Sunday, September 25, 2016

1 Tool to Help K/1 Students During Independent Reading

Last week we launched read to self as part of Daily 5.  Let the stamina building begin!  During read to self, students are expected to stay in 1 spot, read the whole time, read quietly, and get started right away.  Reader's workshop has similar expectations so even if you follow that model, this could work for you.  Some students told me after reading 1 book in their book box that they were all done.  Although it is still early in the school year (we started after labor day) and I need to continue modeling strategies, I wanted to provide my students with a visual that helped them understand the value of re-reading and not being "all done".
LEFT SIDE: Re-read
RIGHT SIDE: Books I am working on

This is nothing fancy, but it really helps students have a place to put their books as they read and get in the habit of re-reading.  Since K/1 students are mostly reading pattern books or guided reading text, a file folder is the perfect size.   One teacher on my team wrote the independent reading expectations on the front as a reminder for students.

Have a great week!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Why I'm Ditching Homework This Year

I always thought that sending homework helped students and reinforced concepts that we are learning in school.  However, studies have shown that the link between student achievement and homework is minimal or non existent.  A few studies I read mentioned that homework actually has a negative impact on elementary students.  

The National Education Association states that K-5 students are receiving 3x the recommended amount of homework.  Due to extracurricular activities and parents work schedule, families are not spending much time together as a family.  The time that families do have together at night I do not want it spent on homework.  I want my Kindergarten students eating family dinners, playing outside, and just being kids. They are only little once.

Study 1
Study 2

Erin from Beyond the Beanstalk created this image to illustrate the effect of too much homework in the elementary grades.

I want my students to have a positive mindset about school and not feeling anxious due to too much homework.

Reasons why I am ditching homework:

  • Homework does not offer choice.  Students are usually given a worksheet or packet with directions on which portions to complete and the due date.
  • Many classrooms that assign homework often punish students if homework is late or incomplete when many times these factors are out of a student's control.  I have seen classrooms that take recess away, lose points, and notes home.  
  •  Resources vary in each home.  Families have different levels of education, languages spoken, and basic supplies to complete homework.  
What am I doing instead?
  • No homework packets or worksheets!
  • I encourage families to read with their child every night.  I showed parents this image at curriculum night.  

    If you have families that want to extend their child's learning at home, I found the perfect free resource HERE  At curriculum night when I gave parents an overview of my homework stance, I provided three BINGO boards for reading, writing, and math.  A parent or child can choose an activity whenever they desire. 

    Last spring my principal encouraged each grade level to rethink their homework policy.  Fortunately my grade level is on the same page.  I understand everyone's teaching situation may look different.  I hope sharing my perspective as a Kindergarten teacher provided some insight into my decision.