If you’ve been reading articles and following other bloggers, you have seen the ideas surrounding homework. Some are for it . . . and some are against. Here’s an idea for those of you wanting to keep a little parent interaction going at home without bombarding them with the usual paper-pencil piece.
Let me back up and frontload my thinking a bit. We all know that reading at home is one of the most important ingredients in the evolution of a reader. If a parent takes the time to sit and actually engage with his/her child, it definitely shows during in-class reading time. With this said, why not create a reading-based homework? It not only gets kiddos thinking more critically about what they are reading, but it also may drive a few more parents to step up to the plate and support their kids.
Now, this wouldn’t work right off the bat in 1st (obviously) as they are just learning to read more fluently. However, this idea would work for your hot shots and later in the year for the majority of your class. I also see this working very well in grades 2-5.
Enough foundation already . . . how about more details on the idea? I call it Reading Response Homework. We respond to literature all the time in class . . . it’s just good practice. My thought is, why not do it at home too? Not only do reading response activities challenge kids to think critically about the material they are reading, but it also provides additional structured writing opportunities (((fist pump))). Here’s how I’ve set this one up . . .
When I am ready to jump start my kids in this program, I send a canned note home with a few samples. (I suggest that both items are drafted, copied, and stapled well before you want to start. This makes it an easy grab-and-go as you start to feel students are ready to tackle this new homework.) Samples always prove to be the perfect way to really SHOW your parents what you’re looking for. Without samples, you run the risk of collecting those one sentence responses with an “I liked such and such part.”
Make it easy on yourself. Change your reading log to incorporate reading response. One and done. Run ’em back to back and these can be stapled into weekly packets. You also can create a folder of sorts that houses oodles of response forms.
IN CLASS PRACTICE
I have found that if you stick it all on the parents, frustration can occur for all parties involved. Therefore, we practice the exact format that will be used at home IN CLASS. This has proven to be clutch. If we train our kids and guide them through the process up front, we are more likely to have our expectations met later.
Providing a choice goes a long way with kids. Why not extend it into the homework process? My students receive a reading menu that rides around in their reading folder. (You can also add this to the front of their homework folder.) Students get to choose which question they wish to apply to their reading every night. I know that you’re thinking . . . they are going to pick the same one every night. I build in a safety net for this no-brainer choice that we wish to avoid. Out of the 20 different open ended response questions, they cannot repeat a menu choice for two weeks. As time progresses and students become more comfortable, I change it to ALL of them must be attempted before you can respond to the same question.
TRACK & REWARD
Keeping track of this sort of homework can be pretty easy. Just make yourself a handy dandy spreadsheet and record the question number in their column. I like to reward kiddos for meeting various challenges I toss out (not missing a response for a whole month, drafting the best response of the week, not repeating a choice, etc.). Therefore, I have built in a certificate and reward system. You can spin this any way . . . prizes, certificates, lunch dates, etc. The kids loved to be recognized and it helps stir up excitement associated with homework. If you choose to recognize and reward, just be sure to keep track of who gets shouted out. This allows you to spread the love and keep greasing the wheels so to speak.
You can definitely set up Reading Response Homework on your own. If you want a ready-made program with all the above bells and whistles, mine is up for grabs. Take a closer look HERE.
Alright, so there you have it. A different take on homework that encourages parent involvement, fosters higher-level comprehension skills, and offers additional daily writing opportunities. Thanks for taking the time to drop by today. I’ll see you again soon 🙂