What do I do if students haven’t done their homework?

“Never give a ‘cold’ assignment, such as ‘Read Chapter Five for homework.’  Make sure that some kind of processing occurs and that some kind of product is created which they are accountable for.  Make such assignments due at the beginning of the class.  ‘For Thursday’s Entrance Ticket: Read Chapter Five and write down the five most surprising or useful things you learned from the reading.  You will hand these lists in to me as you come in the door next time.'”

“First of all, try to assure that you don’t find yourself in that situation!  When you give reading assignments, make the students accountable for them.  One good way to do that is to ask for written responses to assigned reading; you can  collect them as part of informal writing.  You can ask students to respond to prompts re: the reading, or pose open-ended questions:  how does this reading relate to the class discussion last class period?  Or you might ask for an in-class writing re: the assignment.  I do not ever, ever give quizzes.

“My experience is that, if students know that there is a reason for their having read an assignment, and know that they will be accountable for it, they will do it.  And once they understand that this

“English class really is different, in that participation (not just talking) is essential to their success, they will rise to the occasion.  Their not doing homework hasn’t been a problem for me.”

“Just like in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the most important thing to remember is: don’t panic. If you’re like me, however, that’s easier said than done. I tend to make my lessons based mostly (if not entirely) on the homework, so on the rare few times where it’s happened, it’s definitely panic-inducing. Breathe. Don’t take it personally. Often what you find is that it’s not you at all: midterms came up before the drop date and they were all engaged in panicked studying; the reading was at a level they weren’t comfortable with so they counted on everyone else stepping up; they had a hard time understanding the homework’s requirements.

“You can alleviate this somewhat by collecting their responses to readings each class. I also put my students in groups that are responsible to discuss the readings with the whole class as a group, and this helps them feel a little more responsible to one another.”


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