Homework Take 2 or Three Things My Students Will Do This Year

I wrote about my true feelings for homework in a previous post.  I have spent a lot of time thinking and planning for my approach this year. In my opinion, there are 3 things that upper elementary students should be doing for homework.

1.  Reading
Most educators agree that reading is an important part of a homework routine.  There are countless ways of assigning reading homework.  Students can count pages, track minutes or fill out reading logs.  These ideas all have merit.  But, I also think that it could make reading feel like work.

I want my students to read every day because they love reading!  I want to encourage them to try lots of genres.  I want them to talk about the books that they love and the reasons for the books that they want to abandon.  Yes, there should be some accountability. This year I am going to use a #currentlyreading display in my classroom. Each student will put the title and author of the book they are reading on the display using a sticky note.

Picture of a bulletin board with the title #currentlyreading and student sticky notes.
It will be very easy for me to see who has a book and who needs one. As students finish a book they will turn in the sticky note. I will place the sticky notes on the student's page in my reading binder. The sticky notes will be collected throughout the year.

2.  Math 
I think math facts are important.  My students will be encouraged to practice their facts for 2 - 5 minutes per night.  There are LOTS of ways for kids to practice.  Flashcards, games, online games, and online math curriculum resources are all quick and easy ways to practice math facts.
Upper elementary math activities.

I won't be sending home math homework sheets this year.  I plan to send home games that go along with the math concepts covered in class that families can choose to play.  Parents may want their child to complete math worksheets for homework.  I will have a link to the homework sheets on my website, but I will not collect them.

3.  Study Skills
Studying is important.  The funny thing is I don't think many teachers actually teach kids how to study.  This is going to be a goal for me this year.  I want to make sure that my students know how to study before they head off to middle school.

My plan of attack for this is easy.  (At least I think it will be...) My students are assessed in math and science with tests.  They also have vocabulary quizzes.  I would like to teach my students to study for a short amount of time over many days rather than cramming for a long period of time the night before a test.  I am going to introduce different ways to study in the classroom and we are going to actually practice together in the room.  I want to show my students what a good study space looks and sounds like, what studying actually looks like, and lots of different ways to study.  I also want each student to recognize what study strategy is the best for him/her.  This direct teaching will take place at the beginning of the year and my hope is that it will have a positive impact.  I'll keep you posted!
Studying with a partner can be fun!

My Classroom Homework Routines

Assignment Planner
Each of my students has an assignment planner.  I will continue to use them this year, but there will be a bigger emphasis on using the planner to track studying, test/quiz dates, and due dates.  My class will complete many projects throughout the year.  The projects are done in school, but occasionally I will ask them to do or finish a piece of it at home.  Keeping track of due dates in the planner is important even if the project is 100% completed in class.  

BINGO Board Homework
I created a Summer Fun BINGO board resource to send home with my students at the end of last year.  (You can download a freebie version of that product here.)  My students loved it, so I decided to create one to use during the school year, too.  The BINGO boards have reading, math, and fun activities.  The BINGO assignment is optional, but I have found that most of my students complete at least one BINGO per month.
This post talks about BINGO style homework assignments for elementary school students.

Some students will choose to do even more and that is awesome! Click here to see my Fall Fun BINGO assignment.  

This is my plan.  I am sure that things will need to be tweaked as the year goes on, but I feel good about it.  

What approach will be using this year?

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