HW Part 2 #MTBoS30 Post 9


It was a conversation I read on Twitter last night linking this article that got me to thinking…

Where is the balance?  I have students at both ends of the spectrum…those who are college-bound & those who are not; those who have highly involved parents & those who are practically raising themselves; those who are intrinsically motivated & those who are a warm body in my classroom by court order;  those who do not work & those who go to work directly afterschool…not because they want to but because they are helping their family’s income; those who are college/career ready and those in the 15th percentile…all in the same class.

Pretty straight forward indicators of who will and who will not completed lengthy assignments.  Those who are progressing continue to progress, so its up to me to get the content infused during the class period…otherwise, its amiss.

HW/Practice is a small percentage of the overall grades reported.  However, I still see that it makes a huge impact on so many of my struggling students.  I am perfectly fine for students who don’t need it to not do it and master any quiz/test on the concepts.  But if they are able every single time, then do I need to up the level of my assessments?

Students who are not “grade getters” are satisfied with good enough.  This is my struggle.  If I set my mark at 80% and they get 60% or even lower…I require a wrong answer analysis, which gets completed IF I allow time in class, but beyond my 50 minutes…usually not.  They must show proof of practice, some action-tutoring, meeting with me, completing/redoing a previous assignment.  But if they are content with their score…there is little effort to make improvements.

After some in class intervention, I pull them out of elective classes for RTI (because after school tutoring interferes with their work schedule).  Its usually about 50/50…appreciating extra help vs. Mad at you for making them miss their electives.

When I assign HW, I attempt to make it purposeful.  Some may have more skills practice, while others are geared toward contextual problems.  If its skills practice, I choose so many and they choose so many-with suggestions based on their performance on a quick quiz in class. (Ex. If you need more practice like #3…choose from problems 11-15) Self-reflection and student choice. 

Other times, it may be to write a summary or reflection of the discovery activity / small group task of the day.

I attempted to flip using some video lessons provided by out textbook nut that was a flop.  I like the idea, but to me what I was seeing was no more than direct instruction….here copy what I do…Which is appropriate at times, just not all of the time.

There are students who simply copy someone else’s work.  Duh. Seriously.  But I see educators do it to when it comes time to submit a PGP or other documents for program reviews…and those are usually the ones who complain about students not trying/thinking on their own.  Yep. Cheating, how could teenagers do such a thing. 

I attended a session at NCTM Louisville last fall by Samuel Otten @ottensam on twitter.  The focus was on SMP but I had so e great take a ways as pertaining to HW.  Rather than the standard dry check most of us grew up doing…try some reflection.  These will easily fit in the LHP of your INBs:
Which problems were most alike? Different? Why/Explain.
Which problem was easiest? Most difficult? Why?
Give them the answer(s) and let them create the problems.

For me, its key to walk around skimming their responses, carefully select a few to share and sequence them appropriately.  I definitely am a fan of pair-share then share with whole class something you heard (not what you actually wrote) or saw from your partner.

I have even tried a question board…as students enter the room, they list problem #s that gave them some struggle.  Use this to guide our HW discussion.

As HW…assign problem to a student…they must create 2 possible student responses…one with correct reasoning, one not. Post them on chart paper for a carousel activity and students walk around Chalk Talk responding with stars (things they agree with) or  delta (questions they might ask to help student change/improve their response).  Each student gets 3 stars and 3 deltas which means they would visit 6 different responses from other students.

Another favorite assignment which actually serves as a review…
At end of lesson, they create a 3 question quiz to share the following day.  With complete solutions /explanations on back.  This can be modified to use high DOK questioning with a bit of guidance.
Or at the end of a unit, allowing students to compose their own assessment addressing each of the learning targets allows them to revisit various lessons/tasks.

Again, only some ideas of things I have found useful in my classroom…hopefully at least 1 take a way you can tweak for your students.


Give them a box…take it home, redesign/construct a more efficient box. 

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