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June 12, 2018

Easy and Effective Week-by-Week Homework for Reading Comprehension

By Genia Connell
Grades 1–2, 3–5

    As one school year ends and the next looms on the horizon, my teaching partners and I always have the same homework discussion: Should we even assign homework this year? How much? What’s the value? Should it be independent work or parent dependent? Does homework even matter?

    Coming up with the answers to these questions is not an easy task, and our answers always seem to change year to year. Over time, I’ve altered the way in which I’ve assigned homework dramatically. I give less, and I try to ensure it is an extension of goals we are working toward in class.

    This past year I began using a reproducible book of reading homework from the Scholastic Teacher Store: Week-by-Week Homework: Reading Comprehension by Mary Rose. This resource was an easy way for me to assign homework that mattered.

    Week-by-Week Homework: Reading Comprehension is available for Grades 1–6 in the Teacher Store. The third-grade version I used includes 30 assignments, perfect for handing out one per full week of school. I normally assign the lesson on Monday and make it due by Friday. Within each assignment there are three main parts:

    • Teacher Talk: This page begins each lesson with background that the teacher can use to introduce the lesson. The standards the lesson are aligned to appear on this page along with tips and ideas for integrating the key ideas.
    • Family Letter With Questions: This letter gives clear directions for parents to follow. This page includes the questions students answer after reading a passage.
    • Read-Aloud Page: Each assignment includes a literary or informational passage that is to be read aloud to parents.

    I love the read-aloud component for two reasons. First, it helps improve fluency as students have purposeful at-home practice once a week. Secondly, it also helps a parent hear how their child is reading. By third grade, many parents just assume their children can read so they stop reading to them, and they stop listening to them read. I’ve discovered parents are often surprised when they hear their child read a grade-level passage aloud and it doesn’t quite sound the way they thought it would. As the lessons progress week-by-week, parents become as excited as I do to hear the improvements their children are making in both fluency and comprehension.

    Sample pages from my Grade 3 book:

    Parental Support is Built-in. In addition to the clear directions provided with each lesson, this resource includes a list of ways parents can help improve their child’s reading and ideas for simplifying homework routines. Providing this list to parents early in the year helps open the way for important conversations on where their children are and how we can help move them forward together.

    Types of Homework Assignments

    Both literary and informational text lessons are included, and I tend to alternate between the two genres. The chart below shows the many different standards that are covered:

    When the Homework is Returned

    I treat homework as a learning experience. On the day the homework is due, we normally check it together as a whole group. Students are always eager to help read the passage aloud because they have already practiced it at home. Answers to questions are discussed in-depth — not only what the answer is, but why that’s the answer. I always tell students to use their checking pencils to improve their answers in any way possible.  

    Grades for homework are just credit for completion, because I know that parents are frequently guiding the answers, but that’s ok; the alternative is to not have them involved at all. I smile every single time a student responds to getting an incorrect answer with, I told my mom that wasn’t the answer!

    If you are searching for an easy, yet valuable reading homework experience this coming year, I highly recommend you giving Week-by-Week Homework: Reading Comprehension a try.

    As one school year ends and the next looms on the horizon, my teaching partners and I always have the same homework discussion: Should we even assign homework this year? How much? What’s the value? Should it be independent work or parent dependent? Does homework even matter?

    Coming up with the answers to these questions is not an easy task, and our answers always seem to change year to year. Over time, I’ve altered the way in which I’ve assigned homework dramatically. I give less, and I try to ensure it is an extension of goals we are working toward in class.

    This past year I began using a reproducible book of reading homework from the Scholastic Teacher Store: Week-by-Week Homework: Reading Comprehension by Mary Rose. This resource was an easy way for me to assign homework that mattered.

    Week-by-Week Homework: Reading Comprehension is available for Grades 1–6 in the Teacher Store. The third-grade version I used includes 30 assignments, perfect for handing out one per full week of school. I normally assign the lesson on Monday and make it due by Friday. Within each assignment there are three main parts:

    • Teacher Talk: This page begins each lesson with background that the teacher can use to introduce the lesson. The standards the lesson are aligned to appear on this page along with tips and ideas for integrating the key ideas.
    • Family Letter With Questions: This letter gives clear directions for parents to follow. This page includes the questions students answer after reading a passage.
    • Read-Aloud Page: Each assignment includes a literary or informational passage that is to be read aloud to parents.

    I love the read-aloud component for two reasons. First, it helps improve fluency as students have purposeful at-home practice once a week. Secondly, it also helps a parent hear how their child is reading. By third grade, many parents just assume their children can read so they stop reading to them, and they stop listening to them read. I’ve discovered parents are often surprised when they hear their child read a grade-level passage aloud and it doesn’t quite sound the way they thought it would. As the lessons progress week-by-week, parents become as excited as I do to hear the improvements their children are making in both fluency and comprehension.

    Sample pages from my Grade 3 book:

    Parental Support is Built-in. In addition to the clear directions provided with each lesson, this resource includes a list of ways parents can help improve their child’s reading and ideas for simplifying homework routines. Providing this list to parents early in the year helps open the way for important conversations on where their children are and how we can help move them forward together.

    Types of Homework Assignments

    Both literary and informational text lessons are included, and I tend to alternate between the two genres. The chart below shows the many different standards that are covered:

    When the Homework is Returned

    I treat homework as a learning experience. On the day the homework is due, we normally check it together as a whole group. Students are always eager to help read the passage aloud because they have already practiced it at home. Answers to questions are discussed in-depth — not only what the answer is, but why that’s the answer. I always tell students to use their checking pencils to improve their answers in any way possible.  

    Grades for homework are just credit for completion, because I know that parents are frequently guiding the answers, but that’s ok; the alternative is to not have them involved at all. I smile every single time a student responds to getting an incorrect answer with, I told my mom that wasn’t the answer!

    If you are searching for an easy, yet valuable reading homework experience this coming year, I highly recommend you giving Week-by-Week Homework: Reading Comprehension a try.

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