Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How can I get every student to turn in their homework?

To give homework or not to give homework? 

That is the teacher's dilemma we have to answer for ourselves. There are great arguments on both sides. I'm all for giving homework as long as it is relevant and SHORT. I might also add in that the students should be able to complete the work on their own as not every student will have support at home. All students must be accountable for the assignment, even if you are not going to put it in the grade book. (That is for another conversation). We have to make completing the assignment "attractive" to the students. They have to want to do it. In a perfect world the students would be intrinsically motivated and not need any incentive to finish their work but there will always be a select few who cannot (or will not) get the work done.



There are a lot of options out there, so you have to find one that works for you. Here are a few that I've tried in the past. Some have worked great and some I quickly put in the NEVER AGAIN category.

  • Reward card: 
    • individual accountability 
    • initial the student's card when they turn HW in on time
    • works great but takes a lot of time to maintain the system
  • Behavior mark:
    • individual accountability 
    • tracks student's behavior to communicate with parents
    • results can vary, some students are very motivated by the behavior mark system but others are not and those are probably the students who have a pattern of not completing their work
  • Working recess/lunch:
    • individual accountability
    • no official consequence or reward
    • students stay in from recess to complete work or they complete work during lunch instead of visiting with friends
    • works great but takes away valuable socializing time from the students
  • Whole class incentive:
    • group accountability 
    • whole class earns points or credit towards a whole class reward each time EVERY SINGLE student completes the homework for the day
    • works great because students feel positive peer pressure, they don't want to let the group down by being the one to cause the class to not earn a point
    • every effort should be made to not advertise who didn't complete their work BUT the students will still feel the pressure


Although I like several of these strategies, I've found that using a combination of the last two works best for me and my students. When I assign homework, students can either complete it at home or study hall. We have study hall set up during recess for those students who did not complete their work on time, who need a little one-on-one help or  who want to get work done at school so they don't have to take it home. Our recess/study hall is 30 minutes long but if students finish before that time, they are released to go play outside. I tend to come to work really early so I never have an issue if a student wants to work in my room before school.  Ultimately, the goal is for the student to FINISH the work and turn it in on time.  It doesn't matter to me if they want to work in my room before school, or in study hall, or at home as long as it is finished.

...and finished on TIME.

I hate having to hound students to get work turned in.  If I can get them to turn it in when it is due, I save myself a huge headache.

In previous years I've used marble jars, brownie points and tally marks to track whole class homework completion.  On the day that an assignment is due, the class can earn a point if every single student has their homework finished on time. Once the class meets a certain number of points, we celebrate.

I ran across these key chain organizers at CVS and my brain started churning ideas for how I could use them. I knew I wanted them because of the ROYGBIV = white light lesson that I could tie into it when I teach light energy but HOW would I use it. I finally settled on an attendance and homework tracker for my classes.




A little measuring, designing, cutting and Mod Podging later and I have a new tracker system. I made one to track attendance for my homeroom and four to track homework completion for my classes.




Each day that a class has every student turn their homework in on time, they get to move another day down to the hanging position. When we reach the 8th time, we have a class celebration.  I usually assign homework 1-2 times a week so the celebrations end up happening about once a grading period. To increase buy in, I let the class vote on their celebration activity.  It usually ends up being five minutes of free time in class or a special lunch group in my classroom.  They really like being able to eat in the classroom. We play music and they get to visit outside of the cafeteria.



Thank you for taking the time to look into my homework management routine.

What are some ways that you get students to turn their work in on time?










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