Why I Don’t Grade Homework
Homework, homework, homework. You need to assign it, because, well, let’s face it, your students need practice, but….what to do with it!? Grade it? Check it? Go over it? Collect it? Today I would like to share with you a very effective way to deal with homework in the classroom.
I can’t take credit for this, I stole this method of homework checking from my wonderful teacher mentor when I was doing my student teaching. For each semester I make up a spreadsheet (that I print out) with each student’s name and 5 columns for each class. Here is an example:
I can then check homework for the entire week for all my classes (we are on block scheduling) with the same sheet of paper. This just makes less copying/papers/prep for me for the week. At the end of each day I take the paper and put in the grades for the day into my gradebook.
So, how do I check homework? I check it for completion, NOT CORRECTNESS. It is my belief that homework is a student’s chance to practice and try a skill they are learning. It is not a quiz or test and as such, does not need to be graded. I find that students are much more likely to DO THE HOMEWORK if they are not going to be graded on correctness. I grade each assignment on a 5 point scale. Zero points if they did nothing, 1 point if they did anything, and so on up to 5 points for a fully completed assignment.
Now, you might be saying, if the students know I am not going to grade it, do they really try or do they just have something “done” for me to give them points. Oh yes, I always have one or two that try that in the beginning of each semester. However, they soon realize I am not an idiot.
Oh, you circled part B on a multiple part problem because you didn’t read it and thought it was multiple choice?! No credit.
Oh, your homework was solving multi-step equations and you did them all in your head after you just learned them yesterday? No credit.
When I do have someone who tries to pull a fast one on me for part of the assignment, I will often ask him/her how many points they think they deserve. I find students are much tougher on themselves than I would have been. Students soon realize that I do “check” their homework and know what types of answers I am looking for and they stop playing games.
Homework is our students’ chance to practice the skills we teach them. I want my students to complete the homework I assign because I believe it correlates to higher test and quiz scores. I have found that checking for completeness generally provides a higher level of homework completion than other grading methods. This also cuts down on your grading pile because you don’t have to collect the papers. I just walk around the room and check quickly while my students are completing their warm up. And we can all use a shorter grading pile, right?!