Accessible Mathematics Book Study: Instructional Shift #2 ~ Homework

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Instructional Shift #2: “Adapt what we know works in our reading programs and apply it to mathematics instruction.”

In reading this chapter, the word that kept coming to mind was “scaffolding.” Mr. Leinwand’s main focus for this “shift” was on homework. If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know that I do not put a whole lot of emphasis on homework. I try to give my students enough practice in class to keep from giving them “busy work” to take home.

“Busy work.” That’s the problem with most homework sets. There is a lot of repetition of the same types of problems, and very little in the way of the “thought process.” With the oncoming of Common Core, maybe we should visit the type of homework we give students. Maybe the computational problems are what should actually be practiced in the classroom, with different games and activities, and the homework be fewer, but more thought provoking questions.

Mr. Leinwand describes the “typical” classroom going over homework, as a teacher checking to make sure all students have their homework and then calling out the answers with no explanation or thought provoking examination of the answers.

Here is the normal procedure for the first few minutes in my classroom…….

There are bellwork problems on the front white board that students work on their own for the first five minutes or so. Click here to see the blog post that explains this more in depth. Once the bellwork has been gone over (in depth), students get out their homework (if there was an assignment). I do typically just give them the answers. Sometimes students will ask a question about a problem, but not typically. If I feel a particular problem should be looked at deeper, then I will do that. I try to address problems and examples during the lesson, and not so much during the homework check. I used to pick up homework from the students and grade them myself…… This did NOT work for me. I HATE grading papers. There is not enough time in my day to plan creative lessons and activities, teach classes, and have a life of my own if I grade over a hundred assignments a day. We ALWAYS grade them together in class. I’ve heard other teachers complain that students cheat. Honestly, I DON’T CARE if they cheat. I give them a 10/10 for doing the assignment and showing all of their work, no matter how many problems they miss or get correct. Click here to read a little more about my grading system.  This has been EXTREMELY successful for me. I’ve been doing it for about three or four years now.

When I do give a homework assignment, it is typically a worksheet from the text book company. I have not been so creative on the assignments I send home, but very creative on the practice within my classroom time. This needs to change……

For next year…

I plan on producing my own homework assignments. My goal is going to be to give students less than ten problems. These ten problems will include problems for review from previous lessons, and a problem or two of the current lesson. The problems (especially the two from the current lesson) will be more thought provoking than just computational. I will be working on these this summer so that I am not so frantic during the school year.

What do you do for your homework assignments? How often do you give homework? How do you check the homework assignments? Will you be changing anything about your homework policies for next school year?

If you have a blog, feel free to link up a new or old post you have about how you do homework! If you don’t have a blog, feel free to leave a comment here or on my Facebook fan page! Thanks so much for participating in this book study!




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