Mathematics Instructional Learning Community | ||

The Mathematics Instructional Learning Community (MILC) Project is an alliance among Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) math teachers focusing on: - Increasing the pedagogy and content knowledge of math teachers;
- Integrating technology tools into everyday math instruction; and
- Developing, implementing and revising units of study.
Questions regarding MILC? Contact: Natalee Mauney Feese, Fayette County Public Schools, MILC Project Director Questions regarding technical website issues? Contact: Pete Koutoulas, Fayette County Public Schools, IST Team Leader | ||

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"'Obvious' is the most dangerous word in mathematics." (Eric Temple Bell) |

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rtallent |
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Math Posts: 303 Location: SBIS Crawford | Interesting read if you have a couple of minutes. see link below: Broward County School Board sets homework limits -------------------- By Kathy Bushouse South Florida Sun-Sentinel February 19 2009 FORT LAUDERDALE -- The Broward County School Board is giving a new assignment to teachers for the upcoming school year: Take care when you're handing out homework. The complete article can be viewed at: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/community/news/fort_lauderdale/sfl-flbhomework0219sbfeb19,0,5805379.story | ||

jbakewell |
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Math Posts: 30 Location: Lafayette | I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with everything I read here. For my 03 Geometry classes I tell them I will never assign more than 10 problems of homework per class (except during final exam review time). I find that especially while teaching in block scheduling that students have a little time in class to practice and apply the concept immediately with the support of the teacher and other students...homework shouldn't be given just for the sake of homework but to provide students an opportunity to practice with even less support hoping to build and strengthen the student's skills in applying the concept. I believe this also provides a reasonable homework load for students and I never have to adjust based on what other events are going on around school. Although of course many are still not motivated to complete homework I do believe that I have eliminated some of the "excuses" for not submitting the assignments. | ||

ncrawfor |
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Math Posts: 155 Location: Lafayette | As a parent, I like the limited homework idea. I only have one child but she is busy with activites outside of school. She has not been overwhelmed with homework but every now and then there is a night when she is swamped. I don't the idea of eliminating homework altogether. They do need to practice/review skills. | ||

jbakewell |
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Math Posts: 30 Location: Lafayette | I agree with Nancy about not eliminating homework. Practice is vital, however moderation here is important too! | ||

ahines |
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Counts on fingers & toes Posts: 1 | I also agree with the idea of limited homework. I assign 5 - 10 problems 3 or 4 nights a week for my advanced Algebra class. It gives the students an opportunity to check their understanding of the current concepts without overloading them with new information. The first thing I do in class is go over the homework from the night before. With so few problems I can spend the necessary time going over each problem without taking up too much class time. I have also found that when I assign more problems I have less students complete the homework. | ||

bmiller |
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Counts on fingers & toes Posts: 1 | I do not think that homework should be eliminated! When we have a 50 minute class period, there isn't time to teach, have an assignmnet, and have students do independent practice every day! Students need reasonable homework assignments to master concepts. | ||

pgarr |
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Math Posts: 9 Location: SCAPA | I also agree that homework is necessary. However, strategically choosing the best, and few, questions - that's vital. If chosen correctly, you have sufficient time to cover each problem the next day mastering concepts and clarifying possible misconceptions for unusual circumstances. Choose wisely and discuss ALL. | ||

labney |
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Counts on fingers & toes Posts: 12 | As a teacher at MLK it is a miracle to get them to work in class some days but motivated or students wanting to go back to regular school ask for homework handouts. We are encouraged to assign homework and before teaching here I would assign a limit of 10 problems a night but sometimes 20 depending on what the topic is. During block scheduling it is easier to get them started with help but in middle school time restraints make it hard to complete a lesson without having homework. | ||

kgillum |
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Counts on fingers & toes Posts: 15 | I feel that it is necessary to assign homework every time a new lesson is presented, which is usually everyday. However, I get bogged down in the grading process. Any suggestions for grading? What is your system? I can't possibly grade every kid's homework every day, but I still want to assess the students. | ||

Annette |
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Counts on fingers & toes Posts: 6 | I agree, absolutely, in math, especially. I see such a difference in my 8th grade Algebra students who do their homework consistently and conscientiously and the students who do not. In fact, there is a direct correlation between scores on the placement test and homework completion. I assign even problems in the Algebra book for homework. Then, if they are having problems, I encourage them to check out odd problems to check answers and work through when in doubt. My students rarely have class time to work on assignments. We spend so much time on practice. | ||

jbakewell |
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Math Posts: 30 Location: Lafayette | I'm glad to see this post is still active...I have implemented so many great ideas from hearing what other teachers are doing in their classrooms. I posted previously about the amount of homework that I assign. This time I thought I'd share the methods I have used to grade the homework assignments (many of which I have borrowed from other teachers!) In all of my classes I grade most homework based on effort (students can earn no credit, half credit, or full credit). In some classes I require students to turn in homework as soon as they enter the room. Homework that is not submitted by the time we start our flashback is considered late. While students work on a flashback I am able to quickly check off and record homework grades. I return the papers while students finish the flashback and then we discuss the problems. In other classes I require students to pick up a red pen upon entering the classroom. Immediately following the flashback review we put up the answers and students grade their work with the red pen. They are not permitted to have any other writing utensil in their hand during this time to provide accountability for having assignments completed at the start of class. Of course we discuss questions students have and then I can either collect the papers to quickly record completion grades or do a quick walk around the room. The use of the red pens also makes it visually very easy to see how students are doing individually and as a class. It is easy to see if many students missed a particular problem that was not discussed or asked about providing me material for reteaching. I have also found that in advanced classes I have to adjust a bit for homework discussion and grading. I often assign more problems for my advanced students (while maintaining a reasonable homework load) and sometimes we are not able to discuss each problem in depth. I have found this especially true when teaching proofs in Advanced Geometry. While I will be sure that students get feedback on every single assigned problem (either by showing the answers or a sample proof) in-depth discussion on every single problem is not always practical. This is when I started using the CPS to get a quick poll of students' question. I will engage a verbal numeric question and have each student send me the number of problem/proof they had the most trouble with. It is very easy for me to prioritize our discussion, gives students anonymity in asking questions, and makes for a more efficient discussion. I have also found that of all of the tools of engagement I have worked with thus far in my career, for my students the CPS has been the most effective one to engage the largest number of students. I look for any excuse to get them out as I can! | ||

ccprek |
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Math Posts: 76 Location: Henry Clay | I also give a limited number of problems and think the most difficult part about homework is convincing the student that it actually serves a purpose. Is there a better way to make them believe in it?? For some of my students that have really struggled in class it is mainly due to the lack of independent practice. I have started really putting an emphasis on those students HW completion through daily conversations. Its mainly just conversation that starts by saying, "I really feel like the main cause for your struggle is your ability to trust your instincts by doing work independently. If you practice alone (ie in class "try" problems and hw) you'll surprise yourself at how many more questions you get right. The best thing about this is the pride you'll get from trying, trusting yourself, and getting a problem right." Three of my students have really improved sinced this conversation. To the point where they walk in, show me their completed homework and say, "Pride." Or "wow I got that one right!" Its really nice to see them understand the meaning of homework vs doing grunt work. Hopefully more of my kids will feel the pride sooner than later. | ||

rfarquha |
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Math Posts: 24 Location: Tates Creek | In my general classes I try to save 10-15 minutes for my students to start their homework. In some cases I give them bonus points if they get it done before the end of the block. For many of these students that is the only time they will actually do an assignment. I am still struggling with reviewing homework. In my general classes I usuallly give a completion grade simply for trying. We go over answers but most students don't pay attention. Any ideas on how to improve student participation would be greatly appreciated. | ||

cdixon |
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Counts on fingers & toes Posts: 2 | I agree. Students must practice to learn just as they do with sports, musical instruments, etc. I know we need to limit the amount, so students will complete. But I feel it is necessary for students to practice. I have considered only giving 3-4 problems on the new topic for the day and giving 6-7 from the previous day. That way students would have a second day to ask questions and then practice again.... have not tried this yet though.... what are your thoughts? | ||

atimmons |
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Math Posts: 24 Location: Tates Creek | One of the most challenging obstaacles to overcome in lower level classes is the issue of students not completing homework. I teach 3 collaborative geometry classes this year, and we've implemented "pink slips." When a student does not have their homework, they must fill out this form that indicates the assignment along with a reason and explanation of why the homework was not completed. This slip goes into my cabinet as documentation. In order to receive credit for a late homework assignment, the student must have completed a pink slip. My collaborating teacher and I have found that by placing intentional "guilt" on students that do not complete their homework causes them to try more. So far, more students are completing homework compared to last year! | ||

chawboldt |
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Counts on fingers & toes Posts: 2 | I love Aaron's procedure. That seems like a great way to impose some accountability on the students for something that effects their grade. Great idea Timmons! | ||

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