In part one of this two-part series on homework, we covered four strategies:
1. Assign what students already know.
2. Don’t involve parents.
3. Review before the end of the day.
4. Confront students who don’t have completed homework.
This week, we’ll finish the series with the final four strategies. At the end of the article, I’m going to issue a challenge—including a way to earn a free book.
Homework Strategies 5-8
5. Don’t collect it.
Most teachers collect homework.
Why? What are you going to do with it? Grade it and return it? Correct it so your students can analyze it later? Slap a sticker on it?
Collecting homework is a waste of time. Here’s why:
- Upon return, nearly all students will stuff it in their desk or backpack and not give it another thought.
- Returning it the next day–after you’ve moved on to the next lesson–is too late to be any benefit to students.
- Homework is practice only and therefore shouldn’t be graded beyond a simple credit/no credit.
6. Partner check.
Instead of collecting it, have your students pair up and cross check their answers. Why? Because it adds ownership, motivation, and accountability to homework. It also deepens comprehension and is done before the next lesson–when it really matters.
If there is a discrepancy in answers, the students must work out who is right and why.
During this time, if there is a student whose homework is incomplete (rare, see strategies 1-4), he or she must begin work on it immediately and may not participate in the partner activity.
When your students are finished, allow for questions and be ready to provide further explanation.
7. Throw it away.
It’s done. You squeezed all the learning you needed from it. Now it’s time to throw the homework away. There is no reason to keep it, and pitching it in the trash underscores the importance of practice—which is an often-overlooked key to academic success.
It’s also an opportunity to have some fun. So grab a wastepaper basket and place it on a chair or desk in front of the room. Ask your students to crumble up their homework, and on your signal, shoot it at the basket.
Afterward, draw a crumbled ball or two from the basket and give out a simple prize—a sticker, first to line up, 15 seconds early for recess, whatever. This isn’t done as an incentive, mind you.
It’s done because it makes your classroom more fun, which is critical to effective classroom management.
8. Double it.
Any student who comes to school without homework completed, and doesn’t get it finished during partner check, must do it at home that evening along with the homework assigned for the day.
It is homework. And, sorry, but we’re busy learning today.
So the only time he or she can do it is at home. In the morning both homework assignments are due.
If a student comes to you and asks if it can be done during recess, it’s up to you. However, I’m not in favor of sending students to recess time-out.
If you decide to give your students the option of doing it during recess, I recommend you supervise them yourself in class and that you don’t accept the homework until the next morning.
I challenge you to try this homework plan to begin the new school year.
If it doesn’t make your life easier, and you’re not thrilled with the improved learning and motivation in your students, email me and I’ll send you a free copy of Rick Morris’ book Tools & Toys: Fifty Fun Ways To Love Your Class.
Although, having seen this homework plan in action, I probably won’t believe you.
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