Photo of a woman grading papers

In my class I encourage all students to learn and grow one was through homework policy. Growing up, I was the perfectionist. I was so discouraged every time I saw an 87% or 96% instead of a 100%. I never had a chance to change that 87% into a 100% and I know I am not the only person who saw homework that way. When I became a teacher, I made everything different and it works.

I grade one math and one literacy page a day. The page I grade is from the math and literacy independent station, this way I know they completed it. Plus, the independent station is a differentiated paper, so it was the best one to grade. When students turn these pages in I either put a sticker on the paper if they got them all right and I put a check mark in the gradebook; however,  if they don’t get them all right I circle the ones they miss and hand it back to them. This gives the students a second chance to get them correct. But most importantly, the students have to rework the problems which means they are working on learning the concept. Growing up we never had a chance to rework a problem, figure out our mistake, but this way my students can see where it went wrong. After the students rework the problem, they turn it back in. If they get it all right, they get a sticker and a check mark in the grade book. If they missed it again it’s time to have a quick conference with that student and work, it together. Once they got it correct, they also receive a check mark in the grade book.

Now I do believe in choices too. My students receive 30-45 minutes each day to complete these two pages of homework. Since it is an independent station, I grade they have the opportunity to complete it in school and not have homework. They have the choice to work hard in class or take it home. Most chose to work hard in class while others had homework. It’s up to them how hard they want to work.

At the end of each week my students who had all ten check marks for their homework received free time. YES, that is correct twenty minutes at the very end of each week! They got FREE TIME! You’d be amazed at what I saw. Those kids with free time still played school or wanted to play learning games or they experimented with some science and STEM equipment. Random fact did you know that employees at Google work 80% of the time and mess around for 20%? Gmail was invented in that 20% that free time is way more educational than just “free time” and if Google sees the value of having free time during the day, well so do I.

The students who did not get all of their homework turned in worked on the missing assignments and when they finished, they just had to read in a separate part of the room. These students saw how much fun their friends were having and worked hard towards free time the following week. This also gave me the opportunity to see why those students didn’t turn in an assignment. I used this time to check in with my sweet students and learn about their home life, their reasons, and I could help them from there.

When it came to grades the homework check marks counted as completion points. Students who have all of the checks receive 100% for homework students who did not receive less points. This homework policy works for me and rewards students to complete their work. Try it out and let me know how it goes!