Amna here from Teach Two Reach, coming to you this month with what I started doing in my classroom last year for homework and why I LOVE it!
I teach second grade and over the 8 years I've taught, I basically changed up my routine somewhat each year. I couldn't find something I loved and something that was really meaningful for students.
That's how it was until I came upon a blog series on homework from my favorite teacher blogger - Amanda Madden from Teaching Maddeness and Teacher's Clubhouse. She did a series of posts on her homework routine and once I got her products, I was hooked. I'm going to share with you a little what I implemented from her and how I added my own modifications in there to work for my kiddos.
So Amanda has this great program called TEAM homework. She gives students a checklist of weekly homework items that can be done and basically it is up to the students to do the amount of homework they think they need to do, with the guidance and input of their parents, to work on the concepts of the week. As they do the possible homework assignments listed for each day, they c heck mark off the assignments they've completed. At the end of the week, she collects the logs and counts up the checkmark. The class has to work as a TEAM to get a specific number of checkmarks. If they don't because some kids completely slacked off and didn't do anything, they don't get the whole class incentive. The students don't want to let their classmates down and so they do homework that is beneficial to them. The good thing about this is that there is virtually no homework collecting and checking. She also uses math games with a deck of cards as "math homework." And she has a spelling program as well that uses weekly words hung on a ring and students have different options to practice their words throughout the week, however they see fit to help them learn the words for the test. You can check out her fabulous posts in more depth HERE.
Now, this is how I've used her materials with other materials to make homework work for my kiddos and to work with parents who were worried that some of their kids never wanted to do any homework if they thought it was an option.
First, I got these editable homework logs from Teaching with Love and Laughter. Click HERE to see them. Every Monday, I would give the students this log with the homework items that were optional and the homework items that were mandatory. I really really wanted to do it Amanda's way of not making much of anything really mandatory, but I saw some kids were trying to get away with no homework ever. And some parents complained of the whole optional thing. So I mixed and matched. I would hand this log out and write "mandatory," next to the assignment that must be done that day. The rest of them were optional - to do as they saw fit in order to be prepared for class.
I made a 1 minute fluency read mandatory every day. I would check this in their folders each morning to make sure it was done and if the day wasn't completed, I circled it - so I remembered at the end of the week, who completed their reads every day and who didn't to grade for homework effort. I used Tamara Russel's Differentiated Fluency for Seconds.
I also ripped out the math series homework workbook pages for each chapter at the beginning of the new unit and stapled them to send home with each child. I would put a reminder on most days of the weekly log to complete a certain number of pages by the end of each week so students could keep up with the lessons and parents knew what was happening in math every day. But I didn't collect or check these packets. This was for their practice at home and if a parents ever sent back a note saying that their child didn't remember how to do something, I would see it in their homework folder and go over the topic with the child individually. But most of the time this packet was just used as a "refresher," for them at home because every day at the beginning of each math period, we would always do a review anyway of the previous day. Going over homework pages and wasting 10 of my 42 minutes of math was not going to work for me anymore.
For SPELLING- I used Amanda's Differentiated Spelling for 2nd. After the pretest on Monday, I highlighted whether they got List A or List B and attached the new spelling card on the ring. This way, they always had their words to practice throughout the year. I also sent a spelling "Bingo," chart of various activities students could do throughout the week to practice the words. Again, I didn't check these but of course students who didn't practice saw their low scores on the test and I could tell, so that way I would talk with them to discuss what was happening. Students and parents figured out how much to practice the words at home based on their needs.
For math optional homework, aside from the workbook pages to do at their own pace, I used her Dealing with Math Homework pack. These were different games students could play with siblings and parents that reviewed the concepts we were learning in class. Students loved this!
I also used Amanda's monthly writing calendars to send home a calendar at beginning of the month that had a tons of writing prompts students could use to do writing practice at home. This was also an optional activity but students who wrote at least once during the week, would get a small treat on Friday.
For reading, I would put down to read at least 10 minutes each day. I had a reading program where students would color in a book on a sheet for every book they read. Once they read a certain number of books, they would win a class coupon. Again, students were accountable for their own reading time. Checking and collecting reading logs was something I've always done in the past, but I don't think it provided any benefit or did much other than make students dread reading.
Using this homework routine cut my homework checking time wayyyy down. On Friday, I would only need to collect their fluency logs, check the writing prompt from the week if they did one, and collect the homework log.
The homework log was very important. Parents had to sign it before I collected it on Friday. Students would check mark off what they did for each day. We counted the check marks on Friday and if we reached 100 marks all together, we would get a treat- whether it was a fun video, or 5 minutes extra recess, or a fun activity. If we didn't make 100, I could see the students who didn't participate as much with their homework, and they saw the class was let down, so sometimes this helped them do better the following week.
This routine made students feel responsible and accountable and it totally worked in my classroom!! It also allowed them to have those "busy," days where they don't find time to do anything because of family plans. They could always catch up throughout the week at their pace.
Thanks for reading through!
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