Ahhh the dreaded homework. And all of the questions that go along with it: when do you assign homework? what kind? how often? how much? to homework check or not to homework check? ETC!
Teaching a second language, I have never been one to assign too much homework. I acknowledge that there usually isn’t a French speaking parent or person at home who can help out and, to be honest, it can be a turn off to the subject as a whole and my goal, at least in my Core classes, is to make language learning fun and something that students want to continue to study (definitely through grade 12 and hopefully beyond!). One of my colleagues assigns homework every night. This philosophy just doesn’t sit well with me but I can see how they justify it to themselves and that it works for them. (Or does it?) In my experience, I can also use the “I don’t assign homework often so when I do, you know it’s important!” line and for the most part, it works!
This year, courtesy of Pinterest, I thought I would try something new! I was excited at this new *idea* and the students reacted quite passionately to it in September. I have these bright orange pieces of paper that students fill out when they do not complete homework or hand in an assignment. I like this idea for several reasons:
1. I don’t have to worry that I have misplaced an assignment while marking it. Simple and true.
2. Students fill out the date, the assignment and their reason, read excuse, for not finishing it. This is good for two reasons : a) accountability AND
b) the fact that I can show these to parents when the fingers/questions are pointed my way…”why is X not getting Y%”…”well, you see, they have Z number of incomplete homework/assignments.”
3. There is (or was) a slight embarrassment factor. I don’t believe in singling out students in front the of the class but with the older grades the students tend to make *ouh* and *ahhh* sounds at their peers when they have to fill out the bright orange sheet.
So, what is going wrong?
The IB students are assigned homework on an almost nightly basis. It’s not always a lot because I am aware of the demands that are being placed on them in all four subjects, not just mine. However, truth be told, there is not enough time to cover all of the material or to complete all of the work during class time and it has to be done at home and on their own time. The evaluations are also very independent and they leave very little room for differentiation. It’s the nature of the beast. They have to learn to understand the material without me holding their hand (and I would also say that I am a hand-holder and cheerleader more than not!) and they also have to take responsibility and ownership of their learning and their IB journey.
So today, after a four day weekend, more than half of the class did not complete the thematic reading and opinion questions I assigned over the weekend. Out of 22 students, 11 filled out the bright orange sheet and 3, for whatever reason, handed in their incomplete work for me to check (and later realize that they did not do it?!?). Fine. What was perhaps most troubling however were the *excuses*.
“I am lazy.”
“I watched too many hours of TV.”
“I spent 14 hours on the Internet.”
“I was busy.”
Pardon me? I am curious as to what parents will say when they see the reasons their children are providing for not doing their homework. I guess the numbers left me a little surprised and the reasons left me perplexed.
So, I turn to you, good people. How do you deal with homework? Incomplete homework? Fortunately, I did communicate this home in the early assessment letters but it is still troubling me. Do I call home too? Part of me is saying to myself “let it go; you’ve done your part” but the type-A in me wonders how anyone can NOT do their homework and then be SO honest as to why!