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.