Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grading homework

Well, here we are at the end of Thanksgiving Break. I hope all of you had a safe, relaxing break. I used most of mine to quilt, sew up some Christmas gifts, and I was blessed this year to have family visit as well for a bit. But now it's Sunday night, so of course I'm already in school mode. :)
We'll start our trig unit tomorrow and I am sooo excited!

We also have grades due tomorrow, which means I've been reflecting on my students' homework completion grades for the last six weeks. 

Having technology in my classroom on a regular basis has changed the number of graded assignments in the grade book for my class. I've done more formative assessments and informal participation activities than ever before. This means that rather than getting so many classwork grades, their homework grades are now worth more than usual. 

I know we all have problems with some students forgetting/refusing/neglecting to finish their work at home. I've started grading homework only once at the end of the unit, all at once. While I think that it's been good for my athletic students to have the flexibility to finish it around their own schedule, I'm worried that it's encouraged procrastination as well. 

I used to grade homework daily during the warmup. Choosing to grade it all at once (usually around 10-12 assignments at a time) has saved me so much class time. I interact and chat with my students during the warmup more than I used to. I start class calmer and feeling more prepared, since I don't have an immediate to-do list within 30 seconds of the bell besides attendance. It frees me up to help out with more challenging warmup questions, and to get students settled more quickly. 

Despite all of that, I'm not sure I'm convinced it's worth the trade off. I truly believe that math success comes from practice. My problem is that if my not-so-motivated kiddos aren't doing their work, I don't think they realize the impact each individual assignment has on their grade - they only see the impact of their homework average for the unit. 

I don't know how to shift the balance on this - I want to get them to complete the work by a deadline, but with the freedom to distribute the work over that given time as they see fit. I really have been working hard this year to teach them to be reliable and responsible "employees." Does that mean if we're going over work they haven't done yet, that it's ok? I really don't know. 

For the majority of them, they still get it done that night, and for the most part are prepared for when we go over it. I'd love any suggestions for making this system work better for those that put it off. Eventually, I'd like to flip my class, and this same type of issue is my biggest hesitation. 

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