No Homework Grade! No Way!

In concert with the Standards Based Grading, I’ve also changed my homework policy. In the past I would check homework completion levels every day from every student. They would have a grade out of 4; 4 fully done, 2 half done or late, 0 not done.

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From : http://www.icanhazgeekpet.com/index.php/dog-eats-homework/

But in Geometry R this year, I haven’t been counting homework as part of the grade. It’s been going rather nicely. I check and record their completion level every time I assign homework, but it never gets turned into a grade.

Pros

  • I think their grade more accurately gauges where they are in class.
  • Smart kids who “get it” right away aren’t being affected if they don’t do the practice on the stuff that they already know how to do.
  • Kids who struggle, aren’t being buoyed to a passing level just because they are putting a minimal effort towards the homework. They are now doing both;seeking help after school, AND doing their homework.
  • I don’t have to worry about kids copying other’s homework, the payoff isn’t worth it for them.
  • I post the answers on the website (nearly) every time I assign homework. I don’t really care if they copy the key.
  • So much time gained from not entering 90 grades a year for each student.

Cons

  • If I stop checking and marking, most of them stop doing the homework. It has to “feel” like a grade.
  • Rationally, many of them have a dilemma at home,”If I only have time for homework from one class tonight, then I’m going to do the one that is worth points.”
  • The completion rate hasn’t gone down, but it hasn’t gone up either.

To put a bit more pressure on them, I’ve starting putting their homework record on the webpage, so parents can check to see if their child has their homework done. I don’t have any stats about how many parents are using the homework chart to check up on their kids.

Have you found the same to be true with your classes? Have any of you eliminated homework altogether?

12 thoughts on “No Homework Grade! No Way!

  1. I love how you’re laying it all out here. I love how you’re changing the way kids think about work and learning.

    I have pretty much the same implementation in my room, but I’m a bit lazier on keeping track; I think I would if my students were younger. I see the exact same pros and cons list. The doing what’s worth points thing has actually come to head in my school. I’ve had students crying that they have to do work for another class because it’s worth credit, but they want to be spending time on calculus. They claim to not need to do the other HW, but sometimes students exaggerate…

    What I’ve noticed, and what I find the most beneficial, is the change in my classroom’s atmosphere. The kids really think about what they need to be learning and how to get there. What do you see/feel?

    1. Yea, I’m with you Shawn. Although, a select few of the strugglers see what they need to work on, … and still don’t.

      I’m working on them, and standards based grading has allowed me to see much clearer “the haves” and “the have nots”.

      Cheers Dan

  2. I haven’t counted homework for years now (I’m a physics teacher). At first, I collected the homework, would give extensive written feedback and put a check or a minus to indicate whether I thought they had given a reasonable effort (but that did not constitute a grade). This was ok, but it was time consuming… and disheartening when I realized the students were not looking at my comments. Well, maybe they did the night before a test, but geeez by then it’s probably too little too late.

    So I tried just checking to see if they had done the homework… this was a train wreck. Homework “compliance” went down when they figured that not only was there no grade, but there was nothing to “hand in.” That physical turning of something in was important somehow.

    What I added (and this was someone else’s idea) is a sheet in the student’s notebook that I stamp with a silly stamp to show they’ve done their homework. That small recognition, as silly as it is, turned things around. I get better homework compliance now that I did before (well, I’ve changed other things too… homework is more “take risks, show me what you DON’T know, make big messy mistakes” rather than “try to get this right”). But the student clamor for the stamp. Really… even the worldly, too-cool-for-school ones. It’s hardly believable.

    As far as stragglers who aren’t doing the homework… well, I teach at a boarding school, so “in loca parentis” is right there checking the homework. Missing an odd homework is just considered part of life at a super busy boarding school. But miss it twice in one week, or make a habit of missing homework, then you and I are going to have a talk. With your advisor being alerted too. It will be uncomfortable. You don’t want to go there. To put this in perspective, I haven’t had to have this talk but once this year.

  3. My classroom experience mirrors your pros/cons list. I taught primarily 9th and 10th grade students, so I scaffolded their “homework isn’t for a grade” experience a bit and recorded completion marks in the grade book, but zero weighted them. This bought time to have the conversations needed to better help them see why grading homework was not in their best interests. Eventually, scores were not recorded in the grade book.

    I agree with Shawn – it changed the culture of the classroom immensely. To me, this shift was worth its weight in gold. I’m bookmarking this post for future reference and to share with other teachers. Thanks!

  4. You got me thinking about this, but I have some questions/comments.
    1. I like the idea of having some sort of record to show students/parents the homework completion. I’d imagine that a google doc would be an easy way to do that.

    2. I know you’re doing SBG (which I’m not and aren’t sure I’m ready for)… so are your grades solely based on tests and quizzes? Do you weight them? Do you have in-class assignments that get graded? Projects?

    I’m still trying to wrap my mind about this. I’d love to get rid of the chore of checking homework. But I want to have everything set in my head before I go about doing it.

    Thanks!
    Kristen

    1. 1. Google Docs is the way to go. Just link the public google doc on the webpage, and edit the doc every day homework is checked. Mostly painless.

      2. Grade in class is 80-90% on the concepts grade (SBG quizzes), and the rest on a couple of handed in assignments.

      I used to allot 20% of the grade to homework. There are two types of students that have been affected by this new approach:
      * Students who know little math, but do their homework. They used to just barely pass the course under the old system, but now these are the students that are staying after school to relearn and reassess. Most of this type are doing better this year because they are motivated to pass, and now they’re getting a bit more work in.
      * Students who knew the math, but didn’t do the homework are no longer being punished for not doing homework they don’t really need to. This is your typically smart student who may not try that hard out of class, but will bust their butt in class. For me, it’s traditionally been a student on the lower end of the socio-economic ladder. These students’ grades now more accurately show where they are in class because the 20% isn’t dragging them down.

      I’ve seen little to no change in homework completion rates, and because I’ve been posting keys to the homework on the class website, the truly motivated students can now check their work at home instead of waiting for me to cover it in class.

  5. I love that you put the homework grade on a public google doc for the parents to see. Do you do this once a week or daily? I would love to do this, but am concerned about the increased amount of time it will take me. Also, I notice that all students are on a sheet together. Did you get any comments for parents or administrators about the homework grade being “public”?

    I used to do the stamp idea too. I called my sheet “Miles of Smiles” and used a smiley face stamp. They loved it. However, some kids lost the sheet so I didn’t have any way to give them a grade for their hw. This is a great suggestion if you don’t grade the hw.

    1. I try to do it daily and I’d say my success rate is ~70%. It takes < 2 minutes to do, but this is important time that I can't always gather during a class.
      I've had no comments from parents whatsoever, mostly because I started doing this halfway through the year, and most parents don't know about it. The parents of these geometry kids are somewhat involved, but not "helicoptery" enough to care. No comments from administrators either. I'm taking that as a positive sign :).

      Miles of Smiles. I like that, may have to steal it.

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