Homework Response Randomization
In my precal (pre-cal, pre-calc, precalculus, Precalc, p-Rec-aLk) class, I have multi-day homework assignments that I collect infrequently, a structure that works great for older kids who can plan their own time out well. But I was struggling figuring out how to deal with homework in my geometry class, as I think freshman needed the daily *umph* to keep them going. I wanted a structure allows for:
- Accountability to work hard on it for both completion and understanding
- Feedback on their work
- A workload that I can handle
So I adapted a mode from colleagues at my last school who would roll a dice to see what happens. The system incorporates a little bit of randomness and has been kind of fun. Students, as a class, pick a number from 1-6 and behind that black box is the option for what is going to happen for that day:
If 3 is picked day 1, then that is used up, and we pick the other numbers on successive days until we get through the cycle. Then I shuffle the options behind them and we start the cycle anew. My options right now are:
- Homework Quiz (no notes)
- Homework Quiz (notes)
- Sight Check (x2)
- No Check – everyone gets full credit
I give them 10 minutes in the beginning of class to check homework, and the homework quizzes are literally just a problem directly from the homework, so the idea is, if they worked hard on the homework and fixed any small issues they had with them in the first 10 minutes, they should have no problem on the quizzes (spoiler alert: the kids who don’t do homework well have a big problem here, but at least they are realizing it?). The sight checks are just for completion, and the collected homework is graded on completion PLUS the corrections that they did in the first 10 minutes of class – I’m trying to encourage them to use that time really well and then give them feedback on how to do that…
Things that I have liked about this:
- It has been fun! The reveal every day is actually hilarious, though I have gotten in trouble with the teachers next door for noise a few times :).
- It has reduced my workload without really reducing what they get out of homework. Sometimes, I tip the scale by hiding what I want to happen behind all the boxes (i.e. if it’s a good day for me to collect).
- The homework quizzes are good for both me and them for REAL feedback opportunities (no one looks at what you write on their homework…) and as a low-stakes way for them to assess their own knowledge
- I also thought the homework quizzes would take forever – they take about 7 minutes or so, but it’s 7 minutes where they are rehashing their thinking about an important problem, so I’ve found it useful and a good tradeoff for instructional time.
- Going through the cycle as opposed to rolling evens out the workload a lot and ensures that there are quizzes at regular intervals.