George Lucas Educational Foundation

Missing homework solutions?

Missing homework solutions?

Related Tags: 6-8 Middle School
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For pretty much the entirety of my career, I have been of the opinion that it was important to hold students accountable for missing homework. By that, I mean if they missed an assignment, it was their responsibility to make it up and hand it in. Once I began teaching 8th grade, this mindset was enforced by the idea that we had to prepare them for the responsibilities of high school. We had to keep from holding their hands and doing the work for them. This summer our administration and several staff members attended a Professional Learning Community conference. They returned invigorated. One of the results of their collaborations was that we were no longer going to 'let' our students not do their missing work. We were going to create a lunchtime study hall where they would make up any missing work from the week before until it was finished. I was skeptical, but I have to admit, it works. Leaving it up to the students never really worked, especially for the ones with an unenthusiastic work ethic. Why didn't it? Because there weren't enough tangible, immediate, and measurable consequences for not completing their work. Students in the middle school need that. Telling them that it will affect their grade or their comprehension of the concept doesn't make enough of an impression. Now I see students taking the initiative to get their late work in to me by Friday so that they don't appear on Monday's list of missing work. More than that, I have seen an improvement in their learning. Students are not falling behind to the degree they once were. Some students who frequently didn't do their homework have even begun to get it in on time, over and over again. I was wrong. By giving them some structure and consequences that matter to them, they are improving. More importantly, I believe my students are developing better habits and becoming more responsible. I am very grateful that my administration and my team were willing to do the work necessary to put this plan into action. I am also glad that I have once again been taught the lesson that a fixed mindset is not always the best one. What are your experiences/thoughts?

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Shelley Geisreiter's picture
Shelley Geisreiter
Sixth Grade Classroom Teacher

I am currently wrapping up a year of teaching 5th grade, but will be moving back to 6th grade in the fall. There are pros and cons to teaching "middle school" students in an elementary environment. One positive is that we still have recess as an "incentive" to get homework turned in on time. This year's class has been especially challenging as I have many students with organizational and attention deficit issues that make establishing homework routines difficult. Hopefully, since I will be moving to 6th grade with many of my current students, they will mature by leaps and bounds over the summer and be ready to be more accountable for their has been exhausting tracking their work/missing work this year.

R. Grunduski's picture
R. Grunduski
Eighth grade teacher, GA

We too had a problem with students not turning in work. We met as professional learning committees to come up with solutions to the problem. At our school we also use working lunch to allow students to make up missing work and yes we have had success with it. I was not fully sold on the idea of a working lunch, but was pleasantly surprised with the results. I saw an increase of students turning in assignments and also saw an increase in some student achievement. A similar plan that we also implemented was Saturday school. Students with a number of missing assignments are assigned school on Saturday from 8-12 to make up work. This too has had a positive impact. The number of missing assignments has decreased and taken the pressure off teachers from having to "hunt down the missing work." These two plans have also lead to a decrease in the number of failing students. It is amazing to see that kids and teachers from across the country are dealing with a lot of the same issues.

Ana's picture
Middle School English and Spanish Teacher

My school does something very similar to yours. We call it "working lunch". Teachers have a shared excel spreadsheet we fill at each day for students who have missing assignments. They attending working lunch for as long as it takes until their homework is finished. It seems the main difference is that we send kids daily and don't wait until Friday to make the list. Your way seems to be less work for the teacher. My biggest problem is remembering to keep track of who is missing what assignment each day. I often let kids slide because of my lack of organization. This year, I'm trying something new. Children will have to fill out an "Oops, I forgot my homework" form and turn it in in place of their assignment so that I can immediately see and keep track of who is missing what. When the assignment comes in, I cut and attach the bottom portion of the form to their late homework. It will also serve as a great tool for parent-teacher conferences and end of marking period deadlines. A downloadable instant digital copy of the sheet can be found here:

Cheers and my best to everyone this next school year!

Let'sLearn's picture
middle school language arts

I love the missing assignment list idea. I am constantly looking for ways to encourage accountability.

Webcutter's picture

What are the academic consequences for the "working lunch?" Many of my assignments are woven into the class discussion, homework questions are answered, and student's at-home learning of material that will be discussed/taught that day in class is built upon during class discussion. If they don't do the assignment how does the "working lunch" hold students to the same level as the rest of the class?
Also, who is monitoring the "working lunch?"

KatieBe's picture

This is an interesting discussion. I am a parent of a 7th grade boy who frequently does not turn in homework assignments. I am at a loss for effective strategies, having tried everything I can think of. He is very smart and easily learns the material. Some of the late work he refuses to do (eg - vocabulary exercises for words he already knows). He is disorganized and refuses assistance or reliance on tools like writing assignments in his planner. His teachers update the online grade book weekly and it is so frustrating to see him with 8 zeroes in one class, for instance - a class he loves! I never thought I would have to supervise a 13 year old so closely; no one micromanaged us growing up. We have tried rewards ($ for grades) and punitive consequences (no technology, cannot attend clubs, decline friends' invitations, stayed home from big events) but not only do they not solve the problem, they put a lot of strain on our family. I am seeking understanding of why he is like this and what I can do to o help him understand that completing one's work (and doing it well) is important. Thank you.

Gwen Pescatore's picture
Gwen Pescatore
President Home & School Assoc, #ParentCamp Organizer, Co-Moderator #PTchat

KatieBe...I'm curious, have you tried having a conversation with him about it? Why he isn't doing the work, what he enjoys and dislikes about school/class in general, what he thinks would be a solution? When my son was in 7th grade I got tired of micromanaging (checking homework, grades & scheduling meetings with him and teachers), so I asked him to think about what he'd want to be when he grows up, what classes are a necessity to achieve that goal...and then do some research of what that job pays along with what it would cost to live on his own with the luxuries he feels are important to him. It was the best thing I had ever done. I don't have to micromanage him's not about doing work because mom or the teacher is requiring him, he does it because it helps him reach his goals. It connected school with real life for him.

Dawson Dillard's picture

Homework and school is a complete waste of time, all school does is make students regurgitate everything they "learned". School really is making kids stupid. When ever kids were little, we would always ask thousands of questions, every parent knows this phase of their child, except that its not a phase, its human nature, we want to learn, but as soon as we enter school, that yearning to learn and ask questions fades away, why? Because now we are being forced to learn and more information is being crammed in our heads for us to remember for maybe a couple of weeks, take a test on it, then never see it again.

Diana Ramirez's picture

I don't know the context of your students' backgrounds, but I do think that it might be hard for some of them to do homework at home. Maybe it is the lack of seriousness with homework or maybe there are too many duties in their homes to get homework done. With this said, I am glad that this approach is showing improvement in students' learning. Based on your post, I will ask, what leads students to do their homework in school? Is it the thought of losing their free time with friends? If so, I think implementing a similar technique for paying attention in class could also work. They'd know that, as long as they pay attention, they will not be losing their lunch time.

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