Homework Alternatives?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by sbes, May 14, 2009.

  1. sbes

    sbes New Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 14, 2009

    I am looking for some alternatives to standard homework. I am a second year fourth grade teacher and I am questioning homework in general.

    This year I did weekly homework packets. Each day I gave about three pieces of homework (math homework from our math curriculum, math facts reviews, spelling practice, paragraph writing, cursive practice and fun science/social studies sheets). I really feel like that is not a huge amount of work and all of it is good review that saves our class time for instruction rather than practice.

    On the down side though, I am concerned about the 10,000 plus sheets of paper that uses each year (5,000 if every page is double sided). Also, I am not convinced of the benefit students get. I certainly don't have time to grade 10,000 pieces of homework in addition to all of their classwork and tests. I do spot grade and I often find that the students who understood the concept (and probably didn't need much review) did fine, and the students who are struggling are doing them all wrong. Not much benefit there!

    I would really appreciate any guidance you experienced and amazing teachers have to help me improve my current system. I don't think I am ready to give up on homework all together but I am definately interested in incorporating some alternatives which are more earth friendly and more helpful for my students and their families.

    Thanks!!! : )
     
  2.  
  3. snickydog

    snickydog Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2006
    Messages:
    1,481
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 14, 2009

    I don't have any answers, but I feel the same way in many aspects. (I teach first.) The kids with strong home support have someone to check their work, and the kids without it either come with incomplete homework or work done by a parent/sibling. (How frustrating!) I'm curious to know what others think...
     
  4. MsX

    MsX Companion

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2007
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 15, 2009

    I don't have the answers either, but I just think it sucks we feel pressured to give homework at all, especially when we're not finding it valuable. There are times when I might say, "hmm, my kids needs extra practice in this" and I would want to send homework home. Most of the time, however, I just give homework because i know parents will flip if I don't! I wish our society as a whole could get over this whole homework thing; studies indicate that it is not beneficial for elementary students.
     
  5. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    6,743
    Likes Received:
    1,698

    May 15, 2009

    I feel the same way you do about homework, but I want my children to do some practice at home. It helps with the home-school connections, it reviews concepts the students need practice with, and it helps my children feel like they are part of the general ed program at school. So, here's what I do. I send a packet home every Monday with a reading log and a project that is due on Fri. I use books like these to give me ideas for creative activities:

    http://www.amazon.com/Alternatives-Worksheets-Grades-Karen-Bauer/dp/1574714295
     
  6. sbes

    sbes New Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 15, 2009

    I am so glad to hear I am not the only one feeling like this!

    Thanks so much for the book idea, I am definately going to order it.

    I also found this homework option called Choose-A-Chart that kids can take home and complete. I can't include links, but if you google it there is a great teacher's site on geocites and a thread about it on ProTeacher.

    It sounds promising but I wish I could find more suggestions for the kinds of things to make charts about. It seems like a lot of work. I also have been thinking about weekly reading projects, math flash cards, that kind of thing.

    If anyone else has more ideas I would love it! Beg, borrow and steal!!! Thanks everyone so far!
     
  7. snickydog

    snickydog Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2006
    Messages:
    1,481
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 15, 2009

    Ms. Powell's website has a version of Choose a Chart that she called Fun Folders. I think that would be a fun way to reinforce concepts with the students, and more space-efficient. Plus she laminates them, which might make the investment of time more beneficial.

    My primary homework right now is spelling nightly plus Home Links from Everyday Math... We're supposed to do those things at our school and I do feel like the reinforcement is important... But maybe Fun Folders for weekend homework? (We're supposed to give nightly homework - nothing long, just 10-15 minutes plus reading, including on weekends.)
     
  8. noreenk

    noreenk Cohort

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    631
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 16, 2009

    This year, my class had the worst parental involvement I've ever dealt with, and most of my students had no help at home nor anyone to make them do homework. For the most part, homework is typically class work that isn't finished; I also give practice assignments that are more "fun"... Mystery States and Sudoku from educationworld.com, Scholastic word ladders, writing and illustrating summaries, etc. Out of all the different types of assignments I assign for them to do independently, those are the ones I'm most likely to get back. When I taught primary, I thought homework packets were very beneficial but now that I'm in fifth it seems a lot more like busy work if it's not directly connected to each day's learning.
     
  9. Lotte

    Lotte Companion

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2006
    Messages:
    166
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 17, 2009

    I know one teacher in my school thought the same way as you about the paper used..
    She gave the kids mainly things to memorize. Short sentences that would help them learn a specific fact, poems, coming up with pros and cons to statements, philosphy etc that would be checked in class. Either on one to one time or in groups, discussing things and sharing knowledge. It cut down on paper at least! ;-)
    I guess it would work well with power teaching, with the "teach!" part.
     
  10. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Messages:
    4,376
    Likes Received:
    808

    May 17, 2009

    In our district, we are required to give homework each night, Monday - Thursday, without fail. It also has to include all subject areas (Math, Reading, Writing, Science, and Social Studies.) It is supposed to take 45 minutes per night. If they didn't make me, I wouldn't do it, but they do.

    I squeeze all of it, plus a spelling choice menu and a weekly reading long onto 1 sheet of copy paper (front and back.) The students have to do it on notebook paper (or any other kind, I don't care so long as it is labeled well enough that I can figure out which problem is which.) I therefore only use 800 copies per school year for homework. I hand it out on Monday and it is due back to me on Friday morning. I don't care if you do Tuesday's work on Tuesday, so long as it is done by Friday. So if you have scouts on Tuesday, you can do it on Monday night or Wednesday night, or on the bus on the way to school -- I don't care so long as it gets done.

    I make sure my homework is review. I never give more than 5 math problems per night. If they can do 5 correctly, they know how to do it. They don't need to do 20 or 25. If they can't do it correctly, I certainly don't want them doing 25 wrong math problems per night! I make sure I have some social studies and science multiple choice for review, so I can say I did that. I also have some fun projects (making your own artistic version of the Water Cycle when we are studying it, etc.) Each part is clearly labeled as to how much it is worth. Reading log is worth 40 points. Spelling menu is worth 20 points (they choose one activity per day from a list). Content area is worth the remaining 40 points, so that is 10 points for each day of the week. I deduct points if it is incomplete or if it is done incorrectly. (I only have to spot check it, or can even have a responsible student spot check the math problems and multiple choice -- they bring me any that don't match my key and I review them individually.) If they are having a problem, I pull a small group and go over what they are having trouble with. Students can earn back those deductions by redoing the ones they got wrong and bringing it back to me with a parent's signature.

    I encourage students to use "used" paper -- the backs of flyers, etc, and to use both sides of the notebook paper. We spend a fair amount of time at the beginning of the year learning how to properly label things so I don't have to search everywhere for it.
     
  11. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    Messages:
    1,845
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 17, 2009

    We give only math homework and spelling words. I write the math problems on the board and have the kids copy it onto one sheet of notebook paper. They write that week's spelling words three times each on the back side.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. catnfiddle
Total: 174 (members: 3, guests: 149, robots: 22)
test