I've been thinking more lately about how I "do" homework. I'm still in the camp that wants to assign a completion grade only, so that they don't get penalized for making mistakes while they're learning. I see how many problems they attempt, and how many they grade in class as per my instructions, and I give them a grade accordingly. I still like to provide some kind of answer bank, so that they get immediate feedback and are more apt to persevere through a problem if it's wrong. And yet, I still understand that for some kids, this completion grade leads to laziness and lack of an honest effort and potentially to not grasping topics.
I have a thought rumbling around in my head of something I may want to add to the grade. I want there to be an EXTRA question group on EVERY homework that MUST be answered in order to get full credit (any credit?). Here it is:
1. What is a problem you had most trouble with?
2. What specifically is wrong, examples:
* I don't know how to start
* I don't understand some words
* I get stuck at the point ______
* I'm messing up with my calculations somewhere
* I ______
3. Write out which of the following you did:
* I looked through the book and found extra examples
* I went to our online book to see if there was a tutorial on this problem
* I went on Ms. Cookie's website to see if she had links that may help
* I looked through my notes to see if we did something like this in class
* I called/texted/e-mailed a friend and got help
* I did ______ and it helped
* I did nothing and waited until the next day in class to ask questions
4. Describe what progress you made after you did this, examples of what could happen:
* I didn't do anything, so I made no progress
* I solved the problem
* I understood more about what part confused me
* I made progress in the problem but still did not solve it (describe progress)
Maybe I'll print this out on pretty paper and have them tape it in their composition books as a reference. In this way, it'll cause the kids to reflect nightly (or the period before-ly) on their homework. My lists will hopefully also serve the purpose of prompting them to find other sources to persevere before giving up. And giving a grade for this portion will maybe be the incentive to do the reflection.
Which brings me to my next change next year. I'm a recent CONVERT of composition notebooks. Before I just let the kids buy whatever 3-ring binder or spiral notebook or whatever they wanted. At my not-so-new school they had a tradition of requiring composition notebooks for other classes, and the kids would tape pictures to the front that represented whatever class it was for, and the teacher would put packing tape over the cover to preserve it. Now all the notes are in the book and not easily lost and if there were handouts, the kids taped them to the appropriate dated page. I didn't do it this year, but ... Love it! I believe I'll require them to get the graph papered composition notebook. Then POOF! instant graph paper on demand.