Teaching Tip Tuesday – Homework Program

Nobody likes homework. I know that I sure don’t. I try to get most of my work done at school during my planning times. It’s part of my teaching philosophy to keep it at school.

That’s why I’ve really been thinking about what I want my homework program to look like this year. I discussed my idea of not assigning regular homework with my principal, but unfortunately the school board has a policy on homework. As such, it is expected that I assign and track homework progress.

I expect my students to use their time wisely in class. If students choose not to do so and don’t complete their work to the best of their ability, then homework is warranted. I sometimes have students stay in at lunch and recess to catch up on their work. That way, I can be assured that the work actually gets done.

It has been my experience that the vast majority of homework I assign never gets completed. I have a few hard-working and loyal students every year who consistently complete their homework. I try to motivate all my students to do so but it often feels like I am running uphill during a mudslide in a thunderstorm. And it seems equally pointless to chase students around about their homework. So I either give up the practice, or end up muddy and worn out.

So what can I do?

I think my best plan is to have some suggested homework ideas. I could brainstorm ideas with my class. For example, read for twenty minutes, help mom make dinner or a recipe, add up the grocery bill, practice your timetables, study the spelling words, etc.

After we come up with an extensive list, I can send a copy of it home with the students. They could keep it in the front pouch of their agenda / planner books or even stick it on the fridge at home.

The goal would be to do twenty minutes of work each night. It wouldn’t matter what that work was either. I wouldn’t have to assess it. I could simply ask the students every morning what they did for homework the night before. I could have parents sign the agenda / planner books as well. I could keep track of what the students said they did and that would be that.

Hmm, sounds like a plan.

I could also assign extra credit projects. This way, students could read, research, and report on any subject that interests them. I could give them two or three weeks to complete each project instead of doing daily homework. All I would need to ask them is what topic they are working on in the mornings.

Let me hear from you.

What you do think about these ideas?

What do you currently do for a homework program?
Do you find that it is effective?

4 responses to “Teaching Tip Tuesday – Homework Program”

  1. Homework is a hot topic. Schools have their guidelines yet most of the educational research indicates that homework has no real effect on learning until intermediate grades.

    I think the habits of learning are more important that anything else.

    Being new to Gr. 4/5 this year, I am planning to send one leveled readers home each week so that the students can practice reading. I plan to assign some math, as needed.

    Most projects, I try to have the students complete in class so that I know they have done the work. I have had student projects come into the school that was clearly the work of a parent (sometimes even the handwriting).

    The parent's ego then becomes tied up in the marking (my child should get a good mark because I spent so much time on this project as opposed to the child learned about ….).

    In-class projects also allow kids from disadvantaged homes to have access to materials and information so that they are not penalized because they don't have an internet connection or someone to make a fantastic project for them.

    We'll see how it goes

    Have a great second day of school 🙂

  2. WOW – I wish I could edit comments on a blog!

    Chase – I need some reoommendations for hip hop songs, appropriate for school to introduce my Gr. 8 music class to this musical genre.


  3. Hi Anonymous,

    Thanks for the great comment.

    I have taught kids these rap songs before and found that they really worked.

    Run-DMC "30 Days" – It's old school and the students don't seem to like it on the first listen but it is nice and easy to split the kids up into groups and trade lines just like Run-DMC did.

    KRS-One "It Ain't the Same" – Great lyrics and a nice sung-song chorus.

    Masta Ace "Beautiful" – positive lyrics about the beauty all around us and the potential within us as well.

    I have instrumental versions of these songs as well that I could share with you. I think I will do just that next week for my Teaching Tip Tuesday. Keep an eye out for it.