For a long time now, I’ve thought about ways to increase homework completion.
The Nightly Text was fairly successful, but still, homework decreased precipitously on weekends.
Last unit, without too much fanfare, I introduced a new idea to encourage students to read and annotate The Awakening.
I called it “Group Annotations.”
Up until this book, I regularly gauged my students’ reading by checking their annotations. It was simple: I’d go around, table by table, and do a spot check.
This time, I made a small change: Your annotation score was based on your overall team’s score.
That meant: If you did your annotations but your peers didn’t, you’d lose. And vice versa: If your peer did their annotations and you didn’t, you’d hurt them.
The results were excellent. Homework completion was more than 95 percent.
More than any other reading homework assignment I’ve done this year, Group Annotations encouraged students to do their reading nightly, to annotate closely, and to be prepared for classroom discussion.
My students didn’t want to be the one bringing down their team.
A bit of a warning: This idea likely would not work everywhere. After all, students have to care about each other and demonstrate social responsibility. In addition, the practice is a bit unethical; it’s a totally individual assignment with no group product that is being assessed collectively.
But it worked, and that’s what counts the most.
It’s intriguing to me how much better my students did with group accountability. When they’re working for themselves, they sometimes get lazy. When they’re working for me, they sometimes do so begrudgingly. But when they’re working for each other, their drive kicks in.