September 22, 2011

Homework as Review?

This year I am exploring the idea of using true homework solely as a review tool. I feel strongly that typical homework is rarely useful and 80% of the time (or more) it falls into one of two major categories:

  • Student's know how to do it, so its boring, emphasizing that math is boring and repetitive. 
  • Or student's don't know how to do it, so they spend hours being frustrated, emphasizing that "they are not good at math" or that "math doesn't make sense." And often the next class period is spent "explaining" the homework.
Yet I do see the benefit of students "practicing" and working through problems on their own.

So what if homework was just a review tool? What if students were given a week (or more) to grasp material and work through their questions in class? What if homework was assigned only on content that is not currently being covered in class? 

To me this looks something like this:

Where each color represents a different topic or sub-topic. Week 1 in class is spent working of Topic A. Then Week 2's homework focuses on Topic A. Finally, during Week 3 there is some sort of quiz or assessment on the topic. 

Things I like about this:
  • Students are forced to work with a concept for a longer period of time, without giving up more class time.
  • Students are given time to struggle and learn with the support of their classmates and the teacher rather than trying to learn at home by themselves.
Things I don't like:
  • It doesn't begin to deal with the "boredom" factor. It might even emphasize it more...

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