One of the things my middle school team and I struggled a lot with before holiday break was the high rate of students who did not turn in homework and assignments on time. At first, we created a Google Document that listed students and their missing work. The document was shared with the middle school teachers and Grades 6-8 students. Students who were listed on the document had to come in during lunch and recess for “lunch detention” to make up their missing work.
While the Google Document allowed us to keep track of assignments, it made more work for us as teachers. We rotated through lunch shifts so that one or more teachers had their homerooms open for students to make up missing work. Did we doom ourselves to eating lunch alone in the classroom, never to eat lunch together again in the faculty lounge?
I was determined not to work harder than my students, and to figure out a way to get back to that far-away faculty lounge! After a long thoughtful conversation with the boss, I realized that if we teachers wanted our students to take more responsibility for their work (or lack of), we had to reach out to their parents and get them in on the action. Sure, we emailed and made phone calls, but the communication channels weren’t always immediate.
What if there was a way to log online when a student didn’t do his or her homework? What if parents received an automated email each time this happened? Parents could talk to their child about that assignment on that exact same day. It would be parents holding their own children accountable, and not a Google Document, or teachers eating lunch in their classrooms. We’d finally start getting more work in on time!
By December, I was already using Google Forms with the Flubaroo Add-On for short quick assessments in the science classroom. After Googling ideas, sure enough, there was such a way!
Through my Internet research, I came across Mr. Trussell’s 2014 blog post, “Setting Up A Form To Email Parents About Missing Homework“. Within two hours, I had a working “Missing Homework” Google Forms template and a parent email template! I shared them immediately with the middle school team when we returned from break, and we were ready to roll.
That weekend before the end of the holiday break, I wrote mass emails to parents in each grade introducing the Missing Homework form and automated notices. Within minutes, my inbox was flooded with enthusiastic responses from parents, who loved the idea. Needless to say, students were wary that first Monday back.
Each teacher has his or her own way of using the Missing Homework Google Form. I use it with my work iPad, walking around the room and collecting work individually as students work on bell-ringers. Other teachers bookmark it on their desktop computers and run the list of students missing work during one of their preps.
We middle school teachers have used the Missing Homework forms for a whole month now, and I’m glad to say that it has greatly reduced the amount of missing homework and assignments. In that first week of January, we had close to 30% of students not submit work on time. That number went down to 8% in just two days after those automated parent emails were generated. Now, a full month later, we no longer see the same staggering amounts of students with missing work.
Since then, I’ve tweaked the Missing Homework Google Form a little bit in response to peer teacher and parent feedback. Specials teachers loved the Google Form and wanted to use it in their classes to notify parents of late classwork and projects. Those teachers’ names were added to the drop-down menus, and I edited the form to include classwork. Parents also wanted to know the names of the missing assignments, when the assignments were assigned, and what the assignment deadlines were. I changed the short answer textbox to long answer textbox so teachers could add the necessary information–they could be as brief or as detailed as they wanted!
One of the drawbacks of the Missing Homework Google Form was that the “Autocrat” Add-on does not automatically merge the spreadsheet, email template, and coding whenever I submit a log on the Missing Homework Google Form. Fortunately, I have the last prep of the day so I can set time aside to open up the Google Form and run the merge manually while I type up homework emails to teachers and text reminders (Remind) to parents for the day.
So that I don’t forget to do it, I used the “Form Notifications” Add-on on the Google Form itself to send me email notifications whenever there are five or more responses added to the Google Form by the other teachers.
Despite the heavy legwork upfront, the Missing Homework Google Form, and automated emails have greatly improved our parent-teacher communications. Parents love getting the emails, and we teachers have PDF records we can refer to back up student grades. In addition, the Google Form offers visual diagrams of student work through its summary of responses.
I wouldn’t say that we have completely eradicated students’ inability to turn work in on time as a team, but at least, I get the opportunity now to take a real lunch break!
How to Use1. Create the Student Responsibility Form
Decide what behaviors you will want to address with your form. Some teachers use forms for missed homework assignments only. Other teachers choose to use them for certain types of off-task behavior. If you choose to use the Student Responsibility Form for more than one behavior, list the possibilities on the form. Check off the behavior before you hand the form to the student. Make a place for the student to explain why he or she demonstrated the behavior and a place for the student to sign the slip, indicating they acknowledge the infraction.2. Set expectations
Once students have been taught procedures and expectations, they should be taught about the Student Responsibility Form procedure. Not following the set expectations means receiving a notification, just like students would receive when they have a job. It’s important that students understand that the teacher will show forms to their parents and administration, if necessary.3. Decide on consequences
Decide and explain how students will be penalized as they accumulate Student Responsibility Forms. For example, three forms for off-task behavior could result in parent contact. Receiving a form for not completing a homework assignment could mean that 5 points will be taken off the weekly participation grade.4. Distribute the form
Any time a student fails to meet a classroom expectation, hand him or her a Student Responsibility Form. Allow the student time to complete the form, explaining why he or she chose not to follow the classroom expectation.5. File the form
Collect and place the form in the student’s file or in a filing system of your choice.
When to Use
Use Student Responsibility Forms to encourage accountability for behaviors you are trying to reduce in your classroom:
• Missing homework assignment
• Not having necessary supplies
• Not participating in class
• Distracting other students
VariationsPink Slips - or Other Color Slips
Some teachers use colored paper for the Student Responsibility Forms and call the forms by that color. Pink is a popular color, so teachers can say they are issuing Pink Slips for behavior that is keeping students from the business of learning.Parent Signature
You might decide to give further weight to the forms by having students take them home to be signed by a parent or guardian.Class-wide Motivation System with Student Responsibility Forms
Depending on why you are issuing forms, you might want to have a competition between classes: the class with the fewest amount of issued forms each six weeks earns a reward. Or you could have a weekly class reward: if no Student Responsibility Forms are issued during the week, the class receives a reward.
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