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!
*Originally posted on E, Myself, and I (4/2011 and updated 8/2013).
EDITED TO ADD: My Missing Work Log/ “Yellow Sheet” is an idea I got from a veteran teacher during my field experience in college. I have used it for eight years now with great success. Many of my own colleagues (and lots of you – thanks to the ole internet) have also adapted this classroom routine, and I’ve received a lot of great feedback. This year, I updated the sheet a little bit and made a simple printable version so it can be used in your class right away. I hope you will find it useful…
To start, here’s a quick explanation of how the Missing Work Log works:
On the day an assignment is due, the rule in my classroom is that EVERYONE turns SOMETHING in. If a student does not have his/her assignment, he/she must fill out one of these Missing Work Logs (which I affectionately call “The Yellow Sheet” because they are printed out bright yellow paper) and turn it in in place of said assignment. Blank logs are kept in a stack at the front of my classroom, and my students know to grab one if they are missing an assignment on a due date. (Over the years, this journey to retrieve a yellow sheet at the front of the room has become known as the “walk of shame” in class. It’s all in good humor; but, it does play on their pride and keep them in line a bit.)
The log itself asks for basic information like the assignment title, due date, and student signature. Once it has been filled out and turned in, I keep the Missing Work log in my stack of collected papers for the assignment OR on my attendance clipboard so I know to remind those students constantly until the assignment is turned in.
The next day/week/month when the late assignment is (finally) turned in, I record the date it was turned in, the number of points deducted (based on school policy – ours is 10% per day late), and the final score. **This version of the log also includes a spot to record contact with the student and parent about missing work too. I don’t make personal contact for every missing assignment; but, it is nice to have a spot to record that information right there when I do.
The bottom portion of the sheet is detached when an assignment is turned in and stapled to the assignment, so the student (and parent) knows exactly why they got the score they did on an assignment. The top portion gets filed and saved in my record.
If the assignment never comes in, a zero is recorded in the grade book and the yellow sheet gets filed. These work GREAT on parent teacher conference day and help to keep me from being accused of losing student work, etc.
Here’s a closer look:
Click here to download the log as a PDF and start using it right away! (Again, I usually print mine on bright yellow paper so that they stand out among ALL the papers I usually have.)
I’ve had a lot of success using this method in my classroom and have received plenty of positive feedback from other teachers who have implemented it too. I’d love to hear how it works for you if you decide to give it a try!
*One last thing… I didn’t include a watermark or copyright on the image itself (because, really, your students don’t need to read my blog); BUT, if possible, please PIN the images directly from this page & include a link back here if you share it on any social media. I REALLY appreciate it!