Homework is one topic that seems to have mixed reactions. To Give or Not To Give? If you are like me, Homework (or Home Learning) is a requirement.
At a workshop on Effective Teaching Strategies led by Dr. Robert Marzano in 2011, a group of professionals was asked to discuss the topic of homework in which became heated. I can understand why so many are opposed. Many teachers assign homework just as a means of busy work, no thoughtful connections are being made to lessons taught in the classroom. However, many (like myself) work hard to think through the content that is sent home. I ensure all work is an extension of our standards. I find my students are more apt to complete the assignment with a high level of engagement because homework is used to reinforce what was taught in my class.
To ensure expectations are clear, I prepare an example of how I wish for homework to be set up each week. The kids simply complete an assigned question on notebook paper. I follow the model of centers by sending home a question for each content area the following week of instruction. Due to practice within our learning community, I expect most are able to complete the assignment independently. One component to our Home Learning is to read and explain the assigned homework. Since reading is on Monday, I would read the question and clarify expectations with the kids at the closing of the workshop. At the end of the day, I allow students 10 minutes of "me time". This can be a time for students to work on unfinished projects, read from their book pouch, or complete homework. I encourage students to work their home learning assignment. No one ever stated homework should be completed alone at home. Some of the most meaningful discussion has come from student led conversations. Another bonus... the resources from lessons taught are readily available.
Checking folders is an important component to my week. This is a time where I like to write a little commentary for the kids to read. Something quick but meaningful. They sure do get a kick out of reading my messages. By the end of the year, I have some responding and asking questions on their own.
My homework packet is designed for 12 months. I include 9 months of core standards in ELA/Math and National Science Standards. By the 10th month, I include step up questions for the next grade. The 11th/12th months are created with a summer theme is usually a cross between review and step up questions. To ensure you are listing content to fit your pacing needs, I've added editable calendars so that you an type the content in the order that fits your progression!
In addition to yearly content, my packet includes the 1st 100 Dolch Sight Words. The Dolch word list is complied of the most frequently used English words. Why are sight words so important? Confidence and reading ability improve when children know Dolch sight words. Dolch words are service words which are necessary for understanding sentences. Many of these words cannot be sounded out by decoding rules or use of pictures, for example: if, do, am, for, as, so, be.
I include word lists for each month but encourage you to move students based on their individual growth. In my class, you will find sight word rings with each list. Students can begin practicing reading and writing as they flip through their lists. At the start of each month, I assess the words and send home a copy of the assessment so parents are informed of words needing attention. If a child is progressed beyond the list, I send home the following list of words. Kids in my class could be a different places depending upon their ability level.
Due to the change in resources and districts, I have not created 2nd grade. I do plan to create one in the near future!