Friday, July 9, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Plan for Homework

What I want:
To spend my time designing instruction and providing feedback rather than planning and dealing with homework.
Students to choose to do problems that will build their brains and prepare them for assessment.
What I don't care about:
Deadlines.  I just want students to learn - however they accomplish it.
Homework grades.  I'd make homework completely optional if students had the maturity to make good choices.
What I don't want:
Students cheating or taking other easy routes.
An unmanageable system and stacks of papers that I tote around.

The catchy acronym.  Cuz every sound educational practice has one.
BRAINwork instead of homework.

B is for basic practice.  A set of problems that every student does and can check themselves for correctness.
R is for reinforce.  A set of similar problems for students who need more practice on basic skills.
A/I is for apply and investigate.  A smaller set of deeper thinking questions for students who have the basics down.
N is for next up.  A brief preview exercise of upcoming material.

I definitely got the idea for student-chosen problem sets from another teacher's blog*.  I've always been a believer in previewing new material before the big show.  Now, it's just a matter of finding out (a) if can I sustain this model all year in all three of my courses and (b) if will students buy into the BRAINwork concept of investing time in their own brains.

*Thank you to all you bloggers who helped me gather ideas to form this system.  As I run across the specific influences, I'll link to your posts.  We'll negotiate royalties once I hit my first million dollar deal.
Riled Up: Stop Grading Homework, Please
Binder Checks and Binder Checks, Redux
The Homework Paradigm and Pardigm Part II

Friday, July 2, 2010

Blogging as a Professional Goal

As a newcomer to the math teacher blog community, I have too many big ideas to try this coming school year.  I say too many because I know myself too well to think that I'll follow through on all of the potentially valuable strategies I've collected from the blogging superstars.

So, like most any district, I have to determine a goal at the beginning of the year, implement and document the heck out of it, and show amazing results at the end.  You know, the one where regardless of whether it was a successful strategy, you have to scramble to put together some concrete "evidence" that it promoted student learning.  I'd say most of us very subjectively determine the successes and failures of our strategies - I always have great intentions of recording student input and personal reflections, but again with the follow-through... 

I really want to use my reflection blog as my professional growth plan.  In my mind, it's awesome because the teaching strategies can be fluid and varied and I'll be forced to document in my blog.  Beautiful.  Where I need help is:
How do I document student achievement as it relates to my blogging goal?