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Sorting Homework

This activity requires students to make connections between the individual problems of the assignment.  We know these connections are important to really understanding the content, remembering it longer, and being able to transfer knowledge to new contexts.

Make one set of problem cards for each student.  Simply print on card stock and cut apart.  This example set goes up to 30, but use as many or as few as your assignment requires.

Pair this with Post the Answers or Partner Check.  Students check their answers on their assignment and then use a Post-It note flag to mark the number cards for problems they got wrong (red) or struggled with (yellow).

Then students consider the content of the assignment items and sort the number cards into groups.  For example, people, places, events.  One-step equations vs. two-step equations.  Problems with one solution, no solution, infinite solutions.  Characters, setting, plot, theme.  Events or facts leading up to the Revolutionary War, Revolutionary War, post-Revolutionary War.  You may have categories in mind or leave it totally open-ended to see how students are thinking about the content.

The thought prompts used with the Gallery Walk Homework Buster might be helpful to encouraging students to consider these connections.  

  • What is a strategy you used?

  • What is a resource you used?

  • What vocabulary terms/skills are important to this problem?

  • What other homework item is this problem similar to?

  • How are they similar?

  • If you gave this problem a title, what would it be?

  • How does this problem relate to something else you’ve learned?

  • What skills might someone need to already know to be able to do this problem?

  • What was a common error with this problem?

  • Why might you need this skill/knowledge outside of school?


Students may find it helpful to use resources like their text book, notes, designated web sites, etc to find out more about the content to be able to make connections.  How great--students having a reason to use their textbook or notes!  Students looking to find out more about the content!  Going beyond the assignment!

If a student feels a homework question belongs in more than one category, it is up to you whether you make them choose (or reconsider their categories) or include it multiple places.  There are benefits both ways.

This activity is similar to the Graphic Organizer and Six Degrees of Separation Homework Busters.  Those Homework Busters also require students to make connections between homework  problems.

When students have finished grouping their problems, they could take a picture of their groups, record their explanation, and post that to your Google Classroom.  You could walk around the room and talk to them about their categories, marking students who need additional practice on a roster.  Or you can have students complete this form.  Regardless, students found out what they got right and wrong, you're finding out who's got it and who doesn't, and students are going deeper with the content than a traditional assignment would.


-Students might try sorting words like, "These are short." Or "I know these and don't know these."  Although we know that's not where we want them to finish, use that as a place to start.  Say things like, "OK, if you don't know these words, here's a resource you can use.  Find out more about them and refine your groups."



-This activity can also be used as a Worksheet Buster for a deep, engaging in-class activity.

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