How to Write Your Math Homework

Are you frustrated with the sloppiness or disorganization of math homework? Here are some tips to help your students.Have you ever gotten that homework with no name?

How about the homework with no page number or section number?

Many of my current students have serious issues with executive functioning – to the point that I’ve had to write out some specific instructions for them on how to write their math homework.

And since I was writing it down for them, I thought I’d share with you too.

Feel free to print them out in one of these handy forms:

Start with the basics.

If students have an assignment log, they should start with putting it in. They should include the date, details on the assignment and when it’s due.

They need to have paper they can work with – blank, gridded or lined, depending on their preference. But if there are holes and/or margins, those need to be properly oriented.

They should also begin with their name, the date and the title of the assignment.

Be consistent while working.

Students should number the problems using the same notation each time. If they start with a period after each number, they should continue this way.

They should limit the number of problems they do on each page. Problems (and students’ thoughts about them) need space to breathe.

Problems should start with the problem and end with a solution. Many students resist writing the problem. But this can lead to doing the wrong problem, misreading it or even frustration while looking back and forth from the book to the paper.

And for teachers and tutors, it’s especially annoying. If we can’t see the problem and what they’ve done so far on it, how can we know where to start helping?

Instead of asking students to “show their work,” ask them to organize any thinking they do. As they work, they tend to scratch and think on one paper and then write the answer nicely on the other. Organizing their thinking is a big step to being able to wrangle through higher math.

End each problem properly.

Often students don’t answer the question asked. I always enjoyed posing present value situations that ended with, “Can I afford to buy the car?” The answer is a simple yes or no. But students would often stop before answering the question.

Students should make sure they answer the question and it makes sense.

Also, if they circle the answer, that’s great. Provided they don’t circle the problem numbers in the same sized oval.

Finish up the problem set with a bang.

When students are done, they should gather all papers in order and staple them nicely. Any frayed edges of spiral bound paper should be cut off.

Their name should be on the front page and their initials, first name or last name should go on all other pages.

To end, they can log it into the assignment log and put it in a safe place until they can turn it in.

Do it!

Share the or with your students. And share the idea with your personal learning network (PLN) on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

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