Thursday, August 7, 2008

Grading Systems Part 3a - Homework

This is part three to a series of posts on grading. Part one dealt with percentages and part two dealt with grade weighting. As I have mentioned before, I know that I do not have all the answers on these topics. My goal is to present some of my ideas and then to hear some thoughts of other teachers. So please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.

I have actually used five different methods of dealing with homework. Let me give a quick recap of each of them.
  • During my student teaching I taught Pre-calculus. The teacher I worked with assigned homework everyday. The interesting thing is he never picked it up or even checked to see if it was completed. We went over it and by the questions the students asked the clearly did it. The students entire grade came from tests.
  • Also during student teaching I worked with a different teacher who taught Pre-algebra. He also assigned homework everyday and never checked the assignments. What he did was give a homework quiz everyday. These quizzes usually involved problems on the homework as well as problems not on the homework.
  • During my first two years of teaching I generally checked the homework for completion. I would occasionally give homework quizzes as well. I usually allowed students to turn in homework late for half credit.
  • While in graduate school I taught a class that was comparable to Algebra 1/Algebra 2. We were asked to pick up and grade all of their homework assignments(we met everyday). I always tried to have them graded before the next class and I picked up the homework after going over it. The grade was out of 10 points. I would give them 5 points for completion and randomly pick 5 questions to grade.
  • Last year I used a combination of grading the homework and giving homework quizzes. I had more trouble grading the assignments in a timely manner because I had a 100+ students versus 20.

In general I think all of these systems had value. My goal with homework is very clear and two-fold.

  1. It gives the students to practice problems on their own. Practicing is an essential part of learning math.
  2. It is used as a catalyst for reteaching the material the next day. Every homework system needs to foster discussion of the problems the next day. This gives a chance to answer questions, review the material and occasionally teach to students who missed the previous day.

Which of the systems best accomplishes the afore mentioned goals? I am not sure...I want to think about it a little more and talk with the other teachers about my school before I decide what I am going to use in my class this year. I will revisit this post next week. Until then I would love to hear how you deal with homework in you class.

1 comment:

Brian Hadfield said...

I'm surprised I'm the first to comment on this popular topic! I enjoyed reading all your experiences regarding how homework is handled. I have been teaching 7th grade math for 12 years now. Hardly two years have gone by where I haven't adjusted how I handle homework. I've done all the things you described and then some. Currently, I check students' assignments each day for completion. I can then alert parents if a pattern is developing (because, as you know, few can get away with skipping homework regularly and then do well on assessments). I collect the whole bunch of it at the end of the chapter. I staple a rubric on it, which includes the daily check points, as well as their correction marks, use of a pencil, neatness, and amount of work shown. I can basically flip through it quickly to gather the other points described: The points assigned to those other categories are set in a range. They get this packet back and parents often expect to see it. It has been working well for me, and I feel good about how they earn the points for their work. This year, I think I might even allow homework on quizzes, as an incentive for them to put more effort into doing the homework and checking it carefully (and making corrections, more importantly). We'll see how this goes!