What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 8

A National Board Certified Teacher explains what an educator’s life is really like. The series is a value-added collection of Best ClassAntics Posts EVER! Each post explains something about a teacher’s life and links to ClassAntics posts with relevant teaching tips.

Part Eight: We manage 30 kids’ seatwork and homework hang-ups

You know how it’s difficult to get your own child to complete homework, do a project on time, and remember to turn things in?  Well, teachers go through that every day with 30 students.

First things first: in elementary school, Homework isn’t always graded.  One major reason is because the teacher doesn’t know who actually did the work, but there are other factors that come into play.  My blog posts explains the logic behind this common practice.

That said, your child still needs to get the work done.  Homework teaches responsibility and reinforces the lessons taught in class.  However, it can be overwhelming when your child racks up numerous overdue assignments.  Here are some tips for When your child has missing or late work.

Teachers have little tricks to help make seatwork and homework more fun.  We pep kids up about the assignment, set goals, or let the kids sit under their desks to work.  (Super exciting!)  If all else fails, we break out the markers and crayons, because Work Is More Fun If You Do It in color!

We try to make students understand that they need to turn in quality work.  One of the most common problems is (extremely) short answers where the prompt clearly asked for a sentence.  In that case, we devote another lesson to Teaching Kids to Write Complete Sentences and then have kids redo the assignments.

As you can imagine, paperwork piles up quickly in the classroom.  I developed a super-simple system wherein students mark their number off when they turn on assignment.  That way, it’s easy to Track Assignments as They Are Turned In.  (Click on the post for my printable keep-track chart.)   I make several copies of the chart and put them in sheet protectors.  Then I tape them to the board.  I can keep track of several assignments this way, and it’s easy for students to see what they still need to do.  The kids really enjoy crossing their number off when they finish an assignment.

Sometimes, the goal of seatwork is skill mastery.  For such assignments, I use a “fun” game called So You Think You’re Done?  Basically, the kids form a line and I quickly scan each paper right there in front of the student.  If the paper is not 100% perfect, I ask the student to fix it.  The nice thing about this system is that you know whatever papers you do collect are already A+ perfect.

I highly recommend the series of workbooks called I’m Through! What Can I Do?  They are full of fun puzzles and activities that are easy to copy and set out for students.  You can use them as fast finisher activities.  They also make good activities to leave with a substitute teacher.


 

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