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Saturday, March 22, 2014

My Homework is Done!

Let me guess.  You've been on the edge of your seat waiting for this post?  Let's just pretend I'm right.    If you need to catch up, read this post first.  It gives an overview of my homework packets, how they are organized, and how they are differentiated.
Copying:  I keep a homework binder each year.  What's in this snazzy binder?  Glad you asked!
-My check/note sheet, which I'll talk about in the next section.

-A copy of the last few packets.  I scan each packet before I copy it so that I have a soft copy on my computer, but I keep a hard copy of the last few weeks in case I need to reference it or run another copy.  

-My complete list of what reading passages have been used.

-Pre-printed Missing Homework slips

-3 pocket dividers (one for each homework packet level).  This is where I stash pages to use in future packets.  If I have 6 spare minutes, I'll hop on SuperTeacherWorksheets.com and try and get the grammar page picked out and printed for the next packet, or work on my spiral math page.  If I'm using a challenging page (for my above level group) and an on-grade level page (for my on and below level groups) , I'll be sure that I print 1 challenging and TWO of the on-grade level.  This way I have one grammar page to put in each level's pocket divider.  Some might say this is a waste of paper but it's for my sanity's sake.  It makes copying the packets much easier for me when each packet has its own 6 pages..

When it's time to run the packets, I put all 6 of the pages for each packet in the same order.  I put a small code on the top of the front page to denote level.

Collecting:  I have a homework turn in bin for kids that want to turn their homework in before it's due on Tuesdays.  Prior to the kids arriving Tuesday morning, I mark off the kids that turned it in early.  Kiddos have to turn in homework at the back table by their cubbies as they unpack first thing in the morning.   I stand there and mark them off as they turn them in.  If I need to walk away for a minute, I put the check sheet on top of the pile that I have marked through.  The kids are trained to just add to the stack.  My check sheet acts as a divider so I know where I left off.  If a kiddo doesn't have their homework ready to turn in, they take a Missing Homework slip, fill out what packet number, tape it in their planner, and then show me.  The Missing Homework slip has to get signed by their parent.

Reviewing:  I purposely select homework pages that are going to be relatively easy for me to check.  I don't put any kind of grade. None.  I just circle things that are incorrect.  If the entire page is correct, I put a smiley face or check mark so they know I looked at it.  If I notice that something in particular really tripped a kid up, I make a note on my check sheet so I can make a point to re-teach the concept with that kiddo and provide some extra practice.  Notes on my check sheet also allow me to look for trends or students that could be retaught together.  I do take the time to write each kiddo a short note in regards to their homework on the front cover slip.  I always put something positive, and if needed, I add a comment about where I see room for growth.

Redo & Homework Helpers: There are NOT enough hours in the day.  But since I believe in homework and I want my kids to take it seriously, I HAVE to follow up with their mistakes.  Sometimes we use 5 minutes here and there, and sometimes we set aside 20 minutes because so many people had similar mistakes on a concept. Sometimes I take two minutes and drop in during lunch.  Sometimes I hop outside a few minutes before school starts.  Sometimes I pick a few kids that "got it" and like to help others, and invite them to having a working buddy lunch where they help each other with my support.  We make it work.  To make sure that someone doesn't slip through the cracks, I keep track on my check sheet when I pass homework back that needs corrections.  Some kids have to keep it clipped on the side of their desk so it doesn't "mysteriously" go missing.  

One last note.  I train kids at the beginning of the year to code assignments in regards to how THEY felt about it.  It is good insight for me.  It's amazing when a kid marks that something was too easy, but they have a ton of mistakes.  Too Challenging is coded TC,  Just Right is coded JR, and Too Easy is coded TE.  They know to put the mark in the bottom right of the page and circle it.    

It's intense, I believe in it, and it works for me.  Suggestions for improvement?  Ideas?  Did I inspire you to try something new?
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