I have found a homework system that works well for my students, parents, and me. In fact, over the past couple of years, I have had many parents tell me how much their students have been enjoying the homework. Enjoying homework?! Yep, you heard that right!
Introducing the Homework Menu...
I know that many teachers use a "menu" system in their classrooms for spelling or other types of activities. It is a great way to provide students with some choice. The homework menu is not much different. My homework menu is broken up into three portions, "Appetizers," "Entree," and "Dessert." The students complete one section a night. For example, they know that they are to complete an "appetizer" on Tuesday night, "entree" on Wednesday, and a "dessert" on Thursday. The students choose one item from each section. There are several activities to choose from. For example, on Tuesday nights when students are choosing an appetizer, they are picking from a list of spelling activities. One activity is classify all of the spelling words according to their part of speech. On Wednesday night, the students get to choose an entree, or math activity. Students can play multiplication war or create their own word problems and answers. Last, but not least, comes Thursday night where students can select a dessert, or writing activity. Students can choose to write a poem, story, or descriptive paragraph to name a few. The students absolutely LOVE having a choice in what they select for homework!
Before I start giving students their homework menu, I start the first 2 weeks of school by teaching the students how to complete the activities in class. We practice many of the menu choices together. My first year doing this I learned the hard way. Most students were turning in poor quality of work and doing the bare minimum. I learned that I had to set clear expectations first, as we do for all aspects of the classroom. Once the students know my expectations, they turn in thoughtful, quality work.
I also change the menu up throughout the year to keep the students motivated. Usually after winter break I introduce a new homework menu. The expectations and assignments get a little more difficult after winter break as well.
The homework menu is NOT the only homework I give each night. In addition to the homework menu, I give a short math practice page Monday - Thursday (except on Wednesdays since they're choosing an activity from the menu). I never give math homework that follows what I taught that day. Instead, all of my math homework is review from the previous weeks, or even months, before. I like my students to keep practicing the skills that were taught in the past. I don't want to teach a lesson in class and have the students go home and practice it the wrong way if they did not understand the first time. My parents are aware that my math homework is review, so they know to notify me right away if their child doesn't understand. The students also complete word sorts for spelling throughout the week in addition to the Tuesday spelling choice in the menu. My students also read nightly and complete a short reading log. And that's it! You can download the reading log by clicking here.
I would love to know how homework works in your classroom. Please comment below and share! Have a great week!