Homework Part 2: Study Guides
This is the first post I’m writing since officially being on Summer Break and I already knew the topic I wanted to tackle. Homework!
My “Homework, Homework, Homework” post from 2014 has received a lot of traffic over the years and still seems to draw in readers. One of the things I get the most questions about is my study guides, so I wanted to give you a closer look at how I use them.
I spent the first 5 years of my teaching career at an affluent school with super involved parents. If there was ever a chaotic afternoon and I forgot to send something home, I would have at least 5 emails before getting home that evening. I decided the best thing to do would be to front load.
I created study guides for every subject that has the standards, examples, explanations, and in some cases, practice questions. I copied all of these guides into a “playbook” (this was my sports theme year) and put it into homework binders. Every week I would assign pages to study. I still sent home other homework periodically, but students and parents knew that if nothing came home, they were to study the pages for the week. No more frustrated emails. When testing season came around, these playbooks became our guides, especially when students “forgot” a concept they needed to know for review homework.
I used it every year after my trial run and I got nothing but positive feedback from parents. Then, I moved schools. My new school was a Title 1 school with parents that were not as involved in what went on in my classroom. I realized shortly into my first year there that making playbooks of every subject for every student was just a waste of paper. So… I found a new way to use the guides:
The Interactive Notebook Topper
Although I still email out my guides electronically to parents who request additional help, the primary way I use my guides at my current school is in notebooks. I copy the page that reflects the concept I’m teaching, cut out the skill strip for that day, and have students glue it at the top of their notebook. I begin my lesson by either having them read it independently, with a buddy, or along with me. We discuss the most important parts and use our highlighter to make them stand out. Under the notes, my students respond to our lesson for the day. It might be an interactive notebook foldable, sentences about a video, a response to a read aloud, etc.
This has been my favorite way to use the study guides, because I get to interact with them myself and help the students realize what’s really important. When they go home, it tends to be out of sight, out of mind for me.
All of the study guides I use are aligned to the Virginia Standards of Learning for 3rd Grade. I have guides for math, language arts, social studies, and science. If you’re a 3rd grade teacher who uses VA SOLs, then click here to get a closer look at the guides.
Do you send home study guides with your students? If so, I’d love to hear about it, leave me a message below.
Talk to you soon,