Thursday, February 24, 2011

What consequences work for incomplete homework?

Ms Dorothy,
I've had it with kids not doing their homework.  I've tried everything.  I've called parents, I've taken away recess, and I've even threatened to take away the class trip. I'm really fed up and frustrated. What kinds of disincentives work for other teachers?
- 5th grade teacher

I have answered a question very similar to this before

I say, if you are expending this much energy thinking up ways to punish students or parents (and let's not kid ourselves, a "deterrent" like missing the class trip is a punishment) it is time to reconsider the value of homework.

If the homework is meaningful, individualized, necessary, and engaging to a student he will do it and turn it in. 

If it is an assignment that is related to your teaching, the big test, grade-level standards, and "good practice for them" chances are that some percentage of your kids won't do it, or won't turn it in.

Less policing, more teaching.

Give up homework, or give up doubting they've done the practice they need,  and re-focus your energy on maximizing the gains from in-class time.  

Less proving, more learning.

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