Whenever we assign homework that doesn't address the many needs of our diverse classes, we lose an opportunity to reach our students. I like to have at least one lesson in every quarter that helps students understand and plan for the choices they have for homework in my class.
I always start this lesson by talking about "the problem with homework":
Source URL: http://youtu.be/ESwJv0ftsjM
Its not a lecture as it is in the video, but a discussion of observations from the class. I constantly ask them for their ideas on improving the way I teach. One big shift for me has been to give students more choice in their homework and to try and give all the homework assignments at the start of a unit. The other goal is to help them keep track of their work and understand at all times how their grade is going in homework.
The first step for me was to pick all the assignments I would like to give in a unit. This type of backwards planning always helps illuminate the goals of a unit and puts my lessons into perspective. I don't know the exact due dates for the assignments, but I do know what the assignments are. We fill in the assignment dates as we go.
Here is an example of a tracking sheet: sample homework tracking sheet
This video reflects the usual conversation we have on the tracking sheet:
Source URL: http://youtu.be/75dk-m9sy-4
For choice, I usually offer 3 levels of difficulty as well as recreational problems and topics that go outside the typical common core curriculum. For each assignment, I ask students to pick a category that would best help them in class. "Mild" problems simply review class basics. "Medium" problems mix it up a bit and "Spicy" problems add rich layers of complexity to the class work.
One major component of this system is to include students in the homework grading process:
Source URL: http://youtu.be/csC5R7LHMhs
I review these ideas at the start of big units to help students get ahead in the material. They always get confused with homework policies (each teacher seems to always have slightly different policies) and they need time to get organized. So in this lesson, we talk about homework and then take the full period to start the homework.
Here is a ink to frequently asked questions:
I would give the link to my scientific notation homework assignments, but they are always changing. So I will give the links to the videos for each assignment (I always provide video support) and include the pdf's in the resource section. I also recommend the open source site CK-12. They have great question banks in the flex books: http://www.ck12.org/
Here are the links to my most recent homework set, which was numbered #3,4,5 and 6. The other homework assignments were based on different categories.