A "DIY" Homework Routine



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!

I would love for you to visit me on my personal blog!

Homework: The Great Debate!


Ah, the great debate...HOMEWORK! It's Kim here from For a Love of Teaching, and before I continue I must explain a little bit about myself. I'm no longer a classroom teacher. This past summer I accepted the position of Technology Facilitator at my school. However, I taught 3rd & 4th grade for 14 years where I assigned homework on a regular basis. So, I do feel that some homework is essential in establishing self-discipline and independent study skills in students.

Homework tends to be a love/hate relationship for teachers, parents, and students. Parents either hate homework and complain about it, or they love it and beg for more. In my school district, we have a homework policy that helps clarify general expectations for students, parents, and teachers. It explains the reasons teachers may assign homework. It gives "suggested" minimum amounts of time students should spend on homework, and it provides ways parents can support their child's learning environment at home.

When I taught in the classroom I always tried to follow the time chart. As a parent, I know how limited time at home in the afternoon can be.


I knew that assigning the right kind and right amount of homework was important. I knew that homework needed to be based on the application of concepts learned in the classroom. I also knew that it needed to be goal oriented with timely feedback provided for students.

When I taught 4th grade, I required nightly reading and students recorded their reading on a reading log that was checked daily. Students were also given a spiral review of weekly math (Math 4 Today) to complete that was given to students on Friday and due the next Friday. It was also essential that 4th grade students master multiplication facts 0-12 in order for them to be successful in math. For the first semester of school, students were required to practice memorizing multiplication facts at home. All three assignments we're goal oriented with reading and math goal charts were kept at student's desks, in their binders, and/or displayed in the classroom. Timely feedback was provided and rewards were given for successful completion at the end. 


As a teacher, I strongly believe that the love for reading starts early. I ALWAYS required nightly reading at home even when I gave breaks with weekly math homework. I encouraged it over holidays and highly recommended it during the summer months when our students were not in school. I always sent home this visual as a reminder to parents about how important reading is at home. You can download it for FREE in my store!


I think the biggest issue with homework is that some teachers don't think about the objective of the homework assignment before giving it to students. I've seen this happen time and time again with my own children. I think, as teachers, we have to ask ourselves:

1) Is it meaningful? 
2) Can it be completed independently?
3) Is it the right amount? How long will it take to complete?
4) Is it based on concepts learned in the classroom?
5) Is it manageable for the teacher and student?


How do you feel about homework? Do you give it? If so, how much? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Homework in Pre-K!




A new grade level has brought many changes to my homework routine. This year, my grade level sends voluntary homework on Monday and the kiddos have until Friday to bring it back. Our homework is usually a print and go from TPT. When they bring it back, they receive a sticker to add to their sticker book. Y'all, stickers in Pre-K are a BIG DEAL! Almost all of my kiddos bring back their homework so they can earn a sticker. (I honestly don't see the big hype but I'm glad it works!)
I also slip in some practice throughout the week using my weekly newsletter. I was introduced to smore.com to create a weekly newsletters at the beginning of the year and it has been a lifesaver! Every week, I take about 10 minutes to write the newsletter, add a few websites that kiddos can use if they'd like extra practice, and Youtube videos that we will be using for the week. My parents have LOVED it and my kids talk about singing our songs to their families. I highly recommend Smore
Last but not least, the final tool in my homework toolbox is ESGI. I can't even begin to describe how much I love ESGI! I can differentiate my homework easily by sending home flashcards of letters that my kiddos need to work on. My homework routine is super simple, but has helped me bridge the gap between home and school. 

Here's what my weekly newsletter looks like: 
                                                          Miss Faught's Weekly Newsletter
Please look at Smore! It's free and has really helped me share more tools that parents can use at home.

Responding To Requests For More Homework (Core Inspiration by Laura Santos)

In my ideal teacher world, the school day would be longer and homework would be eliminated. Unfortunately that world is not yet a reality...but there are big changes being made in our district that give me a strong hope. In the mean time, homework in my classroom is very straight forward.

Our Homework Routine 

Each afternoon, my students fill out their homework planner, which consistently lists the following assignments:
  • Reading: 20 minutes or more each night
  • Math: problems that correlate to the skill taught in class that day. On the back side of their homework assignment are the problems they completed successfully in class. If they ever doubt their ability to solve their math problems at home, they can simply flip the page over and see a visual reminder that they can do it. It's a built-in confidence booster. 
  • Work Work: Students select one activity from our Wacky Work Work Menu nightly. 
  • Other: This is where students record reminders if they need to bring items to school the following day. For example: "Wear P.E. shoes tomorrow" or "Bring library book tomorrow". Their parents also receive a text via Remind for these notes. 

I have the benefit of working at a school where parent participation is extremely high. I am so grateful for this because I know when my students head home each night, they will be asked follow up questions about their day, be given time to read each night, and have someone there to answer any questions they may have about homework.

Responding To Requests For More Homework

One challenge of working with highly-educated and supportive parents are the multiple requests for additional homework. My response to these requests is as follows:

Your child has spent six hours or brain power learning new academic skills and enriching their education. When they get home, they need time to unwind, time to focus on reading for pleasure, for exploring their hobbies and interests, and most importantly, time for outdoor exploration. If you want to further enrich your child's already highly-enriched education journey, provide them time to do these things.


So far, that response has worked like a charm. It's what I truly believe in my heart and I think sharing that with my parent community helps them feel connected to my teaching philosophy. Hopefully it continues to work until the day I can finally do a happy dance because homework has been eliminated completely! Fingers crossed. :)

To learn about more about my teaching philosophy and take a peek at other daily routines in my classroom, visit Core Inspiration by Laura Santos.

Homework - A SPECIAL GIVEAWAY!!


When I taught 3rd grade, our team discussed how we wanted to handle homework for the year. We agreed on a weekly homework packet that included some math, spelling, and reading activities. We actually sent the packets home on Friday, and they were due the next Friday. Many parents requested having a weekend to do the homework since they were so busy during the week.

I am not a fan of hours of homework everyday, but I do think a small amount is good to give parents a chance to connect with their kids and see what they are learning in class. However, we all know that some families are just super busy, and really might not have the chance to work on even a small amount of homework every night. So, I'm a big fan of the weekly packets. Students can work on a little each day, or double up some days if they need to.

Which brings me to our fabulous GIVEAWAY! Alexis from Laugh Eat Learn has donated some of her awesome homework packets to be given away to a lucky winner!

3rd Grade Weekly Homework Packets: Fall Bundle! GROWING


These packets are such a time saver, and also a paper saver, since they use half sheets. You can read all about why Alexis created these and how she uses them with her own class on her blog HERE!

To enter to win her 3rd Grade Weekly Homework Packets: Fall Bundle, just enter the rafflecopter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you'd like to try a sample of her packets, you can download this freebie HERE!

3rd Grade Weekly Homework Packet: Sample!

www.mrsthompsonstreasures.com

Intentional & Effective Homework (Angie from Lucky Little Learners)

Ah, yes, the great homework debate!  Hey everyone, it's Angie from Lucky Little Learners and I am here to talk to you about my view on homework.  Now, let me back up a bit and tell you that I teach 2nd grade in Minnesota and me being a primary teacher will need come into consideration while you're reading this post.

I'm just going to come out and say it, I'm not a huge fan of homework...the way it has been traditionally assigned!  Let me explain...  Ask yourselves these questions:


Is it fair?  Is it accurate?  Is it specific?  Is the feedback timely?  I have been doing a lot of research on homework lately and I have stumbled upon a lot of interesting information.  A lot of my information comes from Douglas Reeves.  He is the founder of Creative Leadership Solutions and can be found on Twitter by clicking HERE.

In my classroom, the only homework I assign is reading.  My second graders are expected to read at home every night.  I use Remind to tell parents what learning target we are addressing so they can pull that into their child's nightly reading homework.  For example, this week we have been working with fiction story elements so I took a picture of my anchor chart and texted it to my families.  Then I encouraged them to ask their child about the characters, setting, problem, and solution after reading at home.  We continue to spiral this focus into the school day as well.

 I think the biggest challenge I face when it comes to homework isn't the kids, it's the parents.  It's so hard to please them all.  Some parents think homework is essential and some prefer a teacher NOT sends homework at all.  Being a teacher that isn't a big homework advocate, it's going to be my focus to educate parents on the research and findings that I come across in an effort to better educate them on the WHY's instead of just saying "That's what I believe."  What do you assign for homework?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!





Homework in Kindergarten {Alex from The Kindergarten Connection}

Homework can be a highly debatable subject in the education world! Just as there are parents who love it and parents who don't, there are also teachers who love it and teachers who don't!

What to do? 
\

In all honestly, as a teacher, I am not a huge fan of homework, especially not for full day kindergarten students. Now that many kindergarteners attend school all day, 5 days a week, I feel like they really need to go home after a long school day and just PLAY. Go outside, run, jump, yell, and spend time with family. 

I do also understand that sometimes it can be helpful to set up "school night routines" and I also know that reading at home is crucial to early literacy.

So, my version of homework is "School to Home Book Bags!" 


I used to send home a nightly reading log. However, while some parents filled it out, there were many who forgot, or it got lost, eaten, left on the bus - you name it. 

Plus, after awhile, they just weren't that FUN. For some classrooms they are - but mine were losing their touch! 

I needed something to motivate kids to read at home and encourage their parents to read to them as well. 

My teacher next door told me about take home book bags, and I was hooked!


Each school day, the kids may take home ONE book from the classroom. I know what you may be thinking at first. "EEEK! My books! They may lose them!!" I have not had that happen yet.

They are not allowed to borrow another until they return the previous book, so they are very motivated not to lose them!

However, if you have a limited selection of books, there are sites like Reading A-Z that you can print books from and avoid the issue altogether.


Each student gets a ziploc bag with their name (cheap and easy to replace if they rip, etc) to store their book. They also get a reading log that their parents can help them fill out with the date and name of the book they read (it can be one from home or the library too)


The reading logs always stay inside the bag. They get changed out monthly.

My kids may change books every single day, every other, or however often, but they may only have one book out at a time.


I have found this to work very well for my class. I have some students who may not have a lot of books at home, or need an extra bit of motivation to get interested in reading with mom or dad.

This provides a boost of excitement, and parents also like it because they get to experience new stories with their children.

Plus, we know how important it is that kids are reading and being read to!

You can download your own copy of the book bag from HERE if you are interested!


Homework, To Give or Not to Give... {KookyKinders}

 

Homework in kindergarten can be a tricky subject. Some parents beg for it others are offended by it. As an educator I see the benefit of nightly homework.  

I use an amazing Homework Pack from the amazing Kelsey from Aloha to Second. Its editable, easy to use and follows my reading series. I love that my students can complete the independently. 

Kindergarten Homework Pack 2015-2016.

In addition the the nightly homework, I ask that my parents read with their child for at least 20 minutes each night and record it in a reading log.  Students who complete the reading log each month get a trip to the prize box.

Each month I send home a family project from my Monthly Family Project Pack.

 Monthly Family Projects

I love to see the creative things that my students come up with. 

 http://kookykinders.blogspot.com/

 http://kookykinders.blogspot.com/

http://kookykinders.blogspot.com/
Gingerbread Elsa
http://kookykinders.blogspot.com/.
 Racer Gingerbread Man
 http://kookykinders.blogspot.com/


Homework is an important part of a students educational experience. I think that it is beneficial and necessary. 

http://kookykinders.blogspot.com/
 

Homework... to give or not to give? {Stephany from Primary Possibilities}


Homework.... always a hot debate with teachers, parents, and even students.  No matter your opinion or take on homework, you will never make everyone happy.  You have to find the perfect balance for your classroom and for yourself.  This year I chose to go with a Reading Folder as my daily homework.  I looped with my students from last year and knew that their biggest need was reading fluency.  Because of this, I chose to make this the main focus of my homework.  

I included these great literacy handouts in my homework folder.  I printed them on colored paper to emphasize their importance and have the students keep them in their reading folder.  They include awesome tips for parents and students to use while reading at home.  


These are from a great FREE resource from Primary Punch.  You can click on the image below to go grab it up! 


In addition to the literacy handouts, I include a Daily Reading Log.  Students record the date, title, their feelings about the book and if they are ready to take an AR test over the book.  Once we got rolling with this in the morning, it was awesome!  The students are learning how to choose books that are appropriate and interest them.  They are also learning to be responsible by filling out their reading log and switching out their book each day. 



  (You can click on the image below to download the reading log for free!)



How do you use homework in your classroom?


Homework, To Give or Not to Give... {Aloha to Second}


Homework, homework, homework.  Everyone has different opinions about homework.  I hope you can find my information helpful!

At my first teaching position, I gave homework each night.  I created a Kindergarten Homework Pack.
  I created it in order to help myself stay organized for the year.  I wanted to make sure that I was hitting all of the standards and providing my students with a variety of homework pages.  I tried to make this packet as easy and useful as possible.  I absolutely love it and got great feedback from parents. 



I print off this fun cover and staple it to the front of a folder.  You could even add your name (the teacher) on the star so if it gets lost they know who to return it to!

  There are calendars available for each month of the school year (mid-August to June) within the packet.  This allows you to stay organized and provide parents with an outline of the month's teaching points.  I like to place the calendar on the inside of the folder.  This way, parents know what to expect each week (and it helps me remember what goes home!).

I just staple the calendar inside the folder.  You could also use folders with the three rings and place a page protector on it.  Then, put the calendar inside the page protector. 

There are also editable calendars for you to adjust!  Yes- I said EDITABLE!  I know that some of you have different schedules throughout the year, so you can adjust some of the assignments.  I made over 160 assignments so that you can place them where you want them and even remove some if you would rather use a different assignment!  There are two different editable options within the pack so that you can pick what meets your needs.

Examples of homework pages

I do not give homework on Fridays - just Monday-Thursday.  The homework assignments are only 1 worksheet a night.  They cover reading, writing, and math curriculum.  The style of the homework is also repetitive so that your little kinder students can complete the assignments without parent help if necessary.  



Examples of homework pages

I know that Kindergarten seems too young to give homework, but I feel that it really helps them become more responsible.  My students also loved getting homework because they felt like "big kids." 

Examples of homework pages


Now for some of my Reading Wonders users - this homework calendar follows the Kindergarten Reading Wonders curriculum.  When the letters of the alphabet are introduced, as well as the sight words - this homework packet follows the calendar!  But, as I said there are editable calendars so that you can make adjustments to follow your class needs if necessary.  Therefore, you do NOT have to have Reading Wonders for this packet to be useful.
Here is another great deal - I will update the calendars each year!  Once you've purchased the product, you get an update for free.  Woo hoo!  :]  We always want to try and make our jobs as easy as possible, and I am here to help you!


I reward my students for completing their homework by allowing them to write their name on a ticket and place it in a jar.  At the end of each month I draw out 3-4 names (depending on how many points I have on Scholastic) and those students win a book.  The kids LOVE this, and they even get excited to just put their name in the jar.  Its a quick reward and doesn't cost me any money. :]

As for my new school, I am not allowed to give homework in kindergarten.  I am not totally opposed to this, but my kids ask me daily if they can have homework.  I agree, they are little and should stay little.  However, if they are eager to learn more, then why not?  Plus, I think one 5 minute page each night is not a big deal.  I also didn't make homework mandatory so if the kids were busy one night it was no biggie if they didn't bring in their homework the next day.  

As I said, my new school doesn't allow homework.  However, we have a school wide goal to read 23,000 books this year.  Therefore, my kids are reading books each night.  I send home a book bag with a book and reading log.  The kids fill out the log each night (with parent help) and we track the number of books they read at school to help us reach our goal.

You can find a copy of my reading log here!  I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you have found something useful on my post that you could use in your classroom. :]