Sunday, January 6, 2013

Universal Homework Model

Whole Brain Teaching has a great plan for students to complete not only homework that you really want them to complete, but also a way of encouraging them to do even more! It's called the Universal Homework Model, or UHM for short. Webcast 501 describes it all.

Students complete 1, 2, or 3 star homework Monday-Thursday in hopes of earning enough class stars for a Friday reward. Here is the plan for my class:
   1 Star: Reading/Spelling activity choice and
                           Math wkbk page/2 mins. flash card practice
        2 Star: 1 Star plus 20 minutes free reading time
3 Star: 1 and 2 Star plus a letter to teacher

The reading activities are on Monday and Wednesday while spelling activities are on Tuesday and Thursday. I have a list of activities that the student can choose to do. Some teachers choose to have their students do Super Speed Reading or one of the other grade appropriate WBT language games.

Math workbook pages are not done every day, so when there isn't one, students will use their addition and subtraction flash cards to practice their facts. Again here, some teachers use Super Speed Math, which I have detailed in 2 earlier posts. I don't choose to do so because I don't have enough copies for all of my students to take it home nightly and many do their homework independently.

The 20 minutes of reading time allows students to read books they might not read during class time. We use the Accelerated Reader program, so during school time, I prefer they utilize books within their ZPD which they can quiz on. This outside of class time gives them the chance to read books that may fall above or below that range or may be some other kind of reading material like magazines.

The 3 Star letter to the teacher for my students will be to write to me telling what they read about during their 20 minutes free reading time. In the beginning, I'm looking for hand-written letter with a paragraph for each book they read. Many of my students are still in shorter books, so it is likely they will finished more than one book in their 20 minutes. For those reading chapter books, they can write paragraphs about what they read in the chapters they completed during the 20 minutes.

Daily checking will be during the beginning part of the day. Students will have a "bookmark", half sheet of paper check sheet to record what they do each night. We will celebrate those who complete the extra 2 and 3 Star assignments as those are the ones that include work that they would not normally be assigned to do. We will tally up the class stars and chart them on the board in our classroom. If the class earns enough stars, they will have Friday academic game time. This could be Mind Soccer or any other productive fun game. I'm choosing to use some pre-made games I have so that students can play in small groups.

To earn the time, class must complete a minimum of 40% of the total possible stars. Here's the breakdown for my class and the accompanying game time.

115-172 Stars (40%) = 2 minutes of game time
173-229 Stars (60%) = 3 minutes of game time
230-288 Stars (80%) = 4 minutes of game time

As time goes on, I will increase what the requirements are for each star. There will be a sloppy copy and rewrite for the letter and an increased amount of free reading time. That's what makes the UHM so great! You can customize it for your set of students, the subjects you teach, and can adjust it as the year progresses and the students make improvements! Oh Yeah!