Homework and Teacher Paperload

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley

What FL teacher worth any salt at all cannot identify with Mary Young's letter here below? (Well, perhaps the "young sprouts" among us don't appreciate the air conditioner as much as those who have put a decade or two in the classroom, but ....) Quite a few talented and helpful people have written about homework and the paper load problem in FLTeach. If you don't get a whole new slant on the subject, you're bound to pick up a gem of an idea or two. (Who would have thought that this subject would be subdivided into as many as 12 parts?)

97/07 From-> Mary Young <Young youngm@earthlink.net>
Subject: Teacher homework

Help! I am enjoying summer so much -- air conditioning is working just fine, thanks and I get all the sleep I want! One of the things I like best is that I have time to do all the things I have put off during the year because I had papers to grade and lessons to plan and activities to develop. Fact is, high school was easy for me as a student, and I got A's without doing much homework. I feel like I'm really making up for that now, because it seems that *all* my free time is spent on school. So here's what I'm hoping you can help me work out:
1) How can I end up bringing fewer papers home? (I teach 5 high school classes, levels 1 to 3-4/AP, like many of you)
a) How much can I realistically have students correct in class?
b) b) How much feedback to they benefit from/need?
2) How do you grade writing papers (stories, scripts, essays,...) (I have such a hard time grading writing--I'm overly "nurturing" and *hate* to dock them a lot of points, and I agonize over which letter grade [or points] to assign. I believe in rubrics, but I keep finding reasons to give them credit for something not on the rubric. So, ...)
a) What tips can you share for grading writing quickly and fairly and consistently?
b) What good rubrics do you use?

Mary Young

A. Middle/Junior High School
B. Dealing Fairly & Efficiently with Homework
C. Purpose and Nature of Homework
D. Grading Essays & Individual Projects
E. Workbooks
F. This Works For Me
G. Late Homework Policy
H. Grading Homework
I. Students Grading Other Students' Papers
J. Motivation: Getting 'em to do Homework
K. Homework Calendars
L. Paper Load and Organization Tips

A. Middle/Junior High School

95/01 From-> Cynthia K. Gerstl <cindyger@wam.umd.edu>
Subject: homework grades Re: homework grades:

I teach in a middle school. I have designed a very simple format that
I ask each of my students to use. Each day they fill in their assignments
using this format. If written work is part of the assignment, they will attach
the written work to the assignment sheet.  We always go over the written
assignments in class. I either collect the assignments on the day they are due,
or the students present the entire packet to me on Friday. I check to see that
they have entered each day’s assignment and that they have made corrections,
as needed.

For each day’s work they receive 25 points. If they have corrected the assignment,
they receive the entire 25 points. If they have errors -- assuming we went over the
assignment in class --I deduct a full grade for each error, so that day’s assignment
would be worth 21 or 22 points. If the assignment was a study assignment, they get
25 points for the writing of the assignment and for demonstrating in class that they
know the work. I do the same for warm-ups, except that there are 5 warmups and
each would be worth 20 points.

After a short time, students realize that they must correct their work diligently. Also,
it forces those students who are not organized, to become better organized. Any
student who shows me a better format and uses it consistently will have their format
accepted. Otherwise, they must use the format I have suggested.  I am able to
correct over 160 papers in a relatively short period of time as all I am doing is
scanning the papers. It also adds a grade to their week’s work -- and they all are
concerned about the grade.

Cindy Gerstl


95/05 From-> Gloria Manuel <GMANUEL@OCMVM.CNYRIC.ORG>
Subject: FL homework

Our students start French in 6th grade and take it every day for 35 minutes.
I assign short homework to reinforce classwork two to three times a week.
This can be a writing assignment, studying vocabulary for a quiz or test,
memorizing a part in a conversation which we are going to video tape or
completing a project involving some art work-a poster of French cognates
(pictures with labels or researching a French-speaking country in the world).
Most students complete the assigment, some not on time. Yes, some enjoy
it and others complain, c'est la vie! We continue the language into 7th and 8th
grades and I continue to give each level about 3 days of homework each week.

Bonne chance!

Gloria Manuel


96/08 From-> Andrea Merrifield <hapfield@mix-net.net>
Subject: Re: HOMEWORK

I teach an exploratory class, so this might have to be modified somewhat
for other levels. I give out a weekly sheet for my students. Since I have
some sort of warm-up exercise each day, I have three spaces for each
day of the week. In one, they write the answer to the warm-up, in the
second they write the homework assignment (these are 8th graders,
they don't remember) and in the third I use rubber stamps to check if
the homework is completed. While they are doing the warm-up, I walk
around the room and stamp the weekly sheets. I use the language stamps
from Carlex and different colored inkpads so they like to see what I'll use.
At the end of the week I give them 10 points (5 for having the warm-up done,
and 5 for homework even if we don't have it every day). I stole and modified
this from a high school colleague who used to have them write what was done
in class also. Maybe someone else can use it--cuts the paper work.

Andrea Merrifield


97/12 From-> gwen kellogg <gkellogg@ekcs.neric.org>
Subject: Re: grading systems

Presently I teach middle school French/Spanish. 40% of my grade is
homework/participation as a daily average. 30% is quizzes/tapes/small projects.
The other 30% is exams. This way, I feel I am giving enough leverage to
their daily performance and yet emphasizing mastery. Of course the 30%
of quizzes has more grades and counts in general less that the 30% exam.

Gwen Kellogg

B. Dealing Fairly & Efficiently with Homework

96/10 From-> Timothy Mason <mason@cie.fr>
Subject: Re: homework and rewards

One problem with homework is that both the regularity with which it is
returned and its quality depend (to an extent which it is difficult to calculate)
on the home circumstances of the child. Some children *do* live in homes
where it is either difficult or impossible to carry out all school assignments.
Other children receive extensive help from parents, or from people that their
parents hire to help them. Unless we are aware of such problems, and are
capable of taking them into account, it is difficult to justify including homework
marks in the final grade. It is also often the case that teachers take little notice
of how much homework is being handed out in other classes.

Students often find themselves with little or no work to do on some nights, while
on others they are up to their eyeballs in it. Teachers need to take some account
of the way this load varies. This said, I would agree with Vincent Morissette's stand
on the need for students to do the work as required. We do need to impose a
regularity of purpose upon the children.

Timothy Mason


96/03 From-> Laura <kimotol@hawaii.edu>
Subject: correcting homework

Although homework is great to reinforce in writing what was done orally
in class, correcting it in class can be time consuming and can take time away
from precious oral practice in Spanish only. I remember asking everyone on
FLTEACH and TESL-L about this. Some suggestions were:

1. don't correct the homework, just collect it.
2. have students compare their work with a partner. Then they can ask questions
about any disagreements.
3. have an answer key posted on your office door or on a transparency. Students
can do a quick check on their own.

I tend to do #2. It fosters cooperative learning and a bit of responsibility on the
shoulder of students to explain their reasons for their answers and to ask questions
on their own. Anyone else with better suggestions?

Laura Kimoto


96/03 From-> "S. Bihari" <sbihari@ashland.edu>
Subject: Re: correcting homework

Here is another way: Once a quick eye check has been done to verify that the
HW has indeed been completed, send as many volunteers to the board as there
are questions to check. They write up one answer each, at the same time.(This
may mean 10 people at the board. Tell them to keep the numbering in order.)
All check the answers on the board and suggest corrections. Once the board
is approved, they change anything, (if necessary,) on their own papers, or on
their partner's.

Martha Bihari


96/03 From-> "Dr. Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez" <lhart@mail.erols.com>
Subject: Re: correcting homework

I remember asking everyone on FLTEACH and TESL-L about this. Some
suggestions were:
>#1 don't correct the homework, just collect it.
>#2 have students compare their work with a partner. Then they can ask
questions about any disagreements.
>#3 have an answer key posted on your office door or on a transparency.
Students can do a quick check on their own.

Re suggestion #1: From my own student daughters (and my memory as well),
doing HW that a teacher never bothers to look at or doesn't correct is a
profound disincentive. It gives the message that the teacher doesn't care what
I do so why should I do it? #3 is only marginally better in this regard; it would
work perhaps for the older student who fully understands that the HW is for
the STUDENT not the teacher. #1 also risks reinforcing errors by merely
practicing them without correcting. #2 is the best of the lot offered here, and
from the psychological point of view, it helps the student to know that the teacher
has taken the personal interest and offers that guidance (often the only place in
the class where the student feels a real one-on-one connection with the teacher).
ALOT of work, but I think critical from the student point of view.

Cindy H-G


96/03 From-> "Erwin A. Petri" <eapetri@ix.netcom.com>
Subject: Re: correcting homework

It also depends upon what you mean by correcting. If you are correcting
or marking every single grammatical error and spelling mistake, then it’s no
wonder. Try doing a little holistic scoring with a simple rubric as mentioned
by another response. Read for content and ideas, not grammar. Check with
the English teachers, or get a copy of the rubric and method used to score
AP tests.

.Erwin Petri


97/07 From-> "Dr. Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez" <lhart@POLARIS.UMUC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

There are a million reasons why students will end up being misjudged
by a random spot check approach: I spent 3 hours on the last homework
and never got checked but got checked on this one that I couldn't finish/got
stuck on/did but didn't understand/did but got that one question wrong/etc.
More importantly, homework is not just a way of creating grades; it should
be a diagnostic which guides the student toward better focused work, and
thus to better mastery by test time. Students can fail to progress for a number
of reasons, only one of which is their lack of effort. Others include poor teaching,
poorly selected material, poor timing in presentation and practice, etc. Many
of these come back to the teacher. If you do not check homework, you are
not checking your own management of the class. You will also miss clear and
present danger signs in individual students who need focused help. You're not
doing your job as diagnostician and guide.

It sounds too simple, but she insists it worked just fine. You don't see what you
don't look at. Everything may SEEM fine without being so, if you don't look too
closely. How much of what REALLY happens in your classroom does the
principal see and know by popping his/her head in the door? You're talking
about popping your head into the homework.

It could certainly save teacher time not going over homework papers on
simple answer type work. Having students correct themselves, as I've
suggested on another thread, is a valuable practice in the process of learning
how to learn, how to be a good student. I have NO problem with going over
work in class and calling on people randomly to answer. But then ask the class:
How many did you get wrong? Are they always the same kind of problem, or
are there different problems? What patterns do you see? If your problem is
careless errors, what can you do, any suggestions? Do you see other problems?
Do you have any questions on those problems or do you understand now?
Could you explain them to me or a classmate? Go home and study those.
Then, *take those papers home and get a good look at them.* The students
have already done the bulk of the correcting work, so *some* time is saved,
but each student is entitled to your professional eye and attention, and homework
is one of the only ways they have to get it. It may sound tough, but I just don't think
there is any easy way out of the hard work of teaching. Whoever said "labor of
love" wasn't kidding.

Cindy H-G


97/07 From-> "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <mbarruet@pen.k12.va.us>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

>If you do not check homework, you are not checking your own
management of the class. You will also miss clear and present
danger signs in individual students who need focused help. You're
not doing your job as diagnostician and guide.

Then, *take those papers home and get a good look at them.* The
students have already done the bulk of the correcting work, so *some*
time is saved, but each student is entitled to your professional eye and
attention, and homework is one of the only ways they have to get it. I
totally agree with Cindy. I look at *everything*. I've been told over and
over, from students in level 1 to the advanced, that they do their homework
for this class because they *know* I will collect it. I've *never* had one
student complain that I collect homework -- but I've heard many complaints
about those who don't.

Over the years I've heard all the arguments against --
they may have copied the homework from someone else (if I check it every
day, it's very rare that I can't tell that); homework is for their benefit, not mine;
I have too many students to do that, etc. I figure that my looking at all the papers
helps keep the amount of work I assign at a reasonable level. I will never feel that
I truly know what a student and the class knows without doing this daily personal
check. It is also a great avenue for personal contact -- I encourage anyone who
has a question they don't want to ask in front of the class to write it on their paper
so I can give them a personal answer. Homework where there are alternative
possible answers -- instead of using class time to discuss all possibilities, students
put a question mark by any they're not sure of for me to respond. Students are
encouraged to take notes on their papers as we go over them, knowing that they
will get the papers back to study from There are some time-savers in teaching. I
personally don't think checking their work should be one of them.

Marilyn V.J. Barrueta


97/09 From-> "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <mbarruet@PEN.K12.VA.US>
Subject: Homework grading

Just thought those not in our area might be interested in some reported news
today, since the topic of if and how to grade homework has recently been a
hot one. According to the news reports, Fairfax County (VA) has decided
that ungraded homework assignments may not count more than 10% of their
middle students' grades; the report I read (Washington Post) also indicated
that there is consideration being given to this being carried over to the high
schools as well. Note that this doesn't affect assignments that you collect and
grade, just those that you "check in". Perhaps this may spread?

Marilyn V.J. Barrueta


97/09 From-> "Dr. Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez" <lhart@POLARIS.UMUC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Homework grading

I'm in Fairfax, but as a parent, and I have to say that homework that is
checked off as "Present" does no one any good. I could hold up the same
piece of paper three days in a row and the teacher would never know.
I could practice the same errors over and over till they were "perfectly"
learned, and no one would notice, until test time. Homework must *at
least* be reviewed in class.

Cindy H-G


97/09 From-> "James C. May" <jaimemay@EXECPC.COM>
Subject: Re: Grading homework

<< Homework must *at least* be reviewed in class.>>
I don't agree. Homework should be based upon something to which
students have had multiple exposures. I used to spend a lot of time
reviewing the homework in class; I found the kids who already knew
the material paid attention while the kids who didn't know it did not
want to pay attention. I now collect homework and grade it for
completeness while students are doing a warm-up. I do not give
credit for incomplete work or if the majority of answers are wrong.

James C. May


97/09 From-> "Dr. Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez" <lhart@polaris.umuc.edu>
Subject: Re: Grading homework

I'm not sure in what way the warm-up is any more effective or receives
any more attention from the unwilling than the homework review
(which is also a kind of warm-up). The point of my comment in the
first place was that without correction, homework is just a way to
practice and ingrain errors. In what way does this benefit the students?
My purpose for homework is to improve accuracy and make it second
nature. What is your purpose?

Cindy H-G


97/09 From-> "James C. May" <jaimemay@execpc.com>
Subject: Re: Grading homework

<<how do you check all that homework during a warm up? With
27 students at 30 seconds per check, you're looking at 13 or so
minutes - maybe more. That's a pretty long warm up.>>

I don't give long assignments! It goes very fast because I spot check
certain items. If those are wrong I will look at some the items but I
usually don't look at every single answer. After years of checking
homework in class I am convinced that it does little good.
Honors/advanced classes may be different; I am talking about a
standard Spanish 1 class.

James C. May


97/09 From-> "Helen V. Jones" <hjones@pen.k12.va.us>
Subject: Re: Homework grading

Ken Chastain, Univ. of Virginia, has done lots of research on the
efficacy of our diligent efforts at red ink error correction. You are
right, especially in regard to composition. The students do not benefit
from all those corrections made by the teacher. I have found that
homework assigned in the workbooks sold by the publishers as
ancillary materials is effective. Very quickly, at the beginning of the
class you can spot check the HW assigned in the workbook and
ask if the kids had specific problems. This gives them the writing
practice they so badly need. But you don't actual use the red pencil
to check it. Unfortunately, I am now in a school system that doesn't
provide workbooks and the policy is that we cannot require parents
to pay for any textbook or supplementary materials.

Helen Jones


97/12 From-> Deborah Blaz <blaz@gte.net>
Subject: Re: Necesito Ayuda

>I think I am a homework freak! and my students have notice
that. I find myself pending a great deal of a time and am still not
convince how to do it effectively and with less pain. My favorite
way is to use Pairs/Check or Team/Check. They do the work
individually, then compare with a partner or three others (team).
ONE paper is handed in for both (or all four in team) with all names
on it......If errors survive after that many have looked at it, it is an
issue to address in class the next day. If they have put different answers,
some discussion is necessary about the correct answer, and peer
teaching takes place!! You can't lose, and you have only half (or
one-fourth) the papers to look over. Try it, you'll like it!

Debbie Blaz

C. Purpose and Nature of Homework

97/09 From-> Mary E Young <young-m@juno.com>
Subject: Giving useful homework-request

I suggest that it's the kids who already know how to do it that
actually do the homework. Do they need it? And the ones who
don't know how are the ones who practice errors (if they even
try to do the assignment) --or try to figure out the assignment
and work it out wrong and learn it very effectively (and wrongly).

Many have suggested giving homework assignments that (a) force
the student to think about the language for a few minutes outside
of class, and (b) will be put to use in class the following day. I have
them make their own vocab flash cards at the beginning of a unit.
I liked the bingo card preparation that someone posted yesterday.
I've had kids gather pictures that they can use to write about
(cartoons they can assemble to make up a story or dialog, for
example, or draw a refrigerator and cut out pictures of food from
the grocery store ads that come in the mail on Wednesdays then
use them for A/B activities such as "What's for dinner?" "What do
you want?" "What have we got?" "I'll look in the fridge." "Is there
any lettuce?" "Yes, there's some." etc. I'm sure you have more,
better ideas. Please share.

Mary E. Young


96/03 From-> Susan Mitchell <smitiaq@win.bright.net>
Subject: Re: correcting homework

It can be a time consuming task to correct every bit of homework
whether it be in or out of class. I feel the purpose of doing homework
is to practice the language and it should generate questions that students
may still have to be asked in class the next day. But teaching high school
students, having them "think" of questions when they blindly do
assignments is asking too much of them at times--or at least that is
the attitude I pick up from them once in a while. My students always
ask "How many points is it worth?" as if this is what determines how
important the assignment is and whether or not they will do it. How
do you work around that one???

Susan Mitchell


96/03 From-> Bob Hall <bobhall@usa.net>
Subject: Re: correcting homework

>>other because all their answers should be different. However,
that type of assignment really means that I have to correct the answers.
How do you get around that? I'm so tired of the piles of paper! >Judy

God knows I sympathize with you about the piles of paper -- but if
I'm asking personalized questions, I'm interested in their answers.
For me, these are the papers I want to read. It is through these types
of papers that I feel I can see if the students are able to 'put it all together'.
I must add, however, that I, like you, often times feel as though I am
drowning in a sea of papers!

 Bob Hall


97/07 From-> Mary Young <youngm@earthlink.net>
Subject: Q: why we give homework

>More importantly, homework is not just a way of creating grades;
it should be a diagnostic which guides the student toward better focused
work, and thus to better mastery by test time.... which raises a question:
Do we give homework out of respect for a tradition, or does it actually
serve a useful purpose? Could that purpose be served better in another
way?  example: What if we turn kids loose on a homework assignment
and there is something they have to puzzle out? (My text is notorious for
this. You're sailing along and they toss in a couple of glaring exceptions
to the rule you're practicing.) So the student has to reason out the correct
response. Whatever s/he comes up with is probably more likely to stay in
her/his mind than my lesson presentation, simply because s/he was so
engaged in working it out. If they work out the wrong thing, it will be quite
a job to "un-teach" it.

How controlled should the assignment be? If the purpose is to practice a
structure, is it worth doing if they know that this structure is always
the right answer? (i.e. are not having to *select* the appropriate structure)

Should homework be contextualized and communication-based? Or
simply like doing reps with free weights, working one muscle at a time?
If we just want them to produce something in L2, is journal writing better?
Are there other ways to "take their pulse"? How much feedback is
useful/necessary? Anyone willing to re-examine this?
Anybody know of any current research on the value of various types of
homework? (Then of course comes the issue of how to get them to do it...)
What do you think?

Mary Young


97/07 From-> Pat Barrett <PBarr21106@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Q: why we give homework

Most homework I give is really just preparation for the activity in class.
Real creative work is something I like to watch the students do; that's
how I learn about each kid, how they think, what they understand about
communication, what their fund of knowledge is, how enthusiastic they
are about the language and the particular topic we are on, and so forth.
The preparatory work can be interesting, such as interviewing people
at work or home in Spanish, drawing up lists to be used in class, etc.

Pat Barrett


97/07 From-> Shelley Hampp <SHOPPEUSE@aol.com>
Subject: Re: teacher homework

In terms of GRADING homework, it's very simple. When they
enter the room, they sit down, put their homework on their desk for
me to see, and begin the warm-up assignment on the board/overhead.
While they are working, I check that they have done their homework
and record a grade between 1 and 10 based on the percentage they
have completed. They are told frequently that the importance of
homework is to learn from the practice AND from correcting their

There are always students who have to learn things the hard
way: they copy homework then cannot perform on the quizzes and tests
as a result. Some figure out the connection and change their ways before
they wind up having to repeat the course. I second these comments
wholeheartedly. Philosophically, I think that students need a chance to
practice and make mistakes without being graded. I find it very difficult
to believe that I did such a good job of presenting material on Monday
that I could justify grading homework about it on Tuesday.

I gave up correcting every assignment when I realized that the only thing the
student looked at when I passed those papers back was the grade at the top,
not the errors. There was no learning taking place in that scenario.
Self-correction produces visible nods, erasures, etc. as we go over for
most students. There are plenty of opportunities for meaningful grades
when there has been adequate time for mastery and proficiency. My
system is slightly different than this one in that it's all or nothing for me--it's
done or not. Students are encouraged to come in before school if they have
problems with the assignment. Then I won't count unfinished work against them.

Students begin each quarter with100% in homework. Each recorded zero
lowers their homework grade by 5%.This homework grade is 15% of
their quarter grade. I also include on-task behavior along with homework.
If a student is not participating in pair work or hasn't brought needed
materials to class, I record a zero for the day. There are still some who
refuse to do their work. Some "special time" with me in the morning to
get their assignments done usually helps motivate them!

Shelley Hampp


97/09 From-> Erwin Petri <eapetri@sprynet.com>
Subject: Re: homework check

As a general rule, the types of homework assignments that I
have seen teachers give over the past 25-30 years are usually
rather worthless. Filling in the blanks with verb forms, making
agreements with both nouns and adjectives, using the correct
forms of prepositions with determiners, etc., These are assignments
that are valuable to very few kids.

Teachers who have 100-150 kids do not have the time to correct
homework. Besides correcting home work and giving grades is
pointless since we never know whose work we are correcting.
Giving grades for just doing homework is also pointless. We
should be grading students on their abilities and what they can do
in the language. Homework assignments should be a preparation
for what will be done in class the following day. And that is not going
over homework assignments of the kind mentioned above.

What type of assignment would I give. One example would be the
typical family tree where students would prepare the relationships
amongst family members, and then the next school day, a 10 minute
drill where students would talk about the relationships. If some students
don't need to do the advanced preparation, so what! As long as they
are well prepared. For those who need the preparation, if they do not
prepare, it will show in class and then they might be graded on what they
are not able to do.

There are some decent activities in some of the newer text series such as Paso
a Paso, but even there, too many of the practice workbook exercises are
there to appease the traditionalist among us.

Erwin Petri


97/12 From-> Elma Chapman <chapmane@edcen.ehhs.cmich.edu>
Subject: homework

I think it's good that you give and correct a lot of homework! I
think too many people say "I don't have the time. I have a life."
and then they can't figure out why their students don't do the
assignments and wonder where they get the brazenness to say
"I don't have time. I have a life." I tell my students that homework
is expected of them, and if it's worth their time to do it, it's worth
my time to grade it. I'm sure you'll get lots of suggestions from
people with ways to shortcut the system: just check a few items,
only check to see if it's done, have them check it in class. I just
thought I'd let you know that I for one think homework is important
and that as teachers we have to take the time to check what we assign.

(I don't grade it in class because most of them don't listen--you're
preaching to the choir when you do that. I've even said "Correct
your mistakes. I'm not interested in what you didn't know the first
time; I'm interested that you know what the correct answer is now.
I want you to turn in a 100% paper" and I still get papers with
numerous errors, so I just grade it on my own and use class time
for more important things that they can't do outside of class like
get oral and listening practice. I think homework is just a fact of
life--for us and for them.

Elma Chapman

D. Grading Essays & Individual Projects

96/03 From-> Richard Boswell <boswell@bingsuns.cc.binghamton.edu>
Subject: Re: correcting homework

My policy is to correct all written homework myself. It takes hours
every day. I put a mark equivalent to 3, 2, 1, or 0 points on the paper,
and if the mark is not 3, then I usually put it in parentheses, which means
that the student can redo it for a higher mark. I am as interested in the substance
of what students say as in their accuracy of their grammar and the corrections I
make are a function of each individual student's proficiency level and bent of mind.
Some students are passionately interested in overt grammatical correctness while
others are not. Some students write 'empty' sentences which are hard to assign a
meaning to while others have a 'deep' meaning in mind in terms of an elegant English

Every day I collect a certain number of lessons (grammar, vocabulary, style,
coherence, etc.) and type up a daily SUPPLEMENT which each student gets
a copy of so we can work through it in class and then base a homework
assignment on. At each session I assign between two and six written homework
exercises/compositions, so the students are busy writing every day. I also type
up some of the better compositions and give everyone a copy, either to read as
homework or for us to work through in class. A lot of work for me but it pays off
in terms of student diligence, earnestness, respect for the course. And they do learn.

Richard Boswell


97/07 From-> Pat Seaver SEAVER@uno.cc.geneseo.edu
Subject: Re: Teacher homework Help!

For writing assignments, I've been using an error correction key along with rubrics
for several years. I spend 15-20 minutes on each composition for the first reading,
have the students do the corrections and hand it back in. Then I spend another 5-10
minutes on each checking their corrections. This fall we are switching to a new
composition text (5th semester college; not far from H.S. 4,5,AP) called Aprendizaje.
I'm going to try something that they suggest for correction which is to simply use a
highlighter on student errors and have the students figure out what the error is. I'll
still have to check the compositions a second time, but I believe this method will
cut the 15-20 minutes that I generally spend on the first reading.

Pat Seaver


97/07 From-> Tara Stace <TSTACE@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework Help!

It does take about 10-20 minutes to read the writing assignment the first time
through, where I highlight the mistakes, they figure out their mistakes and turn
it back in, if they choose. To grade the corrections takes less than 10 minutes
usually. The kids seem to like this method and they work hard to find their mistakes.

Tara Stace


97/07 From-> Sandra Howard <khoward@nbn.com>
Subject: evaluating essays (long, as usual :-))

This is in response to a question posed a week or so ago regarding the
amount of time it takes to correct student essays. I confess that I have
changed my evaluation procedure a great deal over the last few years. I
used to mark, sometimes correct, every single error. I have used a rubric of
symbols to identify the kinds of errors and had students keep a chart on the
frequency & kinds of errors they made. But after years of watching kids look
only at the final grade or looking dismayed at the number of corrections (even
in non-red pen), I have come to decide that I was wasting my time. This method
was not making my students better writers, and it was driving me crazy. I
resented my students because I spent so much time on their papers, and yet
they didn't seem to care and they kept making the same errors.

But I had to come to terms with not marking all errors. What if a French-speaking
parent saw my marks and thought I didn't see the other, unmarked errors?
Would I look incompetent? I had to get beyond this fear. So now, I just pick a
few points and mark those. I also confess that I tend to make more remarks on
the papers of my best students because I know they can benefit from them. C students
(even low B students) get overloaded and discouraged if I point out every error. I
don't want to discourage them. I also *always* make positive remarks-usually smiley
faces, not just on content (good point, example etc) but also on grammar (good
subjunctive, great use of si clause, good relative pronoun), vocab(good linking word,
nice use of new vocab from novel) and organization(good transitional sentence, nice
opening paragraph etc).

As I am correcting essays, I make myself notes on the errors that are made
by several students. Then just before I hand papers back, I discuss these errors
on the overhead. Sometimes I write notes to individual students who keep making
the same error (beaucoup des, or qu'est-ce quein lieu of ce qui or ce que, vont in
lieu of allons for ma famille et moi etc). Usually I focus grammar correction on
what we have recently been studying, or on something we spent a long time on

On advanced papers I don't correct & sometimes don't even mark inattentive
errors like subject verb agreement or adjective agreement because I know the
students know these rules. I might make a blanket comment like adjective
agreement and draw a frowny face. I always tell students what my main objective
is in assigning an essay. Ex: the whole point of this narrative is passe compose/imparfait
usage, that will be my main focus of grading. Or, this is a vocab assignment. Impress
me with your use of the new vocab.

My students know that I like quantity accompanied by quality. A student who
writes more, uses more language and spends more time and energy, should
receive a better grade than someone who gives me the minimum. I will give
no higher than a B+ to an essay that is of average length and grammatically
accurate. To mean A means excellent, above and beyond what I ask for.

Starting in French I, I read papers to students so they see what I give an A, B etc.
I also insist from the beginning that there be a beginning, middle &end, even in
a one paragraph paper. For example if kids are describing their room (a
typical French I assignment), I want them to start out with something like:
here is my room and end with something like: I like my room because it is
comfortable or it is my favorite color etc. I have in my mind what an A, B etc is.
Except for my advanced class occasionally, I don't need to read all of the essays
before deciding on a grade. My grades are based on a general idea I have,
not on an individual class effort; I don't grade on the curve. So I read the
essay and say, that is a good paper, it's a B. I grade with points so if I'm giving
15 points for example, a B is either 13 (high B) or 12 (low B).Kids never complain
because I have been as clear as possible in letting them know ahead of time, what
earns what grade.

This requires you the teacher, to have a very clear idea of what you want and
what the students are capable of producing at each level. This comes with experience.
But remember, you are the professional. You are certainly qualified to evaluate
your students' work.

Following is a written description I give to my level III and advanced students who
start doing expository writing. It is borrowed heavily from a wonderful English
colleague who was kind enough to share it with me. By the way, discussing with
your English colleagues might help you define your personal expectations. They
are trained to teach writing. I have frequently consulted with them at our school,
and they have been an immense help in evaluating and creating good topics to get
what I want from my students.

Amities, Sandra


Writing assignments will be evaluated according to the following standards which
are partially based on the guidelines for scoring the French AP exam.
Papers which earn an A are generally superior. They are interesting due to their
vivid language, challenging vocabulary, well chosen examples and organized thinking.
Their subjects are well developed, thoroughly and logically presented, i.e. thesis
statements, topic sentences, good transitions with linking words and transitional
sentences; they have an identifiable beginning, middle and end. They demonstrate
a strong control of French through proficiency and variety in grammatical usage
with few significant errors. They have a title; they are neat with sufficient margins,
no scratch outs and are legibly written or typed. In short, they are a true pleasure to read.

Papers which earn a B are generally very good. Like an A paper, they use vivid
language and challenging vocabulary; they tend to be long and are well organized
with appropriate examples and sensible reasoning. They are less fluent and less
complex than an A paper, but they still read fluently overall.  They demonstrate
good control of grammatical structures despite some patterned errors and/or
some awkwardness of style. Like the A papers, they are also neat and legible.

Papers which earn a C are acceptable, adequate works. They may lack vivid
language and use a routine vocabulary. They show some attempt at organization,
but may lack a closing paragraph for example. Lacking depth by giving merely a
"surface" treatment of the topic, they make general statements often unsupported
by examples. In terms of length, they tend to me on the short side. Showing only
occasional signs of fluency and a sense of style, they demonstrate a fair ability to
express ideas in French i.e. correct use of simple grammatical structures or use
of more complex structures without numerous serious errors.

Papers which earn a D are unsatisfactory. While they may show some
understanding of the subject, they are usually dull, with little thought given to
vocabulary and language. They are poorly organized and inadequately developed,
usually lacking in detail and specificity. They make vague, unsupported statements.
They show weak language skills with little control of grammatical structures. There
are usually one or more unintelligible sentences, in addition to the use of anglicisms
which force interpretation on the part of the reader.

Sandra Howard


97/12 From-> DJanke6847 <DJanke6847@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Homework help - composition correction

I require compositions to be written 3 times!!!! Harder on me than on them.
Rough draft double spaced is turned in. The student gets 10 - 15 points
automatically for turning it in. I underline points of error and put a number
underneath that underline. The number is for a composition code that I could
provide if anyone is interested.#2 is written with the student correcting errors
marked with the code.  Automatic 10 points for doing the rewrite. I underline
and code errors again. Final draft is done. This time I correct the errors that
may remain and count off one point for each.  Because they have to rewrite,
many students are more interested in what they write the first time and try to
understand the error. Some, of course, still don't care.

Dianna Janke

E. Workbooks

96/03 From-> "Kris E. Swanson" <KES20D@jade.pvcc.cc.va.us>
Subject: Correcting Homework

Relating to the topic of grading/correcting homework... Every semester
I debate (in my mind) the value and fairness of grading workbooks.
Traditionally at this college, a portion of the final grade has been assigned
to the written and aural lab exx. in the workbook. I have real problems with
this for a couple of reasons.

First, in my view, the purpose of the workbook is for practice. So, how do
you give a fair grade to something you know will (and should) contain mistakes?
I don't believe any student should do exercises without knowing where they've
gone wrong. I make the answer key available so they can self-correct. (I can't
correct every students workbook!--Nor do I think I should!) Now, how do
you give a grade to something that can just be copied?

In addition, not every student needs to do every exercise in order to grasp the
material and get "A's" on quizzes and tests. Do I make them fill in every blank
to get full credit on the workbook? Any ideas? Suggestions? Magical solutions?

 Kris Swanson


96/03 From-> Robert Ponterio <PONTERIOR@SNYCORVA.CORTLAND.EDU>
Subject: Re: Correcting Homework

>problems with this for a couple of reasons. First, in my view, the purpose of
the workbook is for practice. So, how do you give a fair grade to something
you know will (and should) contain mistakes?

I count my students' workbooks as well done, done, poorly done, not done
(sounds like meat ;-) that count 3,2,1 or 0 points. They need to complete the
work and correct it themselves using the answer key and a different color of ink.
I am VERY generous with these. If everything is done and an effort has been make
to get it right, they get 3 points.  Leaving blanks pages leads to lost points.

>don't believe any student should do exercises without knowing where they've gone wrong.

I make the answer key available so they can self- correct. (I can't correct
every students workbook!--Nor do I think I should!)

>Now, how do you give a grade to something that can just be copied?

I can't control how they do it or who does it. I warn them that "it is possible to
trick yourself into thinking that you are really doing an activity when in fact, while
checking answers after doing each one, you are really just copying. This is far
less productive and you won't learn much this way, so be careful." But I don't
try to police it. This is a small percentage of their grade and at least they are
getting something out of it. If a weak student hands in perfect workbooks
with no corrections, I ask about it and remind them that they really need to
be trying to do the activities, not just copying, but I don't take off points.

>every student needs to do every exercise in order to grasp the material and
get "A's" on quizzes and tests. Do I make them fill in every blank to get full credit on the workbook?

I have trouble predicting which students will need to do which activities. Perhaps
students who do very well and do not want to do the workbook could be
allowed to replace the workbook with an alternative, more demanding assignment.

Bob Ponterio


96/10 From-> Lynne Overesch-Maister <loveres@jcccnet.johnco.cc.ks.us>
Subject: Re: Homework: Kids & teachers

To avoid deducting points, I tell my students up front that they have the
possibility of "earning" 10 (for example) points per day from homework
and class participation. HW counts for 5; speaking in class counts for 5
(or 6-4 or however you decide). If their homework is completely done,
with corrections shown in another color (they have the answers in the
back of the workbook), it received 5 points. If the corrections are not
done, or 50% or more of all exercises are not done, they "earn" 4 points;
if there are major gaps, 3 points; if only25% of the exercises have been
done, 2 pts. and so on.

I also tell them that their class participation grade is also dependent on HW,
since, if they are called upon to give the answer to an exercise, they will
most likely be unable to do it. To avoid wasting time by their dreaming up
an answer on the spot--many think that they can do just that--I tell them to
say "I pass" in the target language. (I do not count off for incorrect answers
in spontaneous speech, only where they are reviewing their written homework.)

All of this is calculated to represent about 15-20% of their final grade, so they
can really see how preparing for class helps them, even if they have "test anxiety"
I issue quarterly reports every four weeks of the semester (computerized) that
shows them their percentage for that period. They are also allowed one COUPON
good for turning in a late homework assignment or computerized vocab quiz
(which they take on their own in the language lab, but that's another topic).

Since instituting this policy, I have had absolutely NO complaints about grades;
every student is constantly aware of how he/she stands throughout the semester
and, furthermore, can remedy the situation if so desired (many do, especially
after the typical 2nd quarter "slump").This is slightly more labor intensive for
me throughout the semester, but really saves time at the end, since everything
is completely calculated with the exception of the final exam.

Lynne Overesch-Maister


97/09 From-> Patricia Seaver <seaverp@localnet.com>
Subject: Re: Homework grading

We use the workbooks in our 101-102 courses. Some of the exercises
require cut-and-dried answers, others require personal answers which
will vary from student to student. I put the cut-and-dried answers on
transparencies and go over them in class, having the students make their
own corrections. This gives them a chance to ask questions about things
they didn't understand. I correct the other exercises. It may be the case
that they don't benefit much from my corrections, but I can't see that they'd
benefit much if they just write something that no one ever looks at. Most
importantly, *I* see what errors they are making systematically and can
adjust my lessons accordingly.

Pat Seaver

F. This Works for Me

96/03 From-> Francie Cutter <cutter@informns.k12.mn.us>
Subject: Re: correcting homework

Two things that have worked for me:
1) Students correct their work in class, if possible. They must correct
with a bright colored pen--they usually use red. Homework must be
done in pencil, blue or black ink. After correcting and discussion and
review with a partner, they have 2-3 minutes to take notes in their notebooks
about their errors or any insights they have gained. They hand in homework
and I spot check for correct "correction." (This does not take much time.)
They get no credit for homework that is poorly corrected.
2) Homework does not "count" as in accumulating points. For every 3
assignments missed, a student's grade is lowered 1 percentage point. I
teach in a private school and our students place great emphasis on grades,
but there is positive response to this policy.

Francie Cutter


96/03 From-> Robert Brito <rbrito@earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: correcting homework

I give homework every day, except on special occasions. I give students a
flat 10 points for having completed the work on time, correctly or incorrectly.
Then we proceed to correct the homework in class. I then give X number
of points for the correct answers. So far it has worked. Students get their
papers with a grade: example, 15/16, if there were sixteen answers, and
(s)he missed one during the correction period. This is SOP. At the end,
all points are added and averaged with tests, quizzes and class participation.
I even give points when we are outside the classroom, ie. cafeteria, and the
student answers me in Spanish. It works...

Robert Brito


96/03 From-> Anthony Green <green@africa.pangeanet.it>
Subject: Re: correcting homework

>>#2 have students compare their work with a partner. Then they can
ask questions about any disagreements.

I always try to do correction this way. I'm not worried how _much_ my
students learn at the beginning, I'm far more interested in how _well_ they
learn. If they start badly, they'll never get beyond first base. After a couple
of months of this, I often ask them if they want to a) reduce the amount of
homework b) keep the same amount c) increase the amount of homework
The answer is nearly always c) because they like doing things they are
successful at.

Anthony Green


96/08 From-> Randy Henley <rhenley@imperium.net>
Subject: Re: HOMEWORK

I take a different approach on homework. I move around the room and
check for completeness as we review the homework assignment. Rather
than collect and read all the papers I offer my students an extra credit point
if their homework is "correct" =(less than 3 errors) or "corrected"= (they
made corrections - and have less than 3 errors). That way those who
desire feedback get it. Those who don't.....don't. They must write "correct"
or "corrected" on their papers to get the extra point.

R. Henley


96/08 From-> Shannon Fineout <sfineout@scnc.holt.k12.mi.us>
Subject: Re: HOMEWORK

 I only count homework as 10% of total grade, so I'm not that
concerned with copying--it happens! I do correct homework in
class and ask students to change their answers to correct ones.
Those who haven't done it at all cannot keep up, hence, their grade
will suffer. I sometimes collect it and sometimes don't. When I do
collect it, I spot check 4-5 answers (usually those we have discussed).
If students have been paying attention and correcting their answers,
they have 100% on their homework and a perfect copy to study from.
Those who have cheated or not made corrections, well, it all comes
out on their test grades. This way I don't spend much time with papers
every night. Students have learned to pay more attention in class.

Shannon Fineout


96/08 From-> "Patricia A. Kessler " <KESSLEP1@mail.firn.edu>
Subject: Homework

One way I developed this past year to make checking homework
easier is to walk around the room and check assignments while students
are engaged in another activity. I then use a stamp and stamp their papers.
I also give the students a grid I have created with space to put the date
and name of assignment. I stamp on the grid also. About once a week I
collect the grids and mark their assignments in my grade book all at once.
It saves from collecting mounds of papers. I do random picking up of
papers to prevent students from just writing anything to make it "look

Pat Kessler


97/07 From-> Shannon Fineout <sfineout@scnc.holt.k12.mi.us>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

I do something similar to this idea and it works just fine. I don't give a
zero when a student answers incorrectly--often I will give that student
a chance to work it out and come back to him/her. My students know
that I expect them to make all corrections on their own paper. If I pick
it up to correct (sometimes I don't), I will choose 4-5 items to check--often
ones that we discussed. If a student has all 5 items correct=100%, -1 item=80%,
etc. It keeps kids focused, kids that didn't do their homework cannot
possibly keep up, and, best of all, it takes very little time to check
a set of homework papers. If I decide not to pick up homework, at least
I have some participation data. Students who pay attention have 1) an easy
homework A, and 2) a perfect copy from which to study.

Shannon Fineout


97/07 From-> Timothy Boorda <cheztoby@pacbell.net>

In my classes we count absolutely everything students do and try to
make sure the correct answers get drilled. We open class with
questions on the homework, with volunteers explaining. Then I
collect the papers and redistribute them at random and we correct.
If the class had a lot of trouble, we make some of the points bonus points.

Since we are not living in a francophone environment, my students
need all the repetition they can get. Sometimes we put the answers
on the board, sometimes I read them, sometimes one or two students
whom we don't hear from often enough get to read them all, sometimes
everyone gets a Xerox copy of the answers, especially for complicated
things. The process takes ten to fifteen minutes usually.

I correct all composition activities. Students rewrite compositions
with corrections for more points. My colleague underlines errors in
the first draft, then requires students to come up with the corrections;
sometimes I use her method, too. We have about three short quizzes
a week.

Everyone gets ten participation points a day. If a student isn't participating
enough, it is up to me to call on him more. People who have been absent
must propose what they are going to do to make up the points--the activities
must be oral. I speak French to them and they have to speak to me in French.
We can resort to English if we have really tried first in French. Almost always
a student who claims, "I can't say this in French," who is confronted by my "Je
ne comprends pas" ends up able to express himself in French just fine after all.
We can talk English all they want during lunch help sessions.

Thursdays are performance days. Students can present individually or in groups.
I give them several choices for skits, but they are also free to talk to us about
something from their French journals. One must talk without notes for a minimum
of 30 seconds. Students almost always choose their own partners for group
activities, although once in a while they draw their partners' names from a hat.
We have many quick activities in pairs, as well as the on-going Thursday
performances. The option is always available to work individually; those who
like to work in groups do, but papers are always graded individually. I never
assign a grade to a group as a whole. The program works well.

In a school of 1350 we have three sections of French 4 or 4/5 with excellent
AP scores. Our attitude starting with French 1 is: "You can do this. If you have
trouble, we'll help you find out how you can learn. You're going to take the AP
test, and French is going to be part of you, even many years after you graduate."

I'm blessed with a colleague who shares this attitude and who takes joy in
working collaboratively. I think it is my job to motivate, to make it very hard
to escape learning. Once people start succeeding, they start motivating themselves.
Very few students turn out to be "lazy"--often what looks like a lack of interest
or laziness ends up being fear. There are plenty of teachers who operate on the
philosophy of "it's sink or swim in the real world, kid" so I don't have to worry
about giving my students a false impression.

Timothy Boorda


97/09 From-> Lewis Johnson <lewis_johnson@eee.org>
Subject: Re: checking in daily assignments:

>I need some ideas on how to check in daily homework quickly. I have
a large class that is also disruptive. I need ideas to speed the task. Any
help would be appreciated.

As soon as the bell rings, I give the students a quiet written assignment
that takes about 5 minutes seeing that every student gets started with it.
I take roll and then quickly go from student to student glancing to see
that the homework is COMPLETELY done. If it is, the student gets
the 10 points. If it isn't, the student gets0 points. We then read (altogether
as a group) through the homework and class assignment QUICKLY. Or
I read the question and all students respond with the answer. Students are
instructed to correct any mistakes while we're checking. I want only 100%
papers. Then collect papers which I usually don't check unless the students
need additional pressure or feedback.

Lewie Johnson


97/09 From-> Cherice Montgomery <montgomery@feist.com>
Subject: Quick homework check-ins

>I need some ideas on how to check in daily homework quickly. I have
a large class that is also disruptive. I need ideas to speed the task. Any
help would be appreciated. Thanks! Rita Danks

They aren't too exciting, but here are some things I've tried which work well:
1) Stand at the door with your gradebook before class starts. (You'll have
to let them know in advance that this is going to become a procedure). When
students come to class, their homework is their ticket in. They show you the
assignment, you check them off in your gradebook if they did it all, or write
in the number of points they earned if they only did part of it. (A colleague,
Janie Leeth, turned me on to the idea of using check marks for full credit--
saves time--easier than writing all those numbers in).
2) Sometimes, I ask them to get their homework out (or post a sign that is
visible upon entry to the room which tells them to do so) when they come in.
They start on the warm-up and I walk around and quickly check off in my
gradebook the homework assignments which are sitting on the corner of their desks.
3) Along those same lines, I walk around and stamp (with either a cutesy
rubber stamp, or with a hole-punch in the shape of a little foot, a star, etc.--therefore
difficult for them to duplicate--available at Hobby Lobby) their papers. When I
collect them at the end of the week, all I have to do is count the number of
stamps they have and multiply by ten or however many points I wanted to give
for each assignment.
4) Turn the homework into the warm-up activity: Have them clear their desks
of everything except their homework paper and a clean sheet of paper. Ask
them to copy problems 2, 5, and 18 (or whatever) onto the clean sheet of paper.
Collect the clean sheet of paper (which now has 3problems on it) and grade for
accuracy later. Go over the assignment as a whole with the class.
5) Assign each student a homework problem. Ask them to all go to the board
and put up their answer to the problem. Check them together using the answers
on the board--if there are mistakes, do on-the-spot re-teaching using those for
6) Give them red pens and have them trade papers. Put the correct answers
on the overhead and have them "correct" their partner's paper.
7) Have students get into small groups. Have them go over the homework
together--comparing answers. Tell them to make sure that everyone has the
correct answers. If two or more disagree on an answer, they must discuss it
(explain it to one another) and come to a consensus--everyone must end up
with the same answers on their papers. Have them number their papers--Charlie = 1,
Mary = 2, etc. Collect the papers, draw a number (1-4) at random. Pull that
number from every group's stack and grade it. Everyone in the group gets the
grade earned by that paper (since everyone was supposed to have agreed on
those answers). Students who didn't do the work can either copy quickly, or
turn in a blank paper--but if their paper gets drawn, everyone gets a zero. It
takes a quick explanation of this the first time and suddenly EVERYONE is
putting pressure on those two or three students who do nothing to get their
work done. Another option is to put them all in a group together--or to refuse
to allow those without papers to participate. I've tried them all--depends on
the personality of the class (and their parents) as to which option works best).
On anything like this, you can always stamp the papers first so that you know
who completed the work on time. Sometimes I also give 2 grades--an individual
grade and group "corrections" grade.
8) Rotation review--The whole class forms a giant circle. Each person is
responsible for knowing the answer to one problem. They grade that
problem on the paper they have within 15-30 seconds, then pass the paper
to the next person (all switching papers at the same time). They continue to
grade only that problem as each paper is passed to them.
9) Put them into "jigsaw groups". Give group one responsibility for coming up
with an answer key for section one of the homework, etc. Then have everyone
jigsaw to form new groups and each member of the group grades the section
of the new group's papers for which they made the key.

Cherice Montgomery


97/09 From-> MRS BETH DAMASCUS <SGTS61F@prodigy.com>
Subject: Concursos  / homework

Hola, Wanted to update you all on my "concursos"... you know,
the homework assignments that I've turned into little contests. I've
only done these about four times so far with my Honors Spanish I
students - boy to they FIGHT for me to see their papers to see who
has the longest list of "whatever"... I've given out buttons and candy
as prizes - of course the candy is more popular, but they never know
WHAT they'll get, so they look forward to it!

The lists I've had them make have been directly related to the
vocabulary we're studying. So far they've made these lists:-
descriptive adjectives having opposite meanings (this was the first
assignment so that they would review what they learned in summer
school)- adjectives, adverbs and prepositions of location, emotion
and health(tied this in with the study of ser/estar) (** an eye-opener
for me to see which kids know the difference between parts of speech -
our book has them LABELLED at the end of each chapter! And I've
pointed this out to them!) I can't remember the other two! (It's late!)

But, even though the kids groan a little when they're given an assignment,
I've found that when they know it's a "concurso", their ears perk up and
they DO get excited about it... they always have a minimum number of
words to list - usually10-15. I haven't actually looked to see that everyone
has the minimum...I simply ask, Who has 15, 20, 25, etc, until the student
with the most(supposedly) is the only one with her hand up. Then I actually
READ her list to see that it's correct - a couple of times the student who
THOUGHT she had the most, actually didn't! BOY was there competition
then as I walked around checking papers! Oh, I DID collect this the first
couple of times because I wanted to check spelling, etc... and also to get to
know the kids.

My Spanish IV students haven't gotten into this so much, and I haven't been
as conscientious about making up a concurso for them. The riddles at the
beginning of class have them more motivated (although I haven't done those
in a couple of days). The riddles are on the board as they come into the room,
so they IMMEDIATELY are engaged in something that they WANT to figure
out (the one who guesses correctly first gets pesos- my participation/preparation
point system.)

Beth Damascus


97/09 From-> Mary E Young <young-m@juno.com>
Subject: Re: checking in daily assignments

I have the same problem (huge classes this year, and I always carry
too much paper around hoping to get it checked). This year I am
having them do the week's homework all on one page. This idea
was posted over the summer here on FLTEACH. I have them set the
homework page out and I stamp it while they are doing a "bellringer"
activity. I have a hard time finishing before they do, so I need longer
bellringers, I guess. I'm also having them keep a running bellringer/classwork
page in the same way.

Tomorrow (Friday) I'll collect a page from each student that has 4
homework assignments on it, each one that was ready for
class having a stamp by it. Anything done late (i.e., not ready for me to stamp)
will get 4 points instead of 5 for that assignment. [Next week there will be 5
as I will assign them to write Sunday night a journal entry about the weekend.]
I will also collect a page of classwork. This is ungraded, but I'll give them
participation points. This will cut down the actual pieces of paper I have to
handle, and I can enter the total points for the week in my gradebook, rather
than individual homework points that I will have to add up anyway in 6 weeks.
I am having my TA's do the stamping with strict instructions to stamp only
what is complete. I might let a trustworthy student do the stamping as a reward
of some kind.

Mary Young


97/09 From-> Connie Eno <CVJENO@aol.com>
Subject: Re: checking in daily assignments

Each day when students enter my class there are instructions
for a bellringer activity on the board.. I stand at the door, greet
students(in Fr) and remind them to get started on the bellringer
activity & put their homework out on the desk. While they work
(usually a 4 - 5 minute task, I check attendance and mark down
homework if done or not done, then we move on. It works well
and is efficient and gets them on task quickly.

Connie Eno


97/09 From-> MRS BETH DAMASCUS <SGTS61F@prodigy.com>
Subject: Re: Checking in daily assignments

Generally I only collect work that the students put some
creativity into... projects, compositions, etc. I RARELY ever
collect written grammar-type exercises. As we review the homework,
I walk around to see if it's complete or not. It doesn't take very
long since I generally just glance at the first and last questions (those
that I recognize easily!) Students receive x number of pesos each
day they are in class on time and prepared (this means with all their
books and completed homework). If they aren't prepared, no pesos.
I've done this for the last three years, and it seems to work out quite
well. It's quick, and I don't have to grade and correct everything - the
students get much moreout of correcting their own papers!

Beth Damascus


97/09 From-> Susan Shelby <Susan4361@aol.com>
Subject: homework check

I have tons of kids too...I teach French and an Exploratory class in a
middle school. I don't usually collect homework. Sometimes I do, if
it's an essay or something other than just exercise work. If it's the
"typical" practice homework from the workbook or the text, then I do this:
1. When assigning the homework, I get a volunteer to take an overhead
and an overhead pen home. They do their homework on their paper,
PLUS on the overhead.
2. When the homework check starts, this student puts the overhead
up and runs the homework check. Each student checks his/her own
work, and compares it to the work on the overhead. If there is a
discrepancy, they figure out if it's the person on the overhead who
made the mistake or just them.
3. While they're doing this, I'm spot checking homework. It takes
less than 10 seconds to randomly look at three or four sentences
per person. I don't check for correctness, I check for completeness.
If they have done it and show that they tried, they get 10 out of 10
4. While they are correcting, I have them make all corrections in
red on their own paper. That way, they can see the mistakes they're
making. OCCASIONALLY...I will say "Pass in all your homeworks
for this week" and give a grade on whether they were really correcting
their answers , but they usually do make the corrections.

Susan Shelby


97/09 From-> Cherice Montgomery <montgomery@feist.com>
Subject: Re: Homework

One approach to homework correction which has worked very
well for me is this: While students give oral presentations or after
they've written compositions, short paragraphs, or stories in the
target language, I put one erroneous sentence from each student's
paper on a transparency. I try to choose common ones which
were present in a number of papers/presentations. Then, I put the
transparency up and give them a specified amount of time to re-write
each sentence correctly.

Sometimes a sentence may have more than one error in it
(although for beginning level classes, I sometimes fix the sentences
so that each only has one error in it so that they aren't overwhelmed).
When time is up, we go through each sentence together and I call
on volunteers to give us their versions of the correct answer.

It works well for a number of reasons. First of all, the sentences
come from their papers and they are always more interested in their
own work than in a sentence from a workbook. Secondly, it seems
to become a game or a puzzle instead of work--who can find all the
correct answers? Consequently, even the weaker students actively
search for the errors and are very proud when I call on them and
they are able to supply the correct answer (I always throw in one or
two easy errors). Maybe this will work for some of you? I already
posted a number of other things I do to check homework earlier this
month or last, so those of you who are new to the list might want to
check the archives.

Cherice Montgomery


97/09 From-> Carolyn Dean <jcdean@mo-net.com>
Subject: Re: Homework processing

Please NEVER collect papers and then throw them out. This seems
to me like lying. The student deserves better. Feedback helps two
ways, letting the student know how he/she is doing with this exercise,
as well as how her/his grade looks. The student has the right to know
these things. Don't the students wonder why they don't get their papers
back? Do you tell them that sometimes their homework counts, and
sometimes it is garbage?

I teach on the college level, but I have taught in HS, JHS and MS.
I have my students compare homework in groups of 5 or 6 at the
beginning of the class. It just happens that, usually, someone in the
group can help the other student more easily than I can, because they
may have struggled as well, and figured it out. Students who have not
done the work are holding up their partners, and can't get all of the feedback
they need. Groups help with their own peer pressure. When they can't figure
out which answer is correct, they call me over. If they haven't done the work
themselves, but merely copied, they are the ones who lose. The assignments
that I collect and grade separately are the individual compositions, that really
can't be copied. While they do this, I circulate, taking attendance by checking
who has the homework and who doesn't. When the student has problems on
tests, I can relate that to whether s/he is studying. The questions that come up
in every group, then, are items that need more explanation or reteaching.

Carolyn Dean


97/12 From-> Debora Hannigan <WhineyB@aol.com>
Subject: Homework help

I now just use a highlighter pen to correct homework. I definitely
do not correct mistakes for them, unless it's an obscure point. I found
that when I corrected all of it, my students glanced at it for about two
seconds before it was tossed aside. All they were interested in was the
grade. Now, their interest is piqued, and they will come to me to "defend"
their work or spend quite some time and effort trying to figure out just
exactly what is wrong. I will give back a few points if the student makes
corrections. Since switching to this method (I'm not sure, but I think I got
the suggestion from the list ;~), the time I spend grading homework has
been reduced drastically, and my students are learning a lot more from
their mistakes.

Debora Hannigan


97/12   From-> Patricia Seaver <seaverp@localnet.com>
Subject: Re: Necesito Ayuda

>>I am a new High School Spanish teacher, I teach Spanish II, levels I, II
and III. I find myself spending a great deal of a time correcting homework
Can anyone help me or give me a better method for correcting homework? >

Ask yourself as you plan what you will be giving as homework, can this
be corrected in class as a follow up activity? by the student that did it or
by a classmate? Is it possible to change the assignment so it can be
corrected that way? There are some types of homework that I put on
transparencies and have the students correct themselves in class. They
then hand it in and I just check that they have completed the work. I
spot-check and find that they do a pretty good job of making corrections.
Transparencies also save time in class spent going over homework. Of
course, there are certain types of homework exercises that do not lend
themselves to transparencies because there are a variety of possible answers.
However, using transparencies for the simpler activities frees up time for me
to spent on the more complex, varied exercises.

Pat Seaver


97/12 From-> Courtney Stewart <cstewart@smyth.net>
Subject: Re: Necesito Ayuda

I certainly do not check each homework assignment. I have an
honor system--I simply ask them if they did their homework and
keep track of it on a clip board--sometimes I have a student do the
check. Once a boy lied me--he received a 0 as a test grade and a
call home to his parents--my students know that I do not humiliate
them for not having their homework and the penalty is not earth
shattering--but to lie is a shameful experience. Then we go over our
homework-quickly--if a student does not readily respond I pass them
over and do not give them credit--so they have to be on task and it
goes quickly.

Often I collect homework and grade it as a quiz--this keeps them on
their toes. Sometimes I'll have them pair up and correct their homework
together and turn in their best work for a quiz grade. When there are
varied answers students write on the board or on transparencies and
we compare and correct responses. My students seldom miss homework
assignments. I do not give large assignments, but they have homework
most nights--unless they have a test the next day. I really believe that my
success in teaching consists in going slowly and making everything
digestible--small pieces of information and lots of evaluation--short quick
quizzes sometimes done in pairs or groups--I use the "clock" method of
grouping so they work with everyone in the class.

Courtney Stewart


97/12 From-> Fiona Orrman-Brown <orrman@mypostbox.com>
Subject: Re: Homework help

You are right about students merely glancing at corrected work!
I try to use a marking key with my Japanese language students. eg.
A triangle means a verb error-eg, incorrect conjugation; star for spelling,
S for script formation error, etc. It seems to work well!

Fiona Orrman-Brown


97/12 From-> BETH DAMASCUS <PJLP26B@prodigy.com>
Subject: Re: Grading homework

I do NOT collect homework unless it is something creative - i.e.
composition, paragraph, answer "personal" questions, etc. I don't see
the point in collecting exercises that are strictly grammar practice -exercises
from the text or workbooks. First of all, as much as we'd like to think this
doesn't happen - students copy each other's work - A LOT! Why should
I read 25 or 50 or 70 of the same exercise?

We DO go over homework assignments in class... students are expected
to correct their mistakes... most of mine DO! I've given (pop) homework
quizzes in the past - mostly when I see that students are NOT doing or
correcting their homework as we review it. My strategy with the homework
quizzes goes like this: I tell the students that anything we've reviewed/corrected
in class is fair game for a homework quiz. At random times I will have them
take out their notebook and a blank sheet of paper. Then I tell them to find
a certain exercise and copy the answers to certain questions. Theoretically,
the student should have 100%. This has forced students to ORGANIZE
their notebooks, include proper information (page number, exercise letter, etc.),
come to class WITH the materials that they need, and, of course, DO and
CORRECT their homework.

I tell them that if they didn't understand the assignment to begin with,
then the opportunity to ask questions is there in class, or they can certainly
come to me at other times. (Homework quizzes are usually on material from
about 1 week prior so that students who were absent have had time to make
up and correct the work. Also, those who didn't understand the first time,
and still had difficulties as we went over it in class have enough time to come
in for additional help). It usually only takes one time for a student to realize
that she will not be allowed to: go to her locker to get her notebook, ask me
to look at her notebook and tell her if she has the correct assignment, or makeup
the quiz "later". These quizzes are never worth more than 10 points.... also,
there are no make ups - if a student is absent the day of a homework quiz - it
doesn't count against her grade.

I have only had to use these homework quizzes in a few of my classes.
(So far this year, not at all - HURRAY!) They have been very effective,
and most of the kids "wake up" quickly! These quizzes have also helped
when I've had conferences with parents - when I explain the procedure
to them, and show them that their daughter received a zero on two, three
or more of these quizzes - then the PARENTS realize that their offspring
are just not doing what's required - PERIOD! Again, the student SHOULD
have 100% on these quizzes - or at LEAST a grade of "C".

One more note - these quizzes have also forced the students to WRITE
OUT COMPLETE SENTENCES - you know - those exercises that are
in paragraph form and they have to complete the sentences with the correct
word - many of them are just too lazy to do so, so they write only the words
in their notebook (and then wonder WHY they have so much trouble when
it comes to a similar type of thing on a quiz or test!)... if they don't write out
complete sentences, their work is "incomplete" in my book!

Beth Damascus


96/03 From-> Judy Frumkin <Cityf@aol.com>
Subject: Re: correcting homework

I often give homework that involves personalized questions. I like
that type of assignment better and it is harder for the students to
copy from each other because all their answers should be different.
However, that type of assignment really means that I have to correct
the answers. How do you get around that? I'm so tired of the piles
of paper!

Judy Frumkin


96/03 From-> Finn Englyng <englyng@earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: correcting homework

>I often give homework that involves personalized questions. I like
that type of assignment better and it is harder for the students to copy
from each other because all their answers should be different. However,
that type of assignment really means that I have to correct the answers.
How do you get around that? I'm so tired of the piles of paper!

1: You might try reading only one paragraph; i.e., the first, the second, etc.
2: You might try having several students read/evaluate the work of others.
3: Force yourself to spend no more than 50 sec. per paper. Use a simple rubric.
4: Use an aide/student aide.
5: Let adv. students read and evaluate, using your rubric.

Finn Englyng

G. Late Homework Policy

96/04 From-> Elma Chapman <chapmane@edcen.ehhs.cmich.edu>
Subject: Re: homework and assessment

I accept late homework because I think it's important for the students
to have practice outside of class. If it weren't important, I wouldn't have
assigned it in the first place. However, the highest grade I will give on
anything late is a C. I consider C to mean average, and if it's not on time,
it can't be above average. Actually it might be below average, but if you
lower the value too far there's little motivation to do it at all.

Elma Chapman


96/04 From-> Richard Boswell <boswell@bingsuns.cc.binghamton.edu>
Subject: Homework Policy

>1) What is your policy on accepting late homework assignments?

I accept them but I give them rougher treatment. I may put a lower mark
on them or not ask the student to rewrite. In any case, the student who turns
in work late is penalizing himself because he is getting behind and is no longer
in synch with what is going on in class. Students seem to realize that and try to
keep up unless they are going through a stressful moment in another course
(midterm, long paper...).

R Boswell
Vestal, NY


96/10 From-> Richard Lee <rlee@bloomington.in.us>
Subject: Re: Homework: Kids & teachers

I base everything on 25 points (quizzes and homework) and 100 points
for tests, simply for mathematical convenience. Homework completed
on time gets 25 points, but each day it is late it drops 5 points, so that
by the end of a week, it goes to zero. The reason I like it is that it leaves
the door open to reconcile the deficiency to an extent, but it maintains
pressure on the student to not procrastinate further. Formerly when I
refused to accept late homework (before I got old and mellow like fine
wine) and gave a zero outright, the student had no incentive to do the
work after the due date. I believe that it is better to make a late effort
than none at all.

Many students will respond to this in my classes and will be more
responsible with regard to the deadline after they have suffered a
relatively small penalty. Of course there are some that just don't do
it, and I'm not sure what we should do about them, if there is anything
that we can do.. I'm under the impression that many teachers don't
require homework these days and some of the students seem to feel
that it is punishment and abuse rather than a normal component of study.
I wonder if we have gone too far with "student's rights", etc. and
encouraged a kind of arrogance among the young people which leads
them to disregard instructions, to expect to be treated as adults without
the responsibilities, and to demand benefits and rewards without having
to make any personal effort to achieve them. It's just a thought.

Richard Lee


96/10 From-> Beth Groeneman <groenema@umd5.umd.edu>
Subject: Re: Homework: Kids & teachers

I teach Spanish 2 and 4 and for the last three years I have refused to
accept late homework (unless the student has an excused absence)
with one exception: any homework missed during the current or
previous week can be made up in a teacher help session for full
credit. I schedule two help sessions a week, once at lunchtime (we
have a single lunch for all students, so I know everyone can come in
if they want), and once after school. They have to start their homework
from a blank piece of paper, so I know that they're not "borrowing" a
friend's returned assignment. In addition, any student who truly didn't
understand the assignment can do it with me right there to answer
questions (it has stopped all the "Señora, I didn't understand the
assignment" comments because the kids know I'll tell them to come
in for extra help).

On any given day, I get about 90% turn in rate for the homework
because the students know that I won't take it late except at great
inconvenience to them! I typically give them 10 points on a well done
assignment, and work down from there. They can also come in and "fix"
any assignment that they're not satisfied with - but they have to do it in
extra help sessions. They end up with about 200 homework points in a
grading period, and 150 or so from tests, another 100 from quizzes, 75
or so from projects, 100-150 from class work, and 100 from participation
(I grade them on participation). So it's virtually impossible to pass if you
don't do homework).

Beth Groeneman

H. Grading Homework

96/08 From-> Ron Mueller <RJMueller@oui.com>
Subject: Checking homework

A good way to check individual homework for accuracy (since
if you never do, some students will just write junk) is to have them
copy down on a sheet of paper (I use a form since it is faster to grade.)
5 of their answers from the previous night's homework. They have a
time limit, about 3 to 4 minutes; then they turn in this paper. They are
fast to score. I usually give 10 points, 2 points per response. I do these
"Homework Verifications" on a random basis, about every 2 to 3 days.
This keeps them on their toes, and I can assess whether they are learning
the written forms, etc. Usually I take questions briefly before starting the
check as I do before we check any assignments. If the student can write
down 5 good answers without having done the 2 or 3 homework assignment
exercises the night before, that's just fine; they know the material anyway.

Ron Mueller


96/08 From-> "Helga Hilson (EWH)" <hilsonh@nova.edmonds.wednet.edu>
Subject: Re: HOMEWORK

I also walk around at the beginning of class to check off homework.
I make a dot (Púntame, Señora - they yell) at the end of the work or
a slash across the paper or the exercise in the workbook. They can
make it up for partial points. I use a great big pink outliner pen for this
to make it a little more fun and do a wild eye look before I get my fill
of slashes with a cackle thrown in at times - strictly optional, of course).
Anyway, I then spot-check HW for corrections. If not done, they can
either redo them again or accept the (usually very) low points I gave
them. Also, sometimes I do collect papers without correcting them in
class. Most of the work is worth 10 points possible. If somebody did it
all or most of it incorrectly, I give a 1 out of 10. That means that they get
full points if this is redone by next class (correctly!). it's easy to change a
1 to 10 in the grade book. - Uff - I get all depressed thinking of all that
work just looming on the horizon!

Helga Hilson


96/10 From-> Paul Conley <pconley@batnet.com>
Subject: Re: Homework: Kids & teachers

I use a computer program to organize my students' grades. The letter
grades and percentages are posted on the wall every day, period by
period. If a student does all of his/her homework, he/she receives one
extra percentage point. For each missed homework assignment, his/her
grade is lowered one percentage point. My students receive report cards
every six weeks. After each six-week grading period, everyone starts
out fresh. I've never had a complaint with this system.

Paul Conley


97/07 From-> Sandra Howard <khoward@nbn.com>
Subject: correcting/grading homework (long)

I shudder to remember how I used to treat homework 20 years
ago. We started class (and spent probably half the period) with
me giving the answers orally and sometimes calling on students to
read their answers. I must have lost all my visual & kinesthetic
learners (most of the class), however, that's how my teachers did it
before me. Thank goodness I have become a better teacher through
experience.. I give homework every night, including weekends. I explain
to students that it helps them learn & internalize what we doin class;
it keeps them busy & away from the TV, after all their parents are
spending $6,000 to send them to our school; it builds character and
discipline. :-) I collect & grade only the open-ended assignments;
fewer in level I, more as the students learn more language.

I bemusedly read the discussion here on the use of workbooks.
I use them almost every night! The ones for DC Heath Discovering
French series that I use are pretty good, though level III is often too
difficult &confusing, so I've had to make several of my own
worksheets (gasp!) to help practice the grammar & vocab. I use an
overhead projector every day in class for many activities, one of them
being homework correction. I have a key for each regular(non-collected)
assignment. I have either Xeroxed the book key or hand-written my own
on a transparency. (I keep these in a file I have for each chapter of each
book. They are labeled so I can put them back in the right file if I get lazy
and don't put them back immediately after use; they're also great for kids
who are absent and conscientious enough to come in on their own time to
correct work) Students take out their homework, and as I circulate & check
to see if they've done the assignment, they are correcting from the overhead.
I have my homework sheet arranged in seating chart order so it is easy to mark.
I have to make a new one each quarter because I change their seats & partners
each quarter.

Yes (I know you're thinking this!), some students don't really check. They
daydream, or talk to partner. However, I have come to realize they're the
same ones who didn't listen to me 20 years ago as I went over the work
thoroughly. Sometimes I'll have something underlined in a different color pen
(depending on the point of the work, adj. or past participle agreement for
example) & I'll admonish kids to really notice this. Sometimes after I've gone
through rows checking, I'll go to overhead & point out some things, or ask
questions as to why an answer is such & such. Or I'll answer any questions.

Sometimes there is no discussion at all, depending on the difficulty of the
homework. Most of my kids benefit from this (the smart ones), but some
don't. But hey, kids have to take responsibility for their own learning too.
I tell them this at the beginning of the year. Homework is important and
serves a purpose. I assign it for good, pedagogical reasons. But it is up
to my students to benefit from it by their own decision to do so. If they
copy it before class, or don't make corrections etc. whom are they hurting?
Certainly not me. I know that stuff. I also use the book tests if I like them,
in addition to making or adding my own parts. Sometimes a section of the
quiz or test will be just like an assignment in the workbook. That's fair. Kids
should be tested on things they have already practiced! When I'm describing
the quiz, I'll tell them it is just like exercise such & such on page X of their
workbook. Those students who did the work diligently & made any necessary
corrections will have a good tool to study. Tant pis for those who didn't!

This system of overhead keys works very well for me. It helps those kids who
take it seriously, but it leaves lots of time for practicing the language in more
meaningful, communicative activities with partners. I no longer spend half
of my class going over homework. Open-ended assignments like paragraphs,
sentence completion etc I collect & grade. Of course students are told this
ahead of time. (They ask me: est-ce que vous ramassez ce devoir Madame?
Are you collecting this? Or I say: je vais ramasser et noter ce devoir)

Sometimes I pass out overhead pens and cut up transparencies to individual
students and ask them to do open-ended sentences on these. (I write the
number of the sentence on the individual overhead, or kids do the same ones,
or I lose track & tell 2 kids to do the same one!) I then put these up on the
overhead, and we can correct them without anyone knowing whose sentence
is whose. Kids love writing on these; I have to tell them not to draw flowers,
their names etc. because it's more work for me to erase them. I tend to do this
in level 3 and up. I'll write later about how I evaluate the collected assignments,
especially the paragraphs. I don't use a specific rubric, but I have a description
of an A,B etc paper, and I have a definite idea of what earns what grade. I hope
this helps some of you, sparks ideas for you. We all have to find what works
well for us individually and works for our students. Amities, Sandra

Sandra Howard


97/07 From-> Carolyn Hackney <chackney@sprynet.com>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

I want to tell about an idea a colleague used last year that saved
her a lot of time on homework papers. She says that the students
really pay attention during grading and are writing down or correcting
answers. I saw one of my former students today who had this teacher
last year and had a chance to ask what she thought. She said it was great,
really made you work and keep up, and for those students who didn't,
it was a quick zero. (This was a good student who always had her work
done.) Earlier, I had mentioned this idea to an older student, now out of
college, one who hated to do homework and too often didn't. He, too,
thought it would be a good idea (although he never had this teacher).

Here's what she does: She makes an index card for each student. (I would
be more likely to make one numbered set and use that for all classes,
referring to the number on roll, seating chart, etc.) She does not check to
see whether work is done, but simply draws names at random to answer
each homework item. If they answer correctly, she marks it on the card.
If they cannot answer, she marks it a zero. If they try and miss, maybe
partial credit, or maybe just zero. Usually all students are called on, but
if not, it does not matter, because it evens out in the long run. The marks
are not necessarily equal to any number of points. She figures how many
points all the homework will be worth for the week or grading period, and
uses the marks to figure what percent (or how many points) of homework
each student has earned. She does not take up the papers. Her students were
11th and 12th graders in Spanish II and III.

I am tempted to try this with my 9th and 10th graders. But I can just hear
a 9th grader telling a parent, "I had all the answers except the one the teacher
asked, so I got a zero." Perhaps I might first circulate to see who has finished,
possibly giving a completion grade and a correctness grade. Any comments
on her idea? It sounds too simple, but she insists it worked just fine. It could
certainly save teacher time not going over homework papers on simple answer
type work.

Carolyn Hackney


97/07  From-> Meredith Sargent <Sargent_Meredith/furman@furman.edu>
Subject: Re: teacher homework

I have a variety of ways of CHECKING homework, depending on
the type of assignment and difficulty. With written drill exercises, my
students have a homework group that they meet with when instructed
to. This is usually done at the beginning of class. Sometimes, I check one
paper in the group and everyone else checks theirs for correctness by that
paper. Other times, I point out common mistakes before the groups gather.
I float around the room asking if they have specific questions and keeping
an eye on the checking process. Students will ask questions in this format
that they might be too embarrassed to ask in front of the whole class.

I find this is a very efficient way to check homework for correctness
and to diagnose individual problems. It puts increased responsibility on
the students but offers them several sources of support. They know I am
walking around to help, and they learn who the knowledgeable people in
their groups are.

In terms of GRADING homework, it's very simple. When they enter the
room, they sit down, put their homework on their desk for me to see,
and begin the warm-up assignment on the board/overhead. While they
are working, I check that they have done their homework and record a
grade between 1 and 10 based on the percentage they have completed.
They are told frequently that the importance of homework is to learn from
the practice AND from correcting their mistakes. There are always students
who have to learn things the hard way: they copy homework then cannot perform
on the quizzes and tests as a result. Some figure out the connection and change
their ways before they wind up having to repeat the course.

The main philosophy behind my method is that everything we do in class
and on homework is part of a learning process. I do not grade their work
for correctness while they are still in this stage. The quizzes and tests are
the time when students show me (and themselves) what they mastered from
this process. (Similarly, The first draft of a writing assignment is a learning
process. So is the revision stage. They have time to make changes before
they are formally evaluated.)

I'll stop here although I have many more opinions about grading practices.

Meredith Sargent


97/07 From-> Julianne Baird <JJBaird@ligtel.com>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework - long

Teachers need to ask themselves what purpose homework serves.
Is it for a grade in a grade book? Is it to help the student learn new
material? Is it to reinforce old material? Is it to teach students to work?
Is it to punish the lazy student? There are different reasons to assign
homework but the burden (oops responsibility) should lie on the student
to learn the material. I commend the teacher who is able to take home all
the homework and correct every assignment. I can't do that in my life. I
don't have enough time so I had to devise a way that my students learned
from the homework.

Below is my homework policy. It works very well for my school, my students
and my teaching style. Homework is graded by the students in class. I used
to think this was a waste of time, but no more. I look at this time in class
(about 5 to 10minutes) as a chance to reinforce the material we covered
yesterday. At the beginning of class, students get out their assignments and
grab a red pen that is at the front of the room. Students grade their own
papers. I don't have them swap papers. I want them to look at their papers
and their mistakes. I circulate around the room to see who has not finished
(or even started) the assignment. I go over the answers or call on kids to give
the correct answer. If the student has the answer wrong, he or she is to write
the correct answer in red. This usually takes 5 to 10 minutes of class time. No more.

Right before they turn their papers in, they put a comprehension scale in the
top right corner. The scale goes from 1 to 10. 10 means that they understand
the material so well they could ace the quiz if we had one. 1 means that they
didn't understand anything. They base their scale on how well they understand
the material AFTER we cover it in class. I don't care if they miss every question,
as long as they understand why they got it wrong and how to fix it. There is a grading
scale for these assignments. Students must come to class with the assignment

I use the following scale:

10 = completed and corrected in red pen
7= completed but not corrected
5= more than half of the assignment is completed
0= assignment less than 50% completed

This system works very well for me and my students because:

1) the students learn the correct answers almost immediately. They don't have
to wait a day or two to get the papers back.
2) the material they should have learned is being reinforced
3) the comprehension scales shows me how well they understand
the material (i.e. how much more time do I need to spend teaching the material)
4) students who do their homework at home but end up with "consistency
errors" (i.e. same wrong ending on all masculine nouns) are not penalized
for every mistake.
5) students know that the object of doing homework is to *learn* the
material, not complete the assignment
6) when I go through the papers, I can see where students are having
problems, but I don't have to spend the time to correct the mistakes. I use
this method with homework that is fill in the blank or with questions where
there is only 1 right answer.

Assignments with creative or individualized answers are not corrected by the
students. I collect those and give an appropriate grade. I like this method because
the students learn more from correcting their own errors (even if I give them the
answers) than they do from looking at corrected answers.

Julie Baird


97/07 From-> Carolyn Hackney <chackney@sprynet.com>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

Thanks for all comments bringing things back into perspective. I have
always collected homework (after students check and supposedly correct,
after which I often find mistakes). I agree, it is a tool to see where more
work / explanation is needed. All of the comments have clarified why I've
been hesitant to try the random check idea. Random checks may be easier,
but I have always been concerned that everyone who deserves credit receives
it, and that students learn from the assignments, not consider them quizzes.

Carolyn Hackney


97/09 From-> "Gary Schubert, Jr." <schubeg1540@uni.edu>
Subject: Re: Help 5 spanish I classes

When I taught Spanish I and II, I rarely picked up homework to
check; only time-to-time as a spot check. I followed the suggestion
of my mentor and started off class with a sponge activity on the board
or overhead. While students worked on that, I went around and checked
who had finished the homework and who hadn't. 10 pts for completed
homework; 6 pts for at least 60% and 0 for nothing. A student could
complete it the next day for the 6 pts. A drawback to this was that we
would then go over the assignment, so those who didn't have it would
see a majority of what the answers were. But I counted homework for
as much as 30-40 of their grade, so students couldn't afford to slack off
(if they wanted a decent grade). Furthermore, students would put written
assignments on the same page as previous ones, so when I picked it up, I
could see their work from the past 2-3days.

Buena suerte,

Gary Schubert


97/12 From-> Kimberly Huegerich <kim_huegerich@s-hamilton.k12.ia.us>
Subject: Re: necesito ayuda

I have been reading the recent postings of homework grading. There is a
math teacher down the hall who assigns homework every night. He does
not collect daily homework and grade it every night. Instead, he has "homework
quizzes". He will place the number of the question on the board and the students
can use ONLY their homework to answer the question. It doesn't take long
because either the student has done it or s/he hasn't. It is just a matter of copying
it to the quiz paper. He gives these randomly, not everyday. This may be another
option to grading.

Kim Huegerich

I. Students Grading Other Students' Papers

97/07 From-> Espejo <spiegs@udata.com>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

I've been following this thread regarding too much teacher
homework with interest because it's so easy to get bogged
down with paperwork and try to have a "normal" life at home!
I have found that sometimes I check easy to "trade and grade"
papers in class, other times I skim check the work and assign
20 pts. if done with few mistakes 15 with many and 10 if partially
done. I can do a set of papers in 5 minutes that way.

Other ways (that I haven't seen posted yet):

 I have a separate room (language lab) off my classroom and I
ALWAYS have students that want a year long pass to avoid
going to study hall. I'm picky about who I accept, but last year
I had 7-10 good assistants throughout the day. I always tell them
to do their own homework or studying first, but if they're done and
bored... I almost always have things that they can help me do. It's
great practice for the Span.3 students to grade Sp 1 or 2 work and
the 4th and 5th year students even taught the class the day I was
called away unexpectedly (of course the principal observed them,
but the class continued in my absence.) All these kids were a godsend
to me, helping to change classroom posters, type, run extra copies, etc...

I saved the "difficult to grade" things to take home where I could concentrate.
I teach 2 sections of Sp 1, 2 of Sp 2, 2 of 3, and a combination 4-5class,
about 140 students in all. I could never keep up without having students
help. They love to feel useful, and I gave them some McDonald's gift
certificates at Christmas and had a lunch pizza party in May to thank
them for all their help. I'm also Student Council advisor so some of the
 Spanish students I accepted were also S.C. officers and they helped me
with S.C. events. If you can have student aides to help you, it will save
you a lot of work and help the kids in the process.

Patti Spiegel


97/07 From-> "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <mbarruet@pen.k12.va.us>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

>It's great practice for the Span.3 students to grade Sp 1 or 2
>work and the 4th and 5th year students even taught the class the
day I was called away unexpectedly (of course the principal observed
them, but the class continued in my absence.) All these kids were a
godsend to me, helping to change classroom posters, type, run extra
copies, etc... I saved the "difficult to grade" things to take home where
 I could concentrate.

I think it's great to have student help with the "go-fer" type stuff, but
sorry, I am totally against students grading other students' papers, not
only for the privacy reason, but for a number of others. As others have
stated, students are there to learn; if they are accurate enough to be grading
papers, they must already know that material well, and could be given some
challenging work on their own level.

Marilyn V. J. Barrueta


97/07 From->  Monica O'Riley <mufonufo@cloudnet.com>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

>If you can have student aides to help you, it will save you a lot of work
and help the kids in the process.

Patti, have you ever run into a problem with "data privacy"? I had one of
my students help me at the end of the year for an hour, it dawned on me
that the students whose papers she was looking at would probably not
appreciate it. Sure enough, my mentor agreed saying that there had been
a huge problem in our school a few years back. The administration in
our school forbids this based on "data privacy". Too bad.

Monica O'Riley


97/07 From-> Jean Bodle <bodle@polarnet.com>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

Patti wrote:>It's great practice for the Span.3 students to grade Sp 1 or 2  work

True!--but we have a policy in our school that I do not disagree
with that says student aides may NOT grade other students' work
because of confidentiality concerns. Aides may also not enter grades
into a gradebook or computer. I also have to agree with Cindy H-G
that if you, personally, don't look over (not necessarily grade) the
homework, you really don't know what kind of mistakes your
students may be making. Now, if those Spanish 3 students were
 able to work in class with the lower level students, you have an
ideal situation! :-)

Jean Bodle


97/07 From-> Espejo <spiegs@udata.com>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

>Have you ever run into a problem with "data privacy"? I had
one of my students help me at the end of the year for an hour, it
dawned on me that the students whose papers she was looking at
would probably not appreciate it. Sure enough, my mentor agreed
saying that there had been a huge problem in our school a few
years back. The administration in our school forbids this based on
"data privacy".

Too bad. As you and Marilyn mentioned in an earlier post about
 student privacy this has never been a problem because my students
 all choose Spanish names in the beginning of the year and sign
everything with their new name. So when they grade "Sergio-
tercer período" paper, they don't know his "real" name and
everything is kept anonymous. It has never been an issue.

Marilyn wrote:>As others have stated, students are there to learn;
if they are accurate enough to be grading papers, they must already
know that material well, and could be given some challenging work
 on their own level.

As I said, they come in on their study hall period, not their
regular Spanish class period. And yes, often they choose to do
internet stuff, CD Rom games in Spanish, etc... Remember they
are in the lab for the entire year that period so they do something
different everyday. But, any homework they have to do in Spanish
or any other subjects always takes precedence over helping me.
Often they use the period studying for an upcoming test. At least
three of the former students I've had helping me are now education
 majors. I don't know if that's good or bad!!!

Anyway, this works for me. We are a small district (less
 than 400 grades 9-12) so maybe in a larger district there
would be some complications.

Jean wrote:>that says student aides may NOT grade other
students' work because of confidentiality concerns. Aides may
also not enter grades into a gradebook or computer . . .. I also
have to agree with Cindy H-G that if you, personally, don't look
over (not necessarily grade) the homework, you really don't know
 what kind of mistakes your students >may be making

I enter the papers myself in the gradebook and computer, I'd never
 let students have that much freedom! Also, I grade the majority
of their papers, they just help with the easy things!

Patti Spiegel


97/07 From-> Gene Foldenauer <cnhsfld@mail.hsonline.net>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

>It's great practice for the Span.3 students to grade Sp 1 or 2
work and the 4th and 5th year students even taught the class the
 day I was called away unexpectedly (of course the principal
observed them, but the class continued in my absence.) All these
kids were a godsend to me, helping to change classroom posters,
 type, run extra copies, etc... I saved the "difficult to grade" things
 to take home where I could concentrate.

I do not even think that it is the student's job to be the teacher's
"gofer." Although the students may enjoy these tasks, for a number
 of reasons, is this the best use of their time? If we are to assume that
 they are in school to learn, what are they learning from "gofering"?
 In my opinion, to have them to grade papers is a serious violation
of students' privacy. Also, how does the teacher get a feel for the
areas in which students need help? Grading papers, both difficult
and easy grading is by nature a part of the teacher's job as it is an
essential part of student assessment.

Gene Foldenauer


97/07 From-> Tara Stace <TSTACE@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

I think the idea of having student aides grade papers is a great
 idea. The kids love to do it or they would not offer. I think it is
 a good lesson for them too. I think they also become more aware
 of the "silly" mistakes that kids make. Like spelling errors and
things. I do not think that privacy is an issue. Kids do not really
care what other kids get on a little homework assignment. Like
 teachers they do not have time to memorize all the grades on all
the quizzes or papers. I think it is wonderful you have found the
help. I would love to have it. We all work really hard, if we can
find a little break, why not?

Tara Stace


7/07 From-> Dave Shelly <SRDSHELLY@aol.com>
Subject: Teacher homework

My feeling is that, with occasional exceptions, if I consider
 it worth the students' time to do the work, it should be worth
 my time to receive it and grade it. At the same time, I have
 no problem with using students to help with grading of a
 more routine nature. At our school, students can be assigned
 to teachers as assistants, for credit. An advanced student can
be an enormous help in a lower level class, not only with
grading, but also with helping with oral work and one-on-one
 tutoring. They also benefit from the extra opportunity to practice
 their Spanish skills and teach them to others.

I don't see a concern about privacy with respect to routine grading.
My student assistants know that they will not reveal anyone's
grade to anyone. Projects where students may include material
of a more personal nature, such as essays, are always graded
by me. I have had success using foreign exchange students in
this role as well.

Dave Shelly


97/07 From-> "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <mbarruet@pen.k12.va.us>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

>I do not think that privacy is an issue. Kids do not really care
what other kids get on a little homework assignment.

Then both your students and their parents are very different from mine!

Marilyn V. J. Barrueta


97/07 From-> Monica O'Riley <mufonufo@cloudnet.com>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

>I do not think that privacy is an issue. Kids do not really
care what other kids get on a little homework >assignment.

Like teachers they do not have time to memorize all the grades
on all the quizzes or papers. Unfortunately the law doesn't look
 at it the same way, if anyone ever pressed the point, you would
 be held legally liable.

Monica O'Riley


97/07 From-> Ann Mans <frauacm@ncis.com>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

>I think the idea of having student aides grade papers is a
great idea. The kids love to do it or they would not offer. I
think it is a good lesson for them too. I think they also become
more aware of the "silly" mistakes that kids make. Like spelling
errors and things. I do not think that privacy is an issue. Kids
do not really care what other kids get on a little homework
assignment. Like teachers they do not have time to memorize
all the grades on all the quizzes or papers

>I think it is wonderful you have found the help. I would
 love to have it.

>We all work really hard, if we can find a little break, why not?

I am really amazed to see how many teachers use students to
correct papers. I don't think I could ever in good conscience
do this. I know if I were a student I certainly wouldn't want
another student to know what my grade was on any particular
assignment. Maybe my feelings have to do with being from
Minnesota. In Minnesota I would be in violation of the data
privacy law if I let another student correct papers! During
parent/teacher conferences we even have to verify that the
people with whom we discuss student progress are actual
parents, not step-parents or other relatives.

Ann Mans


97/07 From-> Gene Foldenauer <cnhsfld@mail.hsonline.net>
Subject: Re: Teacher homework

I will apologize in advance for the strong stance I take
on this topic. I have heard many people try to justify the
practice of students grading papers and I have yet to be
convinced that it is in the best interest of anyone but the

>I think the idea of having student aides grade papers is a
great idea. The kids love to do it or they would not offer.
Most kids would do anything to feel "special" or to get
away from the routine of study hall.

>I do not think that privacy is an issue.

Certainly privacy is an issue. Just because kids do not
complain does not mean they do not care that someone
else is seeing their work.

>Kids do not really care what other kids get on a little
homework assignment. Like teachers they do not have
time to memorize all the grades on all the quizzes or papers.

The grader does not have to memorize all grades, If we
believe that each kid is an important human being it only
takes one kid to be hurt by "gossip" about his/her grade.

>We all work really hard, if we can find a little break,
why not? We all get paid for doing the job.

Grading and assessment are part of that job. Using this logic
we can say that students work really hard too. Therefore, is
it ok for other students to do their work for them?

Gene Foldenauer


97/09 From-> "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <mbarruet@pen.k12.va.us>
Subject: Re: Checking in daily assignments

>compositions, etc. I RARELY ever collect written
grammar-type exercises. As we review the homework,
I walk around to see if it's complete or not. It doesn't take
very long since I generally just glance at the first and last
questions (those that I recognize easily!) It's quick, and I
don't have to grade and correct everything - the students
get much more out of correcting their own papers!

If this works for you, fine. I am, however, reminded of a
teacher whose former students used to tell me all the ways
they got around doing the complete homework. I agree that
students get much more out of correcting their own papers,
which we do orally and quickly in class -- but I then collect
and go over them. Those who have been putting in "fillers,"
leaving out parts, writing partial sentences, etc., find out very
quickly that it's no go.

Marilyn V. J. Barrueta

I. Motivation:  Getting 'em to do Homework

96/10 From-> Sandra Almgren <montro02@freenet.uchsc.edu>
Subject: Re: Homework: Kids & teachers

As a new teacher of German, I would like some suggestions from seasoned
foreign language teachers regarding homework. I realize that my students
need much more practice than they can receive in a class period, so several
times a week, I'd like them to do a worksheet related to the material studied
in class. This is not every day and only one page. But the number of students
prepared to turn it in is LOW. (I forgot, I always lose them, It's boring--common
explanations). I'd like to start the class by going over them and checking for
problems, but so few have them done. Anyone else experience this? What do
you do? Vielen Dank!

Sandra Almgren


96/10 From-> Richard Lee <rlee@bloomington.in.us>
Subject: Re: Homework: Kids & teachers

Don't feel alone. This is very common, and seems to be a growing problem
with the every-other-day block schedule which allows the students put off
the work so that they are not doing it the same day while it is fresh in their
minds. We are trying to come up with ideas to combat the problem, but our
success up to this point is nothing to brag about.

Richard Lee


96/10 From-> James May <JaimeMayo@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Homework: Kids & teachers

<<As a new teacher of German, I would like some suggestions from seasoned
foreign language teachers regarding homework.......... But the number of
students prepared to turn it in is LOW. >>

I always thought this was a problem in just urban schools; I am finding out
from friends who teach in the suburbs that it is also a problem there! I assign
HW nightly, including weekends. I allow them to miss 2 HW assignments,
which I think is very generous. After 2 missing HW assignments, I deduct
5 points from their cumulative points total for every HW assignment that is
not done after the 2 missing assignments.

Needless to say, it doesn't make much of a difference because most of the
students who consistently miss homework are failing anyway. To be honest
with you most of them don't seem to care. One of my colleagues records a
grade of "0" for every homework assignment that is missing; that doesn't
even make a difference for many of the students. They simply seem to be
apathetic when it comes to homework and I haven't met anyone who has a
real solution.

James C. May


96/10 From-> Sandra Howard <khoward@nbn.com>
Subject: homework motivator

I have a homework contest among my classes. When everyone in class
does the homework, the class receives a stamp. When everyone gets a B-
or higher on a quiz/test, oral or written, the class receives a stamp. The
stamps are rubber-stamp smiley faces put on a piece of colored paper
displayed on a wall. (Don't use paper stick-on stamps; they can be removed
in an act of sabotage. Yes, I learned this from experience!)

Students are very interested when I check homework. Those kids who
frequently don't do the work get bugged by their peers, not by me! When
the result is positive, hands shoot up of students asking (in French of course)
to put up the smiley-face stamp. Sometimes I forget, especially with the
test/quiz option; someone always remembers to ask me (in French) if the
class got the stamp. Sometimes, even before class begins, I hear kids asking
each other if they did the homework! The reward? At the end of each
quarter, the class with the most stamps gets donuts & orange juice, or ice
cream bars (the cheapest I can find).

Last June, for a smallish French 3 class, I made root beer floats! Yes, this
costs me money 4 times a year, but I think it is worth it. Sometimes if a
class is falling behind, I'll make one night's assignment (especially if it's a
little longer than usual) worth 2 stamps. Usually my freshmen don't win.
But this year they are in second place, almost tied with French 3. I have told
them how amazing that is, and now they are incredibly motivated to keep it
up. It has become a point of pride to them as a class. They might win! Even
if they don't, I'm going to buy them all See's suckers because they are doing
such a good job of doing all their homework. This might sound childish, but
it works very well with my high school students. My advanced class doesn't
get to participate because they don't get the same types of homework & they
really wouldn't get the chance to win, even if they all did all the homework.
Every year they are disappointed when they realize there is no column for
them on the wall. Hope this will work for you. Regards,

Sandra Howard


96/10 From-> Joan Roth <SraRoth@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Homework and Classes which meet on alternate days

We are in our almost third month of alternating block schedule and I have
found that the students are not any better at doing homework than they were
 when we were on a 7 period day. The students have planners where they are
 "supposed" to write their assignments-the good students do-others do not.
Just a note... Two classes I met with on Friday I will not see again until
Wednesday due to a half day teachers' workshop on Monday.

Sra. Roth


96/10 From-> "Helen V. Jones" <hjones@pen.k12.va.us>
Subject: Re: Homework and Classes which meet on alternate days

>We are in our almost third month of alternating block schedule and I have
found that the students are not any better at doing homework than they were
when we were on a 7 period day. The students have planners where they are
"supposed" to write their assignments-the good students do-others do not.
Just a note... Two classes I met with on Friday I will not see again until
Wednesday due to a half day teachers' workshop on Monday.

Exactly my complaint. We had parent-teacher conference day on Friday. I
won't see the students I taught on Thursday until Tuesday. Especially in the
beginning levels of language study, I truly believe they need daily contact
and reinforcement. After one year of alternating blocks (this is my second) I
am convinced foreign language suffers. I also fear that block scheduling will
become so rooted nationally that a whole generation of language learners will
be affected before it is replaced.

Helen Jones


96/10 From-> Jerry Lindvall <Grandours@aol.com>
Subject: Homework

The problem with students not doing their homework has always been and
no doubt always will be a problem. Can I ask if you have made a strong
point about why the assignment is important to complete. For example,
the practice you have for tonight will prepare you to ask information
questions which we will be using in an activity tomorrow. Another motivator
can be the value of the homework. Be sure to let the students know that this
will count toward a cumulative homework grade or a specific number of
points the next day. You can sometimes add peer pressure by telling them
that they will have to use the information from the homework for a group
or partner activity. That way if one student does not have the work it will be
difficult for the partner to complete a task as well.

Finally if the student is aware of the negative impact and the parents are
aware of the negative impact  of not doing the homework, you have completed
your responsibility. Students  do need to be accountable for their own work.
Keep up the effort but do not expect immediate results. Bad habits are formed
over time and they will not be eliminated over a short period of time.

Jerry Lindvall


96/10 From-> Michele P Back <wmoutofbnds@juno.com>
Subject: Homework and rewards

Hola listeros---One of my co-teachers was telling me how she gets kids to
do their homework, and I think it has good elements but also some flaws
that I'd like discussed on the list. Basically, if the majority of the students
haven't done their homework (this happens all too often in my inner city
high school, where it's a challenge just to get kids to come to class and not
set fires in the trashcans, which happened today, but that's another story),
she rewards the kids that have done their homework by giving them full
credit on it and giving them some fun extra credit work to do independently,
while the other kids have to spend the hour working on their homework.
Apparently this motivates the other kids to do their work on time so that
they can do the fun stuff.

My problem with this is where is the teacher's attention supposed to be
during the class? If I were to concentrate on the kids who need to do their
homework, won't the other kids feel slighted? And what if they have
questions? On the other hand, if I want to do something with the kids who
have their act together, how are the kids that are behind going to know that
they are doing their homework correctly? Obviously if they're all in the same
boat they're not going to get it right by working together. This is the typical
teacher dilemma---not having enough time for each individual student---and
it's driving me crazy. Does anyone else have any ideas on how to motivate
kids to do their homework?

Michele P. Back


96/10 From-> Lisa Nocita <quincey@sky.net>
Subject: homework and rewards

I use a variety of things to cajole students into doing homework.
Unfortunately, innate value is something the kids don't generally respond to.
When it comes to “how” I find that you have to keep the kids on their toes
to be accountable. One thing I will be doing over the next couple of weeks
is a lottery. When a student has done their homework they receive an
"admission ticket" (purchased at a carnival supply type store). They write
their name on the ticket and it goes into a bucket. At the end of a given
period, I draw for prizes, lottery style. Sometimes it is a free hw coupon
or candy. This time it will be for Day of the Dead pencils and buttons. The
more hw assignments you do, the more times your name is entered in the
drawing. I have also been amazed at what high school students will do for
a stamp or sticker.

What originally started out as a managerial/organizational technique for me
has turned into a big motivator for kids. I have a pretty good collection of
both now. The kids want the stamp on their hands and folders, which I do
as long as the hw is done. They even want half stamps for late work, but I
don't do this. I also use hw quizzes. I ask questions over completed,
corrected hw. Kids can use their hw to answer, which only helps if it is
in the right place in their notebook and it has been corrected. Easy points
if they are on top of it. Some days if they have done their hw they receive
a clothespin to participate in an oral activity that is done exclusively in the
language. No hw, no clothespin. No hw goes to a group for remediation and
some one-on-one time with me. Clothespin group monitors themselves. If
they hear someone speaking in Eng. then they may take that person's
clothespin. Anyone with a clothespin left at the end of the time receives
a peso for oral participation. Keep it limited to 10 min for best results
and have a guided topic for clothespin group to chat about.

Another idea is to give students a chance to bet on local sports events. If
all hw assignments are complete for week students can bet on a game
(FB in Fall because that's what I like and we bet on the home team game).
They bet one peso (earned orally in class) and write down which team they
think will win. I double the number of pesos that the class contributes. The
winners divide the pot. It gives a good opportunity to expand sport vocab
as you talk about the team, etc. I do the same thing with Friday Trivia
questions. If all is complete, then they earn the right to answer some trivia
questions. Correct answers earn extra pesos. I wish people always did what
they had to do simply because they ought to, but that's not realistic. Do what
you can to motivate and intrigue!

Lisa Nocita


96/10 From-> "J. Vincent H. Morrissette" <gvincent@mbay.net>
Subject: homework and rewards

I may be considered an old fogey (?) on this issue, and I don't much care,
but I will not give external rewards for homework. I inform students from
the very start of the year that there are things one does in life that do not
have an extraneous reward attached to them like brushing their teeth and
going to the bathroom. Such acts are accomplished because they need to
be accomplished. Period. No questions asked. The rewards come later in
the form of better teeth, avoidance of gas pains... and learning.

Students who don't do their homework must report to me before school the
following day and show me both the previous day's and the current day's
homework. To me, making the time before the school day to check over
homework shows that I care about each of them personally and their
individual progress in mastering my subject. Too much love is expressed
in our culture by "things"; I decided some time ago to take a stand against
this trend and model for students the idea that love is shown in "being there",
listening and caring. (The flip side of the coin is that students who have not
done the assignment are not allowed to participate in class activities since
they would be wasting the time of others who have done the assigned work.
They are expected to sit, listen and absorb as much of the material as they
can. To conduct the class otherwise would be to tolerate lack of responsibility
on the part of the homework delinquents and to penalize those who should be
encouraged and pushed to the limit of their potential.)

I will give awards for class activities, but I draw the line on the issue of
homework because I consider it one of the most important elements in the
mastery of a language. I can't see how one can make progress without
having solid control of the vocabulary and grammar of that language. For
me, not enforcing homework for *every* child in class means that those
who don't do it and are not forced to do it are building language skills on
shifting sand. That's only my opinion, evidently a very strongly held one.
I've see too many gifted language students fall by the wayside and fail to
go onto the higher levels of a language because they were not forced to
establish a firm foundation in the language through assignments in levels 1,
2 and 3. These students could have been bilingual, trilingual and quadrilingual
users of the language I teach. On the other hand, I've seen students who have
little aptitude for the language succeed to a certain extent because they put
forth their very best effort in an area that should have overwhelmed them

Vincent Morrissette


96/10 From-> Pamela Casler <CASLER001@WCSUB.CTSTATEU.EDU>
Subject: Re: homework and rewards

I agree that there are times when they just can't get homework done. Being
the mother of two teenage sons who are fairly conscientious about their
work, I began to see things a bit differently--not just from the teacher's
point of view. I began a policy a few years ago which works well for me:
They get two freebies per quarter. i.e. they can miss any two homework
assignments--not projects or major work--and incur no penalty. For that
reason I require that the homework be in front of them when we check it.
No runs back to the locker, I forgot it on my desk at home so can I give it
to you tomorrow? etc. They are learning to be more organized and responsible,
because no one wants to waste a "freebie" on an assignment which they did
but left at home or in their locker.

Pam Casler


96/10 From-> MRS BETH DAMASCUS <SGTS61F@prodigy.com>
Subject: Homework and Rewards

Just thought I'd put in my 2 cents regarding homework and rewards.
Students receive a pass that allows them one "one day late" homework
assignment - it can ONLY be something out of the text or workbook -
not on oral presentation, major project, etc. Otherwise, they receive a
0 for their assignment if it is not complete. At the end of the quarter, if
they have not used their pass, it is worth 3 points.

Beth Damascus

K.  Homework Calendars

97/07 From-> Janene Fitzpatrick <Mzfitz081@aol.com>
Subject:  Re: teacher homework

I just thought I'd give my .02 about homework. I teach Spanish I and II
at the high school level, and I've found that this method works well for me.
First - at the beginning of each month I give the students a calendar that I
have made up on my computer - just a plain calendar with the days/months
in Spanish - on a colored piece of 8 1/2" x 11" paper. (The colored paper
helps them keep track of it!)Then each day, silly as it sounds, I come around
checking assignments -just walking the room to see who is done and who
is not. They must be100% finished to get a stamp for that date on their
calendar (I usually give them the stamp if they can get the one or two
sentences they forgot done by the time I am done checking.)

Now, the stamps count as 1 bonus point each - for my grading system this
isn't really that much, but they see them add up over the month and get
very excited when they have 20 pts. on their calendar. [For my homework
calendar - I've acquired lots of different stamps, and lots of different ink
pads too. It became a game for awhile to see how many days I could go
without repeating. I haven't really had any problem with the kids trying
to copy my stamps. They are just the usual Spanish homework phrase
stamps. Some are just animals, etc.]

Then, at the end of the month - I collect the calendar, along with the
assignments for the month - in a notebook style. At this time each
assignment is worth 10 pts. I check for accuracy and completeness -since
by now we have gone over the work and if they have paid attention and
corrected the work - they have an easy good grade! I am not very easy
on them at this time, I take a minimum of 5 pts on an assignment, even
if only one question is blank. (They've learned to watch closely and be
careful. Also, they pay close attention when we go over the assignments - even
if they didn't do their assignment because they know it's going to be
collected at the end of the month and graded with a fine tooth comb!)

I've had kids that I know are doing their homework just to see what stamp
they will get next. And, they start using the calendar to write down
assignments and make-up assignments to get the stamps! Sure, I've
got students getting as many as 25-30 bonus points a month, but if a
student does homework everyday like that - they usually have an "A"
anyway!! I add the bonus points to the notebook grade at the end of
each month -this really helps the student that tries really hard, but just can't
seem to pull it together at test time. It also has the reverse effect on those
that are too lazy to open a book all month long. It works out pretty fairly.

I have learned a few lessons regarding this method - don't use stickers,
students pull them off one month and add them to the next (like I
wouldn't notice!). And, you've got to warn students against letting
others borrow their notebook the night before they are due to "finish up".
It never fails that the unfinished one skips class the next day with the poor
guys notebook. I give a zero to both on these occasions - just to keep it
from happening!!! I warn in advance!! My students look forward to the
new calendar each month now!

Janene Fitzpatrick


97/07 From-> Beverly Larson <BGLarson@midohio.net>
Subject: Homework Calendars (was teacher homework)

I've used the homework calendars for about 7-8 years. I first read about
them in the Northeast Conference newsletter. They are GREAT!!! One
of the biggest reasons for using them is that students have a tangible
reminder if they didn't do an assignment. I don't make a huge fuss in front
of the class, but students ARE very aware of their neighbors' homework
habits. I also tell parents that they should be checking their kids' calendars
rather than phoning me! :-)

As for stamps, I use a variety of "fun" stamps, often geared towards
holidays or the weather.(An umbrella for April, a flower for May, etc.)
Sure, kids probably could buy them, but they never have. I have a "special"
stamp reserved for those who don't do an assignment: a pointing finger!
Some kids will even say "give me the finger!" They can complete the a
ssignment the next day for 1/2 credit (I stamp over it with the stamp of
the week/month.) I have collected a lot of stamps over the years, and
some have been gifts from students.

I use calendars for all levels, even level V, although most of their
assignments are collected and graded, unless they are grammar practice
sheets. I give the upper levels the option, and they always want to use
calendars. You may be wondering what the class does while I'm stamping
calendars. I vary the routine, but they may be checking answers using a
transparency, doing a speaking activity with their partners, or writing a
verb conjugation. I stamp calendars VERY quickly, and I stop if they
are off-task. Several other teachers in the district use calendars (even a
biology teacher!)

If you decide to try it out, don't be discouraged if you get bogged down.
Be sure to give kids meaningful work to do while you're stamping, and
HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE for it!!! Once or twice I've "gone on
strike" and refused to stamp homework if they're off-task. I collect and
GRADE assignments instead, and that takes care of that problem! It's
important, too, to spot check answers as you go, and to collect and evaluate
open-ended assignments. If they think that you won't be reading something
 they don't take it seriously.

One last thing: I learned the French word for "stamp" when I was traveling
in France. I was in the office supply department of a store and I saw a
large sign for "tampons." So now I teach that vocab word, and kids love
it (tamponner - to stamp.)

Bev Larson


97/07 From-> Jocelyn D Raught <jraught@cactusshad.cavecreekud.k12.az.us>
Subject: Re: Homework Calendars (was teacher homework)

Question for those of you using the calendar stamp: What happens if the
student loses the calendar when it is time to turn it in for points? Does he
receive a zero? How do you keep your grades up to date for eligibility
check for sports, club etc. on a bi-weekly basis if they have the calendar?
Sounds like a good idea. I would need to figure these details out before
using it. Thanks!

Jocelyn D. Raught


97/07 From-> Shawna Thue <Brooke460@aol.com>
Subject: Re: teacher homework

I also use the homework stamps. I have a variety of stamps that I use.
(Disney, Looney Tunes, etc.) If they do not have the homework done,
they then get a "Thue" stamp (that is my last name) I had it made with
my signature. This means that 0 points will be awarded for that particular
assignment. However, if the homework is done by the next day, then they
receive half credit. It is a nice visual incentive to have them at least try for
 half credit. I hope that can help you!!!!

Shawna Thue


97/07 From-> Shawna Thue <Brooke460@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Homework Calendars (was teacher homework)

I have my students keep a manila folder in my class at all times. You can
bet that calendar does not leave the classroom. However, if that is not
desirable to you then you can tell them that the only way they can retrieve
credit for a lost calendar is to produce every assignment. I have the students
write the assignment in the date box on the date it is due. Therefore, if they
happen to lose it, they can ask another student for all of the assignments and
then search their folder for them. I have had students in the past lose calendars
and throw assignments away. I explain my rules clearly at the beginning of the
year so if this happens they suffer the consequences. I have been using
the calendar for the past five years, and will NEVER go back to collecting
daily assignments again!!!!!:)



97/07 From-> Beverly Larson <BGLarson@midohio.net>
Subject: Re: Homework Calendars (was teacher homework)

If a student loses the calendar (rare in upper levels, but fairly common
in level I) I "negotiate" a grade with the student. I have a fairly good
idea of the student's "track record," and I ask him/her to guess how
many assignments were missing, if any. Fortunately, most of my students
are honest, but if someone would claim to have done all assignments,
and I thought otherwise, I would ask to see the workbook and other
papers. In the (rare) case of a kid who loses things often, I would
collect the calendar on a weekly basis for that kid only. I don't *ever*
give a zero for a lost calendar!!! As for figuring eligibility, we don't
have the same system in our school, so it's not a problem. The athletic
director figures eligibility based on 9-week grades.

Bev Larson


97/07 From-> Janene Fitzpatrick <Mzfitz081@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Homework Calendars (was teacher homework)

Regarding the homework stamp problems, here's what I do about
1 - If they lose a calendar with stamps on it: That's their problem.
Since the stamps are bonus on my system, they've only lost their bonus
points. They get upset at themselves, but I explain this to them in the
beginning. If they lose it halfway through a month, I give them a new
blank calendar and they can start from that point getting stamps again,
but I don't go back and give them previous stamps. Then, I've had students
find the missing calendar and turn in two at the end of the month - I accept
that if I know that it was a student that had lost a calendar. (Oh, I keep
all the extra calendars pinned up on my bulletin board - the students get
them as they need them when lost.)
2-  Regarding keeping up with homework every two weeks for grades - I
don't.  So, I'm not sure what you would do about that. I only put a homework
grade in my grade book every month when they turn in the actual assignments.
I guess I'd just average in the homework that is in my book. Sort of like a
project that isn't due for another week - you wouldn't average it in until
it's turned in and finished. I guess.

Janene Fitzpatrick


97/07 From-> Mary Jo Eide <mjeide@MAIL.MINNETONKA.ORG>
Subject: Homework calendars

I, too, have been using homework calendars for several years. One additional
step seems to eliminate most of the problems caused by loss of the calendar.
In addition to stamping the calendar, I also stamp the assignment itself. For
some reason, most students do not lose both the assignment and the calendar
and we can resurrect those grades. This also prevents "sharing" the assignment
paper with a classmate or member of alike class. I do take the time to scan
each paper as I go around to make sure the students have not written nonsense
down and have understood the assignment. It is fairly easy to make one or
two corrections or comments per paper and then move on. Each assignment
is worth 5 points. If a student has done most of it correctly but fallen apart on
parts, I pen in a lower score and sign my initials in felt tip pen, or use a special
stamp. Students who have been absent may clip their assignment to the calendar
and receive full credit when it is collected. Students who didn't do the
assignment for some other reason may do it and get up to three points
credit if it is done perfectly, no credit if not. I do not collect these
assignments at the end of the month, only the calendars.

Every once in awhile I collect the papers instead of stamping the calendars
and, as mentioned by others, creative writing efforts and non-routine type
assignments are always collected. This has been one of the best time-management
tools I've discovered over the years. In addition to eliminating daily grades
to input and total, it helps with the "what assignments did I miss when I
was absent?" query. Students simply ask to see a classmate's calendar.

Mary Jo Eide


97/07 From-> Beverly Larson <BGLarson@midohio.net>
Subject: Re: Homework calendars

I post a calendar for each course on the bulletin board, and I write the
assignments there, so students who were absent can check for themselves.
It puts the responsibility where it belongs: on the student! I'll second
Mary Jo's comment about calendars being great time-management tools!
I've tried a number of "systems," but this one works best for me.

Bev Larson


97/07 From-> Bonnie Brodd <broddb@belnet.bellevue.k12.wa.us>
Subject: Re: Homework calendars

I also post a calendar with all the assignments in the classroom. Our
school Internet Team also posts all of my assignments (or assignments
of any interested staff)on the web on our homepage. It is great for kids
with access from home. Students who don't have access from home can
log on in the library or various classrooms in our building.

Bonnie Brodd


97/07 From-> Beverly Larson <BGLarson@midohio.net>
Subject: Re: Homework calendar

I create homework calendars on my computer and copy them on
8 1/2" X 11"paper (colored, to make it easier to find.) I stamp the
date that the HW is due, but if the student forgets the calendar I
stamp and date the workbook page, or the handout. That way it's easy
to "transfer" the stamp to the calendar.

Bev Larson


97/11 From-> Irene Moon <irenem@imperium.net>
Subject: Homework Grade Sheet

I don't think I have mentioned this idea previously; just finished first
quarter and found that it has been effective. Last year in our North
Central Evaluation we decided to formulate, as one of our goals,
helping students become motivated learners. (yes. really). My feeling,
personally and professionally, is that I am more motivated when I feel
"in charge" of and responsible for some of my own decisions.

Home work is sometimes a problem. Often I don't remember what
problem the kid has had, how many homeworks were incomplete or
received low scores because of errors not corrected etc. To give my
students a better handle on their own HW grades (and me too), I have
designed a form (double sided) which we use when I collect and grade the
homework. It is divided into 3 columns (date, description of assignment
and grade). I do not always collect HW, but when I do, the students turn
in their grade sheet with the HW paper. I record the grade on the sheet.
If there is a problem, there is a space (horizontally below the space for
the assignment description) where I note the problem. That space is also
used by the student to write an explanation as to why there are so many
errors or why the assign was only partially complete etc.

It has been helpful in parent conferences, too. Or on the phone, I can
suggest a parent ask to see the Grade sheet.. On each side there are
spaces for 5 assignments. Naturally I give more than that, but may
only check that number in that fashion...as homework. At the end of
the quarter, kids total at the bottom of each side and can calculate how
well they've done about doing their assignments. Many saw a direct
correlation between low HW grades and low 9 weeks grades....and
vice versa. It also led to good dialogue about a new grading period,
fresh starts, a HW not done or poorly done resulted in a low grade
that often meant a student must be almost perfect in other HW's (not
realistic). They seemed to Visualize, this time, what happens when
they do/do not do HW and that they COULD be in charge of that
aspect of their grade.

Irene Moon


97/11 From-> Kristi Michelle <Kristi1517@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Homework Grade Sheet

I, too, use a homework sheet. It is divided in 3 sections: date, assignment,
& space for the stamp. It has 2 weeks worth of lines. At the beginning of
class I walk around & check their homework, stamping the sheet (the
previous day) if it it done correctly. If there are many mistakes, or they
just didn't feel like doing the last 3 of each activity, etc., they receive
1/2 credit (I turn the stamp sideways). Each Monday I collect the
sheets & count up the points. ( 3 points per day) If the students have
lost their sheet, they have lost the homework points.

Also, when I walk by, if their h/w sheet & h/w are not on their desk,
ready to go, they don't receive credit. It makes them get their h/w
out fast & forces them to be organized, because I won't wait for them
to find all the papers. Also, as I walk around I sometimes ask students
to put problems on the board (we have dry-erase boards & they have
purchased their own markers). Even those that did not do the homework
might still be assigned one to do on the board. After all the different things
I have tried with h/w, this has worked the best. H/w takes about 10
minutes from the class. (we have the block system (90 min. each).

Kristi Ashe


97/11 From-> Cynthia Andrews <Cynthia_Andrews@blake.pvt.k12.mn.us>
Subject: Re: Homework Grade Sheet

I also use the homework sheet and stamp. It take some class time but
the results are worth it. The advantages that I see are
1.  It is a concrete reminder for the student of what homework has been done
and of any missing assignments. ( I tend to forget how concrete so many of my
students are.)
2.  It is very easy for me to see at a glance how the student has done his/her
homework. (My comments are recorded on their sheet as to what needs to
be improved and any work that is excellent along with the stamp. Incomplete
or terrible work does not get a stamp and must be completed. )
3.  The students have a running commentary on their homework and make
up or improve their work much faster.
4.  The students have a good idea of what their homework grade will be.
5.  It is an excellent source of information at conference time or for written
6.  It save correcting so many papers but gives a similar result.
7.  Those who are doing a good job on their homework get recognized
immediately for their good effort and serve as models for the rest of
the group. I make an overhead of the homework sheet and put the
assignments on it. This helps make sure that anyone who was absent also
has the same assignments on his/her sheet. I like Irene Moon's idea of having
a column for the students to write their explanations of why their work is
late or has so many errors.

Cynthia Andrews


97/11 From-> Kristi Michelle <Kristi1517@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Homework Sheets

Regarding some of the questions about my original posting: It only takes
1-2 minutes for me to walk around & stamp the h/w sheets. At the same
time the students are putting up the h/w on the board. Students do not have
enough time to frantically get it done as I am walking around. If it is not
complete, they do not receive credit. If they did it fast & it is so sloppy I
cannot read the answers, they do not receive credit. If the majority of the
answers are wrong, they do not receive credit.

I have 32 students in each class. If we are not reviewing the h/w on the
board, I have placed an activity for them to work on while I check h/w.
If they do not work on the activity, they know I will give them a test on
last night's h/w. immediately. I actually have few problems with the whole
h/w thing. Homework takes 10 minutes total. (It does not take me10
minutes to walk around the room). Also, the reason I have all students put
h/w on the board (even those that did not do it) is because I have told them
they are all responsible for the work. It is not a punishment.

Many students do not do the h/w out of laziness or forgetfulness
(which is from their own lips), and they have no problem when I
ask them to put an answer on the board. They look in the book or
ask a friend. (which all the students do anyway to ensure their written
response is correct.) My students know they will be called on to go
over the homework whether they wrote it out or not. They accept it and
there is never any argument. The students help each other out.

Kristie Ashe

L. Paper Load and Organizational Tips

97/09 From-> Julianne Baird <JJBaird@ligtel.com>
Subject: Organization Tips

I am supposed to give a little mini-session to other language teachers
on how to handle the paper load. Language teachers seem to have more
teacher made materials than teachers in other disciplines. I have a few
ideas of my own, but I would appreciate it if you wonderful teachers on
this list can give some of your suggestions for dealing with handling the
paper load. Thanks

Julie Baird


97/09 From-> Duveen Penner <dpenner@esu6.esu6.k12.ne.us>
Subject: Re: Organization Tips

Julie, I'm not exactly sure what type of tips you are looking for, but I
picked up a great idea at Central States several years ago. I wish I could
remember the woman's name, but I can't. She used something called a
tickler file for keeping school papers (not student papers, but things that
are on a deadline, registration forms, notes, schedule changes, etc.) organized
and at her fingertips. This is how I have set up my file:
1 plastic filing crate that accommodates hanging files
12 hanging files labeled with the months of the year
31 hanging files labeled with the numbers 1-31 to accommodate the last 31 days.
I keep the crate containing all of these files on a table near my desk at
Right now, my files are in this order (from the front of the crate to the back):
September Files numbered 8 through 31October
Files numbered 1 through 7
November December January February (and so on through August)
An example of what I might do tomorrow at the end of the day:
*Look through any notes, papers, reminders that are in the Sept.8 folder.
Try to take care of as many as possible. Oh, here's the registration form
for a workshop in October. Still don't know if it will work with my home
calendar to be gone on that Saturday. File that paper again in Friday's
folder (Sept.12); will know more then. When the Sept.8 folder is cleaned
out, I stick in behind #7. In effect, it has now become the October 8 folder.
*25 FFA students will be gone on Wednesday; I file the list of names in the
Sept.10 file so I have them handy on that day;
*I receive a flyer re: Advent Calendars in the mail. Don't want to deal with
that yet, so I just put that in the file labeled October.
*I need to write a request to take some German Club kids to hear the Berlin
Symphonic Orchestra; they are playing in Lincoln in November but since it is
on a Sunday, I'd better write the request soon. File a note in Friday's folder
*Tom was absent today and missed a vocabulary quiz. File it in tomorrow's
folder; see if he's back tomorrow and we can schedule a make-up time. Etc., etc.

You get the idea. It keeps the clutter from piling too high and can be a pretty
effective time management tool! Hope this was clear; it's a bit difficult to
describe. Good luck with your presentation - I'm anxiously awaiting lots of
great tips from the list!

Duveen Penner


 97/09 From-> Tonya Grant <T.Grant@stpauls.qld.edu.au>
Subject: Re: Organization Tips

Julie, I have a folder for each of my classes with plastic pockets to slide
things into. Each time I make/ copy a worksheet or activity, I slide the
copies into a page. It's easy when you get to class to flick through and
find the pages you need to use. I usually leave one copy behind in the pocket
which then by the end of the year is a record of the year's worksheets ready
to access for the following year. My biggest tip for paper control, though,
is read it and decide where it should go immediately, rather than putting it
aside to file later. Otherwise the "To file" pile becomes too huge to cope

Tonya Grant


97/09 From-> Patricia Seaver <seaverp@localnet.com>
Subject: Re: Organization Tips

Julie, I have one file drawer with folders organized by country
(Spanish-speaking), another file drawer with folders organized by
vocabulary theme (animals, home/furniture, body/clothing, food--a huge
one that needs to be sub-divided, etc.), another with folders organized by
cultural topic (quinceañera, música, días de fiesta, etc.),another with folders
organized by grammar structure, etc.

In the vocabulary folders, I file culture-with-a-little-c stuff that is related
to the vocabulary theme-pictures of guayabera in the clothing folder, other
realia that is small enough to file, for example; the food folder will have
not only transparencies of activities for teaching food, but will also have
menus, pictures of paella, recipes, etc. In the folders I have transparencies,
masters for handouts, pictures, etc. I also have notebooks with transparencies
for grammar activities--mostly communicative activities that focus on a
particular grammatical structure that I have "stolen" from here and there.

I know that some teachers color code everything--red for cultural, green
for vocabulary, blue for grammar or whatever. Obviously I have lots of "stuff"
that won't fit in file folders; I don't do it systematically, but sometimes I write
an inventory on the inside of the file folder of related items which are not in
the folder. I almost threw something out once in a moment of madness, but
I came to my senses and created a new file folder and have lived happily
ever since.

Pat Seaver


97/09 From-> Cherice Montgomery <montgomery@feist.com>
Subject: Re: Organization

>I am supposed to give a little mini-session to other language teachers on
how to handle the paper load. Language teachers seem to have more
teacher made materials than teachers in other disciplines.

>My biggest tip for paper control, though, is read it and decide where it
should go immediately, rather than putting it a side to file later. Otherwise
the "To file" pile becomes too huge to cope with!!

I agree! This was the single most important factor in helping me to get
organized. I started with a "file pile" and gave it up in favor of a notebook
system which did not work well at ALL for me. So now I use a system similar
to the one below described by Pat Seaver, but with a twist: I ran into two
problems with her approach.

First of all, I had to go to several different folders in order to prepare each
chapter. Secondly, I could never remember what I had already used with
level I when preparing level II, etc. My solution: I have a COLORED folder
(not color-coded) for each chapter--the colors make them easy for me to spot.
Every time I print off one of these posts, for example, I throw it into the chapter
folder for the chapter with which I think I'll be most likely to use the material.
This forces me to make an instant decision about which level, which topic,
which chapter. If it is something flexible which could be used for several levels
or chapters, I run copies and drop them into place. In this way, I am able to
keep track of all the new ideas I run across, even though I may not use them
every year.

Each year when I go to prepare a chapter I am forced to revisit all items in the
folder and can choose a few new ones to prepare each year. This is an
especially helpful system when I return from a conference. Instead of having
handouts in an "ideas" notebook which I consult when I am desperate, I rip
each packet apart and throw individual pages into the chapter folders. For
some of the Barbara Snyder-type activities which could be used with more
than one chapter, I decide on the chapters(and try to leave a few chapters
in between each use) so that I don't end up using the same activity with
every unit at every level. I have run across other teachers who have TONS
of materials which they never use because they forget that they have them.
This system allows me to know exactly where all my "ideas" are (or at least
forces me to stumble across them once each year).

Additionally, each time I Xerox a classroom set of something, I put it in a
regular folder and label it with the level and chapter (II, 5). I file it behind
the colored chapter folder--thus all things for each chapter are together and
planning is simply a matter of putting the folders of activities into the order
in which I intend to use them, plus choosing new things from the chapter
folder to Xerox. Once Xeroxed, they are put into their own folder behind
the chapter folder. In short, the chapter folders are a place where I put
anything I have not prepared, but might like to use, or ideas for warm-ups
or games which don't take preparation, per say, but need a "home" so that
I can find them again.

I have established a separate file for "culture" which includes a folder for
each Spanish-speaking country, a folder for each of various famous
Spanish-speaking people (which don't fit behind one of the chapters—for
example, in chapter 7 of level II we cover art, so most of my art stuff is
located in that drawer), and a literature file in which I keep generic stories
and things which don't conveniently "drop" themselves into a specific
chapter. It probably sounds terribly complicated, but it works well for me.

Another thing I use is a stack of wire baskets. I label each one with titles
like: to distribute (around the building, to other teachers, etc.), to copy,
to prepare, to staple/hole-punch, to collate, to cut/paste/color, etc. When
my two student aids come in during their assigned hours, they know exactly
what they are supposed to do with each pile. If I need to give more specific
instructions about something, I simply put a sticky note on top that says

For bulletin board materials, I collect big shopping bags, (the pink
AmVets bags are the best), and stick all materials for each bulletin board
inside--fastening the ends over with tape. I then take a permanent black
marker and write what is in the bag on the outside of it. Since the only
place I have to store them is in a stack on top of a high cabinet, I also
tape a small sheet of paper to the side, fold the bottom edge down so
that it shows when the bags are stacked, and write the title of the bulletin
board on that too. I stack them with Sept. on top and May on bottom.
A friend of mine uses garbage bags, attaches them to a hanger, and hangs
them on what looks like a closet rod on rollers that her husband made for
her. She tags each one on the neck of the hanger.

Cherice Montgomery


97/09 From-> Irene Moon <irenem@imperium.net>
Subject: Organization Tips

I have appreciated everyone else's tips, but still find I spend time looking
for things anyway. And that does become a problem because I have some
materials at home (where I can look at them in the comfort of my easy
chair Tee Hee!) and at school, too. I do most of my creative thinking at
home and so like to have stuff there if I plan to develop units and activities.

Especially since joining FLTEACH, I now have videos and books and things
that you all have shared with me...so the idea I hit upon was plastic Rubbermaid
sweater boxes. I have one for level 2, 3 and 4 and I toss in whatever I know
I plan to incorporate. These are my "planning boxes" I guess you might say.
I, too, at school use the chapter folders for the twosy's, but do topical folders
for Sp 3 and 4.At Office Max this summer I purchased folders that will hold
up to 300 papers. I have one for each of the levels I teach and as each week
concludes, I file the lesson plans, activities, handouts in the appropriate folder.
I have immediate access, for it's at my desk and as each 9 weeks concludes, I
have a record of what we have accomplished.

Irene Moon


97/09 From-> Courtney Stewart <cstewart@smyth.net>
Subject: Re: Organization Tips-More

I wish I had done this every year--but I really am doing it this year. I am
keeping a journal of what I actually do each day--rather than what my lesson
plan says I am going to do!! I constantly switch gears--or decide that
something is not working or am suddenly inspired (usually by my kids)—for
example: today we drew puppets on our fingers--the kids made up their
own dialog and drew their own characters on their fingers—it worked and
I wrote it down in my notebook. Next year I hope my lesson plans will be
inspired by what I actually do and I'll remember what it was that I did!!

Courtney Stewart


 97/09 From-> Dawn Santiago-Marullo <Dasm157@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Organization Tips-More

Organization is one of my obsessions, so here are a few of the things I do!
I hope you will find them helpful. I use the large boxes that business size
envelopes come in to organize all of my materials and activities for each
unit. Since my materials might include videos, audio tapes, games, etc. the
boxes work better for me than folders. These boxes are meant to hold 500
envelopes, so they are usually sturdy enough to hold most anything I need
to place in them. They are also FREE! (I get them from the secretaries in
the main office or the guidance office whenever they do a mailing home!)

I use 1/2 inch 3 ring binders to organize the 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper for
each unit, this way I have created my own pseudo textbook, with a copy
of handouts, answer keys and notes about the unit and activities, etc. I keep
"master" copies of anything that needs to be copied in regular pocket folders
labeled on the outside with the chapter information. I bought mine when
school supplies were on sale one year and bought enough of each color, to
color code each level. (level 1 is pink, level 2 is yellow, level 3 is blue, etc.)

I bought a package of colored file folders and each year I send down five
(one of each color) to be laminated. I use these to hold the papers that need
to be corrected. When I leave school I just need to check that I have the
yellow file folder and I know I have the papers I want to work on tonight, etc.
On my desk I have a pocket folder for each class (color coded to match the
file folders above) in these I place my seating charts, papers that are ready to
be handed back, any notices I have for that particular class, a worksheet, quiz
or test we will be doing today, etc. When I begin class I open that folder and
do what I have to do, hand back papers, take attendance, etc. Like Irene I plan
a lot of my units at home so I have in my home a plastic crate for each level I
am currently teaching with "stuff" for future units.

Dawn Santiago-Marullo


97/11 From-> Jim Rayburn <jraybur@uakron.edu>
Subject: Secretary of the Classroom

>I have a question with which I would appreciate your help. I have been
told by other teachers that a great way to reduce the "extra" paperwork and
reduce the time away from the class, that I should use a "secretary" for each
class, based on merit. This "secretary" would collect homework, do attendance,
prepare folders for absent students, etc. I am not sure this is a great idea.

May I please have your comments and suggestions and any other input you
feel would assist me in this. The teacher I am student teaching for right now
not only has a Secretary, but a President and VP to perform a variety of duties
during the first five minutes or so of class. The Secretary takes attendance
while the President leads the class in a review activity (e.g., practicing
numbers, the alphabet, vocabulary, etc.). The VP stands at the front and
writes names on the board of students who are not participating in the
warm-up activity or who are talking excessively or behaving inappropriately
(there are predefined consequences for students who continue these
behaviors after their name has been written on the board). The Secretary
also calls the roll and checks to see that students have brought their books
to class (believe it or not, if it weren't for this ritual, students in our classes
would come to class with no materials whatsoever). Students without books
are assigned essays to write as a consequence.

When I first saw this, I immediately realized the value of having that extra
five minutes at the top of the class to dispose of whatever administrative
matters might be pending. In addition, student helpers get a
opportunity to develop and refine leadership skills. The only serious problem
I experienced had to do with students whose job it was to write names on the
board. In all of classes which I took over from this teacher, these students
were not able to demonstrate to me that they were being objective in deciding
which students were exhibiting off-task behaviors. As a result, the names
which ended up on the board most often reflected the biases of the students
assigned to carry out this task. Consequently, I started receiving complaints
from students that so-and-so always talks or goofs off but never get his or
her name put up on the board. After getting an earful of complaints over
several weeks I decided to suspend this particular privilege. So now I only
have two student helpers instead of three to help get class going each period.

So far so good. It works in my classes. But if your temperament is authoritarian
in nature or you have a strong need for control, this type of arrangement might
not be for you. In any event, I hope this forum provides some useful insights
to guide you toward finding a satisfactory solution.

Jim Rayburn


97/11 From-> Anna <ckeene@kendaco.telebyte.com>
Subject: Re: Secretary of the Classroom

In our state, a teacher can get fired for inappropriate attendance. It has
been recommended that student helpers not take attendance because this
information can be used in suits against the district, school, and/or teacher.
Like Jim's problem with students being biased, students may also cover for
a friend who is absent, especially if your school has a strong attendance

As for entering grades, same is true. I have a TA that grades quizzes for
me, but I still go over them to make sure they were marked correctly.
The first time he did this I found that he was very lenient for certain students,
but not for others. I didn't confront him, I just made necessary adjustments.
I believe that these students may have said something to him because this
hasn't happened again. I like to give my students the benefit of the doubt,
the first time. If it happens again, I'll speak with him. TA's are a great help
for the incidentals like putting up posters, cleaning overhead transparencies,
collating papers.

Anna Damiens


97/11 From-> Tara Stace <TSTACE@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Homework Packets

I was going crazy trying to keep up with all the paperwork at the beginning
of the school year. I posted a very sad letter about how depressed I was
about having 5 Spanish I classes. Some of you may remember. If you do
you will be happy to know things are MUCH better for me now. I took
many of your suggestions and my life at school has improved.

The best thing was the homework packet. I have managed to get 85%
of my homework sheets together prior to the chapter and have them copied
into one big stack. One sided only. I collect the packet at the end of the
chapter, it is worth about 75 points. One the back sides I have the kids
write their warm-up drills, which is what I have the kids do while I am
walking around stamping the homework. It works great. I also have
them do any book assignments on the back of the homework sheets.
They can also put notes there too. It has saved my sanity. Occasionally
I collect homework and grade it during the chapter, but not much.

Tara Stace

And here are the contributors to this vital topic:

Sandra Almgren
Cynthia Andrews
Kristi Ashe
Michele Back
Julianne Baird
Pat Barrett
Marilyn Barrueta
Martha Bihari
Deborah Blaz
Jean Bodle
Timothy Boorda
Richard Boswell
Robert Brito
Bonnie Brodd
Pamela Casler
Elma Chapman
Paul Conley
Francie Cutter
Beth Damascus
Anna Damiens
Carolyn Dean
Mary Jo Eide
Finn Englyng
Connie Eno
Shannon Fineout
Jaene Fitzpatrick
Gene Foldenauer
Judy Frumkin
Cynthia Gerstl
Tonya Grant
Anthony Green
Beth Groeneman
Carolyn Hackney
Bob Hall
Shelley Hampp
Debora Hannigan
Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez
Randy Henley
Helga Hilson
Sandra Howard
Kimberly Huegerich
Dianna Janke
Lewis Johnson
Helen Jones
Gwen Kellogg
Patricia Kessler
Laura Kimoto
Beverly Larson
Richard Lee
Jerry Lindvall
Ann Mans
Gloria Manuel
Timothy Mason
James May
Andrea Merrifield
Susan Mitchell
Cherice Montgomery
Irene Moon
Vincent Morrissette
Ron Mueller
Lisa Nocita
Monica O’Riley
Fiona Orrman-Brown
Lynne Overesch-Maister
Duveen Penner
Erwin Petri
Robert Ponterio
Jocelyn Raught
Jim Rayburn
Joan Roth
Dawn Santiago-Marullo
Meredith Sargent
Gary Schubert
Pat Seaver
Susan Shelby
Dave Shelly
Patti Spiegel
Tara Stace
Courtney Stewart
Kris Swanson
Shawna Thue


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