Tagged: your homework is due tonight

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Your homework is due tonight…via text.

favicon I’ve started a (very small) movement. It’s called, “Your Homework Is Due Tonight.”

Homework is no longer due at the beginning of the next class. After all, if students don’t complete their homework, then it’s too late for me to make changes to my lesson. We’re not all on the same page. Mini-chaos ensues.

This year, homework has been due at 11 p.m. on the night I assign it.

The results have been excellent:

1. The turn-in rate has been high — as high as, or higher than, the turn-in rate before I introduced the new policy.

2. If a student doesn’t turn in her homework, there’s still plenty of time for me to intervene and for the student to catch up.

I’m happy to announce a new idea that I’m trying this unit with Kate Chopin’s The Awakening: the nightly text.

Each night, students have reading homework. In addition to reading and annotating the text, students will respond to a question I send to them via text, which they’ll get in the afternoon. They’ll have until 11 p.m. to text me back.

Some teachers may ask, Why go through all that trouble? Why don’t you just have them write their answers down on paper? Why not give them the question in class?

My response is this: In order to motivate students to do homework consistently, there has to be something dynamic about it. There’s nothing engaging about reading a teacher-assigned book at home alone. But the reading has to be done.

Therefore, time outside of school — when students often tune out and forget their academic selves — needs to be interrupted. As the teacher, I have to enter that space. And using technology is the best way to do that.

I’ll let you know how this experiment works. If it goes well, I might switch the nightly text assignment over to a Google form, so that it’s easier to collect my students’ responses. That way, we can look at them in class on iseroma.com, our class blog, to spark a discussion.

What do you think? Please let me know your ideas. favicon

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Why “Your Homework Is Due Tonight” is working, #2

 If homework is supposed to be done at home, then it should be due at home, too. That’s the premise of “Your Homework Is Due Tonight.”

This year, I’m having my students turn in their homework the night before it’s due. So far, it’s working. In a recent post, I wrote that checking homework during class is too late, takes too long, and leads to conflict and negativity.

Here’s another benefit: Extensions aren’t really extensions.

Let’s say a student has a situation and needs more time to complete an assignment. There are two options: (1) Don’t allow any late work at all, (2) Allow for extensions in extenuating circumstances.

The problem with #1 is that it’s often too punitive. The problem with #2 is that it makes the student fall behind. While finishing up the assignment with the extension, the student is not fully engaged in what’s happening in the classroom right now.

When homework is due the night before class, however, extensions take on a new meaning.

It happened today. My students’ essay is due at 10 p.m. tonight. Two students texted me to ask for an extension. One had a basketball game, and the other had a family engagement. “I don’t think I can finish it on time,” they wrote.

I texted back, “By when can you have it?”

One wrote, “11 p.m.,” and the other one wrote, “Midnight.”

Amazing. Even if I had given them until the morning, the students would not fall behind.

What’s great about “Your Homework Is Due Tonight” is that it’s creating a due date before the due date. Instead of setting up one deadline — which introduces a pass/fail dichotomy — it allows for mistakes and imperfections along the way. It gives me a sense of who’s struggling and a chance to intervene.

It also switches my role as a teacher. Instead of sending the message of “you didn’t do the homework, and there’s nothing you can do now,” it says, “I see that you’re behind, but there’s still a chance for you to catch up.”

Most important, “My Homework Is Due Tonight” organizes time and allows for a shared classroom experience. Homework is done at home. When students get to class, there is no question about homework. We all know where we stand, so we can all move forward.

Please let me know what you think! 

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Why “Your homework is due tonight” is working

HW Teaching 101 says to check students’ homework during the first five minutes of class.

I think this is wrong for a few reasons:

  • It’s too late. Students who haven’t done their homework are behind. They might be frustrated, lost, confused, or disengaged. They’re in my class, but they’re not really in my class.
  • It takes too long. Instead of helping students with a warm-up, I’m checking whether they’ve done their homework.

  • It often leads to conflict and negativity. If I’m checking homework first, and the student hasn’t done it, class gets started on a bad foot.

That’s why I’m excited about something new I’m doing this year. It’s called “Your homework is due tonight.”

Instead of turning in their homework the next day in class, students turn in their homework online at 11 p.m. the night it’s assigned. Then, at 11:01 p.m., I send texts to the students who haven’t turned in their homework.

It’s working. On Tuesday night, five students didn’t do their homework. First thing Wednesday morning, when class began, everyone had completed it. Via text, one student apologized; another thanked me for the reminder; still another kept me posted about her progress.

Most important, class went really well. Students were ready for our discussion because all students had completed the homework. Then, when they peer edited each other’s essays, there was 100 percent engagement because there was 100 percent preparedness.

There’s no time to waste. Especially with what my students and I are trying to do this year, we can’t wait around. The results have to happen now.

That’s why I’m happy with “Your homework is due tonight.” Sure, I’d like the deadline to be 10 p.m. instead of 11 p.m., but for right now, I love going to sleep knowing that we’ll be forging ahead the next day instead of meandering.