Posted in Math Inquiry

NO Math Homework! What!?

Okay, my paper clip image and title for this post is perhaps a bit misleading. Although I am not completely against the idea of no homework, I do understand how requiring it can be meaningless for some students and even detrimental to a student’s grade. Before I give some of my perspectives, I wanted to credit my group member’s blog for giving some blogging ideas for this week.

Based on the video posted on my group member’s site, it got me thinking about “how much should homework count?” Better yet, the question was rephrased to be thought of as “how much should practice count?” First, I love how Wormeli changes the word “homework” to “practice” indicating that the word “homework” carries “emotional baggage” which creates negative attitudes and even anxiety for students. Second, I also love how Wormeli says that “homework is practice, an extension of that which is already learned.” This is so true and I couldn’t agree more! It drives me so nuts when  teachers teach a concept but only shows one example, then worse, assign homework (HW) problems that are much more complex than what was taught. Thankfully, I didn’t have too much of this growing up. However, I find that this as an issue when students learn intermediate algebra in a college quarter system, which is fast pace. Students need the scaffolding required to build up their skills, especially in learning new concepts.

It’s not realistic to assign a whole bunch of HW problems that students are going to struggle through. I tell students all the time that it’s not worth coming back to me the next day and telling me that “I worked on math for 3 hours last night,” but didn’t get much done. It makes me wonder what did they do. I feel frustrated for them. It would have been more productive for them to “practice” owning the new knowledge (math concepts) as opposed to working problems so rehearsed. I try to steer them away from this by reminding them that they are not going to get the same exact problems on the quiz, test, or final! I also have other strategies when working with them. Students are so hung up in rote memorization on “how to work the problem.”

Take a look at my classmate’s blog post and check out her inquiry on Photomath and on Rich Wormeli’s awesome video. My classmate asked a great question that I will attempt to answer here. I think a great way to ensure students’ mastery at home without the use of Photomath is 1) ensure that students have taken good notes that they understand (so they can refer to it) 2) students ask for clarifications during class 3) students are able to answer conceptual questions to the learning goal (e.g. Why do we do that? Why can’t…be the answer? Can we…? If this is on…, then….? What is the opposite of…, so we…? etc…) I found that it’s also important to reiterate a lot of fundamental concepts especially when I notice that students don’t “own” it quite yet.

Watch the video that’s already embedded on classmate’s blog site, and let us know what you’re take on it. More to come on math homework in college and grading homework; so, stay tuned.

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