One of my goals for this year is to find new ways to increase student engagement. I'm not a huge fan of homework. I'm never sure who is actually doing the homework. Is it the student, or a friend, or maybe even a parent? I like to actually witness them practicing the skills they have been learning but I get bored of book work or when I use them too frequently. I have been trying to do an activity every 5-7 days where the students have an opportunity to practice what they have learned over the previous week. I like self-checking activities and I like activities where everyone has to be engaged. I prefer partner activities, but will sometimes do activites that require groups of four.
Here is an activity I tried this week called "Around The World". I learned this activity from a co-worker who used it a lot when she taught middle school math.
I made 16 cards with one or two problems on each card like this.
I cut apart each card and glued the card to a piece of colored card stock. I put the question on one side and the answer and steps to solve on the back.
I then arranged my desks in pairs. I used 13 stations for this particular activity. I placed the problem cards in a sheet protector and placed one at each station. My coworker hangs her problems around the room. Doesn't matter how you do it. I wanted my kids seated while they worked, and she doesn't mind them standing up all over the room.
I then gave the students two minutes to line themselves up by birthday. They had no idea why they were doing this, but when they were done, I used the order to assign partners. Each partner had to go to a station with a blank piece of notebook paper, calculator, and formula chart. The instructions were to work the problem they found at each station. Compare answers with each other and then check their answers on the back of the problem card. They had two minutes at each station. Every two minutes I would give them the signal to rotate and they all moved to the next station. I made them go in numerical order through the stations.
Knowing they were on a time limit seemed to keep them on task. They students seemed to enjoy getting to get up every few minutes to move to the next station. There was a little silliness going on, but I didn't mind too much. Overall, I feel I got more work out of them than had I just slapped a worksheet on their desk and said "Due by the end of the period, get busy".