Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Missing Homework Epidemic

Well, I've come to believe that the average middle-schooler boycotts homework.  The number of students shirking their responsibilities lately far surpasses their homework-completing counterparts. This problem has begun to affect my sleep.  I lay in bed trying to strategically devise a plan of attack that will motivate students; part of me also wonders if only consequences should ensue for those who choose to take the dirt road.
Rewarding those who do what they're supposed to do is always a conundrum to me.  I'd like to take all of those students who always do their homework and give them "Dodgeball Mondays" while the ones who don't complete their work come to Saturday school, but is it right to reward what is expected anyway?  Probably not.  Would it make those who don't do homework second guess their choices when they don't get to play dodgeball?  Probably so.  By the way, I'm all for no dodgeball and Saturday school for those homework shirkers.  I'd be glad to supervise in the auditorium as they work on homework on their typical day off... now to figure out how to provide transportation for those who say they have no way to the school...I digress.
I've spoken with staff members to get their ideas of effective strategies they'd like to try and ones they've used in the past.  I've heard several good ideas:  daily point systems which make classes work as teams (if one person is missing homework, the entire class doesn't receive their point), competing with other classes to see which class can accumulate the most points at the end of a predetermined time, outdoor activities for those who do their work weekly, etc.

As I read more and more research articles on family partnerships, I continue to see the idea of TIPS (Teachers Involving Parents in Schoolwork) as a means to increasing homework completion.  Most recently, I read a study by Bennett-Conroy (2012) which used bidirectional communication (5 minute conversations weekly from teachers to parents on their child's progress in class and TIPS homework) as a means of increasing homework completion in language arts classes.  Seven weeks of TIPS assignments and 5 minutes or more conversations led to not only an increase in homework completion, but higher homework grades, and an increase in parent communication which is deemed a best practice in increasing parents' perceptions of a positive school climate.  Maybe TIPS will be in our future at Swansboro Middle School.  At this point, I'm willing to try anything!

Bennett-Conroy, W. (2012).  Engaging parents of eighth grade students in parent-teacher bidirectional communication.  School Community Journal.  22(2), 87-110.  Retrieved from

1 comment:

  1. You are not the only one that struggles with homework! I had a professor once who had a simple solution, "Don't assign it!" My principal, however, disagrees and requires all teachers to assign 20 minutes of homework daily. I am currently reading a book on grading that makes a valid point. The author claims it is unfair to reward students who have parents who make sure they complete their homework, while punishing students who do not have family support or have responsibilities after school. Many of my students take care of younger siblings. So what are we to do? The book doesn't answer that.. and I still have no idea. If you figure it out, please share!