July 19, 2006
I found a way of dealing with homework grades that works well with my philosophy of grading. I see homework as a student's first attempt to independently practice the things I taught in class that day. With that in mind, I want to encourage them to attempt the practice but not kill their grades if they don't get most of the problems right. A colleague told me about her method, and I found that it works well for me. When the students come to class, I go around the room and stamp their homework. I use different character stamps (that they really love even in high school), and I only stamp their work if they attempted most of it. Then, we go over the homework together so they will get the feedback they need on it. They keep their stamped homework in their notebook until the day we have the next unit test. On that day, they gather all of the homework assignments that led up to that exam, staple them together, and turn them in to me. They get one homework grade for the unit based on how many of the assignments they have stamped. I go through each packet, counting and marking through the stamp, so they cannot turn it in again during a later unit. If the student was supposed to have ten assignments and only has eight, he or she will receive an eighty. The students seem to like this method since one missing assignment doesn't mean I will average in a zero. They learn to stay organized and keep track of their work. It also reinforces the idea that they should use their homework assignments to help study for an exam.