Keeping Track of Homework

Organization is probably the thing I struggle with most as a teacher.  My method (or lack thereof) of keeping track of homework is something that I know I need to reorganize this year.

I am happy with my homework policy as a whole, but just need to change the way I keep track of who did or did not complete it.  Here is my homework policy:

I assign homework just about every night in my math classes.  It is worth two points per night.  (I use the point system of grading).  I do not collect the homework or grade it based on correctness.  I grade it based on completion only.  If a student attempts every problem AND shows their work they get 2/2, if they complete about half of it they get 1/2, and if they did not do their homework (or did not show their work) they get 0/2.  I walk around while students work on their “do now” problems and check to see who did it…and that’s where my organization falls apart.

In my old school my math classes were VERY small (they ranged in size from 4 students to 7 students).  At that school, I just kept a list of students who were missing homework assignments.

missing homework assignments list

 

It worked for me in that small setting because I never had more than one or two students not complete their homework on any given night so it took me less than a minute to write the date, student’s name, and missing assignment down.

When I switched schools last year my classes grew considerably…to around 20 students per class.  I learned pretty quickly that in larger classes there are more students who don’t do their homework each night so I didn’t want to take the time to fill out all the info for each student who was missing work as it would take too much time.

So…I ditched my old method and switched to sticking post-it notes in my binder:

missing homework assignments sticky notes

 

I just wrote the date on a sticky note and the initials of all students who were missing homework that day and either 1/2 or 0/2, depending on the grade they earned.  I consulted my sticky notes when I put grades into my computer later, and then threw them out.  This method was definitely quicker than my old one but obviously had some downsides…such as: I didn’t actually write down the assignments the students were missing, just that they were missing an assignment, and the sticky notes would occasionally fall out of my binder.  Bottom line is that it didn’t keep me organized at all.

Soo…this year I am opting to go with the more traditional homework record sheet.  I made one up in Excel. (You can click on the picture below to download the excel file if you are interested)! Click here if you prefer a pdf version of the record sheet.

homework record sheet empty pic

 

I will type in my students’ names once I get my class lists, and across the top I’ll fill in the date and homework assignment each day.  The key is going to be remembering to keep on top of this.  My plan is to fill in the assignment part when I assign the homework the day before so that I don’t need to take too much time to fill out the info when I am checking homework the next day.

I am hoping that it will look like this as I fill it in throughout the year and that I will stay nice and organized (at least as far as homework is concerned this year)!

homework record sheet filled in pic

 

What method have you used that works well for keeping track of missing homework?

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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Games in the Math Classroom – Noggle

Something that I love to do in my math classroom is play games!  Games keep the kids interested and are a sneaky way to reinforce concepts or make them think critically while they are having fun.

I play lots of different games with my classes – mini whiteboard games, card games, game show games, and bingo games, as well as miscellaneous other games.  One of the games I am most excited about that I will be playing with my kids this year is Noggle!

Click here for a post on my NEW VERSION of Noggle that includes a link to play a round for free!!

Noggle is a fun PowerPoint game that reinforces the order of operations.  Here is how the game is played:

noggle instructions

It only takes 3 minutes to play so it makes a great warmup activity!  I think that this year I will be playing this game with some of my classes on the first day of school when our class period is only about 15 minutes.  My plan is to put the kids in groups, have them work together to find as many expressions as possible.  (I have a worksheet for them that goes along with the game).  I am then going to have the groups trade papers and check each others’ expressions.  It should fill that shortened class period perfectly!

The game includes a version with all positive numbers and a version with both positive and negative numbers.  I am really looking forward to playing the negative version with my kids during our unit on integers – it should make a great review activity!

The animations of the board being “shaken” each time you play are fun – see the video below of the game in motion:

There is also a letter version of the game which Language Arts teachers could use in whatever way they want – to make as many words as they can or any other creative ideas they may have!

Click here if you are interested in purchasing Noggle for your classroom.

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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Back to School Icebreaker Idea for Middle School

Each summer I like to take time to reflect on the past school year…what went well and what I would like to change for the coming school year.  I decided that this year I will share these reflections on my blog, so each of my next several posts will include ideas for the upcoming school year.

Today’s post is about the first day/week of school.  I am going to share an icebreaker that I did last year, which worked out really well for me.  In my small Catholic school, most of the students know each other really well as many of them have been in the same class since preschool or kindergarten.  Because of this, most traditional getting-to-know you icebreakers don’t really work for me in my classroom.  The problem is, though, that even though the students know each other really well, I don’t know my homeroom students well at all coming in to the new school year, so I had to come up with a way to get to them a little without boring them since they already know each other.

So….I designed this worksheet.

getting to know you and me survey picture

I had the students fill in the top half (which is all about them) when they first came in to keep them quiet and busy as I collected supplies and took care of homeroom “stuff”.  I had them write down their guesses for the questions on the bottom of it (all about me) to see what they already knew (or thought they knew) about me.

When they were finished (after about 15 minutes or so), I had them cut the bottom section off and hand in the top half to me.  I then went over the questions about me.  Just about every student wanted to guess the answers to each of the questions, so I called on a bunch of kids to share what they thought the answer was and then I told them the answers.  It was sort of like a show-and-tell time for me as I showed them a picture of my dog and my family when we got to those questions.  They got really into it and seemed to really enjoy getting to know a little bit about me.

As much as they enjoyed learning about me, their favorite part was what I did with the top half of their papers that they handed in to me…

For the whole first week of school, any time we had a few spare minutes, I would pull out those papers and we played “Who am I?”.  I would read about 3-4 of the answers someone wrote down and the kids in the class would have to guess who it was.  For example I might look at someone’s sheet and say “I had a great time in Disney World this summer.  I love the color yellow and hate eating broccoli.  Who am I?”  I would then call on students to guess whose paper I read.  If after 3 guesses no one got it correct, I would read another fact or two from their sheet, and call on other students to guess who it was.

The kids got so into this game and begged to play every day!  It was a great way for me to learn a little bit about my students and it was fun to see how well they really knew each other.  I am definitely planning to do this activity with my homeroom again this year since it was such a hit.  If you would like to use this activity with your class, just click on the worksheet above to download it.

 

Thanks for reading,

Christina

 

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