Brainstorming my Homework Issues for Next Year

8 Jul

As I look ahead to next year, here’s a few homework issues are gnawing at me.

As always I am struggling with the role of homework. I try to give only a few problems, and it’s only 10% of their grade,  but I want the students to get a lot of value out of it.  So I am here brainstorming aloud some of the problems I had last year. Any ideas on these issues are more than welcome!

  • Do I care how many problems the student got correct?  Actually I am very interested,  even though I don’t want to grade their homework or give them credit for the number correct. I want to know because it gives me an indication if they are able to work the problems successfully and  independently. When the student says, “I am failing the tests, but I do all my homework”, I want some way to look back on how well they did the homework (and how well they corrected their homework). But I don’t want to collect HW. That would make me sad.   Possible approach:  On the student’s HW Summary Sheet (see my previous post on hw  ),  I am going to have them enter their HW score (e.g. 3/5). It will be on an honor system which is fine. I’m also thinking of having them do all their homework in a composition book, separate from their math journal. This way they (and I) can easily go back and look at their past homework if needed.

Update: I modified the HW Summary Sheet to include a place to record scores, and changed daily reflection to weekly reflection (and I will supply reflection topic). Here it is: homework-summary

  • What’s the penalty for not showing any work? Each year there’s a few students (usually bright, stubborn boys) who refuse to show work. I have been fairly lenient when the problems are no-brainers to do in your head. And then as the problems get more involved, I take off about half off for no work. These students seem okay with that. 😦 But the problem is that these same students aren’t taking good notes, and one day the math gets so overwhelming to do in their head, yet they never learned or practiced the process of solving the problems using steps, diagrams, etc.   What to do? Possible approach:  Be very clear about the work that needs to be shown on the homework, and no credit if it’s just the answer. Part of me hates to be that hard-core, but at the same time I think showing your work is such an important skill to learn. It’s equivalent to commenting your code  when writing a computer program or supporting your thesis in a persuasive essay.

Addendum (7/12/2013): I just found this article that has a clever way to trick students into showing work:Give Them The  Answers!  Love it! Now their only job is to explain how to get the correct answer.. I think I will be giving out  answers on a frequent  basis. Thanks  Coach G!

  • Students are dumbfounded as to what to reflect on in math: Each weekday night the students are asked to write two to three sentences about a recently learned math concept. Many student do this really well, and I really get a joy out of reading their reflections. However, a good number of students either 1) hold off doing all the reflections until the weekend, 2) write “let me just fill this get this over with asap”comments like “we learned how to solve equations today. It was easy.”, or 3) don’t write anything at all. Possible approach:  First thing, is that I think I am going to give the students a reflection prompt each day.  This hopefully will eliminate the question “we reviewed today, so what should I reflect on?” Also in the past, I didn’t give points for the reflections until I collected their HW Summary Sheets on Monday.  I guess I need to check them off everyday.
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2 Responses to “Brainstorming my Homework Issues for Next Year”

  1. Jameson July 8, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    I have been reflecting on the America issues actually an just got done drafting a post very similar. My issue is that we do standard based grading where homework counts for nothing as it is formative. I struggle finding ways to get students to do work that means nothing to them grade wise with out bribing.

    We use GANAG for lesson planning and i find having studends respond to a reflection in thier jornals (one day a week it’s a post it) takes up that final G nicely. I use prompts for my students to get more than one sentence, it seems to help. I think there will always be that small group of students though that you’re lucky to squeeze 5 words out of! I have a big list of prompts I will try to post sometime this week.

    Good luck!

    • pperfectsquares July 9, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

      I look forward to reading your post. I looked up GANAG as I was unfamiliar with the acronym. Sounds like a good technique for introducing a big idea, and I imagine that sometimes you do the GANAG steps all in one day. Thanks for the feedback.

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