Monday, July 2, 2012

The Homework Dilema and Manic Monday Freebie!

It is July, the month I let myself start thinking and preparing more about the next school year. I try to make myself take the last half of June off (usually without much success.) Today I am pondering the homework question....

I have tried many different ways of doing homework. I have done weekly packets, nightly homework and a calendar. I have done differentiated homework packets and challenge homework packets.

I am a Mom of two girls (going into 3rd and 6th) and will admit their homework assignments have been a reality check! In my perfect world a student will complete their homework, study for their test and read for 20-30 minutes every night. In my real world, we rush from school to gymnastics, dance or softball. Eat dinner in the car while rushing the other child to a different event. I would love to actually get a little exercise in for me (thought not likely.) We get home at dark, take showers then sit down to do homework. I make sure what has to be done is done before they go to sleep. I love, love, love packets because we can do more on a slightly less crazy night. I am so proud of how well my girls can now use their time wisely and will work on assignments before and after school in the classroom, in the car or the day before. Sadly I will have to admit reading is usally the thing that gets put off.

As a teacher, I want the homework to be meaningful for the students and not take me forever to put together or check. This past year, I used a "homework menu" where the students had several must-do's and then could pick from the other lists. Most assignments helped review for upcoming test and skills practice. There were several computer based practice methods and several that were not computer based. I think the students and parents like it. It was pretty easy for me to put together and I just checked it for completeness. The students could challenge themselves by completing all of the activities if they wanted too. I did "tweak" the menu every month or so. Homework is not part of their grade. However it is the kids who do not do their homework who score poorly on their weekly test.

Click on the image bellow to download the menu we used as a pdf. You can download the Word file here, but I don't know if the format will hold on your computer, but you can make the adjustments you may need.
I am interested to know, what do your do for homework in your class. Weekly or nightly? Do you grade it for correctness or completeness? Is it part of their grade. What are your plans for this year? I look forward to reading the comments and getting more ideas!

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  1. Hi, Theresa! I'm here via Manic Monday. I like your homework plan, particularly the fact that there are choices. We've used Everyday Math, and so are locked into daily math homework that's tied to the lesson taught that day. But for that, I'd surely go with the weekly option that you use, mainly because it gives busy families some options.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Linda Nelson
    Primary Inspiration

  2. I love this. I use to do spelling homework like tic tac toe! We just found out this summer that we are not to give homework next year. Only reading! I know some of my parents are going to flip.

  3. What a fantastic idea! It works for all families....this offers options for those families that want more homework (there's always a couple), and those that are super busy can organize it the way that works for their family. I teach Kindergarten, so homework in my class is mostly about about taking responsibilty for one's learning, I don't grade it, but I do check to see who brings it in.
    Thanks again, I can't wait to show this idea to my team!

    Sabrina Taylor

  4. I've done homework nightly, in part because I'm afraid with weekly packets, I'll procrastinate too much on grading! As I move up to 3rd, I haven't decided how I'm going to adjust things yet.

    I try to keep homework short and valuable, but with a couple of days in a certain format and a couple of days in whatever format we need that week. I don't require reading, but just encourage parents to read with their kids and let their kids CHOOSE books to read, and I encourage kids to talk to me and others about their reading at school, which I find helps.

    I really don't grade it, though- I have parents who let their kids do it completely on their own, and other parents who go back over it and make their kid correct it. That doesn't seem fair, and more importantly- it's not giving me any kind of assessment of what the kid knows, and so it's not worth having a grade on!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

  5. Homework is a tough thing to decide on. For my kinders I give them a packet at the beginning of the year with letters, numbers and sight words. As the year goes on and as I test, I will send home sheets with all of the items on it, the ones they know checked off and the ones to work on highlighted. After I get it going it doesn't take much time and it's not something that comes back for me to grade.

    Lovin’ Kindergarten

  6. at Jenny:

    Yes I stopped "grading" homework years ago. I also found after 4 years of teaching with homework weekly packets, that I feared they were sitting down Thursday night (or Monday night for that matter) and doing it all in one day. It bothered me because some of the homework (such as math and grammar)lessons weren't being taught until the day I put it on the homework. So guess what? That whole page was wrong and I spent many precious copies re doing it. after 14 years of teaching, I'm into the nightly homework (only two pages plus a reading log) to teach responsibility. I know families are busy but this way I can only hope they are also doing the flashcards each night as well instead of just on Thursday nights. Just a thought


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