When I was in school, I never considered not doing an assignment. I also teach 7th (and 8th) graders and have the same trouble with not turning in homework. Here are a few suggestions: I have mine keep an assignment book and I do a routine check to see that they are listing homework assignments in them, I make the parent's aware of this book so they can check it if they want to see what was for homework. I give the students a homework pass on the first day that has each month listed plus a free space. They can only use it one time a month and if the month goes unused they cannot redeem it at a later month. They have to keep up with it and if they lose it -- it is gone. Also, the students HAVE to turn in something. If they haven't done any homework they have to turn in a piece of notebook paper with the assignment, date due, and reason why it was not completed. Three of these and I will call home. I save these for a back up if parent's come in and want to know why the homework grades are low. For parents who do care, I set up an initialing system for repeat homework offenders. I initial the assignment and the parent initials the assignment that night in the book. This takes a few extra seconds, but is effective for the parents who care. I also take all the homework grades and average them together for one test grade. I tell the students this is their easiest test grade. Depending on what rules you have to follow, you may not be able to choose what percent homework counts, but I find this way effective. Homework in high school is rarely given or checked. Homework in college is the same. Everything counts as a test grade. I teach every subject in a contained classroom in a private school, so my experience is probably a little different than yours. The number one reason 7th graders don't turn in homework is because I don't think most parents are tuned in to what their child is doing. It is sad, but by this grade they usually feel like the child should be more responsible and do the work. This is true, unfortunately most kids need a little more weening. The truth is that if they refuse to put out any effort at all it is nearly impossible to help them succeed. Good luck and I hope you have some ideas!!
I had a similar group one year and I instituted the "Ugly Green Sheet" system. I found that kids of this age are always over committed with things they must do and things they want to do more than homework. I was always fighting with them about turning in homework and spending a lot of time recording and recording grades, notifying parents, etc.
So, I gave them all a 24 hour pass to get it together. If the student failed to bring in homework on due date he/she had to fill out a form stating what and why. I printed these forms out on really bright neon green paper. After I looked over excuse and signed it I would tape the sheet on the bottom of my front whiteboard. The student then had 24 hours to turn in the missing assignment and reclaim the green sheet with no penalty. Failure to reclaim the sheet meant the student would have to spend recess and or lunch with me until assignment was completed AND the ugly green sheet had to be taken home for parent signature. When it came back I would file it in student file for conference time.
I had used a similar system of putting kid's name on board for missing homework and expecting the work the next day. This had very little success - same kids names on board daily and a paper chase nightmare. The 24 hour grace system really cut my missing homework headache way down and boy did they hate those ugly green sheets! Half way through the year when I noticed a slacking off of effectiveness I switched to ugly neon orange sheets to get the kids back on track. ("The ugly green sheet was SO ugly it turned orange!") I've seen the kids from this class over the last few years and they still ask me if I'm using those "ugly green sheets" in my class.
I teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grade and I have a hard time getting homework from my 7th graders. I have not found a good way to help prevent this problem. I do not give out a lot of homework and they usually have a couple of days to finish. We even have a no homework lunch intervention program and I still have problems with receiving homework.
My school has a grade policy of not giving a grade lower than 50 and I feel that the students know that they will get a 50 even if they don't do their homework. I did not like our system last year and we are about to start the new year and I have no more solutions than last year. Any more ideas???
I taught 6th grade learning support last year. For any students who did not have their homework in class on time, or necessary materials, I had students complete a "Personal Responsibility Report" that I had copied onto purple paper. The idea sounds very similar to mamahawk's "Ugly Green Sheet." I would then put it in a file for the student and that made it easier to keep track of any patterns. I'll post a copy of it below so you can use it or modify it if you want.
Homeworkopoly was also very motivating for my 6th graders. I told students that if they did their homework everyday of the week, then on Fridays we would try to play homeworkopoly. (Usually there was only time for students to take one or two turns, but that didn't matter since I printed the giant board for free at www.homeworkopoly.com and used it as a permanent bulletin board with velcro around it.) It included incentives and "Chance" and "Community Lunch Box" cards that kept it interesting. Also, when students passed Go, I let them choose a prize.
I hope you find some suggestions that you can use! It's so hard to juggle late homework too.
I would love to use the ugly orange or green papers...especially taping them to the board. Because they will be in eighth grade this year. They have got to learn some responsiblity at some point in time. And if they think I'm mean they have yet to meet the high school English teacher. She makes me look like a little puppy dog.
However, I spent last year dealing with a parent of a kid in this class who thought I was mean and always getting on to him (for every paper he turned in...he did not turn in three). The upshot is that if I wanted to ask him for his missing work, I had to take him out into the hall so he wouldn't be embarrassed.
However, I was toying with the idea of giving out passes like free homework passes or five extra points on a test but I didn't know how to give them out. So I think I'm going to try Homeworkopoly.
And I'm going to print my late and zero slips on ugly green/orange paper.
At first the ugly green sheet taped to the board seemed kind of harsh, but I realize I write names on the board so the intent is the same. It is a quick check for me to look up at the board and remind so and so to get on it, or take some recess time to finish. I too have them write me a letter about why they did not do xyz. Then there is no taking in the hall or anything, if they do the assignment, i give them back their letter. If they do not, I show parents at conferences.
Similar to the "ugly green sheets" - I keep a log for each student. Whenever an assignment, report, homework, whatever was not handed in on the due date, they were required to complete the sheet with info about why it was not done. As soon as the missing work was handed in (established a deadline, but the 24 hour turnaround sounds great), I initialled and entered a date. Speaking to parents about a missing assignment may not always seem a big deal to a parent, but if it is a repeat offender, the log gets filled up. When I show that to a parent, particularly if the student's grade is lower than expected, it really hits home. Fortunately, for me, I haven't had to resort to that too often.
While my students are doing their bellwork, I circulate the room checking off homework assignments. If they do not have it, I stick a neon sticker in their planner stating that they did not turn in their homework (I use neon address labels for the printer) requiring a parent signature. If it is not signed the next day, I call home. This eliminates all but the worst offenders rather quickly. The parents really appreciate the communication! Also, I never assign more than 10 problems, the students think this is a real deal. I carefully choose the 10 and even though they may be hard, the number sounds unimpressive and they feel like they can handle it. Hope this helps!