Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bright Idea: Homework Crate

Today's bright idea is all about homework. Does anyone else just dread this word as much as I do? I feel like no matter how much or how little I assign for homework, I can't please everyone. Additionally, homework is a pain in the rump to keep track of. Although I don't have kids, I know that sometimes Friday mornings can be hectic and homework doesn't get put in the folder, planners don't get signed, etc. etc., so I came up with a system that has been working well in my classroom. Now let me quickly explain one thing - this homework crate is only used for my spelling and fluency homework, as it's not really time-sensitive homework. I have yet to find a perfect solution for math homework, so suggestions are gladly welcomed.

Every Monday morning, I send home 2 pieces of paper - one is their spelling list for the week (which includes a variety of activities for them to choose from, and a box for the parents to sign off the assignment each day). This page is nothing fancy - just something that a teacher in my district made. If you search TPT, you can find lots of free spelling homework pages :) The second page is a fluency sheet (again, you can find many on TPT, or your reading programs might have some included - any fluency sheet will work.) Now, the reason that I don't feel like these are "time sensitive" is because when we take the spelling test on Friday, I will quickly be able to figure out who actually studied -- I don't need to see their homework to know that they practiced (or not, as the case may be). Same thing goes with fluency, as they are progress monitored on dibels every week (thanks to a fabulous parent volunteer!) If they are making progress on dibels, I know that they are practicing their fluency at home.

My homework assignments are always due on the last school day of the week (which is usually Friday)... But my students know that it is not marked late if they forget, or their baby brother spills his dinner on it, or the dog eats it.... I give them a new paper or their parents just write a note. It's all good :)

Here's where the crate comes into play. Each Friday, my students line up and put their homework in their assigned folder in the homework crate. The first few weeks this takes a little bit of practice (maybe my third graders will catch on faster than my second graders did?!) I bet you can see where I'm going with this.... The KIDS are organizing their papers for me!!! Do you know how much easier my life is now?! THEY are responsible for putting into THEIR folder :) Which means less papers for me to sort through and keep track of from week to week. I check the crate at the end of each term and simply count how many pages they have turned in (our terms are usually 9 weeks, so they should have 9 of each papers in their folder). I make each page worth 10 points, for a total of 90 points for spelling and 90 points for fluency (give or take, depending on how many weeks we have). I only have to check homework 4 times per year!

To make your own homework crate, all you need is one file crate (Walmart and target always have them on sale during back to school time), then a hanging file folder and a Manila folder for each student. If you number your students, then you can just number the folders and use them year after year (and if you don't number them, maybe THIS POST will convince you to!) If you don't number your students, or if you think it will be too confusing, you can use the clear tabs that come with the hanging file folders and put the students' names at the front of each folder. Ta-da. Your life just got 10 times easier.

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on Facebook or Instagram for more great ideas.  For more bright ideas more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!


  1. My second graders have done very well filing their work into file crates. I love it!

    Sally from Elementary Matters