Homework and Exponents

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Objective

SWBAT to chose homework that best helps them succeed

Big Idea

We can add choice to our homework routines and help students take ownership of the homework process

Why homework?

30 minutes

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 URLhttp://youtu.be/ESwJv0ftsjM

The conversation is not a lecture as it is in the video. It is a discussion of observations from the class. I constantly ask the students 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.
  • Another current goal is to help my students 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. During the unit, we fill in 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 URLhttp://youtu.be/75dk-m9sy-4

 

A Homework Menu

30 minutes

To include an element of choice for homework, I usually offer three levels of difficulty, as well as recreational problems and topics that go outside the 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
  • Spicy problems add rich layers of complexity to the class work

I also include students in the homework grading process:

Source URLhttp://youtu.be/csC5R7LHMhs

I review these ideas at the start of big units to help students plan to get ahead of the material and stay on top of their work. 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 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.