We assign it, they do not complete it. We check it for completion, we collect it, we spend all night grading it… We get frustrated, beg colleagues for other methods/ideas, even sit for hours on Global Math Department meetings on Tuesday night to talk about it.
Well… I am saying goodbye to homework and asking my students never to ever mention that word in my classroom again. I have been on the fence about this idea, but this week I jumped in with both feet.
Here is how I am changing the culture in my classroom:
I gave the students a survey yesterday about homework and classroom notes. I want them to think this is their idea to help increase the buy in. I was not amazed when during a class discussion (after they turned in the survey) that the one thing they would change would be the homework. Student A says, “If I understand the material, why do I have to do 10 problems just like the first one”. Student B says, “I do not have time to do all these problems every night”. Student C says, “I don’t ever get it, and there is no one to ask”.
Here is what I had already decided and in turn, we started today: I give notes (we do a “cornell”-style of notes. They are typed but indexed on the left hand side. They “fill-in” and put reminders/examples on the right side). Then I pass out 4 problems on a half sheet; I am calling it Assessment Practice. They work on them (they have a math buddy they can work with). I walk around and answer questions and checking answers for those that need to know before they move on. Once everyone is about done, I display the answers. They now can flip to the back of the half-sheet and find where in the book there are extra problems (answers in the back of the book). These problems are what we are calling “individual practice”, because they are needed on an individual basis. Class ends.
Tomorrow I will start with 5 minutes of review/answer questions on the individual practice. I will then pass out 4 questions about the section/concept and they take a “Prove It” Assessment. If you know the material, now prove it to me. I got instant feedback today about what to reteach/review at the beginning of tomorrow and then after the prove it assessment I will have feedback about reteaching/reviewing before the quiz/test. I usually will then do a small activity/application before moving on to the next section/concept.
So how did it go? Today, I had 99% participation on the practice assessment. My normal homework participation is about 40%. I had students today who completed 4 problems for the first time the entire semester. Okay, it is day one… let’s see right?!?! I have to say I felt different after class too! I KNOW that my kids understand the topic. I KNOW they are prepared for the Prove it sheet tomorrow. I KNOW they will not ever do “homework” again, because I actually tricked them into doing it 🙂