing I struggle with most as a teacher.  My method (or lack thereof) of keeping track of homework is something that I know I need to reorganize this year.

I am happy with my homework policy as a whole, but just need to change the way I keep track of who did or did not complete it.  Here is my homework policy:

I assign homework just about every night in my math classes.  It is worth two points per night.  (I use the point system of grading).  I do not collect the homework or grade it based on correctness.  I grade it based on completion only.  If a student attempts every problem AND shows their work they get 2/2, if they complete about half of it they get 1/2, and if they did not do their homework (or did not show their work) they get 0/2.  I walk around while students work on their “do now” problems and check to see who did it…and that’s where my organization falls apart.

In my old school my math classes were VERY small (they ranged in size from 4 students to 7 students).  At that school, I just kept a list of students who were missing homework assignments.

missing homework assignments list

 

It worked for me in that small setting because I never had more than one or two students not complete their homework on any given night so it took me less than a minute to write the date, student’s name, and missing assignment down.

When I switched schools last year my classes grew considerably…to around 20 students per class.  I learned pretty quickly that in larger classes there are more students who don’t do their homework each night so I didn’t want to take the time to fill out all the info for each student who was missing work as it would take too much time.

So…I ditched my old method and switched to sticking post-it notes in my binder:

missing homework assignments sticky notes

 

I just wrote the date on a sticky note and the initials of all students who were missing homework that day and either 1/2 or 0/2, depending on the grade they earned.  I consulted my sticky notes when I put grades into my computer later, and then threw them out.  This method was definitely quicker than my old one but obviously had some downsides…such as: I didn’t actually write down the assignments the students were missing, just that they were missing an assignment, and the sticky notes would occasionally fall out of my binder.  Bottom line is that it didn’t keep me organized at all.

Soo…this year I am opting to go with the more traditional homework record sheet.  I made one up in Excel. (You can click on the picture below to download the excel file if you are interested)! Click here if you prefer a pdf version of the record sheet.

homework record sheet empty pic

 

I will type in my students’ names once I get my class lists, and across the top I’ll fill in the date and homework assignment each day.  The key is going to be remembering to keep on top of this.  My plan is to fill in the assignment part when I assign the homework the day before so that I don’t need to take too much time to fill out the info when I am checking homework the next day.

I am hoping that it will look like this as I fill it in throughout the year and that I will stay nice and organized (at least as far as homework is concerned this year)!

homework record sheet filled in pic

 

What method have you used that works well for keeping track of missing homework?

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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