Sunday, January 25, 2015

Homework Club

Let me just start by saying that as a general rule, I do not assign daily homework. Sure there will be an occasional assignment here or there, or a project, but I generally believe that students are at "work" all day, and they need some down time when they get home....time without having to do more work and practice that really in the long run does not increase their ability much and leaves you wondering who really did the assignment in the first place. So every year when I tell my philosophy on homework to my class, I get a cheer. With that said, there are many students who do have homework daily because what is assigned in class doesn't get done, so it becomes homework. 

Students that have a difficult time staying focused in class are also the students who generally seem to have a hard time completing it at home as well. So I felt the need to try something to help my students want to complete their homework. One year I tried homeworkology. It's a form of Monopoly that some teacher created to help the students be encouraged to complete their work. I have tried it before and while it was fun, I found it hard to maintain. I needed something easy.

After searching Pinterest, I ran across the idea of a homework club. It's basically a board with numbers. Each student is assigned a number. Each month, all numbers are placed on the board and students can start fresh. If they turn their assignments in on time, they stay on the board. If not, their number comes down. Students who stay on the board all month are treated to some special activity, food, or gift. Some of the things I've done in the past are: special pens, sunglasses, hotchoclate, cookies that they get to skip an assignment to decorate, and cupcakes.

If a student makes it all year without any late assignments, the prize is bigger. Last year I had only one student and they received the game Blokus as  a grand prize.

I created my own version of the homework club because I wanted it to match my theme for the year. So I printed out two giant jars that say "Homework Club" and I typed numbers on some lightning bug clipart. So I have two jars of lightning bugs for my homework club board. When a student doesn't turn something in, their bug leaves the jar.

I like that the homework club uses numbers so that students do not know who the other numbers belong to.

How do you handle homework in your class? Do you use some type of incentive? Leave a comment below telling me how your handle homework and  include your address if you'd like to get a free copy of my homework club jars and fireflies. Please leave a comment by the end of the month to get your free homework club printable.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hitting the Road Running

I do this to myself every...single...year. Come back from Christmas vacation the day before I have to go back to school. Last year was much worse. We crawled into bed around 1AM, making my 5AM wake up time oh so much fun. This year I was a little smarter. We came home around 5PM and I had a few hours to settle it helped that I was left all my assignments ready for the day back. Overall, I was tired, but things were definitely easier this year.

One of the things we've been up to lately in class is studying writing directions (how to paragraphs). I introduced this in a fun way that the students could just not resist. Passing out gum and allowing students to chew it in the classroom has a way of making something exciting. We read about the history of gum and also used this little packet to write about how to blow a bubble.

We're doing one more piece of direction writing in class with a how-to make rootbeer floats peice. Can't wait to surprise them with that tomorrow. Coming out of a long weekend, we need to spice it up and have some more fun.

Next week, each student will be presenting a recipe project to the class. They will make a no-cook recipe (such as smores, trail mix, salad, no bake cookies, etc.), show us how to make it, and create a poster with directions and the recipe. They will also bring a sample to share with the class. I know a lot of public schools do not allow students to bring in homemade items, but my private school does allow it, so I'm feeling fortunate about that. I'm sure we'll have some good eats.

Here's a recipe book cover I've put together to compile the recipe book for the class.