Thursday, November 3, 2011

Homework... To assign or not?


Is it worth the effort of assigning?
Are they even going to do it?
Most of my students have bigger problems at home.
Is this going to use up all of my copies?
Great... one more thing to grade.

These were always my thoughts when it came to homework. So, my first couple of years teaching I did not assign homework. I used the ol' "Whatever you don't finish in class is homework" motto. This didn't work all that well because most students that did not finish their work in class, weren't going to take the time to do it at home. It just disappeared into the black hole of their pockets, never to be seen again. Therefore, resulting in me making additional copies for them. Yuck!

However, this year I have tried something different.... and I LOVE it! I became slightly extremely obsessed with Vistaprint this summer. In all of my creations, I created a homework punch card! I wasn't sure how I would use it, but decided I would make it work since I could get 250 for free! (If you don't know about Vistaprint, please check out my previous blog post here and look at their website here.

So, with my punchcard, I created my plan for homework. I believe that homework should be extra practice of skills that have already been taught in class. I also believe that homework should not be something that will affect a student's grade due to the fact that I have no control of their home lives and what goes on outside of school. That being said, I think that homework is important for students to be able to practice the skills they are learning and get in the studious habits that a successful student needs.

I decided to make a homework schedule so that my students' parents were aware what type of homework their child would have each night. As well as eliminating the excuse "I don't have any homework tonight." Parents know that their child DOES have homework every night except for Fridays.

Here is what my schedule looks like:

Mondays: Math Practice and Read 20 Minutes
Tuesday: Science or Social Studies Practice and Read 20 Minutes
Wednesday: Language Arts Practice and Read 20 Minutes
Thursday: Spelling List Practice and Read 20 Minutes

As far as examples of what I might assign would be a math game we have create in class, flashcards, short practice page, workbook page for science or social studies, write a few paragraph-long story, write spelling words in sentences, write spelling words with various colors, etc.

Each morning I then ask the students to get out their homework and punch cards for me. I walk around the room, check to see that they did it (sometimes I pick them up if it is something that I want to see how they did on it) and then punch their cards with a hole punch. When they fill up their cards, they get to add $5 to their class bank account that they keep to buy things in our class store.

So far, this system has worked beautifully! I don't have anything extra to grade! The majority of my students do their homework.


Anonymous said...

Tell me more about the class store.
Great ideas!!

Vanna, The Crafty Teacher said...

The class store has various items (mostly junk) that the kids can buy with their money that they earn in class. It also has tickets they can buy like free homework pass, teacher's desk pass, pillow pass, comfy chair pass, etc. They just keep track of it on a piece of paper like a checkbook register. They can earn money by doing their class job and doing the right thing. They lose money when they don't get their planners signed, have messy desk, doing the wrong thing, etc. They then get to shop with their money every 9 weeks. They LOVE it! It is a great way to reward and punish. Hope that gives you some ideas. I will try to do a blog post about it soon if you want more info.