Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homework ~ Practice, Review, and Independence

Occupying 7 hours of days with 5- and 6-year-olds can take a lot more planning than anyone would expect (except a teacher).  It certainly isn't for the weak.  On top of all that planning, teachers need to spend more time planning homework.

The Catch 22 of Homework

  • Homework shouldn't take too much time...they need practice, but they need to breathe after a long day at school.

  • Homework should be independent practice.  Parents aren't in the classroom, so can't expect them to know our routines or classroom procedures.

  • Homework shouldn't be punishment.

  • Homework should reflect the weekly lessons.

  • Homework shouldn't take more time to plan than it takes to complete.

  • Homework should have some student choice.

Word Wall Words

Students need to use word wall words...every day, every night, every lesson, every book.  These words should be seen in their leveled books, in their writing, and in their homework.  Research shows word wall words or high frequency words are key to creating fluent, emergent readers.  We introduced 2 new words a week.  Students can choose which additional words they would like to practice.  Using one of the two open-ended options for homework each week, helps the students practice their words in a variety of ways.  The word wall word homework is divided by learning styles:  verbal/linguistic, verbal/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, and musical.

One choice has the choice board posted on-line or filed in a clear sleeve in the homework folder.  Students follow the directions and choose the number of required homework assignments.  They use a separate sheet of paper or a homework notebook to create their homework.  If they choose an activity with no required written response, a parent must initial the choice.  There are options for each semester.

The second choice is a copied paper sent home each week.  Homework options can be completed on the back of the paper and parents can initial choices on the front.


Shared Reading


In kindergarten, our Shared Reading is our poem of the week.  This poem is practiced daily in a whole group setting.  We pay attention to one-to-one pointing, rhyming words, word wall words, beginning or ending sounds, and the list goes on.  In addition to the poem being read daily for a week, the same Shared Reading poem is sent home the next week for homework.  The poem is copied on a half sheet of paper.  The student can use paper for their choices.  Once again their are two options.

One choice is left in the homework folder and used as a guide.  The activities are done on the poem paper.

Another choice is copied each week and the parents sign the choice on the paper and the use the poem paper for the activities.

Our Shared Reading homework were based on (The NEW) Bloom's Taxonomy.  Students can choose homework based on the complexity of the task.  At the beginning of the year, they can choose from any of the assignments.  As the year goes on, they must choose at least one higher level thinking activity.

Daily or Weekly?


Weekly...no debate.  Life is crazy.  I don't have time to check homework each morning and I don't want to punish students when their life is crazy and they can't do homework one night.  I understand holding students responsible for homework, but the bottom line is this:  they are 5 or 6 and their parents tell them what to do.  I keep the choice boards in the homework folder.  Each week I send home a half-sheet with a homework poem and another half-sheet with the new word wall words.

I hope this takes a little off your plate this school year.

Enjoy

 If you would like the homework sheets, CLICK HERE!

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