Her first post was about how to get students to do their assignment. I can't say that I have a magic bullet answer, but I can share what I have done. My classroom is fairly traditional - warmup, new lesson, start on the homework. But a few years ago, I was very frustrated with the "start on the homework" part because kids did not use that time wisely - they were tired after 45 minutes of math and wanted the last ten minutes to chat. So I changed my lesson structure to use that 10 minutes within my teaching. I gave them opportunities for independent practice within the teaching time or at the end of the lesson, would put 3-4 practice problems on the board for them to work in the notes. It worked! Kids who before would use that time to visit with their peers, now saw it as part of the daily lesson. They didn't have to dig out textbooks, etc - it was readily available to them. I would put the answers on the board so they could self-check and I walked around monitoring and answering questions. I'm sure some of you are thinking "Well, DUH!", but for me, this was a revelation. I had always done/seen it done as the traditional, get out your book and start working, so for me, this was eye-opening.
Another part of @lmhenry9's post asked about "practice days" - those days when your kids need another day to practice before going on. She expressed frustration that many kids would not work on those days, choosing instead to chat or work on other classes. I know many of us have had that same frustration! Several years ago, I taught an Algebra Lab class. These were kids that had not had mathematical success and many of them had failed or been held back at least once in their lives. In fact, sad to say, several of them did end up dropping out eventually. Of the kids that stayed in school, many of them ended up transfering to our alternative high school. But, during the year(s) that I taught that class, at least most of them were able to achieve some measure of mathematical success. I've since used those same methods with my on-level and advanced kids and they work.
Some of these methods will be familiar to you. Some of them you've probably seen on ILoveMath (which actually came about as a result of that Algebra Lab class). Some of them I've stolen and tweaked from other people. But they all have one thing in common - it's not a traditional worksheet. For some reason, when my students get a worksheet, they shut down. But if I put that same information in a different format, they soak it up... go figure!
The Bottom Line....
I'm not saying that the ideas above are fool-proof. I still had kids that didn't want to work. But, just having something a bit different worked for a vast majority of kids. Sometimes it was more work up-front, like with laminating and cutting and such, but often times these ideas can be done fairly quickly by just cutting and pasting a worksheet.
These are some links to blogs, etc that I've picked up along the way. Enjoy!
Chase the Rainbow game
Add Em Up Review Game
Poker Chip Test Review
Ghosts in the Graveyard Review
Bingo-like Review Game
Colored Folders Review Stations
Math Hunt Game
Matching Card Games