Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Balancing Act - Time reviewing, collecting Homework

So one of my goals is to balance the homework time in class, collecting, dealing with it --- all the time homework takes from doing math in class, and all the time it takes from me planning math (cause it takes time to assign, handle & record) and weighing that time against homework's value. 

And the more I work with the ROI on homework the more I find its value is minimal.  But as I approach the lower limit (no homework time in class) I am finding that some homework has returns with certain students.

It really can be a reflection on extremes - one endpoint, is a class is all about homework: Students come in ask questions, grade, record grades, a quick lecture and then homework (on an unending loop).  The other end is a class with no assigned homework thus no time spent on homework, all the work is done in class and any work done outside of class is students studying math. 

Now after a semester of "finding a lower limit," I believe, for high school,  that no homework is not going to work.  And though I have gotten very low on the amount assigned, there must be an assigned amount of practice.  And that means there must be class time dealing with it.  [Because if you assign it and don't "handle" it - most students will not do it.] 

One note of bias here, when I started working towards the lower limit of homework and finding ways to use other things to replace homework, I must admit that I had/have believed that some homework is needed for the typical math course.

So the new semester is about to begin and I have come to the conclusion that somehow we must spend time working on homework, but different than before.  I want to avoid the age old question/answer & grade/lecture/assign new work thing.  I want to continue to give flexibility for students to take the time to really practice - meaning soft deadlines (which is hard to manage).  I can picture what it looks like - yet I don't know what it looks like.  It means collecting all work, making sure everyone does the work - taking the time to track.  It means tracking and helping students who are missing work - not accepting zeros.   

And we will see if this can be balanced.  Because demanding the work would be easier.  But I also believe that learning happens on independent timelines - and I plan to try to allow it.