When I started teaching, I never knew what a dilemma homework would pose for me. Of course, like most first years I walked into my first classroom starry-eyed, and ready to treat homework the way that my high school self had always wanted; I wasn’t going to give any. Then I was hit with the realization that not only did my school have HW make up 30% of the student grade, but as a language teacher that additional practice of the language was crucial. 54 minutes of Spanish for 3-4 times a week simply wasn’t enough for my students to master the material at the pace I needed to get through our curriculum for the year.
“I realized it wasn’t sustainable”
I did my part and assigned the recommended 10 homework assignments per quarter, and to appease my high school self that wasn’t allowed to abstain from homework, I decided I would accept all homework no matter when it was due. That lasted for an entire quarter, and I was so exhausted by the end of it, I realized it wasn’t sustainable. The amount of time it took me to find answer keys, or go back and check names, dates, requirements, for old assignments was hours of extra time. That didn’t even touch on the issues of how much time I was wasting in class checking and going over the homework, just for students to not follow along and learn from their mistakes.
I also realized I was really bothered by “giving away” 30% of my students’ grades. I had so many students who stayed after every week to get help on their homework and prepare for exams, whereas there were other students who I knew were cheating off their friends for the homework moments before the bell rang, and their grade was boosted to the equivalent of the student who was working so hard. Not to mention how you grade HW makes a big difference. If you grade it on completion, that’s an 100% just for filling in the blanks with nonsense sometimes. If you grade it for correctness, you’re penalizing them for still being in the formative process of learning. Plus that takes HOURS. It just didn’t seem fair. None of it did.
It was then I came to the realization that I needed to find a solution to these issues. I needed to assign homework that was meaningful, would help students learn from their mistakes before the exam, it needed to be easy to grade and track submissions, and if kids cheated it needed to hurt them more than it helped. That’s when I switched to google form homework. Now, I do realize that it is a privilege to be able to assign digital homework due to the demographic, and accessibility to technology in my district. My school is not 1:1, however virtually every student has a cell phone or computer at home.
Here’s what digital HW did for me
- My homework is now meaningful. Not only do I get to design my own assignments with ease, but they are always the same so my students know what to expect, and how to complete them after just one week of classes together. The settings in Google Form also let you adjust it so students can attempt the assignment as many times as they want. For me, this means that students have no excuse to not learn from their mistakes because they can see what they got wrong instantly and use things like their vocabulary list, notes, websites, etc. to help them find the solution! Not only is this great for students but parents LOVE this. Every year I get “oohs” and “ahhs” at open house night. This also took away any concerns I felt about “handout grades”.
- I have gained back SO MUCH TIME. I can reuse the assignments from year to year without standing in line at the copy machine or anything. I can assign it with just a few clicks, as well as grade it. When students hand in work late, I don’t need to be told or reminded, or ask. Google Classroom will email me to let me know! I don’t spend any time in class going over the homework except for rare occasions for particularly difficult topics. It’s also incredibly easy to share with colleagues who teach the same levels.
- The grading is SO EASY. Because google forms are self grading you don’t have to do any grading yourself. (of course if you want long responses that’s difference so I keep mine short). That way, students are getting feedback like they would from a teacher so they can learn better, you don’t have to do any extra work. If you assign it via google classroom it’s even easier because you can import the grades next to each students name, and it marks whether it was turned in late and when it was done!
- You can make review packets with just a few clicks. I don’t know about you, but I have a bunch of 504 and IEP’s that require review packets for every assessment. Rather than take a bunch of time to create new material, there’s a simple feature in Google Forms to help. They recently updated to allow you to combine multiple past Google Forms into one. So when a test comes, I simply compile all of the HW we have done into one large form and that is a self-grading review packet ready to go! This is CLUTCH come midterms and finals because of the amount of topics they need to review and practice.
- I don’t worry about cheating anymore. I tell my kids, straight up, that the questions on the homework are used on the quiz. Therefore, if they cheat, (which of course some do, I’m not dumb) they are cheating themselves on the opportunity to get the answers to the quiz they’ll take next week. This has upped my HW submissions greatly, and my quiz and test grades. It’s also makes conversations easier with parents. When they come to me about a quiz, and I show them the HW alongside the quiz, and that their student didn’t do it, the conversation changes VERY quickly.
If you have never done google form homework, I can’t recommend it enough for these reasons and more. If you’re looking to get started, but don’t know how, check out this youtube video I created that is a step by step tutorial to get you going and how to assign it into Google Classroom for ultimate ease!