This year I totally changed my homework routine. I made homework packets and sent them home every Monday. They were due each Friday. I organized the homework packet as follows:
1st page: Weekly Grade Level Newsletter
For my newsletter I include our "week-at-a-glace" where I highlight what we're learning about in each curriculum area. I also list important dates that are coming up and I have a notes section to address anything special that is happening. I also email this newsletter to parents that sign up for it.
2nd page: Spanish Newsletter
We have a high ELL population and every note has to be sent home in English and Spanish.
3rd page: Spelling Page
Our grade does three spelling lists based on the same phonics pattern (beginner, regular, and advanced levels). This page has all three lists and I circle whichever list the student is on (based on how they did on a pretest). This page also has a spot to record how spelling words are practiced and has room for a parent signature).
4th page: Spelling Ideas
I don't require any certain way for students to practice their words. Students learn differently so I just include a page full of ideas on ways to study their words. Parents seem to really appreciate the flexibility. Click here for my Spelling Ideas Page (it's free).
5th page: Fluency
I include a fluency passage from our basal program. We work on this same passage in class as well. Students read the story every day and answer two comprehension questions.
6th Page: Reading
I ask students to read at least 20 minutes every night. On this page they write a summary of what they read each night.
7th & 8th Pages: Math
I include two math pages to practice whatever skill we are working on.
9th & 10th Pages: Writing
On these pages I include a writing prompt and handwriting lines for them to write on.
So that is what is included in each packet. It is due every Friday. I used to have a problem with a lot of students not completing homework. I am not allowed to take recess away, so I was kind of stumped on how to fix the problem. This year our grade level started doing "Fun Friday." Basically we planned fun activities for the last half hour of the day on Fridays. Students could only attend Fun Friday if their homework was turned in complete. We had three teachers in our grade level so we split it up where two teachers planned fun activities and one teacher took the students who did not finish homework. Students who completed their homework chose which fun activity they wanted to participate in.
This worked so well! I averaged only 1-2 students a week not turning in homework. And if they didn't finish it, I knew they were at least able to get some help from one of us teachers for 30 minutes. We rotated who helped with homework, so every three weeks we didn't have to plan an activity. This was also a good excuse to just do something fun. Sometimes it fit in with our curriculum, but not always. This year we made ice cream in a bag, played with Oobleck, had iPad time, played board games, had Kidzbop dance parties, painted, played outdoor games, made holiday crafts, did fun science experiments, and more! I loved doing homework this way and plan on continuing this same method next year. How do you do your homework? Check out more ideas at Third Grade Bookworm's Linky.