Saturday, February 4, 2012

Homework, my way

First of all, I took this photo on my way home from work yesterday, and it basically means I'm (my wallet is, really) in big trouble:
Yes, that's a sign that says "Dollar Tree - Coming Soon." I found out it's opening on February 12! AND it's right on my way home from work. Danger, Will Robinson! I envision a lot of Dollar Tree in my future...

Now, I'm linking up with The Lesson Plan Diva to share how I do homework in my class.

Homework is a tricky beast for me. We do not give grades at our school, or even have requirements the students must meet (other than IEP goals and the like - which if they don't meet, it's on me as the teacher and not the students, of course), since we are a center-based special ed school and none of our students are diploma or certificate-bound. Before this year, none of my students had ever had homework from school before.

I knew it would be a hard sell when I began homework this year. My students are all moderately to severely cognitively impaired, and all need some degree of assistance from parents or someone else to complete anything I send home. And I can't require they do anything! I knew going into it that there would be some kids who never do their homework - because no matter how hard I sell it to the kids, the parents have to be involved to get anywhere. And I knew that was a losing battle with some (despite the wonderful, cheerleading letter I sent at the beginning of the year, extolling the benefits and virtues of homework, and reiterating to parents how much little time and effort it actually would require of them).

So, here's what I do: On the first of each month, I send home one homework sheet for the entire month. On it is six activities the kiddos are to do at home. If they complete three of the activities during the month, they receive one point, if they complete more than three they receive two points, and if we meet our class homework point goal, the whole class gets a reward. I always have an alphabet-based activity, one or more to do with our monthly unit theme, one where all they have to do is color a picture I attach, and the rest get changed up as I see fit. Each item is on the easier side for my higher kiddos to ensure even my low kiddos can participate at all, but everyone will always need some assistance, even if it's just reading the directions and recording their answers. An example from January is below (if I can get the embedding to work):

Homework January

Out of eight students, I have two who turn in their completed homework every single month. Three others have turned it in maybe once or twice all year. One always says he does his homework, but has never turned it in to me, so I have no idea if he's all talk or not. I have never heard "boo" about homework at all from the remaining two students or their families.

It's still a work in progress, since I just started this school year. I want to continue it, since I do think it's valuable for the students and families who participate, but I wish I could figure out a way to get more involvement. I'd love to individualize it more to each student's needs and goals, but that's kind of not worth it to me with such low participation. I don't know...I'd love to hear ideas, especially from teachers who can't require homework and/or who have lower-functioning students.


  1. I like your homework ideas.. I should implement something like that, perhaps Ill just steal yours :)

    I know exactly which 2 of my students will turn theirs in.. lol.

    Ms. Rachel’s Room

    1. Steal away :)

      lol...I knew which 2 of mine would turn theirs in, too. Funny how that works...

    2. Dollar Tree is a dangerous store! I have several near me and I love them... but I know I can spend $50 in there easily without even realizing it!
      As for homework, as a student teacher currently I don't really have any advice for you, but I like what you're already doing... giving them options, not making it mandatory, and rewarding everyone if the homework gets done at all!

  2. I just found your blog! I read this post before anything else at all and was so interested! I'm a new follower and will definitely look forward to reading more of your posts!

    I teach special education pre-school, but a majority of my students are Developmental Delays & many of them will *fingers crossed* test out of special education during the next re-evaluation. Your classroom sounds so interesting to me!

    Creating & Teaching

    1. Hi Erin - thanks so much for stopping by! I am following your blog, too.

      That's so awesome some of your students are going to test out of sped next re-eval. How exciting! I got to move one of my students to a sped program in a regular ed school last year, which was a first. I was so proud of him!


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