Getting Around

Sunday, September 2, 2012

#msSunFun Homework Policy

Here's my first #msSunFun post! Not sure how homework policies are fun, but they sure are interesting.

My homework policy is somewhat set by my school. In general, my school district is moving to a "no homework" policy for middle schools. You can debate that all you like, but the math department at my school said, "WHOA!" In exchange for being allowed to assign homework, we agreed that it would only be a completion grade, there would be no penalty for late assignments, and we would dial the amount way back.

Since my school requires bell work, I go around stamping kids' homework as they do the bell work. I wanted a fun stamp, but I got one from Staples that has the date and the usual business-type word choices. The kids think it's funny when I stamp them as "Backordered." Anyway, I write down the names who kids who didn't turn in their work and kids who show me late work so I can get it entered into the online gradebook quickly later in the day.

Even though there's little homework assigned, kids still seem to have trouble getting the work done during class. Any student missing two or more assignments has to go to something called "Lunch Crunch" on Tuesdays and Fridays. On those mornings, the first period teachers hand out slips with each student's missing assignments. If a kid has two or more, they pick up a sack lunch in the cafeteria and go work on homework in a special room. I'm told that last year they had a few weeks in the winter where there were so many kids they had to move to the auditorium. Kids who are chronically behind can also be assigned to stay after school on particular days, though I'm not clear on how that works since it's so early in the year.

We also have two mornings a week where the schedule is adjusted to allow for an extra period, where kids do intervention and enrichment. They can make up homework, labs, get help from particular teachers, or do fun learning activities if they're all caught up.

While I don't like being limited in what I can assign and how I can grade it, I do love that the school has built in all these ways to get kids to get their work done. In return, I'm very thoughtful about what I assign and I cherry-pick problems to have kids practice the things I see they need extra practice on.

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