Saturday, August 21, 2010

Extra Homework Component

The kids are coming Monday, and shockingly, I'm still not ready. This past week we've been doing teacher prep and district-wide math in-service. Last Monday I found out that I'd be switching rooms, so the afternoon was devoted to rolling all my things from one end of 2nd floor to the other to get to the elevator, then down to 1st floor, then roll roll roll all the way to the other end of the building to my new classroom. My body was in shock after an alluring summer of sitting most of the day.

Wednesday we went to break out sessions for various math components. I learned 2 interesting things that I want to explore this year. The first is THIS WEBSITE. I really liked his "reading and sketching graphs" sheet, so maybe the others are as useful. The second was the idea of Webquests. I've never done such a thing, and apparently there's a ton of them already made up for us to choose from. The instructor said she'd e-mail us the link ... you know, in her free time between getting ready for the school year.

I also formalized the extra component I want the kids to do on each homework assignment. I'll have them cut out this sheet and paste it to the front cover of their composition books for a quick reference. I'm eager to see if it improves their work habits (if they need it). I like question 5 because it's another avenue for them to communicate with me if they have questions and may possibly forget the next day. The sheet looks like:


  1. I briefly checked out and liked the Neufeld Math stuff on Geometry! They're thoughtful and the instructions / objectives are clear.

    Thanks for the link. That's one for me to add to my bookmarks, for sure.

  2. mathmom8:22 PM

    That looks like a great way to develop good study habits. But what are the kids supposed to write for their 10% if they didn't have any trouble with the homework? Or are you just not teaching any classes where that's a likely outcome?

  3. Mimi: I agree! Did you see the bit at the top that the sheets are "free for now". Hope we both get some good use out of them.

    Mathmom: I do have kids that get 100%. I'm thinking that there will be at least one problem that made them think harder than the other ones (even though they figure it out themselves). And if not, then they still have the opportunity to ask questions AND see what they could do if and when they ever do struggle.

    Ms. Cookie

  4. haha. I like that. "Free for the next 5 minutes. Grab it while it's hot!"

  5. mathmom9:38 PM

    I was "that kid" in HS. Math classes were too easy for me. (Though I think I used every strategy on that list within my first week of my university honors calculus class! And things *really* heated up in 2nd year!) I had a teacher write a comment on my report card that I wasn't putting forth a good effort when I had like 99% in the class, and I was thinking, "you could have given me something to do that *required* effort." So I'm thinking that if you have students who usually find the homework easy, you might want to find an alternative to expecting them to fill in every time:

    1) none of them
    2) nothing
    3) nothing, I didn't have any trouble
    4) N/A: I had already solved the problem
    5) no

    Because the kid is almost guaranteed to look like they have a bad attitude.

    So my suggestion is to add a challenge problem to the homework. If the answer to #1 is none, the kid has the option of attempting the challenge problem for the 10%. If they complete the problem, great; if they get stuck, they can fill in the problems for the challenge question.

    While some might complain that it's "more" homework, I think if you have kids who like math and like a challenge, they might appreciate having a challenging problem to work on instead of filling out a questionnaire that isn't relevant to them. And they might get a chance to honestly struggle and *need* to use the strategies you are trying to teach. (Depending on the nature of the regular assignment, you might feel comfortable letting kids choose to replace one or two regular problems with the challenge problem if they so choose.)

    Anyhow, just a thought from someone who would have groaned inwardly if a math teacher had sprung this on me in HS and who would have enjoyed having a challenge to work on instead ;-)

  6. Mimi: Hopefully, I'll have time to look through them all and print out as needed before the "5 minutes" are up.

    Mathmom: That's an excellent idea. I do have kids that can ultimately answer most every question. By putting the challenge problem on, it would show everyone what other types of thinking could be needed other than the "basics" and the "medium" and "hard" problems. And the super smarties could have something substantial to chew on. Thank you.

    Ms. Cookie

  7. mathmom10:06 PM

    As for the "free for the moment" lessons, I'm saving copies of them all right now, so I can peruse at leisure later :)

  8. I had literally just finished going through and downloading all of the Support Sites from Neufeldmath when I decided to catch up on some of my blog reading. =)
    There does seem to be a lot of usable material in there.

    I liked your homework questions sheet. Please blog about how well you are able to implement it this year and what benefits you find from it.

  9. I tried a webquest last year in calculus and it actually was kinda cool. The kids seemed to enjoy looking stuff up on their own, and figuring things out. It broke the monotony of things. And some kids got SUPER creative in the assignment. The downside: it takes time to create one... But I might try to make another one this year, for my Algebra II class.

    Definitely share if you find good ones, or make your own!


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