A Young Teacher's Guide To Homework In Mathematics In High School

Homework
Homework (Photo credit: TJCoffey)
by Richard D Boyce

Most of what appears below was the advice that I wrote for teachers who taught Mathematics in my department when I was its head. It appeared in my department's handbook.

Homework was an accepted part of what we did as Mathematics teachers for all classes except those with special needs students.

How And When To Set Homework

• It should be set daily or after each lesson
• Write the assigned homework on the board
• Ensure the students write it in their school diaries at the end of the lesson. In junior classes, you may stand at the door checking the homework is written in their diary as they leave
• Discuss how long the work should take and any necessary advice
• Lastly, early in the school year, teach your students how to use their textbook to help them do their homework

What Homework Should You Set?

For students to achieve their full potential in Mathematics at high school, homework must be done on a regular basis. Homework, based on current class work, is meant to be an extension of the lesson and is needed for the re-enforcement of concepts. In high schools, homework in Mathematics may consist of:

• Written exercises set for practice of skills and concepts. These are based on classwork
• Learning work, e.g. rules, vocabulary and theorems
• Assessment tasks - these usually count towards Semester reports

What About Students Who Don't Do Their Homework?

Teachers should record in their diaries the names of defaulters. Parents must be advised when a pattern of missing homework becomes evident. Teachers should develop a process for dealing with homework defaulters.

What If Students Can't Do Their Homework?

As most homework is based on the work done in class that day, this is not usually a problem for most students. However, if a student has difficulty in beginning homework, teach these strategies:

• The student should look for a similar problem in the work done in class. This is usually all that is needed to jog the memory
• The student should look for an example in the text book prior to the exercise. Each different type is usually done in full with an explanation
• If students still have difficulty, they should see their teacher the next day BEFORE CLASS and arrange a time for individual help. Most teachers are available for a "homework help" time at lunch time or before and after school. Your teacher will tell you when he/she is available

What If A Student Tells His/Her Parents That They Never Have Homework?

Often, there are complaints from parents who tell us that their students never have homework. This is clearly not the case! If a student has no written homework, (which is unlikely) then we would suggest that the parents set one of the following to be done:

• Ask the student to write a summary of the rules for the current unit and to work an example of each type of problem. The textbook will be useful here. Look for chapter summaries
• Look at the student's exercise book and find an exercise that caused difficulty. Set this exercise to be done
• In each textbook, there are chapters on basic skills. Students can do any of the exercises from this chapter
• Often there are chapter reviews and practice tests. These can be done

The Review Process

Homework should, wherever possible, be reviewed during the next lesson for the greatest impact on learning to occur. This learning may, in fact, be the basis of the next lesson. A full description of a review practice can be found in the Article "Reviewing Homework in High School Classes" to be found on this website.

Even though there is a continuing debate as to the merits of homework, the advice here will help the young Mathematics teacher deal with homework successfully.

Our author, Rick Boyce, taught for over 40 years in a subject area where homework was considered as an essential part of the student's learning process. As a teacher of Mathematics, he set homework on a daily basis for all his high school classes. As a Head of Mathematics, he had to advise teachers on homework issues and deal with many persistent defaulters and offer assistance to their parents.

Rick has written many eBooks on a wide variety of classroom topics designed especially to help young teachers. http://www.realteachingsolutions.com features these eBooks.

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1 comment for "A Young Teacher's Guide To Homework In Mathematics In High School"

  1. I know there will be many difficulties and challenges but I am determined to do it. If it does not succeed then it will be a lesson for me as well
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