How do you review homework and/or deal with material from the previous day?
There’s never homework in my class. We have year-long projects, which students work on periodically outside of class, when they decide. Homework has no direct correlation to achievement (Alfie Kohn, The Homework Myth). Planning homework, grading it (another useless endeavor) and reviewing it all waste valuable class time that could be much better spent on interactive, collaborative learning activities, work on year-long projects and providing narrative feedback.
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I review material from the previous day through a “warm up” exercise. When kids walk in the room there are a few questions, either copied onto a half-sheet of paper or written on the board. Usually there are a few questions that are either review, or prerequisite for today’s lesson.
Homework review is way trickier for me. I really don’t like starting the day with homework review — that’s a huge momentum killer, and if you have a “warm up” you have to go over those questions as well if there are questions. So that’s just a lot of time spent on review during prime-time for math. Any chance I have of hooking folks into the lesson seems killed when it’s already 15 minutes into a 43 minute period.
I have a short year (~125 days) and I’m expected to cover the same amount of material that the rest of you in NY are. I can’t imagine spending 5 minutes on homework review every day. At the same time, I do want to assign homework, and they do need feedback on that work if it’s got even a chance of being helpful for their learning.
Here’s what I’m thinking of starting off this year with: First, they’ll have the answer to every question that I assign, either explicitly or from an answer key that I’ll provide them (Grrr… AMSCO doesn’t have solutions in the back of the book). Their homework will be getting those answers — so hopefully it’s usually self-checking. Then, with the “warm up” exercise we’ll essentially be reviewing the homework, because we’ll be reviewing similar problems or procedures. Then, I’ll post full solutions online every night.
Accountability will be through binder checks (http://samjshah.com/2010/01/15/binder-checks/) of some sort.
I don’t give homework often, and when I do it is only *after* its purpose is clear. But when there is homework, I want to give timely feedback so I only collect it from one “base group” at random (6-7 base groups per class). This allows me the time to give specific, detailed feedback to all that handed it in. The next day I’ll project some of the work using the document camera and we’ll discuss it that way. Then we’ll discuss my “favorite wrong answer”, which I stole from this “My Favorite No” video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rulmok_9HVs). This gives us a chance to celebrate mistakes, but more importantly to uncover the most common misconceptions.
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