I'm Lovin' Homework: Reading {A Mini Series}



Check out all of the posts in this series here:

Post 1: TEAM Homework

I'm thrilled that so many of you are thinking about trying the TEAM homework approach and engaging your students through math games for homework.  I would LOVE to hear how it works for you, if you do!

Today's post is all about making
When I think about my goal with reading homework, it is that I want to make the experience authentic.  Do you love to read?  I do, too!  Some of my favorite days are when I find a book that I can't put down (even to eat...and that's serious stuff y'all)...I get so wrapped up in it that it consumes me and I read it in a single day.  Best days ever!  But you know what?  I HATE when someone tells me WHAT to read.  Like seriously hate it.  

It doesn't matter if the book is a wonderful one, that I might otherwise enjoy.  If I'm being MADE to read it, it somehow zaps the joy out of it.  That is exactly what I do not want to do to my students.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm fully aware of the importance of stretching students' reading experiences and having them experience new genres and books that they might not typically select on their own.  That's my job in the classroom - and I absolutely LOVE when they discover a new genre and fall in love with it.  

But, for homework, I really want them to read because they LOVE it.  To enjoy it.  For it to be {hopefully} an authentic experience, possibly even with their families.  Read on to find out how I try to do this.
When I think of reading in a traditional sense, I think of the basal.  Yep, when I first started teaching I, too, used the textbook.  We read the story in class.  Several days a week.  And you know what students did for homework?  They read the story again.  And answered questions about it.  Each day.  Different questions, same story.

Can you think of a better way to ZAP the love of reading???  Could you imagine if you were taking a class and the instructor had you read something again and again and again.  The same book every single day over a period of time?  Ugh!
 

I quickly learned that there had to be a better way to teach reading and assign homework.  {I won't go into my love of teaching reading in this post since the focus is homework, as much as I want to. :)}  Instead of having my students read from the textbook for homework, I began letting them choose their own books to read.  I really didn't care what they were reading, as long as they were reading!

Sounds great, right?  Almost.  Except, I still required students to keep a reading log.  Don't throw stones at me!  I know a lot of teachers use and love reading logs.  Not me.  Here's why...

* Students hate tracking the pages they read.  I mean, wouldn't you?  Do you do that when you read?  It's just not authentic.  Remember the goal is for them to LOVE reading!  So, think about each thing you do related to that reading.  If it's not fostering a love for it, maybe it's time to make a change.

* Parents hate signing the logs.  I mean, I'm pretty sure reading logs rank way up on parents' hate lists. Just read some mommy blogs if you don't believe me.  *sigh*  And, it's pretty pointless.  I've seen it.  Either parents just sign for the entire week on Mondays so that they don't forget as the busy week progresses or parents get busy and forget to sign.  And then their students are punished because their parents were too busy and forgot to sign.  So then the parents just sign for the entire week on Mondays.  See what a nasty cycle we create with reading logs??

* Students lose the logs.  Or they don't.  And then they turn them in.  And then the teacher hates the logs.  You know why?  Because they're not complete and/or parents didn't sign them.  Or signed them for the entire week at once (yes, we can tell).  

So pretty much, reading logs zap the love out of reading homework for everyone!
So, what do I do now?  I ask the students to....READ!!  I don't care what they read.  I don't care how many minutes they read.  I don't care who they read to or with.  I don't care where they read.  All that matters is that they READ!

How easy is that?  No logs to collect.  No textbooks or papers to send home.  Just read.

Do I know for a fact that every single time that a student stars that they read on the homework sheet that they actually did read?  No.  I don't.  But, I didn't know that with the reading log either.  All I knew was that their parents signed it (probably on Monday for the whole week, remember?)

To me, it's not a battle that's worth the outcome.  If you really want to get your parents on your side, drop the reading logs! ;)  It is my hope that (at least in 2nd grade) families are still reading bedtime stories and really enjoying the reading moments at home together.  I would much rather them have those experiences than sitting down at a table and reading until Mom says time is up.  That is not going to foster a love for reading.  I want the experiences to be authentic.

I encourage parents to select chapter books that they can read one or two chapters per night with their children.  I encourage them to share the reading.  Let the child read some, let the parent read some...it's still so important for them to hear adults reading fluently at this age.  Often parents think that because their students are able to read now they shouldn't be reading TO them anymore, but that's not true!

Now, with that said, I will sometimes give an option for "reading fluency" homework.  With some of my lower students I send home fluency passages for them to read each night (just a one-minute reading per night).  They read the same passage each night and watch their fluency increase throughout the week.  It works wonders and it only takes ONE minute (the parent tells them when to stop).  The repetitive readings are really beneficial for these students.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Great-Poetry-Race-Unit-359705

Another fluency option I use with my students is our "Great Poetry Race."  We usually have a poem of the week in our class.  I pull the poems from all different places - online, Scholastic books, etc.  We place our poems in folders and use them for different activities in the classroom.  And for homework, students have the option of participating in The Great Poetry Race.  This isn't a new concept...it's been around for years, but I try to really have fun with it in the classroom.  You can check out the unit above if you're interested in it.

Basically, students take their poems home and read them to as many different people as they can throughout the week.  They read them to Mom, Day, brothers, sisters, friends...they even call grandparents or faraway relatives and read them over the phone...take them to ball practice or church...the possibilities are endless.  Any student who gets at least 10 reads in the week earns a punch on a punch card and the student who has the most reads is crowned our "Poetry Race Champ" for the week.  It's a lot of fun and students get very competitive...sometimes even choosing to bring their poems to recess - that's right - they choose to READ instead of PLAY!

Repetitive readings are important to build fluency but I use small passages and/or poems for that and I make it a FUN experience.  No more reading the basal stories over and over and over.  

The reading experience should be authentic for all students.  Those students who may not have books at home to read, I will gladly let them "check out" books from our classroom library to take home to read.  The best books are well loved books, after all!

Let me know if you have questions about reading homework.  I'll be back tomorrow with a post on another WRITING homework.  Yep, you heard that right.  And, it's one that I think is the most important, so don't miss it!



59 comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing! I have loved learning about your homework routines and can't wait to incorporate them this upcoming year!!

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  2. Love this fluency idea! Kelli.staggs@gmail.com

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  3. Wow!!! I just read all 3 blogs on your homework. This is my second year back to teaching, I left to be a mom, and wow wow wow!!!! It all makes complete since. I hate doing all the homework with my own, 2nd and 5th grader, but worse I hate assigning pointless homework to my own class. Thank you!!! I am glad I read this, we start back in 3 weeks and I am changing all of it, yay!!!! Did I say thank you ;)

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  4. I'm loving all of your ideas about homework! In the end, its less paper work for the teacher. I'm thinking of dropping the logs completely this year. Last year I used them but parents weren't required to sign. I like the idea of the fluency homework. This is awesome! mrsruffin924@gmail.com

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  5. Great ideas and they all make sense! Thanks for sharing more of your homework routines with us. I would think parents love this approach.

    Tracie
    tcellis@whitfield.k12.ga.us

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  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your posts about homework. I too hate checking homework each week only to find the students who are doing well in the classroom turning it in. Ugh! I am excited to try the team homework approach this school year!

    -Amy
    amsteljenks@gmail.com

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  7. You are amazing!!! Thanks for sharing!
    Amanda
    amanda.gibboney88@gmail.com

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  8. I'm Lovin' this mini-series!! :) Homework has been an issue in my class, too. These are great ideas that I'd love to implement! Thank you for writing everything out so detailed for us! You're wonderful:)
    Sami
    sl_swisher@yahoo.com

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  9. I love this homework series! I said AMEN about ten times as I was reading this post. I hate reading logs, and you are right. Maybe they aren't reading, but they weren't reading with the log either! Thanks again for the great posts!

    Katie
    smileykate52@hotmail.com
    Smiles from Second Grade

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  10. Seriously, I hope you're okay with me stealing all of your ideas. I love the way you manage homework in your classroom. I think that my parents this year are going to LOVE it! I can't wait to read about how you incorporate writing into homework. Thanks SO much for sharing!

    Kristin
    My Carolina Classroom
    mycarolinaclassroom@gmail.com

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  11. I love your ideas about homework! I am trying to vamp up my homework because it wasn't enough for my kids...these ideas are great!! Thank you for sharing! :)
    Teachingtochangelives@gmail.com

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  12. After reading The Book Whisperer I realized book logs were not very useful either. I haven't used them in years. I love just letting them read for fun. Do the students ever question how you know they read?

    Marlene
    I Heart Teaching Elementary
    ihtelementary@gmail.com

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  13. I'm really enjoying reading about how you handle homework! I plan on incorporating it this year. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  14. Wow! This just took all my "opinions" and provided me with great solutions! As a fairly new teacher I've had many of these same thoughts, but didn't know it was "okay" for me do anything about it! Thanks for the reassurance!
    Katie
    katie.passanante@gmail.com

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  15. I am loving your homework blog series!!! I can't wait to jump on board with TEAM homework!! :0)
    courtni_con@hotmail.com

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  16. You've got me rethinking reading logs! And I have to admit that I have been the mom who signs for the whole week on Monday! I knew I shouldn't (I am a teacher assigning reading logs for crying out loud!) but with our schedule I sometimes forgot to sign. :( Thanks for sharing!
    melmom2@gmail.com

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  17. I'm really enjoying these posts! You've given me something to think about today. I agree with your points on reading logs, think about them often but still copy and send anyways! Ugh!! I will definitely revisit this! Fivedurans@yahoo.com

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  18. Wow. Just wow. Seriously contemplating changing my homework routine now! Ginaruth@yahoo.com

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  19. I took this same approach last year and I think it did wonders!

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  20. I love your philosophy on reading homework, Amanda! And I love the fluency race idea!

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  21. As soon as I became a parent of school-aged children...I hated the reading log and ditched it immediately. I have been following the "just READ!" approach for years, but I love the addition of the fluency practice to keep them accountable. This is my favorite blog post series right now, thanks!

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  22. Thanks for the permission to drop the reading log, Amanda! Now I just have to get my principal on board:) I agree that students should just be encouraged to read--no matter what! I don't care if it's the ingredients and steps in a recipe! That, to me, is meaningful and a true life-skill. I would prefer not to mess with reading logs, but that's not entirely up to me, for now. Thanks for the chance to win this awesome little unit!
    SweetSchoolMoments

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  23. You are a parents dream teacher and possibly BFF! I couldn't agree with you more on your thoughts about homework....I absolutely LOVE the poetry race. Thanks for the generous opportunity :)

    Little In Betweens
    (formerly Teach on a Limb)

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  24. I am loving this series. Not exactly sure how I am going to implement it yet in my room but I am excited to read more! Thanks! purtellnicole@gmail.com

    Nicole
    Movin' In Third Grade

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  26. Yay!! I loathe homework. I wish I could wear a shirt that states "just say no to homework, say yes to family time" .....during Open House! Haha! I've always been the "slack" teacher on my grade level for homework requirements, so it's nice to see that others have the same view. Thanks for the posts!
    kerrimp@yahoo.com

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  28. Love your ideas for homework!! Keep them coming!! Hope to be the winner of the Great Poetry Race bundle!!
    bcook@coppellisd.com

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  29. I would love to foster a love of reading in my students. It breaks my heart when they say that they do not like reading as a 2nd grader. I will definitely be "borrowing" your idea and bringing it to my 2nd grade team. Hopefully they will be willing to change what we expect for homework.

    Krystyn
    Msrichardssmusings@gmail.com
    Ms Richards's Musings

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  30. You have me HOOKED on these blog posts!!! I'm getting excited about going back to school! YIKES! Just a few more weeks left! :^D

    sarahmagallano@gmail.com

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  31. I'm loving these homework posts! I can't wait to try out this homework model this year! Thank you so much for sharing all of your ideas.

    alecia-and-ryan@hotmail.com

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  32. I am loving these homework posts. I am moving from third to second grade this year. These are giving me some wonderful ideas to try this year. Thank you!
    cforro3@gmail.com

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  33. This mini series of homework posts is incredible! Thank you for sharing! jackilyon1123@gmail.com

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  34. Wow! Thanks so much for sharing such awesome ideas! I agree that getting students to love reading is one of the most important things we can do as classroom teachers. Now I just need to figure out how to make it work on my classroom.
    Deb
    maxeysjl@defnet.com

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  35. Never heard of Poetry Race sounds pretty cool! Thanks for the info and ideas! Tammy
    tammyjg6@gmail.com

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  36. I LOVE all your homework ideas! I need something new this year and this just might be it!!! hsease99@hotmail.com

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  37. I know that my kids will be motivated just hearing the word "race"!!! I would love to win The Greqt Poetry Race Unit! irlv@aol.com

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  38. I love the way you do homework! Can't wait to find out about writing :) adoran@cvs.k12.mi.us

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  39. I love the Great Poetry Race idea. I'm checking it out right now. Thanks for the chance to win it.
    momarchi@q.com

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  40. Wow! I have just discovered your fantastic blog this summer. I am learning so many new ideas that I can't wait to apply to my second grade class this year! I am excited about the Great Poetry Race. I could see my kiddos eating up the opportunity to race and read. I love how they can read with just more than mom and dad. Thank you so much for sharing your creativity and experience!

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    Replies
    1. drussell@stmarybashacatholic.org

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    2. Thank you for sharing your ideas about homework.
      I would love to try the Great Poetry Race with my second graders.
      rosemarykn@comcast.net

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  41. I love these homework posts. It is giving me some good ideas! poohm12@hotmail.com

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  42. I love your ideas for homework!! Can't wait to try this out!
    hlr2482@verizon.net

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  43. I fight with myself about reading logs every single year. I think I just might take the "just read" plunge. As always, thanks for sharing. jennyley@ymail.com

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  44. Love reading your posts! Logs are truly a drag! Wish I could feel more confident everyone would read at night! Denise.strawn@evsc.k12.in.us

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  45. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about how you implement homework. It seems much more meaningful and engaging for not only the students, but the parents as well. Thank you for sharing your ideas! irbymd@gmail.com

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  46. This looks so cool. Thanks for sharing.

    Christin Shifingteacherk2@gmail.com
    Shifting Teacher K-2

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  47. I love your ideas about homework! I am a new teacher and am looking for a meaningful way to implement homework. I would be honored to win this resource to implement in my classroom. Thank you for this wonderful giveaway! Akserena22@gmail.com

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  48. Thank you for taking the time to blog about homework!! I love these ideas. Tina.petrick@dcsdk12.org

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  49. Great post! Thanks for the chance to win :) secrets2sistah@gmail.com

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  50. What a thought provoking post! My grade level has been talking about our love/hate relationship with homework for years. Thanks for sparking even more discussion. We've been wanting to change for years, I say there's not better time than now. Thanks for the chance to win! Taunya (Letsscrap68@gmail.com)

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  51. I will be starting my first year teaching this year so your post is definitely giving me something to think about. Thanks so much
    adc90125@gmail.com

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  52. I'm loving this mini series about homework, and you have the wheels turning in my head. Thanks!
    Michelle
    Inlikeflynnm@yahoo.com

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  53. I am LOVING your homework series! Makes so much sense. :) dlkjmi2005@aol.com

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  54. I've enjoyed reading how you've changed doing homework. I used to do reading logs - and quickly figured out everything you mentioned. Love the poetry idea! Would love to be a winner.
    Sara
    Saraatschool2@yahoo.com

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  55. Thanks for this amazing giveaway! lyndeehenrichsen@yahoo.com

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