June 24, 2004
Since I have 3-4 preps each year and need to keep class work for continuing, multi-part lessons as well as for absent students, I have come to rely heavily on an overhead projector and plastic sheets. I've also started to use the plastic sheets to help with my homework checks. I paperclip a plastic sheet over my seating chart, label it with period number, date & assignment, and then I'm all set. I give frequent HW quizzes at the beginning (or end) of class. Students pick up a small piece of scrap paper (backs of extra worksheets collected from the copy center and sliced in half) as they enter. When class starts I remove the stack of scrap paper. Students who arrive late with a pass may write the answers on the back of their pass. Students without a pass are out of luck. I have a template on the overhead which announces the assignment being checked -- usually last night's, but it could be the last two or three nights if we have not gone over them yet. The template also tells them how many of my answers will be WRONG. (I already have an answer key on a post-it attached to the prepared overhead.) Their job is to check their answers against mine (I read the answers from the overhead as I slide a cover sheet down) and tell which are the correct answers, and which are wrong. When I have finished reading all the answers, I leave the overhead on and allow them 3-5 minutes to check with their partner or the text to identify the errors and supply the correct answer. We get some terrific mathematical discussions since everyone wants to be right! While they are working I quickly circulate and enter absentees, tardies & points for homework on the plastic sheet covering my seating chart. I grade homework out of 5 points: 5 = completely attempted with work neatly shown; 4 = if one or two are not attempted or if it's complete but there are glaring errors; 3 = if it's somewhat incomplete; 2-0 = depending on the level of incompleteness; H = no HW. Since I'm reading the answers I give ZERO credit for answers only (My rule from September on is 'If you did it in your head or on your calculator, they write a sentence in English or math telling me exactly what you did in your head or on your calculator'; No Work = No Credit). I have one person in each row bring me the quizzes. They supply the answers that they think were wrong. This way even the slowest child has had time to process what they want to say and everyone volunteers or is volunteered! We get most of the remaining misconceptions cleared away quickly. I mark the overhead as we identify the errors, and they fix their homework. I also get a quick grade for the day. I compute it as homework grade /5 times grade on quiz (# correct / number possible). Students without homework learn VERY quickly to do the homework. Sometimes I teach a new lesson first and leave the HW quiz until the end with a new concept question included as a bonus. I collect it as they leave, and have students help return the marked quizzes the next day as they enter. I don't give make-ups for these snap-shot quizzes, they take no more than 5 minutes to correct, and I know quickly what concepts I need to re-teach within the context of the next lesson.