Category Archives: homework

Looking Back 2016-2017 (part 1) Independent Practice


Looking back over the 2016-2017 season.  (T. Kanold referred to the school year as a season…in a recent training).

As I think on the past year, I will admit it was not my best yet. But I did have several areas of growth and also some targets for growth.  I intended this to be a reflection post over the entire year, but it seems it has evolved into a discussion of homework / independent practice…

My professional goal was to be more intentional in lesson / class closure – as not to have the bell ringing, students hurrying out the door as I am yelling do _ #’s on _ page for HW.  As well as trying to be more intentional with assigning independent practice with the idea of lagging.

In two of my classes we utilized Springboard Curriculum.  There was a lot I enjoyed, some things I learned and a few things I will adjust this next season.

For most of the year, I did a fair job of lagging homework in these two sections.  On Thursday / Friday, assignments for the following week were made, based on the lessons we had completed in the current week.  I used the activity practice sets at the end of a lesson provided in the workbook.  This was not the actually mixed practice I was hoping, but springboard does a good job of varied level of questions within their practice sets.  Not too lengthy, some skills, some reasoning, some application/ modeling.  The sets due on Tues – Friday of the following week.

This would allow students to be proactive and work over the weekend, should they have a busy schedule coming up the next week.  When an assignment was due, I would ask them to turn and talk with those in their group, comparing answers.  I walked around the room and made note of those with complete work, also paying attention to the conversations – and allowing me to decide which problems needed some extra attention as a whole class.  I found this structure from @cheesemonkeysf to be quite purposeful.

E shares step 4 as stamping and collecting every two weeks – for what is essentially a 100% effort grade.  Years ago, I used a stamping system.  A dated library stamp, on test days I would collect a crumpled set of assignments, flip through, counting the number of stamps and report a score for homework.

A few years later, I created a “stamp-sheet” on the back of our unit organizer. The front included how big ideas connected back to the unit concept, with a unit schedule, critical vocabulary and our assessment standards.  The back of the page gave students self-assessment skills for focus and an assignment log I included.

IF complete and on time, students received a stamp..IF complete and late, a circled stamp.  As I learned about formative assessment, I attempted to modify the table as a tool for students to track their learning.  Here is an early version of that:

self assessment

I plan to revisit this idea and implement something similar this school year.  I have tried multiple other things in recent years with little success – somewhere along the way, I let students get away with not practicing.  Somehow I need to address HW/practice in the self-assess column with a structure that is efficient and purposeful.


Its imperative for students to get some independent practice.  My intention is to make it purposeful, engaging and non-negotiable.

Dr. Kanold referenced Steve Leinwand’s idea of independent practice as brief,  8-10 problems with 3-5 of  most current, a couple from a previous lesson and finish the set with a spiraling from less current topics / skills.  I attempted this for about 9 weeks in my other classes and then I got “busy” and gave it up-falling back to my “old ways”.  Again, I shall revisit, reflect, refine and re-instate.

I give myself a A-/B+ on the lagging homework, B on giving assignments ahead of time, but need to be more intentional in not allowing students to opt out – I failed that aspect.

I also had 3 other classes not using the Springboard Curriculum that I did a poor job with independent practice outside of class.  I lowered my expectations and failed them miserably here.

So overall a C-.  Some aspects in place but much room for growth.

Lagging Homework #MTBoSBlaugust Post 22


So many ideas from Make It Stick and reading @henripiccotio and thoughts from @steve_leinwand regarding homework.

Here’s my first attempt.

Week 1 in class, I began with a look at Sol Lewitt to develop student questions, spent time with students doing Number Patterns, Open Questions like the Four 4s, Barfing Monsters to develop a sense of sharing ideas, tell me what you see, notice, wonder.  I attempted to build a space that allowed them to share their own thinking. 

Yesterday, I passed out a booklet with 4 problem sets for the entire week, here are a couple of them.



Needless to say, a work in progress.  Each set contains 2 problems similar to our current in class work, 4 problems similar to last week’s work and 2 open ended questions (yes, they are a bit lacking, more reflection than open questions).

Today, I took some time before class to discuss self-monitoring on their practice.  This is the system we will attempt to use.  At the top of the sheet are #s 1-8.  When they complete a problem, they circle it.  If missed but a mistake, 1 slash.  If an issue, the draw railroad crossing, which requires us to pause and look both ways…proceeding with caution.  If correct, solid circle.


We discussed differences between a mistake (something they can correct on their own, they know how to do it) and misconceptions  (where I step in if there’s a gap in their understanding).

The idea is to have a system I can flip through quickly and only pause at questions with “issues” without having to check all 32 problems.  I have no idea how this will go.  I explained my reasoning to students with the understanding we can adjust as we go along.

Today I placed answers on overhead.  Asked students to put pencils down, check with colored ink, marking the correct answers in margins for later reference.  As I walked around to spot check, it was a quick way to see common issues and address immediately with entire class.

I plan to give it a few weeks, reflect and adjust if needed. 

I’m hoping I can be brave enough to stick this plan through. In class engage, explore, explain.  Next week elaborate/enhance with focused practice.  Following week evaluate/extend.

I’ll let you know how it goes.