Math Homework Questions About Reflections

Philosophy

Homework has always been a challenging topic for us. When we both began teaching we would assign the traditional #1-20 textbook questions as their homework assignment.  We realized over the years that this type of homework  was unhelpful, stressful, and inequitable for our students.  Furthermore, with technology and apps (like photomath) students can easily copy step by step work from their phones.

A few years ago we decided to rethink homework for our students.  Since most of our lessons revolve around a singular problem we wanted to create a structure that would allow students to reflect on what they learned in class, synthesize their ideas, and have an outlet for asking more questions based on what they had learned that day in class.

We decided to create a list of reflection homework questions that we use on a daily basis.  Typically we pick one reflection question for the students to respond to each day.  We also select 1-3 mathematical questions for them to think about (often times these questions are extensions of the problem we worked on in class).

Here is an example of a few of our reflection questions:

What were the main mathematical concepts or ideas that you learned today or that we discussed in class today?
What questions do you still have about_______?  If you don’t have a question, write a similar problem and solve it instead.

Click here for the complete list of our questions.  We are honored that Jo Boaler featured our approach to homework in her recent book: Mathematical Mindsets  (see Page 46-49).  

What Do Students Think?

Since starting this new approach to homework we felt that it was important to survey our students to see how they felt about this new type of homework assignment. On the mid-year survey we asked students to "Please provide us with feedback on your homework format this year." ​

The following are quotes from our students:

“I think that the way we do our homework is very helpful. When you spend more time reflecting about what we learned (written response), and less time doing more math (textbook), you learn a lot more.”

“I feel like the homework questions help me reflect on what I learned from the day. If I do not quite remember something, then it gives me a chance to look back into my composition book. I really like how we have less mathematical questions and more questions where we have to reflect on what we did and what questions we had.”

“This year I really like how we do our homework. I understand how to do my homework because of the reflections; those really help me because then I can remember what I did in class that day.”

“Having the reflection questions does actually help me a lot. I can see what I need to work on and what I'm doing good on.”

Although this homework format has been an improvement over traditional homework we are still concerned that homework is inequitable for our students. What do others think?

If you are interested in learning about  research on homework, educational specialist and author Alfie Kohn wrote a whole book on the topic. Follow the link where you can listen to a short audio clip to get his perspective http://www.alfiekohn.org/homework-myth/

Что-нибудь. Что помогло бы мне найти девушку, которая взяла кольцо. Повисло молчание. Казалось, эта туша собирается что-то сказать, но не может подобрать слов. Его нижняя губа на мгновение оттопырилась, но заговорил он не .

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