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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Homework? More like NOwork.

I am going to come right out and admit that I still have not come up with a solution to the homework problem. I assign homework twice a week, and I ALWAYS have some kids that don't do it. They don't care that it lowers their grade. They don't care that their parents will be informed. They don't care that they won't get tickets that day. They don't care that they won't get any free time on Friday. They don't CARE, period.

I tell myself that I should just enforce those consequences and move on. Yet I always find myself angry at these kids and stressing over the fact that they're not doing what they were supposed to!

Latest example: I knew I was going to be out yesterday at a meeting, so I told the kids that the homework I was giving them on Tuesday would be due on Thursday morning when I returned. So they had TWO days to complete the homework instead of the usual one. The homework was 5 word problems. I also told the kids that anyone who did not turn in their homework would not be going on the field trip with us after TAKS. That is a pretty severe consequence!

This morning, I had 3 kids in my early class who didn't do the homework. One girl's excuse was that she left the homework in her desk. REALLY? You left it there two days in a row??

In the afternoon, I had 2 boys that did not do all of the problems, and 3 kids who didn't bring it at all.

I'd love to hear from veteran teachers and new teachers alike how you feel about this. Do you just not care and move on? Or do you hammer the kids until they do the HW? Or have you found that happy medium?


Edna Lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edna Lee said...


I must admit, I found it freeing when I started just letting it go when a student doesn't do it.
I lower their grade and keep them in study hall where they write their times tables (because knowing those is far more important than any homework assignment I've ever given)instead of free play on Fun Friday. I never let them say, "I forgot." "I chose not to do my homework," is all they get to say. I try not to react at all.

To me, homework is not worth the effort and stress we teachers must put into it. Bang for your buck, I think work they do WITH the teacher should be where we place our efforts

Anonymous said...

As a parent slash teacher I agree that the most important work is the work that is completed in the classroom along with a meaningful lesson....however as a TAKS writing teacher I also believe that practice at home is necessary. Recently I began to have the students call and tell their parents they did not do their homework. When they have to make the call it ours them on the spot. I can here mom or dad going off (so I don't have to). This has served as a deterrent and for the repeat offenders. ...the calls are getting on their nerves as much as no homework gets on mine.

Anonymous said...

Something that has helped me find a "happy medium" with my 4th graders (they get 4 homeworks a week) is that I give each student 1 "chance" per month. I have a class list with a collumn for each month, and I let kids miss one homework assignment, consequence free, each month. That takes care of the true needs and assuages my guilt if they have used the chance... The second time, they get lunch detention, and I feel they are repeat offenders and deserve it.

I like the idea of practicing times tables in detention.

loonyhiker said...

I gave homework every night except Friday and holidays. Each day the students turned in HW on time, they wrote their name on a slip of paper and put it in the raffle box. On Friday I would draw a name for a prize (may be candy bar, or library pass, or pencil etc.) Any student who did their homework every night for the month would get their name in a drawing for a homework pass or permission to eat and drink in class for one day).

Sometimes I would put students in groups and let them review homework answers before they turned it in. I would average their grades on HW to give them group points (90s = 9 pts, 80s=8pts, No HW counts as a 0 towards group average). At the end of the month, the group with the highest points wins a prize (usually a HW pass for the whole group). Peer pressure worked well in getting them to do their HW on time.

I also made them sit with me during lunch and do their homework while they ate. Missing out on social time and having to do their HW anyway helped get them to do this too.

Jock Mackenzie said...

Hi John,

I found your site after reading the beginning of "Learn Me Good" on I am thoroughly enjoying your book and plan to purchase it. Amazon is the cheapest for me. What's best for you?

And now to the homework dilemma. I have taught for over 30 years and offer these few suggestions:

- assign homework when it's necessary. For students who don't finish work in class, send it home. If there's an ongoing project that needs time out of class, send it home. If the work doesn't get done, the consequence for not doing homework is reflected in the mark for the work.

- I used to give a very small mark for homework, so small it wasn't worth the hassle. So I quit. The non-homeworker folks usually have larger problems than just the 'not doing homework' habit so it may be more beneficial to concentrate on bigger issues.

- for students who were major offenders for one reason or another, I singled them out for special attention. I would pick one thing on which to concentrate. I got a postcard (we had a school version) and I printed a grid that had 8 squares - four for Week 1 and four for Week 2. Each day (I know there are 5 days in a week, but everybody screws up some time so they got one freebie),I would put my initials in one of the squares if they did the one thing they were supposed to do. If they didn't, they got an X. At the end of two weeks, I sent the postcard home. At our school, our Central Office paid for stuff like that so it was easy. When the parent got the card, they could see whether the child had been doing the one thing that was the major stumbling block to success at school or their little ray of sunshine had dropped the ball. Their job was to reward or create consequences accordingly.

The same postcards were used at our team meetings to send to kids who had done anything worthy or of note.

Get back to me if you'd like more.



Mister Teacher said...

Thanks all, for the ideas, suggestions, and personal views. I hate homework as well, mainly for the hassle it is. Yet I feel it's necessary, because 2 and a half hours with me a day is just not enough time for kids to really get good at math. I mean, to be proficient at a sport, you certainly don't limit your playing to weekly practices!

Educational Encounters said...

My student population does not do any homework. If I assign it to a regular ed. class, I will have 5 students complete it. In my honors classes, I will get 66% to do it. I have had to make peace with it. Students find homework questions on tests so those that don't do the work end up with C/D and those that do with A/B.

Mister Teacher said...

Oh, and Jock, Amazon is certainly fine by me. :)

Mr Pesas said...

Our school district has implemented a grading policy that makes homework worth 0% of the students grade. This has made it pretty much pointless in giving homework. The kids know that it is worth NOTHING and therefore do not even attempt it. My new philosophy is that if we don't finish it in class, it will have to be done the next day in class. It is a pain and freeing at the same time

Mister Teacher said...

I certainly hope that if they have assigned HW to count 0% towards their grade, that they don't still EXPECT you to give out homework!

Mr Pesas said...

@Mister Teacher
Yes, they still expect us to assign homework. In our gradebook, we have two categories, Formative (0%) and Summative (100%). Typically my Formative columns are filled with MSG = missing. But the kids don't care about that.