Homework. This word holds different associations for different people. As a teacher, I’ve heard all sorts of opinions on the topic of homework and have been informed about all of the negative aspects of assigning homework for students. However, I don’t believe that setting homework is necessarily a bad choice. Not when it’s done correctly. Also, many schools still require that homework is set for students. So, as teachers, how can we make sure we are approaching homework the right way, in order to provide enriching opportunities for student learning to take place? Well, here are a few simple ideas to get you started:
Use Task Cards
Yes, I still utilise task cards in teaching. Why? Because they work! They are so versatile and are the easiest way to get the same content out to your students that you would put on a worksheet, but in a more interesting format.
Here’s an example of how you can use them for homework. Say you’re working on revising perimeter with your students. Instead of giving them a quiz worksheet, break the questions up into task cards. Create a game out of the cards and ask them to complete a recording sheet as they work through the cards. Hey, presto! You’ve now got the student data you need to assess their knowledge of perimeter, all while your students have had fun playing a game with the task cards you sent them home with. Now, that’s a win-win. If you are working on perimeter with your students, but you’re thinking you don’t have time to put together your own task cards – you can get my ready-to-use Perimeter Task Card Set here!
Playing games is an effective way to keep students engaged in a task, and there are many games that you can use as homework activities. A great part about sending games home with kids for homework is that it encourages parents to get involved in their children’s learning. For example, if you’re having students work on their times table facts, you can use a game like Times Table Bingo. This game is simple for students and parents to understand the rules of, and it allows children to use the strategies that they find most helpful for working out the times table facts.
Make It Personal
Do you know what we all love talking about? Ourselves. Yep, and our students are no different. If you want to get them interested in homework again, give them a chance to share something about themselves. This not only keeps them engaged, but it also helps you get to know them better! If you’re after some resources that provide opportunities to get to know your students, I have a Getting to Know You Bundle available here.
Puzzles are such a fun educational tool! They can be used for almost any subject area and are especially easy to incorporate into your homework routine. One way this can be done is by using addition puzzles. In the example shown below, students need to use their addition skills to put three numbers together that equal one hundred. You can adapt this strategy as you need to so that the puzzles focus on whichever learning area your students are spending their homework time on.
Set a Challenge
Setting a learning challenge can be a helpful motivator for kids. I have often used holiday challenges like the one shown below with my students, but there’s no need to wait until the holidays! Think of some different activities that suit the topics you’re covering in class and put together a challenge for your students to work on during their homework time. If you want to save yourself some planning time, I have some ready-made maths and literacy challenges available here.
Make It Practical
Have you tried asking your students to do everyday tasks for homework, such as cooking? This is a great way to engage those learners who find it difficult to sit still and focus for long periods of time. Plus, it encourages parents to get involved too! If you want to give this a try, you can start with part 2 of my Cooking With Maths series, which involves calculating the ingredients needed to bake some yummy vanilla cupcakes!
Utilise Student Choice Boards
I’m an advocate for using student choice boards in the classroom, which is why I often talk about them in my posts. The great thing about choice boards is that you can easily combine more than one subject area in the one board and can switch up the options as often as you like. If you’re after some choice boards for upper primary / elementary students, I have a bundled set available here.
Remember That Less is More
When it comes to homework, teachers and students can tend to overcomplicate things. Although it can be tempting to pack as much into your homework routine as possible, homework is often much more effective when it is simple. Choose one or two activities that are easy for students to understand and let them spend their time on that. Remember that sometimes less is more.
Give Your Students The Night Off
Every now and then there will be times when you and your students just need the night off. That’s when I like to use tokens like these sweet ‘No Homework’ Passes to make a night of no homework seem like a special, well-earned treat for students. Although, when your homework activities are as fun as the ideas above, your students might be a little disappointed to have the night off anyway!
I hope that these ideas inspire you to try something new with your homework routine. You can use the links to buy your own copies of any resources I’ve referenced in this blog post.
P.S. I love to hear how my tips and resources are helping you in your teaching, so leave a comment to let me know!
Do you want some more homework tips that are specific to times table practice while you’re here? Then have a read through my list of engaging times table homework activities.
Have a question or a request? You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.