So, how do I ensure that my students' homework is beneficial?
Students must first do their homework!
Using file pockets...
I can quickly glance and see who has not turned in their homework. Inside of the student's folder, is their parent communication conduct card, and I will immediately record their missing homework so I don't have to think about it later.
When I collect the homework pages, it takes about 10 seconds, and they are already in alphabetical order! Plus, I know who didn't turn theirs in.
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Students must be aware of their mistakes.
Once I have collected the papers, I grab my colorful pens and hope for the best! But with a homework page loaded with problems, I don't have the time to grade 40 a day. So, I opt to choose a sampling of questions to represent the entire page. I carefully choose 10 problems and grade those. It gives a representative grade and a benchmark for students to gauge their work.
I will write "-2", etc. in the top left corner and mark the grade book with an 80%.
BUT I'M NOT DONE YET!
I place the graded paper back in the students' file pockets. I want them to see what they were successful in and what they may need some help with.
Often times, the students have made a simple mistake that they can easily correct themselves. They correct the mistakes, and return them to me to be regraded. If they fix them correctly, I change it in the grade book as if it was never wrong. My goal is for students to learn, and homework is my formative assessment. It requires a consistent accountability system and procedure for helping students that aren't showing mastery of the skills.
Students must have the support they need for reteaching skills they aren't yet proficient in.
Homework can only be beneficial if students learn from their practice and their mistakes. I can address problem areas in a guided math group, call up students individually to reteach weak areas directly to them, or use peer tutoring with those that feel comfortable with it. However, I find using the blended learning approach best ensures that I'm using my limited time as efficiently as possible.
Lotsa Math is designed to address this area of support. Each activity links to a video tutorial. Check out some samples!
Students know that if they need help with a certain type of problem, they are to go watch the tutorial video before seeking help from the teacher. This expectation opens up the student to believing that they can learn using the resources that are available to them through the magic of the internet. Students can learn on their own, and I want them to allow that belief to become a part of themselves.