Sunday, September 4, 2016

Weekly Homework Routine in my 3rd Grade Classroom

When I first started teaching, I was all about giving homework. I truly felt that homework helped to reinforce what was learned in class and that it gave parents the opportunity to see what their child was learning in school and the chance to help them with things they were struggling with. 

Little did I know, homework would become the bane of my existence. I spent so much time tracking down assignments that weren't turned in, talking to students about the importance of them doing their own homework (and not their parents doing it for them). I also became frustrated with parents trying to teach kids the 'easier way' of doing math, the way that we all learned when we were younger when I was trying so hard to build conceptual understanding during school.

 Homework was becoming a waste of time for me because my intentions of assigning it were not being met. Those students who needed the extra help at home, were the ones not getting it. 

I also began to reflect on the amount of time my homework was taking up. I began asking parents how long it was taking their child to complete homework. What I imagined would be a 30-40 minute homework routine, was taking up to 2 hours for some kids. This is NOT what I wanted. My students work extremely hard during the day and I want for them to have time to be a kid and unwind after a long day at school. 

Since I knew that my purpose of assigning what I assigned was not having the outcome I had hoped for, I decided to scrap it all. I came up with an entirely new homework routine that worked amazingly well. 

Each Monday I assign a new reading log. Students are required to read a minimum of 100 minutes per week. They can choose what days they would like to read and for how long. Reading logs are due every Monday morning.

The reason I stuck with a reading log is that I felt it was important that my kids actually read. If they want to become better at something, they need to spend time practicing. 

I also spent time stocking my classroom library up with TONS of books to help encourage my students to find new books. I never wanted not having anything to read to be an issue. For ideas on how to grow your library on a teacher budget, click here.

Before assigning these reading logs, I always model what a quality response looks and sounds like. We practice writing responses together as a class before I send these home. 

I believe that reading should be enjoyable, and I highly encourage my kids to read books that they love and are interested in. I require just one response because I do want to hold them accountable for their reading and I also feel that this helps them with their writing and provides me with check-in on their comprehension. Logs are collected on Monday mornings and a new reading log is issued. 

You can find these reading logs here. The product contains 4 different reading logs AND a digital option  You can give a different log each week so that students are not always answering the same question. 

Photo from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad
On Tuesday and Thursdays, I assign Text Evidence homework. I hand out a double-sided sheet every Tuesday. One side is a fiction reading and the other side is a non-fiction reading. On both sides, students are practicing finding text evidence to answer 5 different questions. 

These text evidence passages are quick, simple, but effective. When my littles come to me at the start of the year, locating text evidence is always so difficult for them. These sheets as homework really help to build proficiency with locating text evidence. Here is a GREAT post from Jenny, the creator of the Text Detectives product I use on how to get kids to refer back to the text. 

Students are given the option of how they complete these assignments. They can do one side and turn it in on Wednesday morning. This will get returned to them by Thursday morning. Thursday night, they can complete the other side and turn it in for credit on Friday morning.
The other option is for the student to complete both sides on Tuesday night, turn it in on Wednesday and be done for the week.  To see how I manage collecting homework assignments, you can read all about it here.

The only other homework that I assign on a weekly basis is online homework. The first is Kidbiz3000 (only because it's a school requirement) and the other is typing practice. 

The reason I assign typing practice is that at the ending of the year, our 3rd graders are required to take the SBA. It is so important that students know how to type as they are required to give many extended responses for their answers. I started to practice giving my students their weekly Reading Wonders Assessments online and I found that the quality of their typed responses for #21 were so weak compared to their handwritten responses when given a paper-pencil assessment. I realized that the reason for it was because it took them way too long to type, so they wrote as little as they could. 

I don't collect anything to check that they did their typing homework, no do I have them log minutes. I can tell who has practiced typing by watching them on the computer during class. I just continue to encourage them to practice on their own as it will truly benefit them in the long run. I also used to try to schedule lab time so that students could practice playing games on various typing programs. This is key as this is often a 'hook' for them to realize typing practice is fun! 

What does your homework routine look like?? I'd love to hear about it in the comment section below! 


  1. I love that you've thought so hard about how much homework to give, and you are so intentional with what they're doing. I feel honored that Text Detectives are a part of your routine! Thanks so much for sharing what you do.


  2. Do all of your students (children as i may say that) are getting only this sort of intelligent graphical homework? My niece is know in 3-d grade and her father literally had to order her homework from site like this. It wasn't so hard, but he simply had no time to do it with her.

  3. that's cool that you try to help people to do their homework. Not all the people are good at studying and i believe that they really appreciate to you.
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  4. I do agree with your point that homework is the essential part of the school. Sometimes students don't get time to complete this just because of overloaded assignment and many other works. There Are some companies which offer get papers done facility and provides professional to complete your task in a very good manner. So you can take help with that.
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