Saturday, September 10, 2016

The No-Excuses Homework Supply Bag


I have an incredibly ironic secret to share with my fellow teachers. I despicably, vehemently, despise giving homework to children!   It's my belief that children are in school all day working hard. When they go home at night they should be outside playing, participating in sports, joining after school clubs, eating dinner, spending quality time with their families. Kids need to spend time just being kids. These are the things that may give them interests in life-long hobbies and many positive memories. Right? 
    So, even though I am not a staunch believer in lots of homework, I am a believer in a little bit of homework to give children a responsibility and to also practice skills so that there is more time in school to do the bigger lessons. I teach Life Skills to children in 7th-12th grade. Is it cruel to give homework to special education students? I say no!
     I decided that instead of working on spelling day after day in school. We could work on spelling two times a week in school and use the other days for heavy duty ELA lessons. My theory you ask? What good is spelling if you can't write a sentence! I want to make homework as painless as possible with an almost guarantee that ever student will bring their homework back to school everyday. 
   My plan: We made no-excuses, take home homework supply bags filled with everything necessary to complete home work at home. We had a blast making the bags with duct tape! Initially, I had visions of duct tape stuck in my hair or kids tangled up in it! Thankfully how wrong my vision was! The kids had fun and so did I! Since it is so ridiculously easy to make a no-excuses homework supply bag, I am sharing this fabulous invention with you.

Steps to Making a No-excuses Homework Supply Bag:

1) Buy the materials:

  • Several rolls of colorful duct tape. I bought mostly solid colors with a few printed rolls to accent the bag.
  • Gallon sized plastic bags with zippered locks.
  • Supplies that your students will need for home work:I filled ours with pencils, pens, erasers, colored markers, crayons, colored pencils, and a spiral notebook. It's best to purchase the supplies during the back to school sales, when the prices are low.

2) Lie the plastic bag flat on the desk in front of each student. Tape the bottom with excess tape on both sides so that the bag doesn't move while the kids are adding more tape.
3) Allow the students to choose their own colors. I had my kids use solid colors and then add the fancier duct tape for fun! We put duct tape on the first side of the plastic bag in strips.  We then flipped it over to do the same to side two.

4) Next we embellished each bag with the printed duct tape.
5) Since we are a life skills class who uses an assembly line on other projects, I chose to practice our assembly line skills to fill our no-excuses home work supply bags. The kids did a great job!

    The next task I did to ensure homework completion was to sign my class up for Spelling City.  Spelling City is an on-line site where I can post my students spelling and vocabulary words. The best part for me is that since my students spelling lists are individualized according to their own personal level, I can easily add as many lists as I want. I was also able to print letters to the parents in both Spanish and in English so that the parents knew that their children can practice on their computers at home. I am notified of the time each student spends on Spelling City and see their progress. Better yet, the games on Spelling City are varied and fun! My students love it! A few have downloaded it to their cell phones!  No, I don't work for Spelling City. I just like to share helpful tools for my colleagues. So whether you send home spelling homework or another subject you should never again have to hear, "I couldn't do my homework because I didn't have any supplies".
     Now I can tell you that the "No-excuses Homework bags combined with Spelling City have made ten highly successful students in my classroom. We have a 90% success rate with homework and 100% on all of our spelling tests. I'm proud, my kids are happy. ELA is going great! In a very odd sense the No-excuse homework bags have seriously changed our classroom lives for the better! I hope this tool can work for you too!