Monday, October 22, 2012

Homework Menu: Servin' up some differentiated work!

Happy Monday everyone! Or, just Monday, depending on how you look at it. When I first started teaching, one of my greatest struggles was figuring out what to give for homework. I work at a school with a highly involved parent population and typically the parents are pretty opinionated about homework. Some want their child to work on a lot of homework, while others get discouraged by one or two assignments. It's tough to please everyone when it comes to this topic! I personally feel that some homework is necessary for students. I still want my students to be able to enjoy activities outside of school, however, I feel that homework teaches them responsibility, provides reinforcement of skills learned in class, and gives the parents a peek at what we're learning.

 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.

 Other Homework

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!


  1. Brilliant idea...a homework menu! I send a packet home on Friday, & it's not due until Thurs. So the option of pulling ahead is there if they want it. if not, one page per night is ok, too. Sports & activities are important, so I give the family the choice when to complete it.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Amy Howbert

    Little Miss Organized

  2. Such a cute idea! Thanks for sharing! I'm also,a new follower!

    I hope you'll visit my manly blog!


    Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten

    1. Hi Greg! Thanks for stopping by! We follow you too.

  3. So cute ladies...I love all the creativity!

  4. I love the homework menu! And I'm your newest follower!

    Fifth in the Middle

  5. I love your homework menu idea. I have never seen homework put that way. It sounds so fun. I might have to try this.

    a basket full of apples

  6. This is a great idea in every way. When I first saw the post I thought it was going to be all about math. I love that the students get a choice in their homework. I pinned this.

  7. I'm doing my masters research proposal on the use of a homework menu. My research proposal is all about an online version, but very it gives the student and families choices. I LOVE the menu idea. Awesome job!!!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...