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what's the point in homework?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by mathsnmusic, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. Apart from the 'rules' about homework, why do you set homework and what do you expect your students to gain from it? In my school it seems that maths has a very different outlook to other subjects and this may result in us having to change our way of doing things in the near future. We tend to use homework primarily for consolidation of work covered during lessons and with many pupils I believe this helps them to develop as mathematicians but would they be better off doing something else?
  2. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Consolidation, revision, occasionally fact-finding - I don't personally give many investigational activities - don't tend to get much success from those. I don't tend to make homework too onerous, time-wise - 20-30mins/week KS3, 30-40 KS4. Set lots in KS5, though. Homework also helps students realise that, ultimately, they have to learn to plan their own learning at some stage, without someone creating a timetable for them. Don't much care what other subjects get up to.
  3. Is this post related to the hassle of setting, collecting and marking homework?
    If you didnt have to set, collect or mark it but found out your students did 2 hours a night of maths excercises/practice would you be happy?
  4. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    This is very important. The exercises in class certainly help consolidate what has just been taught, but as with anything learned students will then start to forget stuff. Doing exercises a few hours later is an important step in refreshing students memory and helping it become a little more permanent.
  5. not to mention the little b***ers looking up how to do it on the internet
  6. pipipi

    pipipi New commenter

    purpose of homework

    to stop teachers from having a life at weekends?
  7. I have no issue with setting, collecting or marking homework: Setting the work is just an extension of my planning, collecting is not a massive issue in my school (I tend to get about 80% back in on time) and the marking is just part of the job.
    I have never really questionned why I set homework but I have recently started to. I want to set homework tasks that are benefical for my students. I have my own thoughts about what this might mean and the effectiveness of my current practice but I am interested in other people's thoughts.
  8. This is an interesting question and one that I have wondered about myself, without coming to any firm conclusions. In my school, getting homework in can be an issue. For top/middle sets I usually set some formal written work that consolidates work done in class or prepares them for assessment. There is relatively little difficulty collecting the work and properly marked offers useful feedback for the pupils. We include some homework as part of our APP assessment.

    Work for lower sets is much more problematic to set and collect. For some pupils it can be difficult finding work that they have the confidence to tackle on their own. As such, I run a homework club on lunchtime per week. It isn't that popular (!) but at least I feel I've tried to help.

    I don't want to hijack mathsnmusic's thread but is anyone out there using MyMaths homeworks (or similar) on a regular basis? It's something that I'm pretty against and only do very rarely, same for others in my school. I'm not totally convinced it promotes independent learning either.
  9. I think rote learning and being automated in following algorithms (or even recalling fact are so heavily teted in GCSEs that simply making pupils more effective by repetition is (whilst dull) effective.
    With the current trend of lesson structure I find time allowed to teach is far less than before.
    Do 10-20 examples of a questio in a lesson full of behaviour management and red tape garbage compared to this + 100 for homework over a week is more effective.
    I would love to think all school maths is about exploring, enjoying and beuing creative in rich aspects of the subject. When I last checked, nothing like this was ever assessed in a GCSE.
    Unless school has the vast majoiry gaining C grades or higher then realisticaly more repetition will serve to please the data junkies and their figures
  10. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    I have found using mymaths less and less effective over recent years. It works for top sets but is often targetted too high and demotivates the less able. It would be better if you could access one topic at different levels e.g. averages - they throw in a reverse mean calculation in the homework, I would like that for my brighter groups but not if I want my set 4 to re-enforce their knowledge.
    There are also too many questions on some e.g. solving linear equations. It is good that students can get the instant feedback but I would never set that many questions, particularly when I expect them to be setting the working out in their books.
    I think the reason that it is getting less effective is that it is being overused in the earlier years of secondary and students are being set work at an inappropriate level which is putting them off. Appropriately used I think it could promote independent learning. Students get instant feedback and can look things up if they have forgotten them.
    We have recently been required by our school to set more open tasks for homework but it has not been a success so far. I think this work is much better set in lessons. A student can be very close to the right answer and just need a nudge in the right direction. That guidance is not available at home so they either give up or look the whole thing up on the internet.
  11. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    Nice thread!
    Let's look at things from a pupil perspective for the moment.
    In lessons the objective for that lesson is often very clear, pupils often realise what they need to learn/do during the lesson, the start of the lesson reinforces what background knowledge is required (maybe in the starter, maybe when the teacher says "you remember when we ..."), the relevant material might be recapped and the task explained. If the pupil doesn't fully understand they can then either get help from the teacher or another pupils, or just get carried along with what everyone else is doing. The teacher makes them sit down at the start, gives them the relevant materials (sheets, books, etc), creates a conducive atmosphere and ensures no-one is listening to iPods, etc.
    At home things are different. The pupil might have scrawled down the homework in their planner in a rush - it might not be legible. The pupil needs to find the sheet/book/etc. They need to arrange a time and place to do it, which is fine for pupils with supportive parents and their own space, but for kids who don't have a table in their house (meals are eaten on laps in bedrooms or in front of the telly) this is much more difficult. They then need to recall which bit of the maths work they have done recently might be relevant, and then need to work out how to do it. They are likely to listen to music (or watch TV) at the same time. As the pupils get older their parents are unlikely to be able to help.
    Do pupils need to develop the sorts of skills they need to overcome the issues raised above? I think they do.
    Is setting homework the best way of doing it? Probably the best way to do it is for a parent to give enough support to the child to encourage them to develop their own study skills.
    Can schools help? Maybe.
    Should I, as a teacher, do more to help? Probably.

  12. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    IMO consolidation is important, and for the reasons in my last post, this can be really usefully set for homework.
    I have met senior managers who believe that the maths dept in their school set consolidation work for homework because they either don't have the imagination or can't be bothered to set something different. If senior people are telling you to set different types of homework, I would suggest something like this:
    • Write a policy for the dept that explains carefully what types of homework will be set and why consolidation is so important. This will show that you are setting this work for positive reasons and not because it is the next page in the book.
    • For certain topics that lend themselves to this, set something very different. During Pythag/Fibonacci/Pascal work the pupils could do some research about the mathematician. At the end of certain topics they could make a poster about the key points in that topic.
    I hope this is helpful.
  13. i like the idea of research on the mathematician- i shall steal that
    i no longer set puzzles like (bearing in mind i am ks2) 'what is special about 8549176320?' - in class, they will try to factorise it, multiply alternate numbers together, get mirrors out to check for symmetry and see if it will work aa a cipher. at home they will google the number and have done
  14. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    The temptation to Google the number is intense. I need to walk away from the computer. Walk away. Walk away ...
    [Hmm - will have to think about this - tried the factoring one but nothing particularly exciting.]
  15. DM

    DM New commenter

    It is only 'special' in certain countries Nazard if that helps.
  16. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    ... and possibly in certain counties too, I suppose. There's nowt wrong with having: 8549017632.
  17. [​IMG] you two
    after 20 minutes or so, i steered my y5's a litte toward the answer by harping on the ciphers and by getting them to write it going vertically - to create the list (tho the lad that got it seemed to get it out of the blue)
    but especially as most of my gat kids are eal, i shall remember dm's hint if i need it for future classes
  18. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    Here's another potential clue: it wouldn't be possible for people who speak the Philippino language Hanuno'o. This link explains why (and is a spoiler, for those who are still wanting to solve florapost's original question!).
    I love the idea that the speakers of Hanuno'o learn the written form of the language in order to be able to learn more love songs. Sex as a motivation for literacy!
  19. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    No! The textbooks I would use have the answers in the back, so the kids mark their own homework. It's only considered properly done if the working is shown AND there's a tick or a cross against each answer. Then in the course of the lesson I'll have a quick glance to see how each student is doing. Of course one takes the books in maybe once every week or two, but not after every homework.

    Early in my teaching career I used to mark every single homework myself, and my colleagues use to find this a little eccentric.
  20. We are expected to mark each piece of homework in my school, so you wouldn't be considered eccentric here David. In my school the kids are pretty street wise and if we didn't mark the work then very quickly none would bother with doing it.I find it helpful in picking up where the pupils are going wrong (or right) and that's part of my objection to MyMaths homework.

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