Finding an effective and efficient way to review homework is quite a challenge. I've tried a lot of different strategies over the years. The problem, I've found, is that a lot of time is spent reviewing homework, and it is not necessarily clear if there is much benefit to it. Also, getting students to go back and revise their work - to actually use their homework as an opportunity to further their understanding - is a difficult task. Last year, I collected my Algebra 2 students' homework, and spot graded two or three problems while they worked on the Do Now independently. This allowed me to see how the class did as a whole, as well as noticing if individual students were really struggling with the concepts. There were two big downsides, however. First, it took me about 20 minutes to get this done at the beginning of class (we have 80 minute periods), and it was quite a stressful way for me to begin the lesson. Second, students were motivated to do well on the homework because of the grading; however, if they did not do well, there was little incentive for them to go back and revise their work (I wouldn't have time to look at revisions with this system).
After thinking about it for a while, I have come up with the outline for a new plan of action. The goals are to minimize my time at the board (while increasing collaborative work time), review the homework efficiently, allow students to tailor their practice to their needs, promote revision of homework, and help students learn the value of completing homework. Here is the plan in its initial form.
This will occur in the first 15 – 20 minutes of each class:
When class starts, students have homework out and ready (done in pencil only), with a colored pen for correction. Open up the class journal to a new page, write the date, and then “Homework Review” as a header.
Correct answers are shown on the overhead. Students check their work (checks for correct, x’s for wrong) and write down the correct answers when needed.
While students are checking their work, a tally sheet is passed around, where students indicate which problems they want to see reviewed. They can make between 0 and 3 marks.
When done correcting work, students pick a problem (or problems, if there is time) to redo in their notebooks. They should collaborate with their group members if help is needed.
After 10 – 15 minutes, I collect the tally sheet and demonstrate one or two of the problems with the most votes (or select students to present these problems). If students want further demonstrations of problems, they are encouraged to ask me sometime later during the class (when appropriate), before school, or during office hours.
The five pre-selected problems that will be graded are now indicated on the overhead (i.e., I circle the problems). There is no partial credit – for each circled problem that is correct, students earn 2 points. Students write their score (out of 10) at the top of the paper.
Students can turn in corrections to the homework in the following lesson. For each circled problem that is correctly done over, with all work shown, students earn 1 additional point to the original score (i.e. if the homework was not turned in on time, students can earn no more than 5/10). Corrections must be on a separate piece of binder paper, stapled to the original assignment, and very clear and easy to read.
After completing this homework review process (at about 20 minutes), students will then work on the “Do Now” problems, either individually or collaboratively, depending on the needs of the lesson. While they work on these problems, I will circulate to record their homework grades, check homework corrections from the previous class, and answer quick questions. This will be given another 10 minutes or so, allowing about 50 minutes for the remainder of the lesson.
Well, that's it. I'm not sure if it will work, but I'd like to give it a good shot. Any comments would be appreciated!