Homework Ideas


Sigma's write on workbooks are designed to complement a teaching programme delivered at school.  If a learning programme is to be productive it must be:

  • well planned
  • well taught
  • well resourced

In this section of the web-site we will show you how incorporating Sigma’s write-on educational resources into your teaching programme as homework or study resources will prove worthwhile for both you and your students.  

Sigma’s write-on books are published in Maths and English. These essential core subjects are skills-based, and skills need to be practised if a high level of efficiency is to be reached. There is no way around practice; it reinforces classroom teaching and cements student knowledge.

As teachers, how do we know when essential skills are learnt and we can move on to a new topic? You can only be sure of this when students are able to successfully complete work independently of you, for example in a test situation. A homework programme also provides for independent work and gives everyday chances for students to show they understand new learning (or not). Getting this type of feedback daily and outside of the formal evaluation process is a big advantage. Problems are not hidden until bad test results reveal them, and teachers can revisit a lesson if homework feedback shows it to be necessary. This means solid progress can be made by the majority of the class before evaluation tasks.

If independent home study is advantageous to the learning process, why is it so often left out or given little real importance? We believe teachers are too busy planning lessons, creating class resources and creating a good working environment in their classroom (plus doing admin!) to have any time left over to build up an exciting, ‘curriculum correct’ homework programme which dovetails with their lessons. Sigma has done the work for you.

We provide interesting and challenging write-on workbooks, based solidly on the New Zealand curriculum, in both English and Maths. Sigma workbooks are written by experienced Kiwi teachers with many years of classroom experience. They are NOT repackaged Australian or British resources and proudly display their New Zealand references and illustrations so familiar to our children. Presenting our learning material in series of progressive workbooks means students can work sequentially from Year 3 to Year 13 using both Sigma Maths and Sigma English books.

Study Works, Sigma Helps

Further Benefits of Running a Homework Programme

We believe a homework programme using Sigma books has these additional benefits:

For Students

  • It teaches self-motivation
  • It teaches organisational skills
  • It establishes a regular study pattern
  • It cuts down copying - students feel their time is well spent on 'thinking' work
  • A complete book is a useful future reference resource and should be kept

For Teachers

  • A pre-planned homework programme frees up time for other work
  • It creates a body of sample work from each student
  • It gives a snapshot of the student's level of achievement in each strand of the curriculum
  • Pages can be used for student or class diagnostic purposes
  • The feedback logo on each page provides you with individual student feedback.

For The School

  • It cuts down the high costs (time & money) of endless photocopying of easily lost worksheets
  • It helps maintain an expectation of quality study time from students
  • It shows parents and the community your commitment to the basics of literacy and numeracy
  • It protects the school from copyright violation complications

For Parents and Caregivers

  • It provides a window on their child's progress
  • It is a welcome point of contact between school and home
  • It can be a focus for parent/teacher interviews
  • The practical questions show the applications of these skills-based subjects

The ACTION ENGLISH Workbook Series

This series of books provides homework based on the written language skills contained in the strands of the New Zealand English Curriculum. Chapters include Word Classes, Punctuation, Language Skills, Dictionary Skills, Spelling Skills, Written Language, Comprehension Skills and Research Skills.The books in this series and their curriculum levels are as follows:

Action English 8 Covers Level 5 of the curriculum   Year 10  
Action English 7 Revises Level 4 and begins Level 5   Year 9  
Action English 6 Covers Level 4 of the curriculum   Year 8  
Action English 5 Revises Level 3 and begins Level 4   Year 7  
Action English 4 Covers Level 3 of the curriculum   Year 6  
Action English 3 Revises Level 2 and begins Level 3   Year 5  
Action English 2 Covers Level 2 of the curriculum   Year 4  
Action English 1 Revises Level 1 and begins Level 2   Year 3  

The NCEA English Workbook Series
These books provide work based on the NCEA English course requirements for Levels 1, 2 and 3. Chapters are based on Achievement Standards at each Level. The books in this series and their Levels are as follows :

NCEA Achieving in English 3 Covers the NCEA Level 3 English course Year 13
NCEA Achieving in English 2 Covers the NCEA Level 2 English course Year 12
NCEA Achieving in English 1 Covers the NCEA Level 1 English course Year 11

The DRAGON MATHS Workbook Series
This series of books provides homework based on the numeracy strategies of the Number Framework and also the strands of the New Zealand Mathematics Curriculum. Chapters include Adding & Subtracting, Multiplying & Dividing, Decimals, Fractions, Measurement, Geometry, Algebra, Statistics and Processes. The books in this series and their curriculum levels are as follows :

NZMC Dragon Maths 6             Curriculum Level 4 / Number Framework Stage 7         Year 8
NZMC Dragon Maths 5             Curriculum Level 3-4 / Number Framework Stages 6-7         Year 7
NZMC Dragon Maths 4             Curriculum Level 3 / Number Framework Stage 6         Year 6
NZMC Dragon Maths 3             Curriculum Level 2-3 / Number Framework Stages 5-6         Year 5
NZMC Dragon Maths 2             Curriculum Level 2 / Number Framework Stage 5         Year 4
NZMC Dragon Maths 1             Curriculum Level 1-2 / Number Framework Stage 4         Year 3

The ON TRACK / FAST TRACK Maths Series
Chapters in these books are based on the NCEA Achievement Standards in Mathematics and Statistics. This is true for the Year 9 and 10 titles as well as for the higher level books. The full series and their curriculum/NCEA levels are as follows :

Fast Track 5M NCEA Level 3 Calculus & Maths AS Year 13
Achieving in Statistics NCEA Level 3 Statistics AS Year 13
Fast Track 4 NCEA Level 2 achievement standards Year 12 (able)
Fast Track 3 NCEA Level 1 achievement standards Year 11 (able)
On Track 3 NCEA Level 1 achievement standards Year 11 (mid-band)
Fast Track 2 Covers all of Curriculum Level 5 Year 10 (able)
On Track 2 Covers the basics of Curriculum Level 5 Year 10 (mid-band)
Fast Track 1 Starting Curriculum Level 5 Year 9 (able)
On Track 1 Revises Curriculum Level 4 & begins Level 5 Year 9 (mid-band)

The best way to encourage students to do homework is to make it an accepted part of the daily class routine. A common objection is that homework takes too much time. Sigma's write-on books take the tedious copying work out of homework and what remains is engaging mental exercise.

Start with a well thought-out homework routine, establish it early in the year, try to get all classes involved (remember the school-wide benefits and the hidden curriculum of a homework programme mentioned above) and seek support from HODs, DP, Principal, TICs, Syndicate Leaders and Parents.

Hints on Setting Up a Homework Programme

  • Always set homework at the same time during a lesson. The second half of the lesson is the best time as students see the relevance after receiving the instruction.
  • Make sure the students stop what they are doing and write down homework particulars. This is a valuable organisational skill.
  • Have a place on the board where the particulars (page number, due date, etc) are written down (modelling behaviour)
  • Establish routines with random door checks. Way out - to see if students are writing homework down. Way in – to see students have brought their homework books and done the set work.
  • Homework should be done outside the classroom. Leaving a short period of time between the lesson and the homework tests the ability to reproduce a learned skill and reinforces the learning. Discourage racing through classwork and starting homework in class time.
  • Vary both the amount of set homework and the time allowed to complete. Early on in the year a one-day time frame is best to establish routines. Later on, set 2 or 3-page homework assignments and give a larger amount of time to complete it. Time management is a skill all teachers should endeavour to teach but only after a basic routine is well established.
  • Make sure students are confident with the type of homework set. Remember, they will be working without teacher input.

When a teacher checks homework it sends signals to their students. It says ‘I am interested in you and your efforts’, ‘This work is important to the learning process we are both involved in’ and ‘Even though you do this work out of my sight, I expect you to give it your best effort’.

Hints on Checking Homework

  • If at all possible, check the homework on the day it is due. You expect students to complete the work by the due date; they expect you to check the work on the due date.
  • Place those students that have not completed their homework on a new completion date immediately.
  • You may choose to add an imposition task to the unfinished work but use your discretion. Some extenuating circumstances for incomplete homework could be embarrassing to talk about.
  • Don’t make impositions more school work. Your subject should not be seen as a punishment. Try some community work around the school.
  • Be consistent in your enforcement of standards. Inconsistency sends a negative message to good students as well as encouraging tardy ones.
  • Involve parents by getting them to ‘sign-off ' on the pages completed. Use parent/teacher evenings to encourage their role in the homework programme.
  • If nobody at home is available, step in and sign-off for students in the parent’s place.
  • Encourage student/teacher feedback as to the difficulty of the tasks – this may involve you revisiting the lesson topic.
  • Demand that students ‘give all homework a go’. Everything correct is not your prime goal; attempting everything, is – complete understanding will follow. This is a powerful learning strategy that builds student confidence.
  • Homework is a diagnostic aid to student learning and your teaching, not another chance to collect marks. If you leave mark collecting for formal tests, students will more readily approach you for help with work they had difficulty understanding.

We suggest that students learn to self-mark their homework. This will encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning. We also suggest that teachers view the marked homework each time and indicate this with their initials or perhaps the word ‘Seen’.

Marking should encourage and support the risk students have taken by ‘giving the homework a go’. By praising what they have got correct and doing a little reteaching of the incorrect work, homework marking becomes a positive learning experience for all. Collect 4 or 5 homework books each weekend and check them. Briefly confer with the students on Monday. This will enable you to get a clearer picture on individual progress.

Tests and exams are the true test of student achievement levels, and teacher marking and the recording of marks can be left for those occasions. We suggest students mark their own work as a lesson-starting activity. This gives teachers a chance to deal with students whose work is incomplete while the others are marking.

Student Marking Strategies

  • Place answers on laminated cards or overhead transparencies - store in the classroom.
  • Take the answers out of the Sigma books and staple together – name them and use these each lesson. The teacher stores the answer sheets.
  • Teacher reads out the answers as students mark their own or a neighbour’s work.
  • Post the answers on a class notice board – small groups mark at quiet times during the lesson.
  • Leave the answer sheets in the homework books and allow the students to use them as a teaching reference as the homework is done.

Adults understand that learning brings its own rewards in the long term. Children need more concrete and immediate rewards for their efforts.

Most schools will have an established reward and discipline programme, and homework should be part of this programme, as it influences the teaching environment. Positive reinforcement of desired behaviour is a powerful learning strategy. To not employ it is to make teaching a more difficult experience for both teacher and students.

Students should be recognised for two things: first and foremost, their willingness to learn or the ‘give it a go’ factor and secondly, all students should receive positive recognition for work they have managed to understand and complete correctly.

Hints on Rewarding Students

  • Make sure students know why they are being rewarded. Is it for effort, or excellence, or both?
  • Small, often and to as many students as possible is better than big, once a year and to the best students only.
  • Don’t trust a teenager’s negative reaction to praise. Almost all people like to be praised, even if peer pressure says you shouldn’t show that you’re pleased.
  • Finding something positive about all students which you can reward or praise will go a long way to breaking down an atmosphere of negativity towards learning in a classroom.
  • Perhaps the best learning environment is one in which the students are rewarded for effort and achievement but are also made responsible for their actions and know there are consequences for negative behaviour.

Using the Whole Book

  • Leafing through the whole book will give you a general impression of the student’s ability.
  • Looking at specific chapters will give you an idea of how the student is coping with individual strands of the curriculum.
  • Looking at specific pages will show you their understanding of the topics which make up each strand.
    Are the pages marked? Is the student self-evaluating? (motivation, self-evaluation).
  • Does the student ask for help? Find a section where many answers are wrong and try to recall if the student asked you for help with this topic?

Using the Homework Diary Pages

  • If the book has a Homework Diary section look for evidence that it is regularly used when homework is set (organisational skills).
  • Is the student involving their family/caregivers – is the homework signed off?

Using the Feedback Icon

  • If the book has feedback icons on each page, look for evidence that the student provides consistent teacher feedback on their efforts.
  • Match the icon feedback with the success rate of the work on that page. Does the student have a clear idea about their abilities? Combinations that need teacher attention are:

    'Thumbs-up' - but most answers wrong.
    'Thumbs down' - but most answers right.

    The first shows a student wishing to ‘gloss over’ their lack of understanding, while the second shows a capable student with low self-esteem or under strong peer pressure.

Using the Chapter Tests

  • The chapter tests are perhaps best used before a class test. An area often guessed at by teachers is the amount of preparation work done by students before tests. Having students complete the chapter test just before a class test, collecting the homework books as students enter the room for the class test and comparing class test marks with the results of the chapter test can provide revealing information on student effort.

Our slogan is ‘Study Works, Sigma Helps’.

Perhaps we should say

 'Teachers teach, students study...

...Sigma helps them both'.