I assigned homework to four of five classes this week, which is something like a personal record.
- There wasn’t enough time to practice in class. Though this one cuts both ways. If, for example, our time shortage was on account of my lousy time/class management, this would’ve been a lousy reason to assign outside work.
Which is why a lot of teachers assign homework, I suspect.
It was an abbreviated single-period day, though, 48 minutes in all, which made homework a little more necessary than usual.
- We practiced just enough in class. There are upper and lower bounds here. Practice the homework skills too little in class and only the most intuitive students are gonna escape the night. Practice the homework skills too much and what’s the point?
There’s a narrow, acceptable band here and we struck it every time today, mostly by practicing deep into a concept in class and then retreating to some easier practice for the homework.
- Different students, different assignments. This was awesome.
Until today I was a lousy accountant with awesome books, a meticulous statistician who didn’t use his data for anything.
We have four concepts on the books right now, two of which have been stealing our lunch money on a daily basis: Midpoint Formula and Quadrilateral ID.
End of class today, I put up two assignments of equal difficulty, one for Quadrilateral ID, one for Midpoint Formula.
“Whichever concept you haven’t passed,” I said, “that’s your work tonight. If you’ve passed neither, you choose between the two how you want to spend your time. If you’ve passed both, good work, enjoy your evening.”
It was a very very very weird thing for them, I think, selecting an assignment for themselves. There were fewer complaints than usual and what complaints there were seemed more rote than usual.
This game I’m running has turned the dry business of assessment into a thing of beauty. I’d love to see it do the same to homework.