Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Magic Solution to Missing Assignments

Fun Friday Works Like Magic!

One my biggest struggles as a 5th grade teacher was getting kids to do their homework. I'm guessing 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 solution to missing homework... 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 problem of missing assignments.

How Fun Friday Works
Fun Friday is a weekly event that 3 or 4 teachers organize and implement together. On Friday afternoon, each teacher hosts one activity in his or her classroom for 30 minutes. One or two teachers take a group of students out to play or organize indoor recess activities. Another teacher hosts a free time in the classroom where students play board games, draw on the Smartboard, use iPads or play with a class pet. Sometimes a teacher will offer a special arts and crafts activity.

At least one 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. Each week teachers rotate activities so that all share the responsibilities equally.

If there aren't 3 or 4 teachers at your school who want to participate in Fun Friday, you can implement the program with just two teachers. One will take students outside or provide indoor recess, and the other will split his or her room between a study hall and a quiet reading or game room.

Why Fun Friday Works
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. If you think this is a bit extreme, let me say that after just 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.

Fun Friday Sign-up Freebie
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 the Odds 'N Ends page on my Teaching Resources website.

Convincing Administrators
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 a similar program in your classroom? Have you found it to be effective? If you haven't tried it, I hope you'll test it out. I believe you'll discover the magic of Fun Friday, too!



26 comments:

  1. I have taught at a school where we implemented this and it's fabulous. When we incorporated PBIS in 2006, we changed it to be called Responsibility Friday. They had to earn the right to go (that includes behavioral and homework/class work). It worked like a charm. I plan to bring it back to my new school next year.

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  2. This is something my students struggle with. What a great idea! I would love to start using this next year.

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  3. We did this a few years ago in 5th grade, and it worked like a charm. I think we'll try it again next year.
    Beti

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  4. Any suggestions for a middle school grades 6-8 departmentalized setting?

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    1. Our fourth grade departmentalized classes have a movie day on a Friday once a month. The kids get 3 strikes a month. That includes behavior or missing homework. The kids who earn the movie get to see it and the others are in a quiet study hall. We actually had a four rounder so the kids could sign up for one of three movies to watch. There weren't a lot of kids in the fourth room that was a study hall! They could do homework or read a book.

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    2. Our fourth grade departmentalized classes have a movie day on a Friday once a month. The kids get 3 strikes a month. That includes behavior or missing homework. The kids who earn the movie get to see it and the others are in a quiet study hall. We actually had a four rounder so the kids could sign up for one of three movies to watch. There weren't a lot of kids in the fourth room that was a study hall! They could do homework or read a book.

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  5. I love this idea and it has worked well for me and for many other teachers in my building. A word of caution though! Make sure all the teachers you are doing this with are willing to follow through! We once had a classroom teacher who would give her students who didn't have their homework done a chance to do it in class on Friday mornings because she didn't want anyone to miss fun Friday. This completely changed the purpose of fun Friday! If you are not good at following through with what you tell kids, don't do it!

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  6. I've done this & I love it. It can be done with other teachers, but it can also be done on your own. Just set up fun stations & a work only table. You can make it academic too if needed. Just use extra special activities that the kids don't normally get to do.
    ✿April✿
    Grade School Giggles

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  8. We have used Fun Friday successfully in the classroom for the last several years, except last year. A change in our schedule meant we couldn't host it in its normal time. What a mistake! We had trouble all year implementing consequences that mattered to our kids. Our schedule doesn't look great for this year either, but we are determined to try and put it back in. It really works!

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  9. I did this one year by myself. It worked for some students, but didn't motivate the chronic homework skipper. A problem was when a student finished their work a day or two late, but qualified for study hall, I had to come up with some work for them to do. I don't want to be negative, but I didn't want to do it again.

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  10. I did this one year by myself. It worked for some students, but didn't motivate the chronic homework skipper. A problem was when a student finished their work a day or two late, but qualified for study hall, I had to come up with some work for them to do. I don't want to be negative, but I didn't want to do it again.

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  13. Thanks for your information, I want to share something about this.

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  14. My grade level calls it KMR. KETCHUP, MUSTARD, and RELISH. Ketchup is for kids who need to finish homework or classwork. Mustard is for students who misbehaved during the week. For their 30 minutes, they work, clean, or learn a PBIS lesson. Relish is for students to relish in the fun. We also have a floater who helps out with the section that has the most students.

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  15. My grade level calls it KMR. KETCHUP, MUSTARD, and RELISH. Ketchup is for kids who need to finish homework or classwork. Mustard is for students who misbehaved during the week. For their 30 minutes, they work, clean, or learn a PBIS lesson. Relish is for students to relish in the fun. We also have a floater who helps out with the section that has the most students.

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  16. Please help me understand why I should reward students for doing what they should be doing anyway. I mean, I would love to reward students with candy and free time, but at the same time, it seems counterproductive. How am I supposed to instill internal motivation? I'm honestly trying to find the balance. I worked in a Montessori school for 7 years where there were no rewards or prizes and the students thrived, and were concerned more about the process. Now, I work in a mainly rewards-driven environment and the kids either don't care or only strive to get A's. They're not so concerned about the process, just the end result.

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  17. I did a strike party every 2 weeks. 3 strikes and you are out based on behavior and homework. My activity was to do all the cool science demos and activities I never had time for, light things on fire, blow stuff up, and paper airplane contests. I also had a parent who loved science and he would bring in amazing experiments! Worked like a charm and was still educational!

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  18. I did a strike party every 2 weeks. 3 strikes and you are out based on behavior and homework. My activity was to do all the cool science demos and activities I never had time for, light things on fire, blow stuff up, and paper airplane contests. I also had a parent who loved science and he would bring in amazing experiments! Worked like a charm and was still educational!

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  20. We did this last year with year 2s we called it Fabulous Fine Friday and incorporated fine motor skills for students who were struggling with handwriting 😊

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  21. We did this last year with year 2s we called it Fabulous Fine Friday and incorporated fine motor skills for students who were struggling with handwriting 😊

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  22. We did this when I taught 5th grade about 15 years ago. I ran an egg drop activity & wacky olympics - super fun!! Great motivation!!

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  23. We have been using Fun Friday for about a month now. All of the 5th grade teachers use it. Most students are really excited about what activities will be offered for them to participate in on Fridays; however, my problem is that I still have the same few students who don't seem to be bothered that they are always going to study hall instead of participating. They still have no desire to turn in their homework. Any suggestions? Thanks.

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