Turn Homework into Presentations With Google Apps

I realize the title of this post may not sound interesting. Throw "homework" into the title and I'm sure to half what was left of my interested readers and send them to other writers with post titles including the phrase "21st century" embedded into it.

Homework is one of the most contentious issues in education. How much, how often, open ended answers or one only, to grade or not, how do I find the time and should I have penalties all make it a hot potato. I think all teachers use assignments to support learning but how they follow up with this varies considerably. I tend to prefer a flipped classroom model with assignments outside of class to front load learning activities in class. Here is a sample:

Homework for 9.4-Variability
  1. Watch videos #1, #2, and #3 of pages 476-478 of your online textbook.
  2. Write definitions for the following terms: variability, quartile, box-and-whisker plot.
  3. Explain how to the find the first and third quartiles of a data set. Notes example #1
  4. Draw a "box and whisker plot" and label which parts of it correspond to measurements. For example, where is the median, smallest and largest values, first and third quartiles.
  5. Make an argument. Who is a better quarterback: Brett Favre or Dan Marino? Look at the data chart on page 478 and try to persuade others based on the data. 
Snipping key problems from the assignments provides for cooperative learning opportunities.
I've started using Google Drawings for group investigations in the math class and as my class has gotten more adept at managing these tools, I've found that they can easily be used for homework debriefs.

Students present on a homework problem in pairs. Groups rotate through every third lesson.

A google drawing is a great debriefing tool for such tasks. Giving all students viewing but not editing rights, small groups were able to make a copy, share it with me and present one part of the assignment to the class. In the case above, problem #2 is easier and #5 is higher application. Instructions were left as a comment.

I use a tracking sheet and note which students have presented a problem to the class and ensure that every student has presented at least once per unit. Presentations are no more than 1 or 2 minutes and are peppered around a lesson and varying levels of difficulty allows students to choose a problem that is geared for their understanding and thus differentiated by readiness.

Time Management
All in, the whole process takes 10 minutes. 5 minutes to prepare a presentation and 1-2 minutes for presenting from each group. (2-3 groups is ideal, but 1-2 maybe more appropriate if you're under strict time constraints)  Information that may have been omitted I usually add on during the students presentation so we have easy references and resources which we can refer to throughout a lesson and make available for review later.

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