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Your homework is due tonight.

 Most homework is due at the beginning of the next class. The teacher assigns something and tells the students, “This is due tomorrow.”

There are many problems with this method. One, it encourages procrastination. Students put off doing the work, save it for the next day, and complete it hastily in another class or at lunch when they could be learning or hanging out with their friends.

Worse, this method prevents teachers from intervening early enough. If I check homework at the beginning of class, what happens to students who didn’t complete it? Do they complete an alternate activity? Do I change my lesson entirely? Or do a I forge ahead and try to catch up those students after school?

To deal with this problem, I’m trying something new. I’m making homework due tonight.

Here’s what I’m doing so far: On Mondays, my students write an essay in class. Part of their homework is to type it on Google Docs before 11 p.m. that night.

So far, it’s worked. My turn-in rate is as high as if I gave them more time. Plus, I know who didn’t complete the homework far before the next class. That means I can text them, intervene, ask them what’s wrong, and even require them to come before school the next day for help. In other words, I close the loop much more quickly, and students see that I care about them so they don’t fall behind.

I’m liking this so much that I began having homework formerly due on Monday now due on Sunday night. As long as students have working computers and Internet (which I make sure of), I can see this practice extending to all nights of the week.

What I’m trying to do is enter my students’ academic psyches outside of class time and outside of school. When they want to stop thinking about English, they can’t. There I am. And there’s work to do. 

4 comments

  1. Oscar Luna

    Bloody brilliant. Not only have you made it easier to identify which students may need help completing an assignment, you’ve made turning in that assignment as simple as uploading a Facebook picture, which I’m sure your students know how to do very well. Eliminating procrastination as an option to your students will also benefit them in college. A tip of the hat to you, Mr. Isero!

    • Mark Isero

      Thank you, Oscar. Means a lot coming from you. Yeah, as I’m sure you know, one of the biggest challenges is to encourage students to keep working hard after they’ve put in an eight-hour day at school. Procrastination is a biggie, especially for high-skilled students. I’ll keep you posted about whether this idea works.

Please share your brilliant insights!