Hello again! This will make my third week back in school and my kiddoes have jumped into everything feet first. Classroom procedures are down and we are buzzing right through the curriculum that I've planned out. We've even got a field trip coming up this week! I love early-in-the-year field trips.. They happen before the spring crazies set in.
One area I have struggled in for the past eight years of teaching is HOMEWORK! How much is too much? How much is too little? Should they have it every night? Should it be spelling and math, reading and math, or all three? Ugh...just too much stuff to handle and I hate overburdening my kids when we work so hard at school all day. However, I do see the value in a little uninterrupted time in the evenings for a bit of homework. It bridges the home-school gap, and it gives those kids who REALLY need it a bit more practice. This year, I revamped my homework system and I'd like to show you a bit about it.
First of all, I dropped Spelling homework entirely. We do our word study activities during Guided Reading, so why repeat the same ones at home? I chose to focus my kids on Reading Comprehension and Math facts each night for their homework assignments.
For reading homework each night, I use these bad boys! LOVE!
This year I had a DonorsChoose project funded for Time for Kids Magazine. Now I teach third, but ordered the second grade magazines for my kiddoes. I didn't want anyone to really have to struggle to read the text. I wanted them to be able to attack it and understand it. These magazines are the heart of our reading homework.
On Mondays, my kids get their homework packet, with the newsletter attached. This newsletter combines a classroom update, homework assignments, weekly multi-syllable word list (they must be able to read them fluently by the end of the week) and important notes for parents.
Each night, my students complete their homework by reading their Time magazine and completing only five comprehension questions that I write each night. Yes, I do have to take the time to write fifteen questions per week, but it only takes me about fifteen minutes to churn them out and type them in. Here's a snapshot of what I'm talking about.
The last night of Reading homework consists of having the students read aloud their magazine and answer the questions on the back of the magazine. Easy Peasy!
Math is another story. Fact fluency is a big deal at my school in general, so my students also take their math fact cards home each night to practice those. The activities vary, sometimes rainbow write, quiz with a parent, two times each, etc. My kids are responsible for bringing their cards to and from home every day and also for turning in all evidence of completing their math fact practice, so I also attach the page you see below.
I not only teach math and reading, I also teach responsibility. I want my third graders to be responsible for their own things so I send homework home on Monday, and don't see it again until Friday. If it's missing, they complete it during recess and that's just the way things roll. I also do a Friday Lunch Bunch with the kids who complete everything to encourage those few slackers who like to skip out on homework. We eat lunch in the classroom and...dare i say it...WATCH CARTOONS! They love it, and so far..it's motivating them to practice at home each night.
If you have access to Time for Kids, I would definitely recommend them for homework assignments. If not, you could do the same thing with those little leveled readers that come with your basal sets. So far, I feel a lot less stressed about homework, and the kids are actually enjoying it!
As always, I love your comments and I'd also love to hear how you manage your homework in your own classroom!
Have a great week!