My thoughts on homework
For a long time since I started teaching elementary students, I've had mixed feelings about homework. On one side, I find it teaches habits of time management and responsibility, and provides continued and extra practice to the skills learned at school. On the other hand I understand that my students, like myself, like to change pace and activities after school, enjoy hobbies and sports, and spend the rest of the day with family and friends. Plus one important aspect we should never ignore, they are children, they should spend a lot of time playing. However, I also consider that my students, being in the Spanish Immersion program, need the exposure to English language that they will not get in my classroom this year. For all these reasons, I consider that the following is the best approach I can take to the homework assignments your child will receive this year:
As you may have read in my Math page, I introduce very different routines and activities to work with math every day, all of them with the goal in mind of making my students flexible with numbers and equations, so that they are able in the future of navigating their way to solving problems even if they don't completely remember their facts, and also with the intention of never losing the excitement about Math, because Math is fun and should never be dreaded! That is why I recommend that you introduce Math every day in your routines with your child. Math is everywhere, you just have to get in the habit of seeing it that way: estimating how long it takes to brush your teeth, measuring cups and teaspoons in a recipe, starting a budget for food shopping and challenging your child to keep track of the groceries you are buying and the price. The list goes on and on. Check out these useful websites with activities to introduce math daily with your kids:
On the other hand, we will also be following the Go Math! curriculum to teach and practice the Common Core Standards for 2nd grade, and Mathematical practices. On average we will work on one lesson per day, although schedule alterations and mainly my students' understanding of the skill will guide the pace. Instead of making my students complete one page of homework, I will assign on average one IXL skill per day to work on the following way: if your child is answering all the questions correctly, s/he should stop at 50%; If s/he is making errors, please supervise that s/he stops to go through the explanation, and then s/he should continue up to 70%. In total your child shouldn't spend more than 15 minutes of screen time. I recommend that you put a timer and stop your child after 15 minutes, regardless of the progress. IXL gives me the ability to quickly check which students are struggling with the skill, so that I can adjust my teaching and reinforce those skills when they come to school. And since it is in English, you shouldn't have any problem supervising your child if s/he ever needs it. The English practice in turn will expose your child to the math vocabulary that s/he will need for 3rd grade MCAS. This way math homework will be meaningful, reinforcing the math skill learned in Spanish in the classroom, and learning the vocabulary in English at home with IXL. Win, win.
I love to get my students excited about reading. In my classroom we frequently comment on the books we are reading at home, make book recommendations, establish reading goals, and practice good reading habits. As your child transitions from first to second grade, s/he will move from reading for fluency into reading for comprehension. Having good reading role models is tremendously important to create good reading habits. For language arts homework, your child should be reading between 20 and 30 minutes, if possible with your undivided attention, of which part of those your child should be reading to you, and part of them you reading to your child. Following is a fantastic explanation on reading homework from "Cult of Pedagogy" that can help you in the task of reading with and to your child.
Like for Math, this homework should be in English, as we will do plenty of guided reading in Spanish in the classroom.
Science and Social Studies Projects
Along the year, as we complete science units, I will be asking my students to try different science experiments at home, and create Flipgrid videos of the process to post on my website. I will give specific instructions to complete the experiments, but with a lot of room for creativity and innovation. There will also one big Social Studies projects, the Massachusetts scrapbook for which you will receive specific instructions.