We all know the positive effects organization can have on our lives. Yet, organization is not something that is innate for many and is a skill that needs to be learned. As teachers, it is important to give our students the skills they need to move forward as successfully as possible, and something as simple as teaching them homework organization skills and offering homework tips can really impact their success and self-confidence.
Homework agendas are a tool that can really help students stay organized, but we sometimes neglect to show them how to use this tool successfully at the start of the school year. Here are a few homework organization tips that students can use within their homework agendas to stay organized this school year.
As a tip, it is beneficial to have the same homework format for all students at the start of the school year. This will help you assist them by being able to teach the specific skills all at once. After that, if you find that certain students will benefit from a daily assignment agenda instead, you can alter it later, but they will hopefully have the initial steps mastered before then.
If you're fortunate, your school will provide homework agendas for your students. If it doesn't, creating a quick weekly homework format using Powerpoint, then running several copies for each student, will be beneficial. After, just three-hole punch them and have them place it in a duo tang folder.
The first step to help students with homework organization is to show them how to properly write assignments under each subject area. Show them how to find the date and the subject area where they will be writing down their assignments. Also, teach them some shorthand and frequently used abbreviations. Shorthand writing is acceptable and quite a timesaver, but don't assume they know what it means. Explain it to them. (For example, WS means worksheet)
Another homework organization tip that sometimes gets overseen is teaching students to properly gather supplies. Teach students to place a checkmark next to each assignment once all the materials they will need to complete that specific assignment have been packed. For example, if they need their spelling journal to complete the homework, once they have physically grabbed their spelling journal and placed it in their book bag, they will place a checkmark in front of that assignment. If they do not need a specific material, have them write a checkmark anyways. This will let them know that have already attended to that item in their agenda.
Explain and demonstrate to students how to cross out a homework assignment once it has been completed at home. (One simple line across the assignment will do.) Most of us know the joy of crossing something off on our "To Do" list, and students are no different. Not only will this provide them a sense of accomplishment, but it will provide them with a visual cue that it has been completed.
In order to lessen the likelihood of hearing, "I did it, but I left it at home," students will need to make sure they are properly packing their things at home just like they did at school. Teach them to circle the checkmark in their agenda once the supplies have been placed inside their book bag.
Show them how to highlight any important upcoming events or assignments. If a big project will be due on a certain day or specific materials are to be gathered and brought to school by a certain date, show them how to highlight those specific items, so it stays in the forefront.
Lastly, have them quickly find the page they will be writing on by teaching them to make a diagonal fold once the week is over. This quick tip I learned from my friend Chrissy over at Undercover Classroom. I had tried paper clips and sticky notes with my students, but at one point or another, those would get lost. This is a no fail quick way to have students find their page quickly and keeps things moving in the classroom.
It is a great practice to check the homework agendas daily the first week of school in order to make sure that the students are using the agendas as tool correctly. On the second week of school, you may want to check every other day.
I am including the Homework Planner Key here for you in case you are interested in printing it out for your students' planners. Click on the image below to download it.
If you have students still struggling with their homework organization skills, you may want to move them over to a daily agenda format. This is a bit more time consuming since you have to make more copies and will need to monitor students more closely, but it is a GREAT alternative for those two or three students in your class who become overwhelmed seeing an entire week at once. I usually use this system with one or two of my students each year once I see that they are still struggling after the first quarter of the year.
Do you have any quick student organization ideas or homework tips you use with your students? If so, I'd love to hear them. Feel free to share them with me in the comment section.
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