In the modern era, it is unfair and anti-educational to give homework and demand it be done "for tomorrow." Tomorrow!? Kids have all kinds of family, academic, volunteer, and professional commitments. They have games, practices, youth groups, church meetings, and after-school activities. They are dealing with divorces, younger siblings, college applications, and SAT Academies. They are seriously busy in a very stressful way.
It is much fairer -- and creates better learning -- to lay out a schedule for your students, explain what you want them to achieve, and tell them why it's educational. This method creates freedom for students to accomplish goals on their own time. Of course, always remind them that you have to grade them on this process and they shouldn't procrastinate too much!
That freedom is balanced by structure, established in the "Goals & Deadlines" handout.
For my Creative Writing class -- and the Creative Component of my AP classes -- I set goals and coach my pupils to achieve those goals.
The long-term goal -- Create a portfolio or website of your original writing. This will be due in June sometime, but I want to give them a concrete idea to latch on to. Naturally, I show them numerous examples of portfolios done by former student. In fact, I keep a library of them in my classroom and invite current kids to look through them. I also show them the website-portfolios past students have created.
The medium-term goal -- Get a "final" on "6 poems, 3 mind maps, and a college essay" by November 6, following all the rules set out in my opening day handout.
The short-term goal -- Start turning in work when it is ready!
Scroll through the embedded document to see a recent "Goals & Deadlines" handout.
How Do I Grade Creative Work?
I use a simple binary system for evaluating mind maps and poems. I do not "grade" creative work.
Pieces are marked either "teacher-edit" or "final". If it's the former, the student knows to improve the piece through another revision. This method reinforces the layering process, and motivates students to create authentic art.
Once a piece is marked "final" then it counts towards meeting the student's grade goals.
I never want to create a homework assignment on the fly as the bell is ringing or surprise my students with a time-consuming reading assignment without advance warning.
I don't give "homework" because I want my homework to really mean something. When you're up all night trying to write a poem or think of a memoir idea or draw a mind map, you're doing some very important reflection and learning.