Friday, January 4, 2013

From Homework to Homefun!


Hi! This is Dana from Fun in 1st Grade.  I am a guest blogger today for Tania.  I am so glad you stopped by-maybe you found it through the blog hop- there are guest bloggers ALL over the place today! 

If you aren’t familiar with my blog, let me start by telling you a little about myself.  I have been teaching for 11 years and blogging for less than one.  I teach 1st grade, but have taught everything from Pre-K through 2nd.  I am a HUGE fan of Whole Brain Teaching  and that’s what I want to talk to you about today. 

Whole Brain Teaching is just amazing.  It has changed my classroom for the good and I will never give it up.  I have written several posts about it {HERE}, so if you want more information, please check it out.  Now, as the title states, I am going to help you with the huge headache we call homework.  My daughter’s school calls it homefun… I have never seen a child have fun doing homework, until I started using the homework model from Whole Brain Teaching!  Seriously.  I’m not kidding.  My kids rush in the door every day to tell me about their homework experience the night before.  It’s pretty amazing to see and it makes my heart happy to hear them excited to work on skills at home. 

My team and I were tired of making all the extra copies that homework creates and we were also looking for a way to cut down on grading so. many. papers!  -Less grading, now I’ve got your attention, don’t I?!  Ok,  ok, I have built it up enough? Are you ready to hear all the juicy little WBT secrets? Ha!

WBT calls it the Universal Homework Model.  I call it Star Homework.  The beauty of WBT is that you can customize it to fit your needs and your classroom.  I first read about Star Homework over on Third Grade Thoughts.  This method allows the students to choose what they do for homework.  We all know students take more pride in their work when they have ownership- well this allows that.  Each night, our students can choose to practice math, vocabulary words, or spelling words.  For each task they complete, they earn a star for the class.  They can do 1, 2, or all 3 activities.  In addition to these tasks, we require 10 minutes of reading.  Students do not earn a star for reading, because, as I said, it’s required.  You can set the tasks to be anything you want.  If the majority of your students don’t have internet access, that’s ok, get creative.  Check out the WBT website for ideas!  The form below says XtraMath.org for math practice.  This is a free website!  You just have to go in and set up your class.  Maybe you do IXL,  that works!  For spelling practice, our students can go to spellingcity.com or practice their words aloud with someone.
Here is a look at what we use. As you can see, the parent circled and initialed the tasks that were completed.

Stephanie at 3rd Grade Thoughts was kind enough to post an editable version of this form, so all the thanks go to her!  Click {HERE} to go to her forms.
We also graph the number of stars throughout the week and on Friday, based on how many stars the class as a whole has earned, they receive some type of treat or special activity- whatever you choose!  WBT has many suggestions, including a great review game called Mind Soccer
 Here is a look at one of our weeks.

I have 225 boxes in my graph.  If every child does all 3 tasks EVERY night, they would all be colored.  Of course, that is not going to happen, but that’s ok!  We always talk about how it compared to the week before, if we went up or down.
I have only received positive comments from my parents about this method.  If you are getting tired of your current homework routine, I encourage you to give this a try! 

Thanks!
FGF

9 comments:

  1. I really like that the kids get to choose which assignments they'd like to complete.

    MrsMc from Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!

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    1. I think that's what makes it motivating for the kids!

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  2. Thanks for sharing your homework routine... I tried to get out of my rut with extra worksheets too. I like the accountability you tied into it by having the parents initial and the children chart their completed homework.
    Julie
    Primary Pointe

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    1. Older children could even color the graph in as part of their morning routine.

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  3. This is a great idea. I struggle with homework, because I never like to just "send something home" but if kiddos have a set routine of homework activities, that sort of solves the problem.

    Thanks for a great post!
    karen
    LittleSecond-GradeSomebodies

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    1. My parents have told me they like knowing what their homework is-as opposed to being surprised each night. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

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  4. Hmmm...I love the simplicity of this homework (Eleventybillion less copies to make each week. What?!?!) and that it puts it on the responsibility of the students to do as much as they choose!

    Covered in Glitter and Glue

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  5. This is a great post. I try to incorporate some of the WBT things into my classroom, but never have seen or heard of this! I have some research to do! Thanks!
    Hilary
    Second Grade is Out of This World!

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