Some middle school teachers have found that trading homework for practice time and changing how classes allow for immediate and individualized feedback is having a positive impact on math students and their enthusiasm and understanding.
At Liberty Middle School, homework has become a memory for math classes, as it doesn’t impact grades and the grade do not tell teachers what students are learning. These are the observations of teachers that were reported by teacher Alyssa Catron to the school board about the decision to do away with homework.
According to Catron, she was spending a significant amount of personal time grading homework, up to five hours a night. It interfered with her family life. “Instead of homework, we practice,” Catron said.
New standards have increased the frustration that many students feel concerning math, and principal Tony Helfrich decided to try a different approach that had been used at a school where gifted and talented education teacher Shari Norman used to teach.
Helfrich spoke with all the math teachers, and they reached an agreement to try the method suggested by Norman. One of the first things they did was purchase a lot of dry erase markers for students to write on their desks – not dry erase boards. The big numbers written on desks allow teachers to quickly see what the students are writing and thinking.