After scouring the internet, reading tons of books, and using my own bag of tricks, Calendar was born. And, if you follow my blog, you know I LOVE Calendar. But it just wasn't enough. The kids needed more practice then even Calendar could provide. Word problems, higher level computation....
So I decided that their homework was what needed to change. I took a complete departure from everyone at my school and created a spiral homework. It was 10 problems a day, not of what we just learned, but of EVERYTHING that we learned. The kids were constantly seeing the same style problem over and over and over. Their skills were always being refreshed....and it worked like MAGIC!
So when I moved to 4th, and then to 5th, I took this style homework with me. And every year I create sheets like this, my students math scores soar. Because nothing is being forgotten, the kids are always practicing those basic skills they need. I can honestly say that because of this homework (and Calendar) if I don't get to a lesson in math that day...I STILL FEEL OK! I know all of the standards are covered and I simply DO NOT EVER stress about math. Ever.
Doing homework this way has the added bonus of freeing up some time to do all of those concept lessons that I like to do. I get the kids thinking about math processes, instead of always worrying about the rote memory of it all. It really is amazing what one little 10 problem page can do.
However, doing the work isn't enough. The key to this is that every.single.day, without fail, we go over the homework. I have it worked into my math block (just 10 minutes) to go over the problems. I don't teach during this time, I just show the students how to do the work, with their help at times, on the ELMO and then they take it home to study for later. This review of the problems is what makes this homework better than anything I have done before. If they kids didn't get it at home the night before, they get it when we go over it. Then, when they see a similar problem on a homework that week (or the next or the next) they *do* get it.
I really just love this whole part of my classroom. I think...KNOW it works and it helps me room to run so smoothly.
I know at this point you are probably sold (I seriously love this...it is my favorite thing I have ever created. Ever. Simply because of the value it holds in my classroom.) If you are interested in having it in your own room, I have sets for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade.
I realize this isn't super cheap, but it is worth every.single.penny that you spend. I honestly and truly believe that. It will help you to run your math block smoothly and keep you on target. (oh and it comes with an answer key too :)