Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Day 130: What to do with homework

Given how few students are using class time to complete required assignments, I am going to remove that luxury from the schedule. Instead, I'll make sure that they've seen a few examples, and simply require that the work be completed outside of the class to be checked for a grade (based on completion, not correctness) the following day. 

Literally 95% of students are doing absolutely nothing when it comes to homework, so I'm simply wasting class time giving them the opportunity to socialize. I'm not naive enough to think this is magically going make everything better and have a positive influence on achievement, but at least I won't be wasting time. 

What I hate about this situation is what it indicates for my success in implementing the modeling approach in a math class. The original intent was to have students discuss their work collaboratively and come to consensus about the content in true 'modeling' style. We never had much success with discussions because so few students completed the work, so there was no jumping off point from which to start a discussion. So I gave class time to complete the work, in hopes that would spur an eventual discussion. But, even with a full hour of in-class time to work and ask for help, nearly whole classes are still doing absolutely nothing (I mean literally showing a blank worksheet on Day 3). 

I have tried skipping the in-class time to work and simply pushing students directly into the discussion, but then i struggled with maintaining an environment conducive to a discussion with a class of 30+ 10th graders (and those were my 'honors' students). 

I'm still convinced that modeling instruction is the best approach, but I'm finding it difficult to be the only teacher in a building of 55 that takes such a radically different track. Modeling requires buy-in from students, and if they're given what they want (traditional instruction) 5 of the 6 hours in a day, they're never going to see a need to shift their views of what schools can be. 

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