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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Spark Student Motivation {Homework Stars!}

Happy Saturday everyone!  One morning this past week, NY had the second hottest temperature after Miami on the United States weather map!  Talk about rare.  Now, we have taken a break from the 90 degree temperatures and are down to the 60's (which I prefer!).  
It is a beautiful sunny day and fall is on the way. :)  
I am linking up with the my sweet friend, Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for Spark Student Motivation Saturdays.
After reading a lot about "Homework Clubs" like this one at Fifth in the Middle, I knew that I wanted to try something similar with our fourth graders.  Fifth in the Middle's homework club is very extensive and they have an after school program which is also helpful.  I also keep students one time a week who owe work but it is not required by the district.  Since this is our first year departmentalizing and we really needed a simple way to keep track of who owes work for the three teachers, my team brainstormed this bulletin board.
It is hanging in our 4th grade pod:
I suggested "Homework Club" at first but then we changed it to "Homework Stars".  The basic idea is every student stays in the top "stars" portion of the board when they do not owe any homework.  If they owe homework, their star goes below the line until they get caught up.  Every day we have 4th grade recess for 10-15 minutes and one teacher stays back to be in the "work room" with students who owe work.  With the handy board in the hallway where we line up for recess, we can easily see who needs to be in the work room.  
There were only two students below the line when I took this picture on Friday but the day before there were more than ten.  

Each base homeroom has a different colored star to find the student names quickly.  At first we had all different colored push pins holding up the stars but soon realized that if the students owe work for more than one teacher, we wouldn't know that by just looking at the board.  For example, I had three students who owed me an ELA assignment and when I went out to the board at recess, their stars had been moved back up the board.  
They were moved up by the math teacher because they also owed work for her but finished it and she moved their stars up.

We changed the push pins to be the same color for each teacher.
My homeroom students' stars are pink and my push pins are clear.  
The math teacher's homeroom stars are yellow and her push pins are yellow (we were a little short on the yellow push pins and had to add a few green but will find some more soon!).  The SS/Science teacher's stars are white and the push pins are white.  
  This is a student who is "below" the line because he owes work.  See how there are three colored push pins on his star?  There is a yellow push pin because he owes math, a clear one because he owes ELA, and a white one because he owes SS/Science.  That way, a teacher will not move his star to the top if there are additional push pins on his star.  His push pin for that subject can just be moved back to its spot.  If you look back at the yellow and pink star pictures, you can see the "extra" push pins on the side that we can use to place on students stars from other homerooms when they owe work for us (since we are departmentalized and have all the students for our subject throughout the day).
Students that don't have their star moved more than once during the month (one time is allowed as an "oops" since everyone forgets sometimes) will be invited to a special 4th grade free time.  We are going to have this free time at the end of each month (or so we have planned it that way right now).  It will be either during lunch time or a common time when we have one special instead of two and therefore have extra time with our homeroom.  

I love how Fifth in the Middle's team has themed parties.  We are just testing this out for the first time this year (along with departmentalization) and I'm sure it will be tweaked along the way.  So far, during the first seven days of school, it seems to be making a difference!  Students are noticing when their star is below the line and you can see that by Friday, there were only two left (the poor kid whose star is shown above was absent all week and will take some time to get caught up-this won't count against him for the party though).  I have high hopes that this will motivate students to keep caught up with their homework all year!  One downfall is the push pins will make this board a holey mess by the end of the year!  Haha!!

Check out all the other ways to motivate students at Head Over Heels for Teaching!

Also, check out this giveaway for I'm Lovin Lit's newest interactive notebook!

37 comments:

  1. I like the way your school is using the homework board. The different color push pins are brilliant!

    Hunter's Teaching Tales
    Find me on Facebook

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  2. What a great visual and incentive to get their homework done! I love the push pin organization-easy for teachers and students! I wish we had a recess/work room every day! We don't go at all! We're not forbidden, but the question is...what are you giving up (academics) to go to recess? That's why I started my "fun" experiments on Friday afternoons! I love this motivator Holly! Thanks for sharing and linking up!
    Joanne
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

    ReplyDelete
  3. The pushpins are such a great idea! We are currently using a shared Google spreadsheet to track late/missing assignments, but this is a great way for kids to get a handle on how much they're missing. We each have names on our board for missing assignments, but I think this makes more of a point on how much things can pile up!

    Thanks so much for the shout-out!
    Diane
    Fifth in the Middle

    ReplyDelete
  4. In a perfect world, everyone would do their homework on time...but in the mean time, I think your idea is awesome! I love that it makes it so visual.

    Jennifer
    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love this idea especially with two teachers and trading students like we do! Wish we had a cork board in the hall - this would be perfect. We would have to use student numbers though as using their names would be frowned upon.
    Thanks for the idea...trying to figure out how we could make it work.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love how on top of the departmentalized teaching you guys are already! We have homework club at our school, we take turns staying in with students from various classes at lunch recess. Students are highly motivated not to stay in our little club since this is when sports team practices run too - lunch is a very busy time!! Hope things are going well for you after your first full week of school :) - wasn't that hot weather crazy!!

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  7. I love this idea! We are really struggling with how to keep up with who owes what, so this would be great for us!
    Courtney
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

    ReplyDelete
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