Assigning Homework in Middle School
Oh, glorious homework! I have teachers ask me all the time about what they can routinely assign for middle school homework. So, here’s my best advice. If you’re trying to come up with ideas for the kids to do for homework, STOP. It isn’t worth it.
Some facts to consider regarding homework in middle school.
1) Most likely, you are going to have some students who never do homework. Ever. And depending on your school protocol, there might not be a thing you can do about it.
2) Middle school students play sports, and there are some days that they won’t even be home until after 9pm. (I have a 7th grader, and this is the case for us every Wednesday night, and he’s never involved in more than one activity at a time)
3) There are other teachers on your team that will load the students down with homework every night for the sake of giving homework.
If you really want something done, then do it during school hours.
That being said, I do give homework. BUT, I do it *tactfully* and that makes all the difference.
Keep It To a Minimum
I only give homework when I’ve got something I really want the kids to do but we don’t have time to do it in class. OR, when we get really behind, sometimes I need to assign something so that we can catch up. On average, I probably end up giving homework once a week, occasionally twice, and some weeks I don’t assign homework at all.
If there’s a football game or basketball tournament or PTO meeting or Skate Night or some other event that might make it difficult to complete homework, I won’t make anything due the next day. I’ll write “Go Panthers!” or something like that on the homework board where I’d write the assignment. Students will get the hidden message. “Go Panthers!” actually says “I care about your activities and they are important.” Also, next week when you get behind and have to load them up, you won’t feel so bad and they won’t be sick and tired of doing your homework.
One super important thing about assigning homework – I almost always give students a minimum of two nights to complete an assignment. Sure, some students (my son included) will just put it off and do it the second night. But you never know when a student might have a ridiculous amount of your partner teacher’s homework to do or something going on at home that would make it difficult to do your homework that night.
My Kind of Homework
My favorite homework to assign is coloring and cutting out interactive notebook activities. YEP, you heard that right! This is probably my biggest time management tip for using interactive notebooks when you’re short on time.
I’ll send my students home with the template a day or two before I’m planning to do the activity in class with specific instructions for coloring and cutting. I’ll show them an example and have them write on the page if anything is color-coded.
Now, I’ve just shaved a good 15 minutes from my interactive notebook lesson. The perfectionists in the class were able to over-achieve on the coloring aspect of the foldable. And the best part? The students actually do not mind this type of homework. It isn’t difficult or frustrating or time-consuming.
In a nutshell, assign homework with intention and compassion.