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ERIC Number: EJ1044167
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Mar
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0025-5769
Algebra Homework: A Sandwich!
Jackson, D. Bruce
Mathematics Teacher, v107 n7 p528-533 Mar 2014
At a time when the debate continues over whether homework is overused, optional, or essential or favors well-off students over those with little home support, teachers must understand ways in which effective homework strategies can help narrow the achievement gap. Vatterott (2009, p. 94) argues convincingly that the "old paradigm" of difficult, grade-affecting homework "creates practical and motivational obstacles that converge to form the perfect storm for student failure" for those who do not fit the traditional mold of well-prepared student and supportive family. To make a homework system productive for all students, it must encourage mathematical thinking and skill development; provide useful, nonjudgmental feedback; enhance student responsibility for learning; help students self-assess without advertising weakness; and promote student self-confidence and motivation for learning. The homework-as-sandwich system does all these things. In much of what educators must currently do in this standardized test-dominated era, answers have greater weight than the thinking behind them. This is not the case in Ms. Warburton's classes. With both problem and answer given, completing homework is a bit like solving a maze. Students know where to start and where to end, so they try promising mathematics paths until one works. No one snickers when a student takes a wrong turn or retraces steps. Feedback is prompt and private--gone is the fear that tomorrow's homework check will reveal an embarrassing misstep in a student's thinking. Not being able to figure something out is an expected part of learning; instead of hoping that no one will notice, students can take the initiative and ask for help. This article describes one teacher's implementation of this approach and the student achievements that occurred as a result.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A