We're getting ready to use the Distance Formula, so a natural refresher is to ask students about the Pythagorean Theorem. From there, we can launch straight into Distance and get dee... wait, you've never been taught Pythagorean Theorem? A squared plus B squared equals C squared? NEVER?!

Geez, those 8th grade teachers don't do anything anymore.

After marching down the hall and preparing to confront last year's teacher for completely cutting out Pythagoras and his super-useful theorem, you realize that she*did* teach it, and spent two weeks on it. Damn.

Look, this happens for a lot of things in math class. Part of the blame is on the kids for not remembering; part of the blame is on the teachers for not creating an experience worth remembering; a bigger part of the blame, though, is that we don't spiral nearly enough. I mean, how can we? With all the standards to teach, things to cover, tests to administer...

It came to us that we*can* help by building a natural progression series. Take this handout:

Geez, those 8th grade teachers don't do anything anymore.

After marching down the hall and preparing to confront last year's teacher for completely cutting out Pythagoras and his super-useful theorem, you realize that she

Look, this happens for a lot of things in math class. Part of the blame is on the kids for not remembering; part of the blame is on the teachers for not creating an experience worth remembering; a bigger part of the blame, though, is that we don't spiral nearly enough. I mean, how can we? With all the standards to teach, things to cover, tests to administer...

It came to us that we

Here's how this would all work:

In Integrated Math I, the students would be handed this sheet of paper. As a group, or in teams, they would complete the function table. This would help them practice completing the table, apply the Order of Operations, and it would also allow them to see what will be coming up**next** in their academic career. Because, after they are done and the class has gone over correct answers, the teacher collects the handouts and sets them aside.

At the end of the year, the Integrated Math I teacher hands over a giant stack of student papers to the Integrated Math II teacher. When they get to their unit on graphing quadratics, the teacher hands out the document that students completed section 1 for from last year. This way, they will be reminded*through student work* that they completed function tables last year. Even if it isn't *their own writing* on the page, our hope is that it will trigger a memory. The students work as a group or in teams to complete the bottom section of the handout, then go over the correct answers before having the teacher collect all handouts and set them aside, handing them off to the Integrated Math III teacher for the following year.

On the other side of the handout is this:

In Integrated Math I, the students would be handed this sheet of paper. As a group, or in teams, they would complete the function table. This would help them practice completing the table, apply the Order of Operations, and it would also allow them to see what will be coming up

At the end of the year, the Integrated Math I teacher hands over a giant stack of student papers to the Integrated Math II teacher. When they get to their unit on graphing quadratics, the teacher hands out the document that students completed section 1 for from last year. This way, they will be reminded

On the other side of the handout is this:

To start the lesson in Integrated Math III, the teacher would allow the students to review the previous two students' work on the "front" side of the document. This would again refresh their memory that they completed a function table, then graphed quadratics. Next, we want the students to use the concept of function transformations on quadratics, but the review is sitting on the front of the page.

Students would work through the examples at the top of the page as a group or in small teams, then work on the bottom piece of the second half as a way of tying it all together.

This is the first example that we have come up with, and we want to make more. Ideally, we have one for each unit and students get accustomed to creating something that they**know** will serve as a bridge to something else, either forward, backward, or both. Also ideally, the students would have a place in their folder or notebook to keep all of these, then use them from year to year so that the teacher doesn't need to hold on to work for extended periods of time.

If that doesn't sit well, you could also take your favorite 35 (or however many students you have) and make copies of them for the following year. Either way, the goal is for students to see that**they have seen this stuff before** and get them to the content quicker than we currently do.

So now, my question to you: How do you see this being used in your grade level, if at all? How can I make this better?

**Happy "Progress" Fishing**

]]>Students would work through the examples at the top of the page as a group or in small teams, then work on the bottom piece of the second half as a way of tying it all together.

This is the first example that we have come up with, and we want to make more. Ideally, we have one for each unit and students get accustomed to creating something that they

If that doesn't sit well, you could also take your favorite 35 (or however many students you have) and make copies of them for the following year. Either way, the goal is for students to see that

So now, my question to you: How do you see this being used in your grade level, if at all? How can I make this better?

One big hurdle for me has always been the homework completion rate. Why aren't kids doing their homework when it is assigned?

During a discussion with one of my colleagues, I asked her if she had ever asked

"I get home at 4:30 and have to take care of my brother until my mom gets home (late at night). To be honest, I just don't have time by the time she gets there."

"My brother got admitted to the hospital after getting beat up at a party, so I've been at the hospital with him. I'll turn it in tomorrow."

"I have 5 classes and all of them give me homework, so I pick a couple and rotate so I don't go crazy."

"It was too hard in class, so I didn't even try."

"Well, to be honest, I'm failing Chemistry right now, so I needed to focus on that work. It's not like I didn't want to do it."

"Why do you care?"

I'm not going to dive into each of these responses. Instead, I am encouraging you to ask your students the same question. If you're having trouble with students completing your homework, and you're not ready to remove the practice altogether, it might be a good idea to find out why your students aren't doing it.

To help, I'll walk you through what I did:

Yep, that's it. And, believe it or not, a group of teens who felt like nobody ever listens to them opened up and shared the brutal honesty. There were other responses throughout the day, but the ones above are the ones that stuck out the most to me. In fact, they resonated so much that it was one of the deciding factors in me eliminating a homework requirement completely.

**So what's next?**

Rather than assigning homework that would be collected and graded, I offered voluntary practice sets. Much like a homework assignment, I would put the handout at the back of the room, the page number on the board, or post it to my online resource page. Much like a homework assignment, I told the students that I would give feedback on what was turned in. What is different, though, is that I didn't make it mandatory. It was recommended that students would try a few problems throughout the week, but I figured that those who could do the practice, would. Those who couldn't, for whatever reason, wouldn't.

I must say that it was**much** less stressful than trying to collect, grade, and enter 178 student papers every time I gave homework. So, selfishly, it was pretty awesome.

Was it perfect?

No. Of course not.

Was it better than what I was doing before?

I believe so.

If nothing more, it showed that I cared about their responses, and hopefully it showed that I cared about them.

Now, my questions to you: After asking your students why they don't do their homework, what did they say? More importantly, what are you going to do with their responses? How are you going to show your students that you care about the feedback they provide?

**Happy "Honest Feedback" Fishing**

Update:

Here are some featured comments from the Twitters

To help, I'll walk you through what I did:

- I sat down at the front of the room
- I told them that I was in need of some help
- I asked them to be honest
- I asked them why they weren't doing their homework

Yep, that's it. And, believe it or not, a group of teens who felt like nobody ever listens to them opened up and shared the brutal honesty. There were other responses throughout the day, but the ones above are the ones that stuck out the most to me. In fact, they resonated so much that it was one of the deciding factors in me eliminating a homework requirement completely.

Rather than assigning homework that would be collected and graded, I offered voluntary practice sets. Much like a homework assignment, I would put the handout at the back of the room, the page number on the board, or post it to my online resource page. Much like a homework assignment, I told the students that I would give feedback on what was turned in. What is different, though, is that I didn't make it mandatory. It was recommended that students would try a few problems throughout the week, but I figured that those who could do the practice, would. Those who couldn't, for whatever reason, wouldn't.

I must say that it was

Was it perfect?

No. Of course not.

Was it better than what I was doing before?

I believe so.

If nothing more, it showed that I cared about their responses, and hopefully it showed that I cared about them.

Now, my questions to you: After asking your students why they don't do their homework, what did they say? More importantly, what are you going to do with their responses? How are you going to show your students that you care about the feedback they provide?

Update:

Here are some featured comments from the Twitters

I love this! Ask 'em. I bet some of their answers will break your □. The after school lives of our kids have changed & so must we. #bpsne https://t.co/aZbaPbnLSz

— Lisa Olsen✨ (@LisaWatsonOlsen) October 6, 2017

Right on. Don't collect HW. Construct assmts that are open HW/notebook. It's important for Ss to see value in doing/referring to their work.

— Mary Gentry (@marylgent) October 5, 2017

Great perspective to add to the conversation and an impactful comment from @MrsNewell22 that shines light through the parent/educator lens. https://t.co/k60NytNEin

— Trish Kepler (@KeplerTrish) October 5, 2017

Love this! Asking my 5th grs their opinions helped me be a better T. They are honest & insightful.

— Laura Wagenman (@laura_wagenman) October 5, 2017

Talk about a reality check! This post is regarding teenagers but I assumed the elementary kids would have alarmingly similar answers. https://t.co/N11KYLBYmQ

— Katie Breedlove (@KatieBreedlove) October 5, 2017