This is the first in a series of blogs laying out advice and guidance from the Math Department regarding your student’s homework. Sometimes the requirements that we explain in the classroom do not make it home to Mom and Dad in quite the same we as teachers intended, so please read up and enjoy my first blogging experience!
I will cover topics like neatness, showing work, and methods to validate results for accuracy in some later posts, but I would like to start by addressing due dates and my requirement for the student to self-grade their work.
Unless I announce an exceptions, every assignment will be due two school days after it is assigned. Now I know that some students hear that statement as, “Sweet! I don’t have to start this assignment until the second night.” However, that strategy will be unsuccessful because of the pace that we have to move through to complete Algebra 1 and Geometry. Ideally, a student completes 90% or more of the assignment the night it was assigned. I then allot the first five minutes of the next class for questions that have stumped the students. We will talk about them and may even work a problem or two for free. Students then have the second day to fix any misunderstandings and to complete the remaining work. They hand in the work on the second day and receive full credit.
I am certain that every Math teacher since the ancient Greeks has asked their students to slow down to check the accuracy of their work. A teacher’s worst nightmare is when a student does an entire assignment completely wrong without realizing it. Not only does this reinforce mis-understandings, but it leaves the student very frustrated. To give the student extra support in this area, the odd answers to every assignment are contained in the back of the book. This is not cheating since I require them to show all of their steps and calculations–it is confirmation that they understand the material. When you watch your student do their homework, you should see them frequently flipping to the back and forth between the front and back of the book. If you do not see this, please reinforce the good habit. They should never do more than two problems without being able to confirm they are on the right track.
Once students return to class with their work completed, I require them to check their remaining even answers with several teachers edition books that I make available in the class room. This means that your student has been handed keys to the castle–all they need to do is develop the habit of checking the answer key while they work and before they turn the assignment in.