Reflections and Resources from Tarheelstate Teacher: It's {almost} a Wrap! 2014-2015 Top 10 Highlights #9 Spiral Math Homework
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It's {almost} a Wrap! 2014-2015 Top 10 Highlights #9 Spiral Math Homework

9 more days of school! And time for #9 on my Top 10 Highlights of 2014-2015 countdown.

Spiral math homework...If you are not currently using a spiraled math homework program, I hope I can convince you to implement it by the end of this post. What is spiral math homework? Basically, it is a set of homework problems that include previously learned concepts (or pre-requisite knowledge from the previous year) and includes concepts that you are currently introducing. Spiral math homework is one strategy math teachers can use to ensure that students are constantly reviewing old skills while learning new concepts. Spiral math homework can provide the teacher with data for creating skills groups and differentiation (who needs review? who always does well on spiral homework and needs something more?), while it gives students who take a bit longer to learn concepts the opportunity to improve as they are exposed to similar problems again and again.

I would not say that spiral math homework necessarily shows up as one of my students' highlights from the year, but implementing spiral math homework is surely on my list of things that have increased my sanity {streamlined my homework planning} this year. I have heard from parents that they like that the homework provides review and is consistent each day and from week to week. Overall, they have a better idea of the expectations for their child's math learning.

Last school year, I found One Stop Teacher Shop's spiral math program and used it mid-way through the year with my 5th graders. When I transitioned to 4th this year, I knew the 4th grade spiral math program was something I would need and I picked it up during the TPT back to school sale. At the beginning of this year, I had trouble using it because some of the ways the concepts are presented are not necessarily the way my students learned them last year. {Not to say that the problems are inappropriate but that my students were not ready for them.} Fortunately, OSTS spiral math packs now come in an editable form and I was able to copy and paste together a number of math homework sets for the beginning of the year. Next year, I may be able to use it more often as I will target some of the problem types early on so that my students can complete the homework. One perk of OSTS spiral math homework is that it is formated so that the entire week (Mon-Thurs) fits on one page and each row focuses on the same concept. You can see where to target your teaching more clearly AND you have ALL week on one sheet of paper! I also liked that I could get ahead on math homework copies at the beginning of the year. Before the first week of school, I copied all of the first quarter sheets for my class. Even if I did not send all weeks for homework, I was able to use them for morning work or class work.

Later this year, I found Common Core Sheets and began using some of the free worksheets in math class. I discovered the "Daily Reviews Creator" and began using this feature to build my spiral math homework. I love MANY things about the Daily Reviews Creator, but the program does have some limitations. Next year, I am teaching 4th and 5th grade math (more on that later this summer!!), and I'm concerned that some of the question bank items won't be challenging enough for my 5th graders. However, there will be enough good review there for me to build quality homework and I will still use One Stop Teacher Shop's spiral math program. (It's nice to have choices!) Let me tell you more about Common Core Sheets "Daily Reviews Creator."











* Pick and choose from a variety of concepts (fractions, word problems, algebra, addition, multiplication, division, graphing, etc)
* It's Common Core aligned (it's helpful to see what is considered a 3rd grade vs 4th grade objective/question type)
* The program creates 5 quizzes (labeled "Monday-Friday") with up to 10 questions
* You may print each daily quiz with 2 days on each sheet (see pic above) or each day on individual sheets
* You can preview the problems in a grid as you choose concepts. If you do not like that set of
questions, you can click to generate different questions.
* An answer key is also generated
* Save as a PDF for future use!

1) I LOVE that the sheets are so organized. The problems and concepts are in the same order each day.
2) I love that I am able to save the file as a PDF. As I made the homework sets, I saved them with the date of the week. I can use the ones I have already created again next year.
3) When using Common Core Sheets for homework, I spend about 20 minutes on Monday making homework for the entire week! (If you are a "go-getter," you can get it ready on Fridays!) It is exhausting for me to think about math homework every-single-day and have to make a million copies from different resources. I love that I can think about our math homework once a week and have such an excellent set of problems ready to go in just a few minutes.
4) I DO NOT send home math homework on Fridays. So, what to do with an extra sheet of math homework? I often used the Friday sheet for an actual in-class quiz. Most likely, students have received assistance from parents on their homework throughout the week. This gives them an opportunity to show what they can do independently and gives you an easy way to assess and take a grade for the week.
5) ANSWER KEYS are automatically generated making it EASY to check in the mornings!
6) I really think students (for the most part) appreciate an expected structure for homework. Although I did not use spiral math homework 100% of our year, I would say 90-95% of our math came from One Stop Teacher Shop or Common Core Math sheets.
7) Since most of the review problems I include in homework are computation based, my students are encouraged to focus on ACCURACY. A student/parent can report that the homework is "too easy" but unless you have evidence that they are almost always 100% accurate, they need spiral math homework to develop control and accuracy over their math concepts.
8) Did I mention that Common Core Worksheets is FREE?!?!?! Such a great program for teachers offered for FREE. You can't beat that and you have all the control over generating your spiral math program!

Check in tomorrow for Highlight #8. It's a classroom goal setting activity that is LIFE CHANGING! <3 Don't miss my BONUS post of Math Highlights from this year that includes lots of pictures!
If you are visiting my blog from lifeloveliteracy.blogspot.com, I'm so glad you found your way to my new blog. Please go ahead and follow Tarheelstate Teacher on Bloglovin' so that you get all of my post updates.



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