Friday, June 7, 2013

Tricks of the Trade: Homework Time

I haven't linked up with Tricks of the Trade for a few weeks, but now I'm back... I love this week's topic about Collecting and Returning Homework.

The first question many are discussing is their view on homework. Some hate and others love. In my classroom, I rarely assign something as "homework." Homework in my class is from any assignments not completed during class. I try to give students as much time as possible to complete an assignment, but if it is not finished when class is over, it becomes homework. I want my students to complete most of their work in class where I am available to help them. If I notice most of my students do not have an assignment completed at the end of class, I will NOT normally make it homework, but instead adjust my schedule to allow time the next day for the students to complete it. My only exception to my general homework rule is that I do ask my students to read thirty minutes a night!

Now on to my tricks!

Tip 1: Use GOOD baskets and label them clearly.
My collection baskets are wire, and I LOVE them. I tried the plastic ones, but had to constantly replace them. I have three classes that I teach two subjects to each, so I teach six sections. I have a basket for each section.  They are color coded by subject. Blue is S.S. and Red is Reading. Then each basket also has the homeroom teacher's name on it. I stack the baskets in order of when they have me. Once they learn the trick of "this is my last class, so we are the last basket," most of them don't even have to look for the teacher name.

Tip 2: All on time assignments go in the basket.
I do not have students hand assignments to me. I am a busy human and do not trust myself to get EVERY assignment to the correct place, so I have the students turn every assignment into the baskets. The only exception is late work, which I have the students place on my chair. Chair? I know it sounds silly. I have tried a late work folder and was never able to remember to check it. I also tell my students to not put things on my desk because my desk will eat it. The chair method may sound crazy, but if it's in my chair, I have to deal with it before I sit down. Then I can make sure it is labeled late and put in the right stack of papers.

Tip 3: Use a slip with all the students' names on it.
When I grab a stack of papers out of the basket, I attach a slip that has each student's name on it as well as a place for the assignment name and due date. I highlight off the student's names that have turned them in. It makes it easy for me to look down and see who has not turned it in because his or her name is not highlighted. I then list the assignment and any students missing it on the board which I leave up until I will not accept it anymore. The students erase their name once they have turned it in.

Tip 4: Keep written records of your grades!!!
When I grade the papers I write the grades down on the slips as I grade. I then have a list of all the grades, and don't have to go back through the stack of papers in order to put them in the grade book. I'm sure what I am about to say sounds crazy, but I have three copies of my grades. The first is the slips, second is a paper grade book, and the third is my official online grade book. I know this sounds obsessive, BUT during my first year of teaching my online grade book CRASHED. My grades were lost! I of course had not kept any copies because I was trusting technology completely. They were able to recover my grades but it took about a week, and I was a basket case trying to recreate the grades until then. NEVER going to go through that stress again!

So after I have graded the assignments and written the grades on the slips, I then record the grades in my paper grade book. At that point, I then return the assignments. Once or twice a week, I sit down and type my grades from the paper grade book into my online grade book. I'm not going to suggest for everyone to keep three copies of their grades. BUT please, please, please keep a written copy of all your grades. My obsessiveness to keeping my copies actually paid off a few weeks ago. When the tornado hit the technology building in our district, it hit our server. Once again, my and all the other teachers' grades were LOST. Luckily, I had no problem replacing my grades, but many others in my building had no copies and had to scramble!   

Hope you enjoyed reading my tips!


  1. enjoyed reading them,thanks for sharing


    Enjoy Teaching English

  2. Great ideas, thanks for sharing. I've been teaching for a year and a half and am still working on the procedure for homework and turning it in that works best for me. I'm definitely going to use the paper with all their names and highlighting their name off if they've turned it in! That seems super helpful! Thanks, I'm your newest follower, and I'm an Okie too :)

    Grooving Through Fourth Grade

  3. Hi Leslie! We just found you through Fifth in the Middle's states link. We teach 1-2 multi-agers in Tulsa. We want to set up an Okie Blogger Lunch in August. A date hasn't been decided yet...we will let you know! We would love for you to hop over and visit us at

    Victoria & Tricia♥

  4. I'm an Okie blogger too and am glad you found me and joined my wagon train. Those are some good ideas above. Can't be too careful about keeping up with assignments and grades.