Pick N Mix Homework In Spanish

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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

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