One of the most exciting parts of being a teacher is having the creative freedom to experiment with routines and procedures that work best for you and your students. The little tweaks we make in our classroom throughout the year create an environment that is more functional and exciting for students.
THE EVOLUTION OF HOMEWORK COLLECTION
One of the classroom routines you may find yourself tweaking frequently is homework collection. Those first few minutes when students walk into the classroom are filled with a lot of hustle and bustle…and an occasional unexpected surprise. Homework collection should be quick and seamless, but finding an approach that works best for you may take some time. Here are a few approaches I’ve tried in the past:
TURN IN BIN
Students place their homework in a turn in bin. The pros? Homework submission is quick for students. The cons? You may find nameless papers and it takes time time to sort through the pile to figure out who’s missing their assignment. Check sheets or classroom jobs can make this approach a bit easier.
CORNER OF THE DESK
Students place their homework on the corner of their desk before starting their morning work. You walk around and collect homework from each student. The pros? You are able to greet each student at their seat first thing in the morning. It’s also easy to see who has their homework ready to submit on time. The cons? This collection process can be time consuming and placing homework on the desk crowds students’ work space.
STACK ON THE STATION
Students place their homework in a pile at a central location on or near their table group. You walk to each group’s “turn in spot” and thumb through papers to see whose work is on time. The pros? Homework collection is fairly quick. The cons? Less organized students who benefit from visual cues and don’t take note of the flat stack of papers piled near their seat consistently needed reminders to turn in homework.
AN EFFICIENT HOMEWORK COLLECTION ROUTINE
The routine that has been most efficient for my students is very similar to the group station routine with an added layer of organization. The Homework Drop Box makes turning in assignments quick and easy for students and teachers.
HOW IT WORKS
At the end of each day during Tidy Up Time, our Teacher’s Assistant places a drop box at each table group.
When students arrive the following morning, they walk to their group drop box, find the file folder with their name on it, and drop their homework inside the folder. Students place their assignments in their folder standing tall in portrait-style rather than laying down in landscape-style. This allows the teacher to quickly walk to each station, thumb through each folder and instantly see who has and hasn’t turned in homework.
The teacher can then grab the top of all the papers at once and pull the assignments out into a neatly organized pile.
In my classroom, the Teacher’s Assistant then moves our drop boxes out of the way until we need them later in the day, or until the next school day.
Having a smaller file box at each group, rather than a larger one for the entire class eliminates the problem of a long line to turn in homework. This means students settle into their seats and start their morning work without wasted time.
Although some of the changes we face as teachers tend to throw off our equilibrium for a moment, focusing on smaller changes that benefit our students helps bring us back to a more balanced and efficient groove in the classroom.