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
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:
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:
This video reflects the usual conversation we have on the tracking sheet:
Source URL: http://youtu.be/75dk-m9sy-4
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:
I also 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 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.