Math homework used to be the bane of my existence. Does anyone else relate? For years, I assigned nightly homework. Students had to complete between 10-15 practice questions that were similar to what we had done in class that day. One night it was a workbook page, another night it was questions from the textbook. Sometimes I couldn’t find enough homework for a chapter and I would spend time searching the internet just to find a worksheet that fit with what we did. There were SO many issues with this. First of all, giving homework for the sake of giving homework is terrible! I felt like I had to be doing what everyone else was doing! If a student missed class for lessons, was sick or just didn’t understand what we did in class, they weren’t able to complete it. I was checking (and recording) student’s work for completeness and then posting answer keys on the board. Students were supposed to check their own work and ask questions and they rarely did. I was taking 10 minutes or more on homework each day. So many students were not completing the homework, or giving me the classic “I didn’t understand.” Only about 60-70% of my students were completing it nightly. I was frustrated. The students were frustrated. The parents were frustrated.
Last year, I started something new for homework! Each week I give my students 20 questions on Monday. It is due on Friday. The 20 questions are always spiral review questions. And just like that, I FINALLY found math homework that works! Here are just a few of the reasons I am LOVING weekly spiraled homework.
#1 – It gets done!
Remember when I said only 60-70% of my students were completing their homework daily? Last week, I was only missing ONE of about 100 homework assignments. I collect the homework each Friday and correct it. It counts as a homework grade (overall a very small percentage). Students know that I am actually looking at it and they try their best to do well on it. I offer after school extra help twice a week and students can stay to work on their homework with me and check it to make sure that it is a 100%. I have a very strict rule about no late assignments being collected and honestly, once kids miss one homework and realize they can’t make it up, it doesn’t happen again.
#2 – They can do it!
I make sure that my weekly homework does not cover any new skills learned that week. I try to choose skills that my students have mastered in the past, but need review on. In the past, I would get tons of e-mails from parents telling me that their child did not understand the lesson in class that day or that they missed my class due to illness, music lessons, etc. With spiraled homework, a majority of my students complete the entire thing on their own- without help from their parents! I encourage them to bring home their interactive math notebooks to help them with their homework or attend one of my two extra help sessions each week!
#3 – It teaches them about time management!
Students know that they have 20 problems that they have to get done in 4 nights. We spend a lot of time talking about how they can split up those problems to get them done on time. We talk about planning out our weeks based on sports and other after school activities. Some students complete all 20 on Monday night. Others work on 5 a night. Others split the problems up between the extra help sessions that they can attend.
#4 – Spiraling!
This is the best and most obvious advantage to weekly spiraled math homework. So many students are used to learning a topic in math, taking a test, and forgetting it. Each week, students are completing 20 questions on various review topics. It helps keep the concepts fresh and encourages them to use the resources available to them to answer the questions. Since I have really focused on spiraling, I am finding that my students are retaining more of what they learn and performing at a higher level.
Looking for 6th grade math spiral homework? Check out my entire year of editable, weekly homework! (7th and 8th grade coming soon)