Sunday, October 16, 2011

Homework Troubles

Can I just say that I am not a fan of homework? It is always a headache. I hated dealing with homework last year, so I made some adjustments for this year. Here is how homework works in my classroom:

Homework Journal

The kids copy their homework into their journals. We only do homework 3 days a week. Tuesdays is usually responding to a writing prompt and then drawing a picture. Wednesday is spelling practice. Thursday is math practice. It is never more than a page. This way their homework is all in one place and I don't have to make any copies. 

Notecard Clipboard

I give each child a check mark if they have completed their homework. They only get credit if it is completely finished and returned the next day. I do not take late homework.

Lottery Tickets

Each student who has a check mark for all three days gets to choose a scratch off ticket on Friday. They really like doing this. I think it is partly because they never know what they are going to get.
About 30% of my students have a hard time returning their homework journal. They leave it at home, don't finish, or just don't do it at all. It is very frustrating for me, because the homework that I assign does not require parents to help. It is something the students can do on their own. It only takes about 10 minutes, if that. So I have decided that I will take a participation grade on homework from now on. I was hoping that just having a reward would be enough reinforcement for the students to be responsible, but that is just not happening. Here is a copy of my new homework policy. (There are 2 on the page because I am trying to reduce my paper usage.)

**After reading a comment on this post, I decided to reword my letter to parents. Here is what I sent home.***

I am hoping this will begin to make a difference. We shall see.

How do you handle homework in your classroom?


Jen R. (The Teachers' Cauldron) said...

I am loving the notecard system!! Thank you!

Sunny said...

Personally I think if it is participation they shouldn't get ANY credit if they don't turn it in. Maybe I'm a big meanie but kids who don't do homework in my class get zeros. Period. Even in 2nd grade. Kids who do all their homework get to be in the 100% homework club which I hold quarterly and they get a lunch treat. It's very effective even though I only do it 4 times a year.

Anonymous said...

Okay...I LOVE your scratch off tickets! Where did you get them? Do they work just like regular scratch off tickets?


Mrs. S. said...

I have assigned SumDog to my students who have computer access at home for Math...15 minutes daily. That's not a hardship for the children (they love playing SumDog) and shouldn't be for parents. My students also take home some sort of book to read (Guided Reading book, library book, or our basal with the story of the week). I encourage my students to read their book (3 times total counting times at school and home) and be prepared to take an AR test the next morning. I also give spelling words on Monday. My students have a homework folder that they return each Friday for new homework. If they do not complete the homework, I just note it and remind them they must read...whether at home, in class, or on the playground. It's amazing how I always have one student (sometimes more) who actually want to read to me on the playground. I suppose those children don't have help at home. :( For the students who do not have computer access, we have addition/subtraction fact practice sheets and/or they can use flash cards. It seems like a lot, but with reading (15 minutes) and playing SumDog (15 minutes) and spelling practice as needed, I don't think that's too much. What do you think?

PS: This is how my entire team handles homework. :)


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Erika said...

My homework is nightly reading (20 minutes), spelling word practice (5 minutes) and math facts practice (5 minutes). I do a participation grade like you. I don't think there is no way to get 100% participation and it always seems the ones who need it most are the ones who don't do it. Go figure!

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Cheryl said...

Ouch! Your very first sentence pinches me and, to an outsider, has a very snarky tone to it. Have you talked with the families that are having trouble getting homework done? Is there something else that may be preventing them from completing it? Also, you mention that homework is an important part of the classroom in your letter, but you fail to back it up with research-based evidence.

I do a survey each year to find out what will work best for the families I serve - a weekly packet, reading logs, etc. I also teach in a multiage 2/3 classroom and have a menu for students to choose from each night. My school district has moved to a Standards Based Education System and we cannot grade homework. Allowing students to choose their task (and yes, 2nd graders are capable of this), makes homework individualized and meaningful. We've also allowed students the choice of internet games such as Spelling City or to help them meet their weekly goals. This in turn makes homework participation increase.

Mrs. Morris said...

@Jen R. - I saw another teacher using the notecard system and I couldn't believe how easy it was. It is great.

@Sunny - I like the 100% club idea. We are not allowed to give zeros in our grade book.

@Amanda - I saw the idea on Pinterest this summer. The scratch off ticket work just like real lottery tickets. You mix 1 part dish washing liquid (Dawn) to 2 parts silver acrylic paint. Paint lightly on top of a piece of contact paper covering the area you want to scratch off. So much fun!

@ Melly - Your system sounds great. We also send home book bags for the kids to read at home. I am required to send home homework as well. I don't think either one of us is asking too much. I also encourage my students to do XtraMath on their computers at home if they have internet access. Unfortunately, only about 30-40% of my class has internet access.

@Erika - I agree. Thanks for the comment.

Mrs. Morris said...

@Cheryl - I am going to reword my parent letter. Thanks for pointing that out to me. I have talked with the kids and parents of the ones that are not turning in their homework. It isn't just 3 or 4 days they have missed. I am talking about entire weeks where they don't turn anything in. I am using homework to teach responsibility. We are required to send homework. The kids get to choose from a menu for spelling practice. Homework is going to be a participation grade, not a grade on their actual answers. I want to see the effort more than the product. Like I mentioned to Melly, most of my kids don't have internet access. Thanks for your comment.

Miss Foote said...

Our first and second grades assign weekly,nightly reading. And once a month a project that ties into the current unit of study.

Jen R. (The Teachers' Cauldron) said...

Do you have a template you could send me? It looks like you have them on 5x8 index cards, but I can't make it work on publisher or excel....

Sass Class said...

I'd love the notecard template also. What size are the notecards???

Mrs. Emily Neal said...

LOVE the lottery ticket idea! Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

Do you have directions on how to make those neat landform booklets? I would really like to do those with my students!

Thank you!

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