Sunday, October 9, 2011

The One With the Homework Menu

Thursday...7th grade away football game that night and students are asking me for math homework, saying it's fun.

How did I do it? I gave them the power to choose their homework. I almost feel like I tricked my students into liking math when my real goal was differentiation.

I used to hate that word. Did they really expect me to make 28 different lesson plans for my 28 very different students? Yes. To some extent, they did.

Awhile back I heard about this great way to differentiate with homework. I've been meaning to try it and finally pulled it out of my bag of tricks last week.

The idea is that you give the students several homework problems, assigning a point value to each problem. For example you give them 40 problems. 1-10 are the easiest so they are worth 2 points each. 11 - 20 are worth 3 points each. 21 - 30 are 4 points and 31-40 being the hardest are worth 5 points each.

I then tell my students how many points they have to collect. The first time I did this students had to collect 35 points and I gave bonus up to 45 if they went over. I won't do the bonus every time, but I was also trying to help their grades a little.

The other thing I told my students was that I was counting how many points they earned not how many points they miss. So if they did 40 points worth of problems and one of those was a 5 pointer that they missed, they could still make a 100 % because they had 35 points.

I really hope all this makes sense. I struggle to explain what we are doing. Don't hesitate to ask if you are unsure what I'm talking about. :)

I'm thrilled to tell you that I had more students turn in homework than ever before. The majority of them did well over the 35 point minimum.

They absolutely loved it and begged to have more homework the very next day.

And all I was doing was differentiating. The idea is that your advance students can be challenged by the harder problems and not have to work as many. Your weaker students will do the easy ones, but that means they have to do more problems getting the practice they need.

I may never do homework any other way. Try it and let me know how it works for you.


  1. Oh my goodness! I just stumbled across your blog and I have to say this idea is ingenious!! I am starting this on Monday with my class. It is the start of a new quarter so this will work well. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your ideas!!!

  2. Hi! New reader/poster. I'm a 7th grade English/Language Arts teacher. I LOVE this idea!!! We're always looking for ways to add in homework that we'll actually get back. This is a BRILLIANT idea!!!

  3. This is a really great idea. I can't wait to try it in my own classroom!