Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Discover the Magic of Fun Friday!


One my biggest struggles as a teacher was getting kids to do their homework. I know you can relate. I was never a fan of loading kids up with  homework, but I did expect them to complete whatever was assigned. Most of my homework was finishing classwork, returning a signed paper, or reading for 20 to 30 minutes. Yet precious minutes of class time were wasted every day while kids looked for missing assignments or worse, wasted my time trying to explain why they didn’t have it.

Then I discovered the magic of Fun Friday! I can’t take credit for the idea, but I can tell you that it works! It was definitely the most effective system I've ever used for dealing with the homework problems.

Let me explain how it works. Fun Friday is a weekly event that three or four teachers organize and implement together. On Friday afternoon, each teacher hosts one activity in his or her classroom for 30 minutes. One person usually takes a group of students out to play. Another teacher hosts a free time in the classroom where students play board games, draw on the Smartboard, use computers or iPads or play with a class pet. The third teacher supervises a “study hall.” Students who have not completed all homework for the week attend the Study Hall and use that time to make up missing work. If there are four teachers working together, two can supervise recess or one might offer a special arts and crafts activity. Each week the teachers rotate activities so that everyone shares the responsibilities equally.

My students loved Fun Friday and looked forward to the chance to get together with friends in other classrooms. It was one of the few rewards that actually motivated them to complete every single assignment all week. I kept a homework chart where I checked off those who completed all assignments for the week, and I was pretty strict with my requirements for Fun Friday. If a student even had one missing or late assignment during the week, they went to Study Hall. Yet after a few weeks of implementing Fun Friday, most kids would earn it every week. I was amazed at the difference this program made and how much time it saved me from dealing with late and missing assignments.

One thing that helped make Fun Friday easy to implement was a sign up chart. Right after lunch on Friday, I allowed those who had completed all assignments to sign up for their preference of activities. I’ve created several variations for you to try that you can download for free from my TeachersPayTeachers store.

Over the years I did have a few principals who needed to be convinced that the 30 minutes we devoted to Fun Friday were not wasted. My rationale was that we easily made up this time by not having to deal with missing and late assignments all week. Also, everyone, teachers and students alike, are downright brain-dead by the time Friday afternoon rolls around! Have you ever seriously tried to teach a lesson on a Friday afternoon? Trust me, it’s a wasted effort. You’ll just have to reteach it on Monday!

Do you implement Fun Friday in your classroom? If so, is your program like mine? Have you found it to be effective? If you haven't tried it, I hope you'll test it out in your classroom. I believe you'll discover the magic of Fun Friday, too!



9 comments:

  1. Laura,
    Thank you for this post! I hope to encourage more teachers to do something like this. Too often I think the bad outweighs the good, and the students who do get their work done are not rewarded for it.
    Thanks again

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  2. I used Fabulous Friday every year I was a fourth grade teacher! I would love to get this going in my current grade, but I could only get half my team of 4 in! Oh well! It truly is a great reward for the kids!
    Rachel

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    1. Rachel, I have done this with only 2 other teachers and not the whole team. Even if you had one other teacher, you could take the kids outside who earned Fun Friday and the other teacher could have a combination study hall and quiet inside games in another part of the room.

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  3. We have used Fun Friday as an incentive for the past 3 years in 3rd grade at our school. It is VERY successful. I believe our principal may have been a little hesitant at first with the idea but now that she has seen the benefits it pays, she encourages us to continue!

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    1. Thanks for sharing that with me. I agree that it takes a while for some principals to get on board with it, but most agree that it's well worth the time on Friday.

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  4. I run a small private school and we have been implementing thos concept regularly for over a year now. I never thought it would be a waste of time but rather an opportunity to encourage and reward the students for all their hard work doing the school week. We have done minute to win it games, recess time, movies and class parties during this time. It has increased work production in our less productive kids by significant amounts. Our parents love the concept!

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  5. We use Fun Friday in my grade as an incentive for our students to complete their required two Accelerated Reader tests each week with at least 80% or higher comprehension. Their 2 AR tests are their "ticket" to Fun Friday. It is very successful!

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  6. I'm thinking it may help curb early dismissals on Friday afternoons as well! Kids who earn the reward probably won't leave!

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  7. It's possible even when you cannot get another teacher to buy in....though not as effective. I have had days where I put board games in one corner, computers at the table, "free-choice time" on the floor...and a "study hall on the other half of the room. I CAN say, it made the ones who did not participate a bit angry--but got the point across.

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