Seriously, homework is a pain in the neck for everyone. But here's what I'm going to do this year, I think.
Why don't you just give me the summary at the beginning of the post, instead of the end?
1. Accountability, moderately tied to grades, with open-notebook homework quizzes. You've seen these before from Sam and Kate.
2. Instead of handouts and worksheets, students get a link to a site with questions, answers and explanations. I happen to like RegentsPrep.org.
3. We don't spend a ton of class going over homework, but I do start the day with a Warm Up exercise with some problems that are pretty similar to homework.
Ok. Now, the details.
A. Students get a link to an online problem set: http://bit.ly/re2zfC. The problem set has solutions and explanations. Students are assigned some problems and are expected to answer the problems fully in a separate homework notebook.
B. I've got three students: Rachel, Jimmy, and John.
Rachel already knows how to do this stuff, and doesn't think that she needs the practice. She doesn't do the homework.
Jimmy doesn't know how to do this stuff, so he tries a problem. It's wrong -- the site tells him that -- and so he clicks around until he finds the right answer. Then he reads the explanation. He copies this into his notebook. Then he tries another, similar question. The hope is, now Jimmy might as well try it again, and he gets it right.
John doesn't know how to do this stuff, and John doesn't do the homework.
C. A couple times a week I spend 5 minutes at the end of class giving a HW quiz. The HW quiz can be on ANYTHING that has been assigned for homework since the beginning of the year. They're allowed to use their homework notebooks, and I tell them the date-assigned and number of the questions on the quiz.
Rachel does fine, since she knows the material. (Or she doesn't, and she realizes that maybe she needs more practice.)
Jimmy does fine, since he has his homework notebook to help. He sees the problem for another time, which is helpful for Jimmy.
John doesn't do well on the homework quiz. I try to figure out why, and then I try to help John.
D. I could even build in some meta-cognition into the homework quiz. Maybe, for each question, they're asked "Could I do this without my homework notebook?"
We'll see how this goes, but I'm more confident with this plan than with my non-plan from last year.