September 30, 2015

Homework Folders

We had a true "First Six Weeks of School" followed by Fall Break. Now that we are back, my students are embarking on their first weeks of 2nd grade homework.

I've always felt good about the homework I assign. Parents seem happy, it's not too much of a headache for me to grade, and it gives students good practice. I've never let myself fret too much over homework and I don't intend to start anytime soon.

Being at a new school this year, though, caused me to reevaluate and reorganize my homework. For one thing, my students don't have agendas and agenda notebooks to keep their things in. Another difference is that we don't have Spelling homework here. In addition, we have a very strict homework policy by grade level.

So it basically took me this entire first six weeks to figure out what exactly I was going to do. But now I have, and let me just say: I LOVE my new system! 

To introduce it to my students and parents, I created a video and uploaded it to YouTube. The video held my students' attentions and parents have let me know that they appreciated it as well. I sent the video out the week before homework would begin.

The Gist:
Students have a homework folder that is due on Fridays. Their homework includes:
1. A short skill review. I'll create this weekly to target things we have studied and need to work on. This can also be a way for me to circle back around to old concepts as the year goes on. The page will get changed out weekly.
2. Reading homework. I expect them to read at least 20 minutes a night. I have them track some of their reading on a Book BINGO card. The card gets changed out monthly. I use differentiated boards based on reading grade levels. You can read more about my Book BINGOs and my reasons for using it in the post linked above.
3. Math Facts practice. Students have flashcards, game ideas (including one game I teach them in class), and internet links to bring home to practice our current skill. Most games can be played with a deck of cards. We will work on most skills for two weeks at a time. After two weeks, they will be assessed with a quick Mad Minute that can be found by clicking on my flashcards link above. No, I do not differentiate this. I've tried. It was more trouble than it was worth for me. In addition, we learn skills through cooperative games and number talks, which means I am supporting a specific skill in class, so it makes sense that they are working on a particular skill at home (for example, Near Doubles).

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