Friday, June 27, 2014

Math Homework

Within my self-contained varying exceptionalities class, I typically have quite a few students with language impairments.  These students usually need extra support when completing math word problems and multiple step math problems.  They also most frequently need extra time to practice skills and concepts.

I like to have the students practice math skills, but the homework component that is part of the series my district has adopted just didn't work for us this year.  The homework pages were "busy" which made it difficult for the students and families to discern the most important information.  They also moved at a pace and changed skills so quickly, that my students didn't have enough time to truly master some of the computation skills or concepts, let alone apply those to word problems.

I ended up using a combination of resources to make sure each student had math homework that they could independently complete.  Here were some of my most frequently used:

KidZone Free Math Worksheets This site offers several different computation skills and at different levels of difficulty.  The printed pages are "clean" and not visually busy so they were ideal for homework.  (And it's free!)

Calculating Area and Perimeter This site offers a worksheet generator that allows the parent or teacher to pick whether the child will work on simple or complex shapes; metric or English units of measure; or various combinations.

Touch Math This is a program that includes blackline reproducibles that our principal purchased for our special education department.  It is an investment up front, but well worth it.  My school has the Upper Grades program.

Since I'm sharing resources that I use for homework, I will also share my homework philosophy.  I believe that what I send home for homework should be work that the students in my class can complete independently (or with very minimal support.)

I believe this because, I don't want the child going home and practicing a skill incorrectly 2 or 3 nights every week!  I also know that the parents of the children in my class have differing levels of the support they can provide for their children with homework.

I also believe that it is important for children to learn how to become responsible for their own actions. Completion of homework assignments is one of the criteria for the students in my class to earn their "choice time" at the end of the day.  I don't think it would be fair to assign a student to do homework that he/she cannot complete on their own and then also tie their choice time to the completion.  If I know they can independently complete the homework, then I feel comfortable setting the expectation that you must have completed homework before you go to choice time.

This criteria and philosophy has worked for the classes that I have had for the past several years.  It's always possible that I may get a group of students in the future that need a different plan; or an individual within a group that needs something different.  Since I have a full time special education classroom, I also believe it's my responsibility to be willing to change my homework expectations when the children's needs warrant a change.

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