Homework - A Personal Reflection from a Teacher - Plus Milestones Giveaway Continues

As a teacher, I am always thinking about homework: what to give, how much, what format, how will students turn it in/show they did it, when to give it and so on. I have tried many different things over the years I taught second grade and I'd love to share some of my experience with you and hear your ideas for assigning and managing homework.

Now, whether or not we as teachers feel that homework is a good idea, most of us are required to give some kind of homework. When I first started teaching, I gave one or two nightly homework assignments and a weekly reading log. I determined what the homework was and I usually had it go along with whatever we were learning.  The students turned in their folders each morning and at some point I went through the folders, took out the homework, and checked off on a master list who had turned their homework in. I believe at some point I also had a poster on the wall tracking homework completion - you know - where you write all of the students' names and place a sticker in their row to show they turned it in.

 My second year of teaching I was at a new school and right away, I was told not to display anything that showed any student information at all, even whether homework was turned in or not. Oops! Got rid of that poster. At this school, I only worked with one other second grade teachers and when she heard I collected the homework folders and emptied them myself she was like, "No, no! You have wayyy too much to do already. Second graders are old enough to open their folders, take their papers out and put them in a homework bin". Sure enough, even though some kiddos needed reminding or to actually open their folders in front of me, they got their homework out themselves and turned it in.

At the second school, I got used to working closely with this other teacher. We pretty much taught the same lessons and used the same exact materials for everything, including homework. I moved schools once again and this time, there were SEVEN other second grade teachers. It was a drastic change. I was back to being independent and planning my own homework. At some point, I found out some teacher did homework packets. I was like, "Tell me all about it!" and I decided to switch over to that. You know-reading log on the front and a few other activities stapled together, sent home on Monday, due on Friday. I did that for many years but became frustrated with a) having these huge homework packets come in all at once which were bears to correct and b) kids who sometimes forgot homework got pretty penalized because if homework is only due weekly and there are say 10 weeks in a term, if they forgot 3 times, that is 70%. I wondered how it might go if I switched to daily homework. Then there might be 35-40 opportunities for kiddos to turn homework and if they forgot 6 or 7 times (which to me seems like a lot) ends up being somewhere around 80%.

So now I am using a one page reading log on which the kiddos also write their individual spelling words that goes home on Wednesday (annoying- I am not a fan of this schedule but I went with the majority of teachers) and is due on Tuesday. The reading log has activities for up to 5 nights of reading. It has varied throughout the year but the beginning of the year had activities like "Write one sentence about what you read" and "Draw a picture or write a sentence for your favorite part" to now they are finding events in the story to show cause and effect, completing main idea and details webs and more! Wow! Then Monday-Thursday nights I send home one page of homework. Probably at least 50% of the time it is math, maybe a little more. I also send home spelling homework especially if the words are tough that week and vocab homework, science homework, grammar, and so on. Just depends on what I think we need to work on most.

I tell the parents that nightly homework sheet should take 10-15 minutes max to complete and if their child is not done after that long to either stop and leave the rest blank and send it in so I know, or contact me to let me know.

Additionally, a few years ago the first and second grade teachers decided to change how they dealt with homework. We collect it, look at it, see if there is anything to be concerned with, and put it aside but we do not correct every single problem and return all the homework papers. Homework we put aside can be used as a model to show other students an exemplar, or to look over with parents at a conference. It has saved hours upon hours and my sanity!

Overall, I am not the biggest fan of homework. I still feel 7 and 8 year olds are kiddos and should have time to play and be creative after school; but homework looms anyway, so my motto is that the homework is for 3 R's - Review, Responsibility and Routine, ie reviewing what we did in class, learning a routine of bringing something home, completing it and returning it and taking responsibility for your own work (maybe gradually for some students).

Finally, I don't individualize homework. If a parent tells me, "That math page took my daughter 4 minutes" or "That grammar practice game was easy" I say, celebrate it! There are plenty of challenging but fun things you can do with them at home that is not an extra homework page or a third grade page for homework. Teach your child how to play chess, challenge them to build a model of your house with Legos, have them design and play their own grammar game!

 I have had to modify homework, however for 2 students  in that they get all the homework pages at once in a packet and they have to bring it in one a specific day. Another modification was I took the reading log which is one double sided page, and put the response for each day on a separate paper. First the student would try and bring them all in on one day; now we are trying bring one back every day. Honestly, when I look at the data, the return rates for the homework of these students showed little to no change after the modifications.

So what is your homework routine? Does everyone at your grade assign the same homework? Do you have a distinct mandate? Does everyone get the same homework or do you differentiate?

Here are some cool links from other blogs:

How Teachers Can Best Support Parents For First Grade Reading Homework at OCB
5 Tips to Help with Homework Organization at OCB 
Amazing Idea for Homework Management from Young Teacher Love
Checking Homework Time Saver from 3 Teacher Chicks
From Homework to Homefun
Universal Homework Model from T is for Teaching 
Give Your Reading Homework a Makeover at One Stop teacher Shop

Giveaway! Don't forget I am having that big giveaway as a I mentioned at this original post here.
Below you will find all the details again and the rafflecopters. Enjoy!

 I missed my birthday and blogiversary last fall but have since reached some personal milestones thanks to all of you so I wanted to give back. 51 teacher-authors  and I have joined forces to bring you Reading and Writing Redhead's Milestones Giveaway!

There are 6 prize packs, plus Classroom-Friendly Pencil Sharpeners kindly agreed to giveaway one pencil sharpener!  I did my best to sort the prizes by grade level, but even if you don't teach a certain grade you may want to look at the products included in that prize pack. For example, an item that is suitable for grades 2,3 and 4 may be in the grades 4 and up pack, but a second and third grade teacher could totally use it!

Now in totally random order!

The Grades 2 and 3 Language Arts Pack includes 11 items! They are listed in the rafflecopter below the image.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Grades 2-3 Math Prize Pack has 7 great products. They are listed in the rafflecopter below the image.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Clip Art Pack has 4 terrific products from 4 terrific designers. They are detailed in the rafflecopter below the image.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ah, the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener!

To enter the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener Giveaway, use this rafflecopter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Prize Pack labeled as PreK, K and 1 has 9 wonderful products! They are listed  in detail in the rafflecopter below the image.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

11 super teacher-authors offered winner's choices for this prize pack. You would get to choose anything you like from their stores. Look at the image below or the rafflecopter to see who donated for this prize pack!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And the grades 4 and up pack has 8 terrific items that can even be used by a variety of grade levels. They are listed in the rafflecopter below the image.


  1. I'm most excited about the clip art giveaway. Thanks for hosting it!

  2. I'll be working on science and ELA the most between now and the end of the year. I try to integrate it all, but those will be my focus.

  3. We will be working on ELA and Math (measurement, etc.) from now until testing time.

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