FB Pop Up

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Making the Most of Homework

Planning, differentiating, copying, collecting, correcting, and even some nagging..... My homework routine use to be a major stressor.  It has come a LONG way.  Though it's still not perfect, it works for me, the kiddos, and their families.  
The Gist:  It's a weekly packet.  I don't try and make it "fun" or "cutesy", but I do make sure it's pertinent, doable, and something we've covered.

*If you're new around here, I like to share my DUH moments for the benefit and enjoyment of others.  When I first changed over to weekly packets, I ran them Monday through Friday.  No bueno.  If I didn't have the packet ready by the time I left Friday for happy hour, I spent my Monday morning acting like a maniac trying to get my stuff together and pushing my co-workers out of the copy line.  Not a good way to start the week. Also, kids that forgot their homework on Friday often "got away with it" because I didn't realize it until the end of the day.  To make it even worse, do you think that kids that forget on Friday after being reminded on Thursday are going to remember on a MONDAY? Ya, right.  Insert mega face-palm DUH moment.  Hand them out on Wednesday and they are due on Tuesday.  That gives ME Monday and Tuesday to do last minute prep if needed, and it gives me Thursday and Friday to nag remind them to turn it in or sit and help some of my lovelies through it.  Know what else?  That gives families a weekend to work on it.  Brilliant.  Weekday evenings can be jam packed with sports, church, meetings, etc.  This Wednesday to Tuesday schedule gives them 7 days to pick from.  I have received so much positive feedback from parents about this schedule, and who doesn't love happy parents?

Phew.  This is going to be a long post. 



Planning:  I follow the same format each week.  This consistency makes it easier for parents to know what's expected and so much easier for me to pull packets together.  

-Front of 1st page:  There is a small section at the top for their name, classroom #, the date range, what they thought was the most difficult with their signature, AND a place for parents to sign saying they "reviewed" their child's homework and what THEY think their child struggled the most with.  Below this information is a grammar assignment covering a previously taught concept or a very short writing assignment.

-Back of 1st page:  This is the reading passage.

-Front of 2nd page:  The questions/assignment that go with the reading passage are on this page.  I am NOT A FAN of putting the story and questions front to back.  It isn't ideal when you are trying to get students to show proof and go back to the story.  Running the story on the back of a page and the questions on the front of the next page put them side by side.  This is ideal and so much easier for these little kids.  Just another one of my DUH moments.

-Back of 2nd page:  I put a short math assignment that reviews the most currently covered concept.  No more than 10 questions.  

-Front of 3rd page:  This alternates between social studies and science, and it's usually on the most current topic.  

-Back of 3rd page:  This is always the most time consuming on my end, but I think it has the highest value.  I make a spiral math review with 6 questions.  I've tried saving myself some time and finding something on TPT to purchase, but it just hasn't worked.  As their teacher, I'm the one that knows exactly what past concepts are the tricky ones for them, and I know just how to word them.  This page is so personalized to MY kiddos.  I have a template, and after 8 years of 3rd and 4th grade, I've got quite the bank of past questions to choose from.  These are 6 challenging questions.

Differentiating:  Remember when I said my system isn't perfect?  Just wanted to remind you.  Having leveled homework packets was a goal of mine for YEARS.  About 3 years ago I finally felt like I was in a place to handle this.  I do 3 levels: above level, on-level, and below.  I differentiate the reading passage/questions, math concept review page (not the spiral), and sometimes the grammar.  The science/social studies and the spiral math page are the same for everyone.  To make differentiating easier, I highly suggest you find resources that you can use throughout the entire year, whether it be a book to photo copy from or a subscription to a website.  For homework purposes, I really like SuperTeacherWorksheets.com because it is SO easy for me to differentiate.  The reading passages are sorted by grade level and most of the math and grammar have an easier or more challenging version available.  It's $20 a year.  Worth it!  In a perfect world, I'd have a high reading/on level math and vice versus, but I don't.  Shame on me.

Since this turned into a novel, I'll save Part Deux for another day!  What does your homework system look like?  Does it need a makeover?
post signature Follow on Bloglovin


  1. Love your routine! Thanks for sharing in-depth! :) Happy Friday@
    Mrs. Bentin's Blackboard

    1. Thanks! I did a second post with the rest of the details, and a third announcing a FREE EDITABLE resource pack for teachers that are wanting to give a system like this a try!

      :) Ash
      The Rolly Chair

  2. Such an interesting way to do homework packets! I've thought about doing them before, but never liked the idea of having to have them ready by Monday morning. I also like how you are able to differentiate the work. This is definitely something I'll consider for doing next year. Can't wait to read part two!
    A Tall Drink of Water

    1. Rachel,

      The black cloud that loomed over my head when I was doing homework M-F was HORRIBLE. Changing over to mid-week saved me TONS of stress and made parents happy too! My latest post announces a FREEBIE I put together to help others get a homework binder organized! If you give it a try next year, hopefully this will help you!

      :) Ash
      The Rolly Chair