13 January 2012

Differentiated Homework in 4th Grade

Homework, homework, homework. Do we give it or don't we? How much do we give? When do we give it? When is it due in? The dilemmas of assigning homework are many. After 5 years of teaching, I'm about to implement a variation on my homework assignment booklet for the rest of the year.

I teach 4th grade in an International School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The majority of my students are ESL but our approach to teaching is pretty much immersion. Homework for 3rd & 4th grade is, by school policy, to be around 40-45 minutes per night. In order to preserve my sanity, I rarely assign homework on Friday nights. To help students learn some organisation skills, and so parents can see exactly what is required, I have developed a homework book that incorporates Spelling List, Reading Log, Goal Setting, and a Planner. The first 3 pages give instructions and menus, followed by 3 pages a week for most weeks.

Differentiation for spelling happens in a couple of ways. First, there are two versions, one with space for 10 spelling words and the other with space for 20 words. Secondly students have a menu of spelling activities worth varying numbers of points to choose from. They are each set a number of points for the week, and it is up to them what activities they complete.

The reading log is a key part of student's homework. All students are required to read for 15 minutes 4 nights a week, and then to write a comment about what they read. The differentiation comes in with free choice of reading material, and free selection of response starters (with certain parameters).

Copies were received yesterday, and as I shared the booklet and it's process with my colleague, he suggested I should "sell" it. I'd rather just share it, especially since it really is a compilations of adaptations of ideas I garnered from other teacher’s blogs or websites, or from colleagues during the past five year.

If you're interested, use the "Comments" to send me an e-mail (if you don't want me to publish your comment just say so and I won't), and I'll e-mail you a PDF Sampler or the full MS Word document (let me know which you'd prefer).

Big thanks to all those teachers who share your ideas. Maybe one day I'll start "selling" my work, but for now, I'm happy to share.

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