You see, I seem to be having a really hard time getting the kids to turn them in. Yesterday I collected a total of 5 Slice of Life stories. Five! Out of sixteen! And this isn't the first time. I've been struggling to get S.O.L. stories turned in since I created the assignment a year ago. Same with Book-in-a-Bag. The POW usually has slightly better results, but not by much. And alerting you with Homework Alerts hasn't helped the situation either. I kind of gave that up when I was spending too much time filling out 12 of them each week, only to have half of those come back to me signed.
So, what's a teacher to do? Keep pressing on, assigning work I know many students won't even attempt? Or throw my hands up, give up, and try again next year with a new set of students? I really don't know.
I have some core beliefs as a teacher when it comes to homework. I've already discussed my belief that homework should be relevant and meaningful. I also believe that a fifth grader should be counted on to do their homework, for the most part, on their own. They should be independent enough to remember that it's due, and conscientious enough to care that it gets done well and on time. Finally, when it comes to consequences for homework not getting done, I believe the teacher shouldn't be punished with more work because his students haven't been doing their work (e.g. lunch detention, taking away recess, spending an hour writing homework alerts, etc.).
Like I said, I'm at a loss. At some point in their academic careers, turning in homework is going to be a lot more important than it is here in fifth grade. It WILL be the difference between pass and fail. It WILL be the thing that determines how well they do on tests and exams. But how to teach them that? How to hold them accountable? As parents, even though it might seem to all of us that you shouldn't have to, you just might have to become more involved. Getting on their case more than you already do (and I KNOW you already do) just might be required. It's the best thing I can think of that might help right the ship as they head into middle school.
I welcome your comments on this issue here on the blog, via email, or by phone. I value your input. Perhaps some sort of reinvention of homework for the last half of the school year needs to take place. Perhaps I need to shake things up. I'm not exactly sure. Things will probably be changing in some way as we enter the second half of the year. No matter what, thanks for your support. I'll keep you posted.