Monday, July 18, 2016

Math Homework Study and Routines

“I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice.” -  Ray Bradbury

Many studies report that there is little gain from homework, yet I'm not ready to give up on math homework altogether as I believe homework still has value with regard to building good study habits, practice, and independent or family time to think deeply about math ideas.

I do want to heed the homework research and results though by treating homework routines with greater care, differentiation, and simplicity. I don't want homework to turn into added struggle for students or families. Therefore I will establish a positive homework routine beginning on the first day of school.

The routine I'll foster includes the following actions and goals:
  • Students will receive a back-to-back weekly assignment sheet (see below) each Wednesday.
  • A math practice challenge problem or activity will be assigned for three school day nights: Wednesday, Thursday, Monday, and Tuesday. The time to complete the practice problem will be a 5-10 minutes.
  • There will be a 5-10 minute online math tech activity suggested for each day.
  • Enrichment activities will be shared as well and those options will be optional.
  • Parents or guardians will be asked to sign the sheet each week on Tuesday night to be returned on Wednesday. 
  • The assignment sheet will be due each Wednesday and I will review and respond to the students' efforts as well as their weekly class efforts on the weekly sheet and return sheets by the following Monday. 
There are many reasons why I want to establish and embed this routine into the math program.

First, I want a way to think carefully about, and respond to, each child's efforts each week. This simple sheet will give me a chance to do that. Children thrive when they get regular, positive and helpful response.

Next, I want family members to regularly know about the math concept, knowledge, and skill we are focusing on. Although I do explain that in the newsletter, parents are more likely to look closely and engage in a conversation with their child when they have to sign off on a child's paper.

And, I'll use this review, in part, to inform the program as I'll gather important data about student effort, mathematical thinking, and need. I'll be able to use that information for program design and coaching meetings as I work to teach all children well. 

Establishing weekly study and practice routines helps students to learn math well and see the connection between good routines, practice, and learning well. 

What routines do you establish at the start of each school year to promote student success and regular, positive teacher/parent response? How do you coach students in ways that support these routines with success?