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any good website for homeworks ??

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by nulafutter, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. I work in a school where all students have internet access at home AND more than 3/4 of homework is copied.
    So I am looking for a website - if it exists - that the students log into and <u>a different set of questions is generated for each student</u>.
    Ideally, the website will have :
    (1) questions that are done online and i) maybe automatically marked - which would be a bonus or ii) I get an 'answers' file that I can mark
    (2) printed out then attempted - so I can see some working out - I AM NOT that lazy!

    The website would have to :
    * Cover all topics
    * Be free to my students (there are 100) - I am willing to pay for subcription
    * Only change the questions slighty (numbers/signs) to keep it fair
    * Ideally a UK site but would consider US
    * Note I AM NOT intersted in online lessons and worksheets
    (I have tried setting homeworks like different students researching a particular question/topic, revise for next test, etc, etc, so please don't suggest them techniques - I really would like to know if there is a website out there) Ta

  2. Ps. Level needed is KS3, with capability of producing 25 different sets of questions
  3. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter


    Normally students wouldn't print things off, but you can demand that they show workings in their books anyway.
  4. Thanks.
    That one costs about 500 pounds I believe - good for a school, but not for a individual teacher !
    Looking into quizstar (free) which does not generate different questions - but I will give it a go anyway.
    However, having trouble with setting up the classes. I would like to set up as :
    school , year (2011) - level (i teach only level 8) - class (there are 4 classes) - student number (1-30).eg. GS11_7_3_22
    .. so I will have
    GS11_7_1_1 (to 30), GS11_7_2_(1 to 30), GS11_7_3_1 (to 30), GS11_7_4_(1 to 30)
    If any one uses quizstar, is this way gonna work ?
    Trying to set this up using their csv upload but having a nightmare.

    Maybe there is a simpler site out there !
  5. I hate the idea of mymaths being used for homework. There simply isnt the depth or the quality of material, nor is their any chance for pupils to show working to make this a viable option IMO.
    I can only think of 'lazy teachers' who use the site for homework (from my experience)
    Collins do a CD that doesnt have the answers on for the kids and the teachers have to the answers.
    You may even get them to email their answers numerically in an excel file.
    This Collins thing is only a pdf ebook though.
    There is not yet anything that is good enough as a standalone product that will set the deothe, volume, quality and flexibility required to really make it worth it.
    I have looked at doing it but dont have the time to plough my full attention to it. I am happy to fund it but simply cant find time to develop all the bts needed to send to a web designer.
    I still think, despite your reservations, something like the MEP plymouth CIMT thingy would be good.
  6. Agree : Mymaths didn't look so good - I think if a company is trying to promote something they should allow a free trial (without giving credit card details!) - because their sample questions aren't too hot nor user friendly.
    QuizStar (recommended by others on TES) seems OK. I was trying to preregister all the students, but CSV files don't seem to allow / or _. Anyway, teachers can get the students to register themselves.
    You can write your own questions (in multiple choice form) and can upload part of / a worksheet to go with the questions.
    One disappointing feature is that I think you can't access other teachers quizzes without a code (permission, I guess).
    It will do for now.

  7. MyMaths is not just for 'lazy teachers'. I agree that it is a system open to abuse by lazy teachers, but it is not exclusively for lazy teachers. We have a homework policy where students have to get one homework task per week. We alternate traditional 'writing' homeworks with MyMaths and it works excellently. Obviously no system is perfect but this gives students variety and most seem to like it. Copying is of course an issue with ANY sort of homework, and I always take homework with a pinch of salt anyway as you can never tell who's actually done it, even if there are detailed workings. However I still set homework as I think it's good training for pupils, and I know that here will be some students who will do it properly and benefit from it.
  8. The 'I hate mymaths' Facebook page has over a quarter of a million likes. LOL!

    Mymaths is like an updated version of 10ticks, clip art central and poorly done. I love their 'explanation' of the cosine rule as being 'a big scary formula', pure genius.
  9. September

    September New commenter

    I agree with your post. I enjoy marking homework and like most teachers I can tell when they have just copied answers. I have managed to nearly eradicate this by asking students to show the class how they tackled certain questions. The students have got used to this and now do their own homework or ask for help from me or their peers. We set one piece of written homework per week and students use the mymaths booster packs independently and also use mymaths to review topics. For the cost it is really cheap and we also use the resources in class as well with mini-whiteboards.
  10. I stand by my point, Mymaths is for lazy teachers in terms of homework.
    There are very few questions, no personalisation, no marking, no allowance for pupils to show workings (so that if they tyoe a numerical solution wrong you have no idea if the kid understands), The teacher has minimal involvement in the whole process.
    Mymaths has some basic uses and can do some great things but in terms of homework is simply awful and IMO should not be given to pupils as a formal substitution for weekly homework. Kids can use it on top but not IMO use it as a standalone.
    I despise its use/abuse in the classroom.
  11. Tandy

    Tandy New commenter

    Changing direction slightly, I wonder if I can ask why you want to do this?
    It's a funny old thing, the homework malarkey. There is no evidence to suggest that doing homework has any impact on students' understanding of mathematics or the standards that they achieve, yet still all over the country it is seen as a given that students must do homework. And in mathematics this often looks like students wading through lots of questions with very little meaning.
    There is evidence to support the idea that a culture of homework helps to drive independent learning skills - but even this is on shaky ground.
    The approach that you take to homework can improve the chances of it having an impact. For instance, it is known that a more effective use of homework time is preparation for a future lesson (why else do you think so many long-established schools maintain prep time. So perhaps a better activity is to tell the students what you will be learning next lesson, outline the kind of question that you might need to be able to do, and ask them to come to the lesson with the five main points that they have been able to find out about the topic. Not only is this a better use of time and builds stronger independent learning skills, but it also means that the next lesson can begin in a much more formative manner - instead of you telling them how to do something, you use the collective knowledge of the group to come up with the necessary information, skills, techniques or what have you.
    There is strong evidence to suggest that in many cases homework actually leads to a lowering of standards - for many students the negative connotations that the homework experience builds flows over in to lessons so that they are turned off or have poorer relationships with the classroom teacher. This may be, for example, because at home there is no place to do homework, or they are a child carer, or the family set-up means homework leads to arguments and fights, or that (particularly in middle-middle class families) the pressure put on the child and the strict evening routine is extremely stressful (kids doing 3 hours homework per night instead of having a childhood!). The prep approach helps to alleviate some of these problems, because the students are not doing lists of questions that a parent feels the need to monitor (and when they can't do maths themselves, this is problematic), but instead the homework is investigational and conversational.
    Oh, and what if they don't do the prep? Well, frankly, so what? Of course you should encourage them to be a part of it, but sometimes the lives the children lead are so chaotic and in some cases abusive, that they really do have bigger things to worry about. There is no need for confrontation in the classroom over homework. It is pointless, and regresses performance. However, because the lessons now have a different feel, where homework is something that allows you to participate in building the knowledge, you will notice that as time moves on, students become more interested and keen to undertake the prep because they want to be able to take part with their peers.
    So that's one approach.
    Of course, many teachers (maths in particular) want to have opportunities for consolidation and mastery. So I'm not saying that there is no place for undertaking homework tasks that are looking back at work already covered. But perhaps an alternative approach might be helpful here too.
    For instance, I would suggest that a more powerful and effective approach would be to abandon the notion of wading through questions and instead attempt just one question. This could be an exam question (therefore no prep on your part) or a question that you have written. The question should cover a lot of learning and include the need to extract information from word problems.
    So the students complete this (It could go on your VLE), and then you can talk it through during the next lesson (not necessarily at the start). But then, the next homework is for the students to mark the question. You give them the worked solution, highlighting the points where marks would be awarded. They then have to go through the question and mark it based on what the examiner is looking for. This means that they are already getting inside the heads of the examiners - they know what working out counts and what is being looked for. This is of course nice prep for exams, but more importantly it is about communicating mathematically and understanding the processes.
    In the following lesson, for five minutes, put the kids in groups of 4 and let them moderate each other's marking.
    Now there aren't really any good computer packages that do this yet - the infinite possibilities that a student might write in their explanation have as yet escaped the programming world for a solution, which is why it sticks to ticking formulaic and repetitive questions.
    This is all just one suggestion, but with the approach above, maybe it could work like:
    Week 1: Prep
    Week 2: Prep
    Week 3: Exam Question
    Week 4: Prep
    Week 5: Prep
    Week 6: Half Term Review
    This would mean in terms of work load, creating one question in Week 3 and a review exercise in Week 6. Marking only the review exercise.
    Far too much teacher time is wasted on things that have no impact on learning, and one of the major culprits is the marking of homeworks.
    This would not contravene most school homework policies, since with this approach you are setting "homework" each and every lesson.
    Just a thought.

  12. Nice long post Tandy.
    Ok, lets focus on the culture thing.
    I strongly feel that homework is seen as a hassle all round in this country.
    From experience, anecdote and study I have found that other countries see contact time as a time to facilitate (did I just use that word?) learning and lessons are seen as 'precursors' to learning. Homework is simply the filling the meat on the bines. I feel this would be a great culture to have here.
    I didnt set any for my year 13s last year, I simply gave them enough to go away with and learn from working with the ones who wanted it in their own time. The others can manage themselves off the course or use their own approaches.
    This is of course no good for compulsory education.
  13. A very interesting post Tandy and one with which it is difficult to pick fault.

    There is definitely a culture of setting homework because it is felt to be 'the right thing to do.' In my school, we were asked to provide a list of homework that would be set for the whole year for Year 7s! I have to admit, that ended up as a list of Mymaths, that none of the department actually followed.

    As I've put before, Mymaths seems to fall between two stones, the explanations are not really lesson grade and not really the sort of thing that many pupils have the will to go away and read by themselves. The 'homework' sections of purely numerical answers don't really give any information on where pupils are going wrong.

    I like the idea of prep and pupils coming to a lesson having found something out about a topic. In many cases, what would be really useful prep would be for pupils to come with a clear idea of the concepts from prior learning that they are going to need in the lesson. So, when teaching something like adding fractions it would be nice if they came with a knowledge of lcm/adding fractions with the same denominator and then the new learning could be more easily embedded. Naturally, this could be achieved by setting a homework on those topics.

    In an earlier post, I tried to elicit if people were moving away from the '10ticks' style of teaching and perhaps using a more investigational approach and the post from Tandy seems to hint at that. We have been trying to reduce the amount of time we spend stood at the front and make the teachers input into the lesson 'short and sweet' before getting the pupils off working on some tasks that explore the topic (always, sometimes, never type exercises) or simply things like giving an answer and asking what the question was. In addition, we are doing a lot more to try and show pupils how the subject links together.

    I fail to see how a website like Mymaths can even begin to provide any of the above: it's rather like yesterday's solution to the day before's problem.
  14. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Agreed that some of the homeworks are poor, but I think that some are very good. There is a chance to show working; simply tell the students to show full working in their books and ask them to do it again if they don't.
    My (non-lazy) system is to decide if MyMaths is better than other sources such as the text book. If so, I set the homework and expect working to be shown as mentioned above. Thes students tick/cross answers in their books, and try to find where they went wrong.
    I collect the books in and comment mark the work. I also adjust the mark MyMaths provides if (for example) they have been given 0/5 for a question where the only thing they did wrong was incorrect marking.
    Advantages: I can see who has done the work before I collect books in, and offer help to those who have got low marks. They get instant feedback on their answers. Many of them like it as an alternative, provided I don't use it too often. It tends to be only every 3 weeks or so.
    Disadvantage; it takes longer to set homework than finding it in a textbook or worksheet.
    Yes, MyMaths can be used as a lazy way of avoiding marking, but for me, it doesn't save any time because I do just as much marking.
  15. Colleen_Young

    Colleen_Young Occasional commenter

    I'll second what Piranha said - and a MyMaths homework makes a change when you set a whole variety of other work - some very able students of mine found the site helpful and appreciated the chance to have the occasional homework set there. It's also good for students who wish to review work, giving them a second level login gives them the chance to show they are doing some work.

    It strikes me that opinions on this forum are sometimes too black and white - 'MyMaths is bad' vs 'it's brilliant' - life is never so simple.
  16. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I can see the downside too. My daughter only gets homework on MyMaths. Her working consists of a few random jottings on scraps of paper, unless I am there to nag her into doing it properly. Her exercise book is almost never marked. The result is that her teacher has a load of marks but duaghter has no real feedback except from me. Sigh!
  17. Piranha
    Thanks for both posts.
    My concern also is when the pupil comes into class and says "It said I got this one wrong and I dont think I did"....where do you go from there. I find many errors are not mathematical per se but a lack of mastering the quirks of mymaths entry system. a 49:28 ratio would be marked wrong with no feedback, rounding errors are penalised with simply 'wrong red ticks' amongst many other afwul rigid features.
    I think it can provide a great link between kids, their parents and independent learning. I would love to think my pupils log in in their own time and share learning with their parents (or even alone).
    It is not though a fair or adequate standalone system to be used for homework beyond 'one offs'
    This is me not even going on my rant about it excluding some pupils who cannot access the net.
  18. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    Interest post and I for one am not the biggest believer in homework, however you say "There is strong evidence to suggest that in many cases homework actually leads to a lowering of standards - for many students the negative connotations that the homework experience builds flows over in to lessons so that they are turned off or have poorer relationships with the classroom teacher."
    I'm genuineley interested in the evidence for this. You are probably aware that the Sutton trust ranked regular setting of homework to be 6/25 in its strategies for improving learning. The evidence they say is quite strong.
    The problem I see is that we are expected to set homework for x amount of minutes each week. for some reason lots of parents like it. I can understand why. I like your suggestion of setting an exam question or even no homework. The probalem I have got is when Maths homework is not regular and then you suddnely want to set 1/2 an exam paper (say at GCSE) they are so not used to doing homework for maths that lots of them don't do it.
    I think homework should be meaningful and it should not be just set for the sake of just setting. it. So your example of setting it as the basis for next lesson sounds good, although if they don't do it, perhaps it doesn;t matter and then we get back to the point of why set the homework in the first place.

  19. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    Homework - well if you take the attidtude that it doesnt really matter whether its done or not then I am not suprised it can nlower standards as half the kids wont do it and those that do will resent the fact that others escape unpunished.
    I believe that a routine of expecting children to work indpendently at home is very important - for al sorts of reason - not all necessarily related to learning maths.
    To be effective depends on the quality of the tasks set and how the teacher follows up by marking, remedaition etc.
    I do think mymaths can help to encourage students to work independently but generally teachers who rely on it really are taking a lazy option IMHO.
    Students expectation that all they have to do is be spoon fed stuff by their teacher is bad enough as it is and frankly I am surprised and disappointed by the comments on this thread.
  20. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    I havent seen the evidence and it seems therefore I may be wrong but my veiw is completely opposite to this. Teachers setting homework and ensuring it is done and marked has many benefits in my opinion.
    Pupils know there is a strong expectation that they do the work and will be punished if they dont.
    Time from doing potentially dull (but necessary practise) is taking out of the classroom allowing more time for debate/investigation/remediation etc which develop understanding of mathematics and relationships with students.
    I have great respect for Tandy and his great knowledge and experience (which far exceeds my own) but I cant help but disagree with him on this point.

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