Sunday, February 5, 2012

Homework Linky Party

Today I am joining the linky party hosted by Jenaya over at The Lesson Plan Diva.  As a 7th grade math teacher I give an assignment nearly every day.  Our textbook divides each Module (which is a chapter) into approx. five sections that each have one to three explorations.  I typically give a textbook assignment after each exploration and then at the end of the section there is a practice and review worksheet that covers the concepts that are assessed on the section quiz.  
I copied and pasted (in blue) the section from my parent handbook page regarding my homework policy, as well as, how grades are determined.  Our 7-12 math dept all worked together to decide on grade percentages so they were consistent for all teacher per grade level or math class (at HS level).  Our district is actually doing a K-12 review over the next year to look at standards based grading and revamping our report cards so big changes could be on the horizon.
Homework assignments:

Daily assignments are worth 2 points. Students will receive a completion grade. If the assignment is complete with all necessary work shown the student will receive a grade of 2. Things that will cause point deductions include, but are not limited to: not showing work, incomplete homework, not labeling answers, and not following directions. HOMEWORK MUST BE DONE IN PENCIL TO RECEIVE A GRADE. 

In the event of an absence it is the student’s responsibility to turn in any missing work and also to find out the assignment given out that day. There will be a file kept in the classroom with all absent work. It is the student’s responsibility to check the absent work file for his/her class hour and collect the absent work. 

If a student misses class due to a school sponsored activity s/he is required to hand in that day’s assignment PRIOR to the activity. The assignment given on the day of the absence should be turned in the next day as if the student had been in class.

Grades will be weighted this year in all 7th grade math classes based on the following percentages: 

Tests 45%
Quizzes 35%
Assignments 15%
In Class Work 5% 
I teach at a 7/8 middle school.  The only reason we don't have 6th grade at our school is because we have absolutely no room in our building.  Our 6th graders are spread out at our five elementary schools, but follow a middle school model where each teacher teaches one content area.
At my middle school they instituted something called "working lunch" last school year.  Every student is required to complete ALL assignments.  If a student does not have homework completed they are issued a working lunch for that day or the next day if the missing assignment is in a class after lunch.  Students are then required to finished the assignment during working lunch (they cut the lunch line to get their food first) and then go to the library and have a "working lunch".  If students do not finish the assignment they are then scheduled to stay after school that day and finish.
You would think with having this working lunch in place the kids would get all their homework done, but unfortunately that is not the case.  We have some flexibility in how we use working lunch with our students.  I teach math hours 1 and 2.  There is rarely any missing homework in hour 1 because it is accelerated math. There is missing work in 2nd hour on almost a daily basis.  Students can either come during Core Plus (which is hour 4) or Home Base (which is the last 25 min of the day).  If they finish it before the end of HB they do not get a working lunch the next day.  The kids during my 5th and 6th hour class can also come during HB and get it checked in to avoid a working lunch the next day.
If a student does not finish the assignment before the end of HB, I fill out a half sheet working lunch form with information about the assignment.  I give the student a red working lunch ticket which allows the student to skip to the front of the lunch line and also to leave the cafeteria and go to the library.
Homework completion has been a huge issue with the group of 7th graders we have this year.  It is not a problem is just my house, but all three houses.  We have spent lots of time analyzing the reasons students are not completing homework.  We have been trying out different strategies to improve homework completion and have really spent quite a bit of time thoughtfully considering what and how much homework we give.
I think our school has a lot of great things in place to assure that students are held accountable for completing homework.  We still have not found the magic bullet because it simply does not exist, but we are trying to do what we can 


  1. Your program sounds like our m.s. program. When they started it a couple of years ago, kids were struggling to get work done, and to pass classes. They have dramatically increased their completion rate. I wish we had the same program available for upper elementary.

  2. I like the idea of working lunch. I used something similar to it with my 7th graders recently. What happens to their completion grade if they do it during "working lunch" rather than at home?


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