Sunday, July 7, 2013

Apple a Day {LINKY}--Homework & Freebie

I am linking up with Leigh at The Applicious Teacher for this week's edition of "An Apple a Day."  This week is focusing on homework...a dreaded topic for kids and teachers. 
 
First, I teach middle school, 6th grade to be specific.  Homework looks different in middle school than it does elementary, that is for sure.  My school's policy is that homework for all subjects is less than 45-60 minutes per night, and cannot count more than 5% of the student's grade.  The 5% is a humdinger, especially since my principal decided (good idea/bad idea...I'll let you decide) that we are not grading in categories (test, classwork, projects, etc) but rather just in points.  Everything is dumped into one category.  Makes it rather difficult to manage the 5%...

 
So, to manage homework, I decided several years ago that it wasn't going to count for a grade.  I know the question: how do you get them to do it if it isn't for a grade?  Well, my school has built in free time on Fridays called "Funky Friday."  By not turning in assignments, students miss this Funky Friday.  Sometimes, its not so effective, so I have to be creative with individual students. 
 
So how much homework do I give?  I teach resource-pull out math to special education students and math interventions to regular education students.  Two groups who need maximum supports to do homework.  I generally give homework two nights a week, and it typically only takes them about 10 minutes to do.  Usually it is skill-based practice such as multiplication facts or what we are practicing in class.
 
Collection?  Ugh :(  What a nightmare.  Whether it is in a whole group or a small group setting, there is no good way to collect homework/go over it/check it in my opinion.  I usually do not check it out loud in class because I only have about 45 minutes for my lesson once kids get in there and settled.  I have a spreadsheet that I use to mark who has their homework laid out on their desk.  While kids are filling out their agendas and getting materials ready for the period, I walk around and visually inspect their homework looking for completion and general correctness.  (In my head I know the answers because the assignment is short).  I just want to get a feel for how the student did with it, and ask questions of the students.  I learn a lot from this, and can gage if I need to re-visit the concepts or if the kids are ready to move on.  I generally do not pick up their assignment from their desk.  I am not going to grade it, so there's no reason to clutter my desk with it.  It usually stays in their math binders.
 
Below is a fun {FREEBIE}activity that I did with my kids focusing on graphing in all four quadrants.  It was practice for the kids, and made a fun display for the hallway. 
 
Blank 4 Quadrant Grid

Be sure to leave me some feedback if you download my freebies :) And while you're hear, be sure to follow my blog on Bloglovin (button's at the top of the page).
 
Happy 7/7 :)
 
 
 
 

5 comments:

Dinah Ely thetravelingclassroom said...

I like your idea of a quick check on the homework! Thank you for the freebies & I'm already following you on bloglovin:)

Leigh Langton said...

WOW! I am amazed that you even give homework! I would go crazy! We are not allowed to give a grade for homework (but I teach 2nd). We are switching over to a total points system this year. Will have to keep tabs on your blog so you can hear more about it! Thanks for linking up!

Leigh
The Applicious Teacher

Alison said...

Great topic! My school (elementary) tried something new this year...Reading ONLY homework(after finding much research stating that homework does not help in achievement with elementary, especially if there is no support at home, etc.) I was ECSTATIC! I followed my school's plan and took the time that I would have normally spent checking over homework with the students...actually letting them work on the items I would have originally sent home. This allowed them time to ask me questions if they were stuck and I could spend more time with them one on one. It kept the parents from ripping their hair out and I didn't have to check any homework or record who turned in, who didn't, etc. Guess what? It didn't make one bit of difference in our standardized testing this year or cause the students to drop down because they didn't do math homework(which many were worried about). If anything, we made gains in math, across the board. I'll DEFINITELY be following the same plan this upcoming year. I do realize you are in a different situation with middle grades and having less time with them than I do each day. Sounds like you have a great plan in place though!
Alison
Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

Susan Cahalane said...

Hi Erin!I just found your blog, I’m your newest follower!
✿Sue✿
Science for Kids Blog

Heather Langley said...

First....I bow down to you teaching 6th. 5th is as far as I've gone and I'm currently in 1st and feeling very comfortable!:) Isn't it funny (or not) what a heated topic homework is? Everyone has an opinion! It sounds like you have a good system in place, and that overall is the most important aspect of any homework program. So glad I found you through the linky. AND your babies are gorgeous!

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