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I was very gung-ho with my posts about Whole Brain Teaching at the beginning of the year, but haven't posted too much since school has started. Seriously, y'all? I love everything I've ever tried from them.
Today, I thought I would share how I do homework. Yes, the dreaded word. Students hate it. Parents hate it. Teachers hate it. Or they did. Now, not so much. Why? Read on....
Last year, I adopted the Whole Brain Teaching Philosophy of Universal Homework. I called it STAR Homework and put my own spin to it. This year, my school is doing a "Team Theme" so my teammate had the idea of calling it TEAM Homework....whatever you call it, the concept is the same.
Students have "choices" of homework that they can do each night. They earn a star for each task completed. At the end of the week, we add up our class (or team) stars and students are rewarded for the number of stars earned. They quickly learn that it takes the whole TEAM to help to achieve goals.
Here's the letter I sent home explaining TEAM homework at the beginning of the year.
You'll also notice that "practice spelling words" is a choice each night. I choose not to dictate how they practice their words. Frankly, I don't care if they're writing them five times each, cheering them to a parent, or writing them with chalk on the sidewalk. I do provide a list of possible activities (it stays in their MONSTER folders) for those who may need new ideas, but whatever works best for them is okay with me. And, let's face it - some students don't need spelling practice. Why not spend that time on something else instead, if that's the case? Fine with me, too! :)
Last year, I took a BIG LEAP in my math homework. I stopped sending home math practice pages. Instead, I bought a deck of number cards for each student and placed these in a pencil pouch in their MONSTER folders to be used all year long for math homework. Each night on the newsletter, I list a game. These games are typed on cards and placed in the pouch as a reference for parents. I've received a lot of great feedback from parents about this approach. Students are having FUN and becoming better with their math facts at the same time.
At the bottom of the homework choices for the week, I list "extras." These are items that can be completed by students who want extra homework or need extra practice with a subject (such as writing).
So, if you're looking to change up your homework, maybe I've given you something to think about. I LOVE this approach because there's not daily homework to collect (which, admit it, told us nothing new about students' abilities). Parents love it because they know what is expected and it's flexible for home schedules since nothing is turned in until Friday. Students love it because it gives them choices...and they get to work together toward a goal. By the way, that "free-choice time" they earn is usually spent playing reading or math games - hey....MORE LEARNING that I sneak in and they don't even realize it!! :)