I’ve gone back and forth about how I should do homework. I don’t really fully completely think that homework should be given. I’ve done a few years without giving regular homework and I don’t think my learners’ understanding was any lower than when I did give regular homework. But then also I teach mostly freshmen and the biggest complaint I hear from both previous learners and their new teachers is that they are not ready for the homework load. I’m not at a place right now to try to change those teachers’ minds about homework, so I had to shift my thinking. If I’m going to truly prepare my freshmen for the years ahead, I need to prepare them to work outside of class.
Enter: Delta Math. I’ve been using Delta Math (DM) this year with both of my classes, but more consistently with Algebra I because it has more topics for that than Geometry. So I have one DM assignment going per unit. They typically have a few weeks to complete each assignment, and I have a bunch of topics in them. Our first unit after our two-week October break didn’t have a DM assignment, so that’s why you see such a big date gap right now.
I’ve learned from my tries at DM last year to keep the number of problems required low. You want to do more with your learners, but for me, 1-3 is usually enough to show they know the topic but doesn’t burn them out on it. If it’s something where there are multiple levels of difficulty, I’ll maybe have 1 easy, 2 medium, and 1 harder problem. I also allow them to have multiple attempts (2-3 depending on the type of problem) and do include a penalty (0.25-0.5 off) for incorrect answers. I went back and forth on the penalty thing, but after seeing them do their first assignment and how they just wanted to click submit after barely doing any thinking on a problem, the penalty decision was confirmed. It slows them down. Even though they get multiple attempts, they really think about it more when they know that they can’t get more wrong or else they’ll have to do it more.
I also have a due date schedule because after they get out of the Freshman Academy, most teachers do not allow late work at all. However, they are coming from their junior highs where they were able to retake and resubmit everything until the end of the year. So this transitions them a bit easier. I do forgive lateness for certain circumstances, like chronic absences and 504/IEP directives.
Not all of my learners have access to the internet at home, but that hasn’t been much of an issue. I always give at least a few days’ worth of class time to complete DM and also, I make a paper copy by screenshotting double the amount of required problems for each section. I have only had to actually print that for a few learners at the beginning of the year who didn’t know to use their time more wisely.
These are worth 10 points each in the grade book and I give them their percentage out of 10. So if they did 85% they would get an 8.5 in the grade book. I use the Problem Logs in the Student Data dropdown frequently to see if I should update someone’s score on an old assignment, but also remind learners frequently that they need to tell me when they have updated an assignment. I also post this as an assignment on Google Classroom, so sometimes their way of telling me is to just resubmit the assignment so I get a notification.
Overall, I really like using DM for homework. At first, I did get some push back because it wasn’t what they were used to and they got a lot wrong at first because they didn’t know how to structure their answers. For example, they didn’t know on the solving equations ones that you just needed the number and not x= with it. So I learned then to demo how to answer each question where it wasn’t obvious. It’s made my learners much better at attending to precision, too. And, sure, there are some that still get 0’s on their DM just like you’d get some that got 0’s on a paper assignment. And some guardians do not get why they’re not seeing a textbook out to do the homework. But then when I talk to their guardian about how they can do this anywhere they have access to the internet, including on their phone, they get on my side pretty quick.
My learners have really come around to it, too. At first, there was some anxiety around it. Like “If I press Submit and I get it wrong then I’ll have to do more!!!” But now it’s more like “Ok I worked through it and then I got it wrong the first time and then looked at how DM got the right answer and saw my mistake and now I got it right!” Well, I’m sure they think that, at least. But they look forward to DM days and feel like it’s helping them learn, and I agree. I can even say – hey you only did 1/3 problems over this on DM and then you got the question wrong on your quiz, soooo what are we going to do for the next quiz?
Another thing I added this quarter on our first DM assignment two topics at the end that are review from first quarter. I should have done that from the beginning. I need to do more spiraling in general. But even the learners expressed that it was nice to go back to that to try to keep it fresh.
I want to express a big THANK YOU to Zach Korzyk @MrDeltaMath who makes this amazing resource!
What do you do for your homework/Delta Math to make it good for your learners?
J’aime que mes étudiants voient leur connaissance avec Delta Math.