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Tool: Managing class time for homework in mathematics

“Homework Time” is a staple in many mathematics classrooms from the time at the start of each lesson for reviewing the previous night's assignment up until the end of class where teachers usually give 15-20 minutes for students to begin the next assignment. This tool will help you determine what sorts of routines around homework are optimal for your class.

Issues to consider first

  • What purposes can homework serve for students?
  • What do you want homework to do in your classroom (on an average day)?

1. Rank these homework purposes from 1-10 where 1 is most important to you.

_______ Repetition and application of the day's learning
_______ New ideas
_______ Anticipate the next day's lesson
_______ Challenge
_______ Incorporate practice from earlier lessons/units
_______ Extend the day's lesson
_______ Assess student learning or progress
_______ Promote responsibility
_______ Other: _________________________________

2. Consider whether the class time allocated to each of the two homework-related activities is justified.
How long is your class period? ___________


Last night's homework check
(typically start of class)

Time to begin new homework
(typically end of class)







Which purposes from item #1 does it best support?



3. Based on your answers thus far, which is more important to you—homework checks or time to begin homework in class? Is each activity worth a significant portion of class time?


Last night's homework check

Time to begin new homework

What portion of your class period would you ideally like to spend on each practice? (Remember lesson activities should be the bulk of your class time).



4. What are some management strategies you can implement to achieve these time goals and maximize the productive aspects of homework?


Last night's homework check

Time to begin new homework

Keeping on schedule



Keeping students actively engaged






Promoting autonomy



Providing assistance