This week I began implementing the Universal Homework Model. The UHM allows students flexibility on the homework they complete each night because they get to CHOOSE how much they do! It is also easy on the teacher!

According to the Model Classroom Handbook (which can be downloaded for free), homework should include:
1. Free reading for at least 20
minutes

2. Increasing reading fluency with a
reading speed exercise

3. Increasing math fluency with a
math speed exercise

4. Recording results for 1-3 in a
homework log

5. Recognizing significant improvements

I made it work for my classroom by deciding on the following. See my HW checklist on the left.
One
Star Homework: Do a spelling activity and practice math facts.

Two Star Homework: Do a spelling activity, practice math facts, and read for X minutes.

Three Star Homework: Do a spelling activity, practice math facts, read for X minutes, and write a letter to your teacher about the book you read.

After I introduced the UHM my students explained it to each other using the teach-ok. They were excited to start having homework! It was cute to hear how they planned to schedule their week and decide how many stars to do on each day.

The class tallies the stars earned each day. The number of stars earned determines the number of minutes the students get to play Mind Soccer on Friday. On the spur of the moment, I decided to draw a simple graph on the board to visually represent the number of stars the class needs to earn.

While it would be wonderful if everyone did 3 star homework every night, it really doesn't bother me in the least if they don't. Why? Because if they simply *study spelling and math facts* each night, I'll be a happy teacher. I can't wait to see how this impacts our math data! If they do **2 star homework **and read for fun beyond the 20 minutes we do daily in the classroom, I'll be thrilled! If they choose to *practice their writing* by writing me a letter, that is awesome!

I did have a couple of challenges, but that is to be expected when you do something new.
- It took a while to tally up the stars each morning. The students will learn the procedure and it will become easier. I'm thinking about making a magnetic chart like people do to take attendance but have the students move their name to show 1 Star, 2 Stars, or 3 Stars each morning.
- A few parents had some questions, which I expected. It is an unusual way to do homework. A few of the ESL students may need to be pulled aside next week for a UHM reteach to help them understand the details.
- It was my first time to play Mind Soccer. The teacher is really in control of the game and since the class only plays a few minutes, you really have to be on the ball! The losing team was a bit disgruntled. We'll work on that next week...

Each 6 weeks I plan to tweak the requirements for each star level. For example, I will increase the number of minutes should be reading as the year progresses.

Allison

WBT Intern, 2011-12