Sunday, February 10, 2013

Homework: Bane or Bliss!?!

Clearly "Bane" at my house!  I look forward to reading this week's posts on homework.  Homework has been a challenge this year and I don't know yet how best to handle it.  I just know ... I don't want to grade it!

So current status:

We give a very small amount of homework with each lesson.  Students have class every other day.  So 2 to 12 problems in 48 hours seems very small.

  1. The homework we give is generally practice over that day's lesson.
  2. We don't grade homework at all.  I provide solutions; students check their own work; and I typically answer any questions they might have which is most often very few.
  3. I do record if homework was completed - but there are no points or percentage assigned to it.
  4. The catch ... if we give a Knowledge Check at the beginning of class, completed homework counts 30% of the quiz.  Yes, that means if students get all correct solutions on the Knowledge Check but do not complete the homework, I record a 70 for their quiz.
When we started this requirement it sounded like a good idea.  The 30% was meant to spur students to complete the homework.  It has worked with some students - but not enough.  And of course the A student who really doesn't need the extra practice is penalized if they don't do the work; and the struggling students are the ones who resist doing homework the most - and they miss out on the "free" 30%.

OK ... so differentiation ... I've tried assigning "extra" problems and asking students to choose a subset of the assignment.  The element of choice is welcomed by my students.  But since we create all of our own materials, creating extra problems is not always profitable for me.  Occasionally I assign practice from the textbooks.  We very rarely use the books in class.  The plain problems match our curriculum, but much of the work in context does not.

So, bottom line, I have not done an adequate job of differentiating homework.  Hence ... I'm eager to hear what my online colleagues are doing!

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