Rating: **4.6**/5.0 (42 Votes)

Category: Homework

I taught Calculus 2 at my institution the past two semesters and several students have left comments in their course evaluations that advocate grading homework problems based on whether they were completed, not whether they were correct. For instance, when asked, "What changes to the course would you recommend?", one student wrote:

grade homework on completeness and not correctness because we are putting in the effort even if we don't necessarily understand it yet

I think they have a good point here. I view homework as required practice of the course material. Furthermore, I've realized that grading every problem carefully for correctness is prohibitively time-consuming for me!

I would like to implement a new grading scheme next year wherein homework problems will be assigned and I will give a grade based on whether they were done, and add some helpful comments about what students should work on. Ideally, everyone will get just about full credit on this component of their grade. (Perhaps someone will skip an assignment during a busy week, but if someone actually puts in effort, they will get credit.)

However, I'm not sure how to synthesize this new idea with the overall grading scheme. Previously, I made homework assignments were 15-20% of a student's final grade. It feels strange, though, to essentially make this a "gimme" portion of their grade just for doing the problems. But if I lower this to 10%, what should I do. Have another in-class exam? That eats up class meeting time. Have regular quizzes? That also takes up some time, and should I grade those carefully on correctness, even though the students are not used to that? Should I have a once-a-month "take home exam" that amounts to being a difficult homework assignment of sorts?

Essentially, my question boils down to this: *I fully intend to take these students' suggestion and assign regular homework problems to be graded solely on completion, and not correctness. I am curious about how to modify the rest of my grading scheme so that the students' final grades are still accurate and fair, and without too much extra class time taken away.*

I am interested in personal suggestions/anecdotes here, as well as any education research (if there is any). I am particularly interested if you have made a similar change and can explain some observed differences in the two schemes.

(Note: There is a great answer here to the question, "Is it worth grading calculus homework?". My question is not the same; I have already decided to implement this "grade for completion and add suggestive comments" method, partly based on that answer I linked to. I am curious about adjusting other components of the course to account for this decision.)

asked Jun 5 '14 at 18:42

If you do not assign grades based on correctness, then this necessarily makes your grades less accurate and fair as measures of performance in the class. I think a better way to address the student's objection would be note that effort will be correlated with correctness, so it will be rewarded even if grading is based on correctness rather than effort. – Trevor Wilson Jun 6 '14 at 6:31

Each section of calculus where I am has between 20 and 30 students. I assess the presentations using a rubric that they know about beforehand, part of which is peer evaluation (I hand out index cards and ask the students in the audience to answer three standard questions for each pair which then goes into the evaluation of the pair -- this could be done more quickly if you used clickers). You might think: this is so much work. But the homework is done via WebWork, so I've essentially replaced homework grading with presentation grading. – ncr Jun 5 '14 at 19:22

- Homework 1 is due Friday, January 25.
- Homework 2 is due Friday, February 1.
- Homework 3 is due Friday, February 8.
- Homework 4 is due Friday, February 15.
- Homework 5 is due Friday, February 22.
- Homework 6 is due Monday, March 4.
- Homework 7 is due Friday, March 8.
- Homework 8 is due Friday, March 15.
- Homework 9 is due Friday, March 22.
- Homework 10 is due Wednesday, April 3.
- Homework 11 is due Friday, April 12.
- Homework 12 is due Wednesday, April 24.
- Homework 13 is due Friday, May 3.

Be sure to check this schedule on a regular basis; minor changes may be made during the semester according to the pace at which we cover the material.

Statements, connectives, truth tables, negation, implication.

Read Chapters 1 and 2.

Direct proofs, axioms for groups and for ordered fields.

Read Chapter 3.

Proof techniques: cases, contrapositive, contradiction. Examples.

Read Chapter 4.

Proof by induction, Fibonacci numbers.

Read Chapter 5.

Sets, subsets, equality, power set, union, intersection, difference, complement.

Read Chapter 6.

Cartesian product, quantifiers, alternation of quantifiers, functions.

Read Chapter 7.

Functions, graphs, composition, sequences.

Read Chapter 8.*Exam 1 on Friday.*

Injective, surjective, bijective functions, inverse functions.

Read Chapter 9.

Images and inverse images, partitions, equivalence relations.

Read Chapter 22.

Counting finite sets, inclusion-exclusion and pigeonhole principles.

Read Chapters 10 and 11.

Subsets of finite sets, counting problems for functions, injections, subsets.

Read Chapter 12.

Counting for finite sets: subsets, functions, injections, surjections.

Read Chapter 12.*Exam 2 on Friday.*

Binomial coefficients and the binomial theorem.

More on Chapter 12.

Infinite sets, denumerable sets, countability of the rationals, uncountability of the reals.

Read Chapter 14.

Unions of countable sets, transcendental numbers, division theorem, Euclid's algorithm.

Read Chapters 15 and 16.

GCD and integer linear combinations, linear diophantine equations.

Read Section 17.1 and Chapter 18.

Teacher: Cecilia Tomcal

Period: 1, 2, 3, and 4

The 4J School District is using the College Preparatory Mathematics curriculum for Math 8 – Course 3. There is one hard bound book that will be used in addition to an ebook accessed on school iPads or from computers at home if they are available. We continue to teach the Common Core Standards for mathematics, a nationalized program that seeks to improve instruction and standardize learning objectives for each grade level. The CCSS are beneficial for math students. The standards emphasize deeper understanding of mathematical concepts without rote memorization of formulas or steps to solve problems. Students learn to think about problem solving by hearing different approaches used from their peers in whole class discussions and in groups. We will summarize these strategies and different ways of thinking in class with the goal of understanding at least one method and why the method works. Research has shown promising results for student learning when they have a deeper understanding of problem solving as compared with memorizing concepts without understanding why it works.

Emails from me often arrive through Synergy, our online attendance program. I have found some emails end up in Spam folders. I will be sending every family an email (it will go to the email provided when you registered for school). Please check your spam folder to make sure these communications are not lost.

I provide your student a weekly assignment tracker at the beginning of every week. I make these on Google Documents and I provide each student an electronic link so they may pull up the assignments on the school iPad or from home on a computer or smart phone. Your student should continue to fill in their planner with homework assignments.

Edmodo is an online service where I share the link for the weekly assignment tracker for your student. I also share resources with them, such as Learn Zillion videos.

I accept late work, however, I do not recommend students to fall behind on their assignments. Late work is accepted during the chapter of instruction. After the chapter test, any late assignments will no longer be accepted. If late work is done poorly without any true sense of the work intended, then a student may lose the privilege of doing late work.

Some assignments have a firm due date. If the weekly assignment tracker indicates a particular date due, then it must be turned in before or on the date given.

This syllabus is subject to change due to the new requirements of curriculum and proficiency grading. I will keep you informed as changes occur.

In order for the class to run smoothly, students need to remember the three rules:

*Respect Your Peers*

*Respect Your Environment*

A student’s academic grade will depend on 6 parts. Students should keep assignments for each grading period organized within a binder.

1) *Daily Warm Up Sheet* – This sheet is for 5 days of warm up activities. Since some weeks are shorter we will not always use all five days. Class warm up is an important time to practice necessary skills. Students receive feedback after they try the activity individually. The warm ups are collected on Friday or the last school day of each week. The warm up sheet will be attached to the homework for the whole week along with a homework tracker sheet. When a student is absent an entry for the missing day will merely say “ABSENT.” Students do not make up warm up activities (they will be excused), but they do make up any missed homework, practice work, and tests or quizzes. Students will be asked to problem solve and reflect during daily warm up activities. Points are also awarded for daily preparation for class at the top of each entry. Being prepared for class includes, but is not limited to, having all supplies, homework, learning materials, and being ready to work. All graded Daily Warm Up Sheet pages and the attached homework should be kept in the binder (or a safe place) until the end of a grading period when we know our records match.

2) *Practice Sheets* – Some math skills require more practice and I will provide a worksheet to reinforce skills we are learning as homework. Sometimes a score of the homework or practice sheet will reflect a student’s accuracy with the task. A follow up question to test the skill for proficiency may be given to assess progress.

3) *Cooperative Class Problems* – The class problems presented in College Preparatory Mathematics are collaborative. These experiences are not easily recreated and while some absences are unavoidable, keep in mind these experiences are not easily made up. The problems are the main learning activity for the new material. The group recorder will generalize the work accomplished in the group. The roles of the group rotate every time.

Students will be expected to actively participate with and contribute to their assigned teams. Students will not be allowed to sit and listen. Conversely, students will also not be allowed to take over and dominate the team assignment. Each student must do their own part to make their team successful. This collaboration will allow you to develop new ways of thinking about mathematics, increase your ability to communicate with others about math, and help you strengthen your understanding by having you explain your thinking to someone else. As you work together…

a. You are expected to share your ideas and contribute to the team’s work.

b. You are expected to ask your teammates questions and to offer help to your teammates

c. Your team is expected to work together on the same problem and discuss the problem while you work.

d. Your team is expected to verify that everyone agrees with a suggestion or understands a solution.

e. Everyone on your team is responsible for keeping the team on task.

f. Everyone on your team should be consulted before calling on the teacher to answer a question.

4) *Homework Assignments* — Students will have the opportunity to ask questions about their homework problems in class. If we go over particular problems of my choosing or theirs all students will grade them. A proficiency question may be asked to assess growth. I expect every student to try every problem and to follow directions about explaining their reasoning. A student may have every problem wrong and still receive full credit because they have attempted each problem, explained their reasoning AND did a good job of correcting their work in class. A student who is absent is still required to do the homework for the day but is allowed an extra day for each class day absent before points will be deducted for being prepared (recorded on the Daily Warm Up sheet). For some of the more step-by-step problems and topics students will take notes. Notes and reflections are kept in a spiral notebook.

5) *Vocabulary* – Many people have difficulty in mathematics because they don’t understand the terms. Building a good mathematical vocabulary is essential for success in this and future math classes. Each unit of instruction will have a vocabulary list. I like to use the free online program called Quizlet. Quizlet allows students to practice the terms in a fun game-like way. There is also an Quizlet app for smartphones and iPads. A student could practice terms on a computer online or if they have access to an iPad or smartphone they could practice on those devices.

6) *Quizzes, Tests, Work Samples, & Projects (Review Sheets)* – I use a variety of different methods to assess how students are doing. All quizzes and tests must be made up on the day the student returns from an absence. It is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements to make up a test after school or during lunch. A test or quiz that is not made up will result in a zero within 10 school days.

There are three components of the student’s grade:

Collaborative Class work = Daily warm up on work recorder + Practice Sheets + Cooperative Class Problems *(40%)*

Homework = Homework assignments + Vocabulary *(30%)*

Assessments = Quizzes + Tests + Work Samples + Projects *(30%)*

You may receive a paper progress report from me whenever requested within 24 hours. Families with Internet access will be able to access grades from our online grading and attendance program, Synergy.

The good habits of organization and a developed system of learning for each individual student will help build confidence and abilities during middle school. Check in with your student to see how they are doing. It is essential to check your student’s planner every evening and ask to see the completed homework. Look at the organization of binders and ask them what they like best about math. Allow them to explain concepts to you. I am looking forward to working with your student, please work with me to help each student have success this year.

*Help with homework and parent communication:* I help students most days after school and I am available for parent communication and / or visits until 4:15 pm. I let students know everyday if I am available or not after school (indicated on the board). If you drop in to speak with me please be flexible while I help students and talk with you. On some Wednesdays I am required to attend meetings and therefore, sometimes I am not available on Wednesdays. There is also bus duty occasionally and whole staff meetings that may keep me outside my classroom. Calling or emailing with a day and time will assure that I am available to talk with you at an appointed time, but if you take the chance to drop in after school, then it is likely I will be able to talk with you.

*Textbook:* A custom manual sold by UCLA Bookstore under the name *Discrete Source.* It is based on *Discrete Mathematics* by R. Johnsonbaugh. Try to get the copyright 2008 edition; the copyright 2007 edition is missing a section (8 pages inserted after page 128). If you can't find the 2008 edition, you can purchase the 2007 edition and I will provide handouts for the missing section when we get there in class. If you would like to buy the original *Discrete Mathematics,* you should get the sixth edition -- other editions will not work. Errata to *Discrete Mathematics* can be found here.

*Class Meeting Times:* Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 12:00-12:50 pm, in Math Sciences 5147.

*Instructor's Office Hours:* Mondays, 2:30-3:30 pm; Wednesdays, 10:30-11:30 am; Fridays, 1:30-2:30 pm. All are in Math Sciences 6160.

*Discussion Section:* Thursdays, 12:00-12:50 pm, in Math Sciences 6221. *Teaching Assistant:* Kevin Xie ( kevinxxie@math.ucla.edu ). *TA's Office Hours:* Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 am-12:00 pm, in Math Sciences 2350.

*Course Material:**Continuous* mathematics involves the study of convergence and limits -- things you use in a calculus class. *Discrete* mathematics covers essentially everything else -- objects that are *not* in the limits of nearby objects. Topics include induction, permutations and combinations, recurrence relations, graphs, and trees. See the course description and course outline for further topics. Note that Math 61 and Math 113 cannot *both* be taken for credit.

*Homework:* Homework is due every *Friday* in class. Graded homework will be returned to you during the TA section on the following Thursday. Homework is *not* an optional activity! Each week, several chosen problems will be graded, with an additional portion of the score assigned for completeness. *Late homework will not be accepted.* Your lowest two homework scores will be dropped from your grade calculation.

*Quizzes:* Several quizzes will be given during the TA section throughout the quarter. Quizzes will be announced in advance. The first quiz will take place on *Thursday, April 9;* the second quiz is on *Thursday, April 30.**There are no make-up quizzes.* Your lowest quiz score will be dropped from your grade calculation.

*Midterms:* There will be two midterms given during regular class hours *in Boelter 3400* on *Monday, April 20* and *Monday, May 18*. Mark these dates on your calendar now. *There are no make-up exams.*

*Final:* The final will take place on *Thursday, June 11, 8:00 am - 11:00 am.**You must take the final to pass this course.*

*Grading:* Your final score will be calculated as the larger of the following two schemes:

*Scheme 1:* 10% Homework + 10% Quizzes + 20% Midterm 1 + 20% Midterm 2 + 40% Final

*Scheme 2:* 10% Homework + 10% Quizzes + 25% (better score between Midterm 1 and 2) + 55% Final

*Grading complaints:* If you have an issue with the grading on your quiz, homework, or exam, you must bring this to the instructor's attention within *14 days* of the due date of the assignment in question, or the date of the exam or quiz, and *before the date of the final exam*. Grading complaints not made within this time period will not be considered.

*Student Math Center :* Free tutoring is available for all lower division math courses in the Student Math Center, located in Math Sciences 3974. It is open Monday through Thursday, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm.

*Website URL:* http://www.math.ucla.edu/

My homework LIFESAVER this year has been my “No Homework – Responsibility Notebook “. Students who do not do their homework sign this binder. Every time they sign it deducts 2 points from their trimester homework grade. It’s so easy to keep up with and the students now know to just go and sign it when they come in class. It is zero maintenance for me! I do not “grade” homework right or wrong, but they do get a trimester grade for homework.

- I usually assign about 10-20 minutes of homework a night, Monday – Thursdays.
- I do not give homework on the weekends, but do expect students that are behind to spend some time catching up.
- I give students the answers to their homework before they do it. I expect them to check each answer as they work, so they don’t do 15 practice problems incorrectly.
- The homework is always easier than the work we do in class. I do not want them to struggle at home where I can’t help them. I just want to reaffirm the main ideas in class.
- I have created Concept Help Pages for students to go if they are confused. If they email me and then work on these pages I do require them to have completed homework. In this case they must come visit me before school for extra help.
- I do not collect and grade homework. I would rather spend my time planning engaging lessons!
- Each day I walk around and really examine everyone’s homework while they do the warm-up. I sometimes make students redo it.
- I do not grade their answers right or wrong since I give them the answers in advance.
- Students who do not complete their homework must sign the “No Homework – Responsibility Notebook “. This deducts 2 points from their trimester homework grade.
- About half-way through the year I have an increasing number of 7th graders that start skipping their homework. This year I started having them come in at lunch to complete it. Next year, I am going to put this rule into effect day one.

I think independent practice is so important in math. Especially since our classes are 50 minutes long. Since I do many discovery lessons, we barely have time to get to the main ideas much less give them time to practice enough. Their homework score adds up to a major test grade. Next year I am going to reduce it’s worth however to equal a quiz grade. I would also like my students to do their homework more “neatly” next year but I haven’t figured out how to frame that yet.

I actually switched up homework this week in 7th and it was a nightmare. I did not give them the answers and I we checked it together. I had them mark what they missed and then I collected it so I could look at it. So now I have 5 giants stacks of “graded” homework on my desk that I have barely glanced at. I don’t know how teachers that actually grade homework get it all done!

Up to this point in my career, I haven’t really questioned my procedures for grading homework. This year, our staff has been challenged to think about assessment in terms of learning… are we assessing student *learning*. or student *behaviors* ?

I am still working this out. I need help from others to continue to gain perspective. My hope is by the fall of 2013 I will have a solid homework system in place. Right now, I am still bobbling around, seeking opinions and research, all specifically with mathematics content in mind… because I believe when it comes to grading (or not grading) homework, the content area, specifically with respect to mathematics, can’t be ignored.

I started some dialogue several months ago here. and really enjoy reading different ideas from other math teachers in the trenches. Some of us seem solid in our systems, not questioning whether homework is assessing learning of *content* or *behaviors*. Yet, I wrestle with not only *how* to “grade” homework, but whether “grading” homework in math is even fair at all. So, here are my *“before and current”* homework grading procedures. I’ll follow up with *“potential future”* methods I’m tossing around.

Up to this point, I have graded homework primarily based on completion. There. I said it. And it goes a little somethin’ like this:

*3 points:* Student legitimately tried every problem, with evidence of work, even if there are errors (This is the first chance to practice a new skill or concept, after all… *are we expecting perfection at this point?* This is part of the reason I think “grading” homework in math seems inappropriate).

*2 points:* More than half but not all problems legitimately attempted

*1 point:* Less than half of all problems legitimately attempted

*0 points:* Homework not done or not present at due date/time

To encourage math communication, students get into a “homework huddle” at the start of each class (small groups or pairs of students comparing and discussing homework answers, seeking resolutions for discrepancies). While students “huddle” I take a lap around the classroom, glance at student work and listen in on dialogue, recording scores as mentioned above. We come together as a class, I either ask for answers verbally, display the answer key, or use a tool like Socrative or Nearpod to spot-check specific problems. Generally, questions are minimal after a “huddle” since students help one another talk through and correct errors or misconceptions. This process helps me know if I need to do a little reteaching before moving forward as well. To put the homework “grades” in perspective, my current district chooses to weight homework as only 10% of students’ average… which tells me, whether I choose to “grade” it or not, it’s not worth very much. At only 10% we don’t seem to value homework as a “grade”, do we?

So why “grade” it at all? (Am I being devil’s advocate, or posing a legitimate question?)

A feasible method to “grade” homework in such a way that scores reflect learning of math *content*. not *behaviors*. could be as follows:

* Assign daily homework, as in the past.

* Facilitate a daily “homework huddle,” spot-check work, and listen to conversations.

* Display answer key, or use an app to do a quick check of specific problems.

(So far, nothing in the plan has changed… wait for it…)

* Don’t assign a homework score for each and every assignment. Rather, give a weekly homework “quiz”, perhaps every Friday. Problems on this quiz would be *inspired* by homework problems, but wouldn’t be the *exact same* problems. Allow students to use the homework they completed throughout the week as a reference during the quiz (this would hopefully provide incentive to do it, now that actually recording a score for every assignment has been taken away).

* “Grade” the “homework quiz” knowing that students have been practicing on a daily basis, have communicated with one another about the concepts, and have had reteaching classroom opportunities.

Ultimately, if I opt for the “homework quiz” philosophy, I’d like to utilize an app to help with the actual grading or scoring. Socrative could help, but because students can accidentally press the wrong answer choice, it’s not ideal for graded assessments in my experience (I REALLY REALLY hope they change this issue soon because I love their instant color-coded data reports so much!) I am looking into The Answer Pad as an option, and Infuse Learning looks promising, though I prefer apps that don’t require the teacher to manually enter student/class info.

What are your thoughts? Is the *“Before & Current”* plan acceptable? Should we aspire to assess mathematics over behaviors and embrace a plan more like the *“Potential Future”?*

Please discuss, and thanks in advance for reading and for your input! 🙂

This post was also shared here.

David Taub says:

Thanks for the ThingLink ThatQuiz idea – that was really cool. I’ll definitely have to do something like that soon. I have made a few of my own quizzes. Some are public. If you are curious search teachers for “Taub” and you will find the ones I made.

By the way, I’ve also started writing my own iPad apps. I don’t do fancy graphics, just a few basic training apps. I believe you called them “one offs” or something like that in an earlier post. Anyway, if you had a good idea for a simple focused training without fancy graphics send it my way and maybe I’ll use it for my next app. The two I’ve written so far are putting fractions on a number line and just basic multiplication practice (mostly to get used to how to write an app).

One thing with homework I forgot to mention is that I also give answers with my homework and let students correct themselves. This erases all motivation for cheating. I then give time the day it is due for questions about what they didn’t understand, although I find that most of them are able to figure it out from the answer if they get stuck.

Another point worth mentioning is grading “philosophy” here in Sweden and how that might differ from America. We are not allowed to use an average or anything like that for grades. We do what we call “positive grading” – we count successes for them but don’t count failures against them.

By our national rules, when we set a grade, the ONLY thing that matters is the knowledge/ability of the student at that exact moment when the final grade is set. This means in theory that they can do nothing all year, fail every quiz and test and then on the last day of school somehow show a complete understanding and thus get an A. Although that is impossible because of time concerns, the idea is guiding in our approach. So in the example given above about students who don’t do homework but show good understanding, it would be against the law here to count the homework issues “against” them.

It does take a lot of pressure off of tests – in fact we no longer have “tests” – we are supposed to assess EVERYTHING they do, and are required by law to use multiple forms of assessment. Some days we have what we call “individual work” which we say is like any other day of practice, but they are working on their own instead and we look more closely at their work to see what they know or are having trouble with. This replaces the old test idea. If there is something they don’t understand they can make it up in the future during other individual work days.

Cathy Yenca says:

It is so interesting to read about and compare your school’s policies to ours here in the United States!

Your experiences with writing apps also sounds very interesting! One skill-based app idea off-hand that I would love to see is something that allows students to compare and order rational numbers. Have you seen the free Number Line app? While it’s a great little freebie, all the values are positive. Since I teach 8th graders, the focus is more on rational numbers, so throwing some negative values in there would really help them.

Cathy Yenca says:

David Taub says:

No, I’m not on Twitter – don’t really have time for it. Did you mean just putting negative fractions on a number line? Or did you mean actual calculations with positive and negative fractions?

Fractions are actually really annoying on the ipad – especially if a student has to enter one. It is hard to come up with an easy to implement method for it without a preset format (like always a mixed number, or always just a fraction, etc). One of the downside of computer support for math right now – really basic stuff can be really annoying to implement.

If you want to look at my free number line app to compare to the one you use (I didn’t know that one was around) you can search for my name on the app store as well.

David Taub says:

By the way, we are using google drive at our school and I have started working a bit with google apps scripts as well. If you maintain a web page I could share some ideas/code that way as well. They work on ipads through a normal web browser.

I was also curious how you maintain the content on your ipads classwise? We are having some technical difficulties that way. The iPads work great individually, but our system for trying to push the same apps to all of them at once is not very stable. We also can’t control or check what the students are doing on the iPads which can be issue with some students playing games when they should be working. How do you handle this technical challenges?

Cathy Yenca says:

My students have access to apps that have been purchased by our school district in a “self-service” area accessible from student iPads. They can also download apps at their leisure (versus your description of pushing apps to iPads all at once). Our students take their own iPads home every night, and are responsible for bringing them to school every day, fully charged.

I do my best to be mobile and vigilant as far as monitoring student activities. I also make it a practice for students to “double-home tap and close all the apps” before we begin an activity. Likewise, if we are not using the iPad for a learning activity, students are to close the iPads or put them away. I also try to be very purposeful with the tasks I choose. For example, students have no choice but to be on-task if they are using an app like Nearpod or Socrative that captures data in real time.

I am beginning a new school year where homework outside of school can not be counted. The students are also each getting new math books and a google chrome book. I really struggle with how to teach them concepts with out using homework to help. We have written and developed a new curriculum based on the Common Core and we need to rewrite assessments and if they don’t pass one of the standards, they have to retake the assessment over and over again. Needless to say, I am not sure how this will work for my students. I teach a lower level Pre Algebra and Algebra in high school. Many of my students are on I.E.P.s and struggle academically anyway. Any help would be appreciated on how to start the year. We can grade anything done in the classroom, but not outside the classroom.

Cathy Yenca says:

It sounds like you have a unique year ahead! It also sounds like, though you can’t “grade” work done outside of class, you can still assign/encourage it, is that correct? Maybe a flipped classroom model may help students a bit? Or assigning work that won’t be graded, but will be discussed in class and will eventually be quizzed? I just read this post by the amazing Rafranz Davis this morning about how she handled homework – her circumstances were different, but maybe there are still some take-aways for you? http://www.rndesigns.com/blog/no-math-homework-just-bringbacks/

Hello,

Just ran across your blog.

I wanted to give you an idea.

I don’t grade homework.

I tell the students to expect a quiz everyday.

Their grades are 50% quizzes, 50% exams.

They can use notes on their quizzes and exams.

I assign “practice problems”; they are odd problems, of which, the answers are in the b.o.b.

I have more than 10 years teaching experience.

I have used this model from 5th – 12th grade.

Currently, I am teaching 5th – 8th grade.

I did this b/c students were cheating.

So my thought was create a system where they can’t cheat.

Parents would even do their homework for them.

Nice.

Cathy Yenca says:

I love the idea! Perhaps we can move toward this model in future school years. In my district, homework is currently a required category in our electronic grade book. How many questions were on each daily “quiz”, how much class time did they take to administer, and how long are your class periods? Thanks!

We currently are under a very tight eight period day.

Our class duration is 50 minutes.

I am trying to sell the block scheduling concept to our school. I have taught in that realm, as well.

The quiz concept is however you want to factor it in. The only thing is that your opponent is time.

I would say on average 4 to 6 problems. Every now and then concepts may just be one simple step. Well, then I’ll give 10 problems. The more new or challenging a concept, the less quiz problems I’ll give.

You have to be able to read the students facial expressions when you are teaching. It’s a free “tell”. That way you can anticipate if they are going to have difficulty the next day or not.

Thank you for your encouragement.

I’d like to finally say that all I’m trying to do is find a system that helps students to do their best academically and be held accountable.

Andrew Busch says:

I’m also in a conundrum regarding student homework. Depending on the course is whether I grade it based on completeness or based on correctness. I teach in a rather small district (there is only one other math teach for 6-12). The other teacher does not grade homework. In middle school it’s not such an issue. However, the high school students confess to just not doing the work in the other teacher’s class. They don’t see any point in practicing the concepts if they won’t be graded on their practice. To high school students, time is a commodity (academics, sports, extra-curriculars, work, social, etc). I’ve had more than one (or 20) conversations with students who were happy to be back in my class because they felt the homework helped them learn better. When I asked why they just didn’t do the homework in their other math class, they said it was too hard to keep up if they knew it didn’t matter. In other words, internal motivation to learn is really hard to keep up without some sort of external motivation. For some students, grades are at least some sort of external motivator.

That said, I have 6 different preps and I feel I’m not teaching as well as I could because I spend so much time checking in student work. There must be a better way.

jetti Luckoski says:

sorry to butt in here but I have been searching and searching for some kind of factual research that shows what the best way of grading homework. Specifically math homework. My daughter struggles with math and has been especially hard this year with a new middle school, changed curriculum (common core) and increased expectations (taking a lot from 6th and some 7th and pushing it down to require it in 5th). She squeeked by most tests but what brought her overall scores down to failing was the homework. This is how it was handled and I can’t stress how much I disagree with it. I’m looking for some evidence so that I can argue this practice for the following year.

1. All homework assignments were given a letter grade.

2. Homework assignments were weighted the same as any other quiz or test.

3. The students never had access to an answer key.

4. Students were not given the opportunity to try working the problems again.

In my mind this structure just punishes students who didn’t fully ‘get’ the concept in class. I like the idea of math homework and do believe it helps. But not in this form. These are like mini tests on subject matter not fully learned. The students can never use answers to find out that they were wrong and rework the problem perhaps finding a step that they missed. It did not give them ‘practice’ at all and punished struggling students in the end.

Do any of you agree with this grading structure? I’ve read all of your comments and ALL of them seem much more fair and make sense than this. Do any of you have any suggestions as to how to approach next years teacher on this?

This comes from a highly rated middle school in TX. I’m surprised that I can’t find an argument FOR this structure or even see it mentioned.

Thanks for any thoughts or places I might visit for more information.

Cathy Yenca says:

This sounds extreme, and as I mention in my post, I have a hard time “grading” math homework since it’s the first time students are getting to know the material. They’d also need feedback after giving it a go to see how they did. I’m sorry this has happened to your daughter. 🙁 P.S. We don’t follow the Common Core standards in Texas, but rather, we have our own TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills).

jetti Luckoski says:

Yes it seems in the extreme to me to and that’s why I’m questioning it and want to make a good case against it with her teacher next year. I’m having trouble finding any statistics or research that clearly demonstrate the best way to handle math homework. Your site has at least given me a clear idea of how many teachers take a much different approach so I thank you.

I know that TX does not use Common Core Standards but TEKS does overlap with it. Additionally, even though it is illegal for schools to teach Common Core Standards it certainly does not prohibit them from using Common Core Curriculum. Case in point. My daughter just received a summer math assignment (the whole class did) to complete lessons through Thinkthroughmath.com. (funded by the Federal Government ) This company specifically states on it’s home page that it teaches Common Core. I chose the TX link and took the lessons myself. It is rife with Common Core methods. I just completed an application for a 14day free trial and will be taking the same lessons under CA which do use common core standards. It will be interesting how much difference there actually is.

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment to me. I appreciate it.

Thank you for sharing all this valuable info. I read though all of the post, and I too struggle with this homework grading policy. Presently, I am an 8th grade math teacher in NYC. I do work in a struggling district and have found that in the past many of my students do not and have not completed homework on a consistent basis. My school’s homework policy states that homework counts as 20% of the students’ grade and it must be actively present in our gradebooks. Many teachers in my school have struggled with this policy because the majority of the students do not submit homework. So thank you again for generating conversation around this subject.

I am presently trying to find a way to utilize homework in an effective manner in my classroom this year also. Last year, I did try to implement the flip classroom midway through the year, in hopes that my students would become more independent learners. I found this to be somewhat effective for some, but not for the majority because many students did not login into there accounts and review the notes/assignments posted. I’ve also tried to assign homework daily, but this too has been ineffective and has had a negative impact on the students’ grades.

After reading your above post, I do think I am going to try option two. I like the idea of the students recieving a weekly homework quiz that reflects the homework given throughout the week, and that they engage in a daily homework huddle (this is genius, I must say). I think I will limit my homework assignments to five questions a night. 4 simple to medium leveled questions and 1 challenging question (short/long response). This will also be my format for the weekly quizzes. There are a few question I would like to ask you about the homework huddle:

Approximately how long are the students in this huddle?

While you are cruising the room during the homework huddle, are you asking the groups questions, or are you only listening to their dialogue to check for understanding?

What does the flow of the day look like after the homework huddle?

Do you review any of the homework questions?

Also I would like to create a page for my students and their parents, similar to your think link page. Could you help me with this? I would like to save and display all of my information in one central location. Thank you once again. I hope to hear from you.

Diane Nead says:

I use an online homework system called MathXL for school. It is wonderful. I assign 20 problems a night. Students do them independently and they are graded as they do them. I set the program so students can redo problems as many times as they like with a potential to get 100% each assignment. I assign due dates (just to help students stay on track) but leave all assignments open until test day. On test day I enter in the grade book the % grade of each assignment. I feel that is fair as students have multiple helps online (right on the homework page) and unlimited tries. The only guff I get is from parents who think I should look at the work of their students each night. I volunteer to look at any written work a student turns in but really, if they get it correct online they don’t need me. For any student whose homework scores are 15% or less than their test or quiz scores I require them to write out problems because they are either cheating or using the hints too much and that needs to be corrected. MathXL is a free response homework system (not multiple choice). In bulk for schools it is only $15 per student – what a bargain – cheaper than photo copies of worksheets for the year. MathXL also has quizzes, tests, and a study plan that keeps track of objectives students have learned and those they have not mastered (if you link it to quizzes/tests).