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08 September 2010

Why I grade homework thoroughly

Background:  I work at a boys boarding school.  I'm on duty in one of the upperclass dorms every week or so.  This was the conversation I overheard last night, the night after the first day of classes.  The entire conversation took at least five minutes.  (Names have been changed to protect the innocent, and the silly...)

Plaxico:  So, Mr. Greer doesn't grade our homework, right?

Jim:  Yes he does, he collects it every three days.

Plaxico:  Every three days regularly, or approximately every three days?

Jim: I don't know.  He just said "Every third day."

James:  I think he said "Every third day or so."

Plaxico: *I* think he said "Every third day."  I'll go with that.

[Pause for thought.  much walking around by all.]

Plaxico:  Does he just collect the homeworkevery three days, or does he grade it?

Joe:  He looks at it every day.  He just collects it every three days.

Plaxico:  But does he grade it every day?

Joe:  I don't know... he doesn't pick it up every day.

Plaxico:  On the days when he doesn't pick it up, does he give us a grade?

John:  I'm not sure.

Plaxico:  Okay, when he picks it up, does he grade it for completion or correctness?

John: Why are you asking ME this?

Plaxico (increasingly frustrated and panicked):  Becuase I NEED TO KNOW.  Does he grade for completion or correctness?

John: I am not sure.

Plaxico (soliloquy, to audience, with hands in the air): Already!  It's just the first day, and already I'm confused.  I don't know what to do!

George:  So, Plaxico, why don't you just do it right?  Then you won't have to worry.

Plaxico: [Glares at George.]

Just letting you know, folks, setting up rules about homework IS but a game, and we teachers are merely players.  Set up the rules of the game so the work gets done.  Don't underestimate a student's willingness to play games.

1 comment:

  1. I decided to handle assignments this year through science notebooking. Many assignments go into students' science notebooks. I collect them only sporadically (ideally every 1-2 weeks, but it is sometimes longer) but when they are collected, I review everything, and I look for the trends and patterns in the student's work. I have a rubric that I use which allows me to check boxes for strengths and weaknesses. My goals were to build scientific literacy and better meet my state standards in this area, while making both the student side of things and the teacher side of the work less of a chore and more meaningful. I think it worked fairly well this year.