While 3rd and 4th graders use planners in their homerooms it is not logistically possible for children to do this with my classroom since I see children from 12+ different classrooms a day. For this reason, I make my homework systematic and predictable. “Due dates” are clear and part of the learning is how to handle a missed due date. I work with children on becoming more self-reliant and independent as well as on how to establish their own systems for monitoring and managing what they need to do when. In this way, I encourage parents to step back and let their child take ownership because there is no “risk” for “forgetting” in my environment. I am providing this info for parents who want to sift through it, however I do work with the children to ease them into these expectations and so parents can step back and let their child and I manage this together as part of their learning.
There are 3 types of homework:
- Comprehension notebooks (Aug-Nov) 9 lessons students turn in at own pace
- Book club (class novel); depends on grade and text; reading and annotation due Fridays
- Response letters (Oct-Apr.); due every Friday unless an exception is clearly communicated
Comprehension notebooks are given to students in the first week of class together and students have until the end of the first trimester to complete 9 video lessons Students receive a packet for each lesson one at a time; new packets are given when the notebook is returned for a quick check (note they are returned on the NEXT class day). Students can complete these at their own pace however it is recommended to set a goal of approximately one packet a week.
Book club (class novels): 4th graders will read 3 novels: Ella Enchanted (Sept-Dec), A Wrinkle in Time (Jan-Mar), and Van Gogh Cafe (Apr.) 3rd graders will read Clementine (Oct-Dec) and Turtle in Paradise (Jan-Apr). These texts provide a shared reading experience for discussions. While I will direct the children’s thinking to some extent with each text, I leave the reading experience open for the most part and the homework requirement is to “read the assigned chapter(s) and annotate”. Annotate means noting thinking. I do not give the children a set expectation for annotating…rather I tell them I am looking for some evidence of thinking. As long as they have a few ideas noted (either using post-it notes, scrap paper or sharing a Google Doc with me), that is fine. 4th graders have extra OPTIONS for the weekly reading that are CHOICES. It is my goal to have tasks they WANT to participate with. For this reason, I have “HyperDocs” which link students to additional info and participation opportunities. Info on Ella Enchanted:
Response Letters: Since reading at home is so important for personal enjoyment, growth, and development, our main weekly homework will consist of responding to personal reading selections students make. Letters will be part of the “must do” requirements for weekly points. These are NOT intended to be book reports, but rather thoughtful, deep responses to reading. The goal is to practice reading closely for evidence to support thinking. Response choices are provided for focus and guidance; more detailed information can be found here: Reading Response Letters for “Greenies”
Students will be writing response letters to reinforce friendly letter format, handwriting, conventions, and spelling. Be sure to access the playlist of videos showing students and families expectations as they increase. How to “level up” is explained in each video.
Finally, for 40th graders, I have an OPTIONAL 40 Book Challenge this year: