Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Homework Club: Questions Answered


After receiving various emails and questions, I decided to write a follow up post to a guest post I wrote on Education to The Core all about homework, specifically The Homework Club!

I didn't invent the Homework Club. It was something I saw on Pinterest (of course) that I ran with in my own classroom and I found what worked well for me.

I'd also like to throw out there that I don't think homework is the most important thing in the world and I don't assign a lot. It can be daunting on some of our most challenged learners and working in a title 1, I've seen many kids (I'm talking 7 year olds) bear the sole responsibility of getting their homework and sometimes a sibling's homework completed each night. I usually come to understand which kids in my class are facing uphill battles and I take them into consideration. The Homework Club, like any incentive, isn't meant to make anyone feel like they are less but to acknowledge those that put in the extra effort to be responsible for their home learning. Again, if I have a student with a very challenging home life - maybe mom and dad aren't around often - that student's homework expectations may be slightly different. How you set boundaries in your classroom is up to you!

But anyway, homework is a necessary evil so why not try to have some fun with it? Here are a few more details and tips to implementing the Homework Club in your room this coming school year!

Everyone in your class starts out in the Homework Club each month. If a student doesn't turn in their homework, they're out for that month.  In my class, if you didn't complete one night's worth of both math and reading homework you were out of the club for that month.  So that means, some kids will be out on day one. The incentive is to stay in the club - the only way to do that is to do your homework every night. Everyone is automatically in the club again once the next month starts.

I have tried letting kids back in the club after they completed their homework three consecutive times. It was extra work but it might be worth trying if you have a class of kids that give up once they're out of the club early on.

Make a big deal about the lunch! The more prestigious it seems,
the more kids will want to join.

In my room, we had a lunch on the last Friday of the month with a movie and a treat. The Homework Club Lunch. My kids loooved being able to eat on the rug in the classroom and watch a movie or a show of their choosing. And you know kids just love to eat with their teacher! If this is not an option for you, you might consider bringing in a special treat to the lunchroom for your club members.

A sign to place above your pocket chart!

Student numbers for your pocket chart. The file has editable
slides so you can add as many numbers as you need!

In order to keep track of who's turning in homework, you'll need a system in place. For this coming school year, I am making magnets with students' numbers on them and they are on a designated "Homework Club" section of the board. You could also use a pocket chart with numbers. To download my freebie version click on the above pictures or HERE.

You could give just a certificate or a certificate with a HW pass.
Both are included in the freebie!

In my class, if a student doesn't turn in their homework their magnet will be removed. I noticed that after my kids saw that I was holding them accountable in such a blatant way, that more began turning in homework more frequently.
Intermediate students would most likely be successful at handling this for you - you could make it someone's job.

Because I use reading response journals in my classroom, I can easily check in the morning who has done their journaling from the previous night. For math, I give worksheets. I quickly scan through them in the morning to see who has turned their worksheet from that night into the Homework Bin. Here's a tip if you give worksheets of any kind: Start having your kids write their student numbers on the top of their homework near their name so you can correlate the papers to the magnet numbers (or pocket chart numbers if you're using my freebie).  If you're going to be checking journals, have a list on hand so you can check kids off that have their homework done as you're walking around the classroom. A student list (with student numbers) in a dry erase sheet protector will be perfect.

I hope you like using the Homework Club as much as I do! Don't forget to download the Homework Club freebie from my store. If you provide feedback, you'll be eligible to receive any $1 item in my store for free! Details are in the description of the Homework Club download HERE.

Happy last days of summer!