Is there homework?
Yes! In education, as in much of life, one gets out of it what one puts into it. For each of my classes I have developed open-ended homework assignments that seek to enrich student learning both through guided inquiry and through numerous opportunities to explore related informational rabbit trails. My homework assignments generally get plaudits for their creativity and for nudging students toward higher-order thinking. Not doing the homework leaves a lot of learning on the table and diminishes the benefit of the class and in some cases the student’s enjoyment of the class.
My literature classes are the exception: in all of my literature classes there is assigned reading and short-form writing with predictable deadlines.
Is the homework graded?
Homework is completed to extend student learning and to contribute to class discussion. It is not done for me. In many of my classes, I neither collect the homework nor grade it. But the homework provides an important framework upon which students can “hang” new information. Even if I am not checking on homework, in-class discussion and activities quickly reveal who has done the homework.
Again, my literature classes are the exception: in all of my literature classes I regularly evaluate student assignments and provide students with qualitative and quantitative feedback.
Likewise, if a student has chosen to write an honors paper for “Philosophically Speaking” or "Mission Possible" or a 10-page research paper for “Academic Writing,” I provide feedback on these projects.
Because I hope to emphasize the intrinsic pleasure of learning and discussion, I do not provide grades per se unless specifically requested by a parent or an institution at the beginning of a class: because knowing a class is graded or not can influence student effort in some cases, it is only fair in my view that a student should know at the outset that his/her work will be graded. I only provide grades, on request, for my high school classes, and there is an additional $25 charge per class per semester to reflect my time in preparing this individualized assessment.
How do I put an ungraded class on my student’s high school transcript?
You do not need to leave the class ungraded or use a pass/fail notation. (I definitely would not recommend the latter on a high school transcript.) As a home schooling parent, you are empowered to provide a grade yourself. (If you prefer not to, please see the last paragraph of the section above.)
As a longtime home schooler, I recognize learning output can take many forms. Completion of the class assignments is only one of those forms. There are many aspects of a student’s learning that I cannot assess, including conversations with parents about the material, a student’s supplemental reading and research, and long-term student retention and use of the learning. Further, I am usually not privy to information about student constraints (e.g., health issues, learning differences, technology access) that may also affect a student’s ability to complete assignments in the manner I might expect. Nor am I necessarily aware of how my class and your student’s work for it compares to the grading standards in your community. This is why I believe parents have a solid, even preferred, vantage point from which to assign a grade for a class.
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