Sunday, February 5, 2012

Homework Linky Party

       I have decided to link up with Jenaya at The Lesson Plan Diva for her homework linky party. Let me just say I believe homework should reinforce what students learn during the day. Too many students don't have support at home if they are sent with new concepts.
       I was the only one on my team that assigned regular homework last year. We had a shortened class, and students weren't able to complete a regular math assignment successfully, so things were abbreviated. Our classes were lengthened this year, and so was the homework.
       It is assumed students will have less than an hour of homework nightly. Most students finish their math in class, or during homeroom work time. Their only "homework" for math is to finish work and to do a practice test. For science, students need to do a moon chasers worksheet, that shows the moon phases throughout the year.
       As the reading/spelling teacher, I ask students to read for thirty minutes, and to respond to their reading in a reading response journal. I was having students just record on a log, but saw that they weren't reading. They  weren't completing their reading contracts or taking AR tests. They didn't appear to be making connections with skills we were doing. Out of desperation, I added the journals. I use a collection response starters that I found online, but cannot find the original source, so I am not posting it. Students are making gains, although a few parents have complained about the work. Students have a variety of things they can do for their response. It adds 5 to 10 minutes to their reading. Many look back on the journal before taking AR tests. I check them only once a week or every other week.
       I also require students to complete a spelling contract. They have points they must earn based on ability. Their contract is based on learning styles. They have until Friday to complete the contract, and do get a few minutes to work on it during the day. This adds ten minutes to their homework. Some students are exempt from the contract, because they earn 100% on their Pretest. I added Spelling City and Puzzle Maker to the contract this year integrate technology.
       We struggle with students that don't complete work. We can only have students stay in at recess to get work done. I send notices to parents if students aren't reading, but also allow students to count time read on the weekend if they have a very busy week planned. I have students asking to read during recess, and many read any chance they get. They know I love reading, and often talk about books I've read or plan to read. I've never had a group like this year's homeroom, they beg me to read aloud, and complain when we have to stop to go home. Their recent STAR test show our reading is paying off.
         What do you do for homework? How much is too much homework? Join the party and share your ideas.

--Marcia

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