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#1 of 15 Old 10-13-2010, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DS is in second grade this year. They have started a new thing for homework this year, where they have a "homework menu". There are 16 choices, 4 in spelling, 4 in math, 4 in reading, and 4 in science social studies. We are supposed to do 4 each week till all are done, and then get another menu. Here they are for this time:

Spelling
1. Do you have your own idea? What is it? Complete your idea.
2. Secret Agent Words Number the alphabet from 1 to 26, and then convert your words to a number code.
3. Make a set of flashcards to study your words. Use the flashcards to study.
4. Write a "lost and found" ad for one of your spelling words. In the ad, describe the missing word so that someone else will recognize it immediately!
Math
5. Create an original game using the facts you have learned.
6. Identify four ways the concepts in this unit are used in the real world.
7. Design a robot using only one shape. Choose a square, circle, rectangle, hexagon, octagon, or triangle. Everything on your robot has to be that shape.
8. Define five of the unit's vocabulary words with sketches or drawings.
Reading: List title and author of book used for each activity.
9. Write a poem about two main events in the story.
10. Write a song about one of the main events in the story.
11. Create a puppet that looks like the main character in the story.
12. Create a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting two characters in the story.
Science/Social Studies
13. Build a model or diorama to illustrate what you have learned.
14. Write a report relating to our Science or Social Studies topic.
15. Design a science experiment about the topic.
16. Make and share a science puzzle.

Is this something just in my area/school, or do any of your second graders have homework similar to this? What do you think of it? Definitely different from anything I ever had in second grade...

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#2 of 15 Old 10-13-2010, 10:02 PM
 
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I think it is pretty cool, because it gives them the freedom to choose activities that interest them. Some of those choices seem like a lot of fun!

Are they required to choose one activity from each of the 4 subject areas? Because all of the science/ss options look like a lot of work. I'd skip those activities altogether if I had a choice

eta...my dd had a "menu" of activities for spelling homework in second grade, but not for any othe subject. But, many weeks she only got spelling homework.
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#3 of 15 Old 10-13-2010, 11:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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After 4 weeks, all items will be done, so 4 items per week, but in whatever order you want...you could start with one of each, all one subject, 2 from 2 different subjects, etc., but eventually all 16 have to be completed.
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#4 of 15 Old 10-14-2010, 12:02 AM
 
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Some of those seem really vague. I'm assuming they're getting more specific instruction about it in class? (like what exactly does "write a report about our topic" entail, what kind of "science puzzle" is the teacher talking about, how exactly does one "design a science experiment", etc.... kwim?)

I don't dislike the idea. Some of the questions/tasks seem quite interesting and are a refreshing change from the standard worksheets. Some of the tasks look like a ton of work though. I could see a kid picking some of the "easier" options for the first week(s) and then getting stuck with an unbearable workload for the last week. Has the teacher used this system before? I'm curious how it will work out IRL.

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#5 of 15 Old 10-14-2010, 12:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jillmamma View Post
DS is in second grade this year. They have started a new thing for homework this year, where they have a "homework menu". There are 16 choices, 4 in spelling, 4 in math, 4 in reading, and 4 in science social studies. We are supposed to do 4 each week till all are done, and then get another menu. Here they are for this time:

Spelling
1. Do you have your own idea? What is it? Complete your idea.
2. Secret Agent Words Number the alphabet from 1 to 26, and then convert your words to a number code.
3. Make a set of flashcards to study your words. Use the flashcards to study.
4. Write a "lost and found" ad for one of your spelling words. In the ad, describe the missing word so that someone else will recognize it immediately!
Math
5. Create an original game using the facts you have learned.
6. Identify four ways the concepts in this unit are used in the real world.
7. Design a robot using only one shape. Choose a square, circle, rectangle, hexagon, octagon, or triangle. Everything on your robot has to be that shape.
8. Define five of the unit's vocabulary words with sketches or drawings.
Reading: List title and author of book used for each activity.
9. Write a poem about two main events in the story.
10. Write a song about one of the main events in the story.
11. Create a puppet that looks like the main character in the story.
12. Create a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting two characters in the story.
Science/Social Studies
13. Build a model or diorama to illustrate what you have learned.
14. Write a report relating to our Science or Social Studies topic.
15. Design a science experiment about the topic.
16. Make and share a science puzzle.

Is this something just in my area/school, or do any of your second graders have homework similar to this? What do you think of it? Definitely different from anything I ever had in second grade...
OMG. This is absolute nightmare. There is no way a second grader can complete all this work totally by himself. Probably you would ended up doing much of it yourself. Some of the assignments are very strange and poorly explained. Especially this one about an "idea". Idea of what??? What happens if you do not complete all this staff in time?
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#6 of 15 Old 10-14-2010, 12:36 AM
 
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OMG. This is absolute nightmare. There is no way a second grader can complete all this work totally by himself. Probably you would ended up doing much of it yourself. Some of the assignments are very strange and poorly explained. Especially this one about an "idea". Idea of what??? What happens if you do not complete all this staff in time?
Looking at the list I do think it is a lot of work also, but I have found that my dd is much more capable of quickly completing work that is very intellectually challenging than I thought she would be based on her age and maturity level. She rises up to the challenge of her current classroom and I think that these kids probably will also. My dd's homework is a math sheet, reading log, and a speed reading (fluency) sheet. I would be okay with that homework also though as long as I didn't have to teach dd things at home. I am not that fond of homework, but if it is given I think that homework should be skill practice, or work that wasn't completed due to goofing off, and it shouldn't take a long period of time.
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#7 of 15 Old 10-14-2010, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, some of the tasks DO take a couple of hours or more. I have been successful in trying to steer him towards picking one of the harder ones first, then easier ones later. Our strategy so far is to do one a day starting on Saturday, so we can be done by Tuesday, and also then if something comes up we have a little leeway built in.

To answer some of the questions...the vague stuff I interpret as we pick whatever we want to do, and so far that is okay. They don't get actual grades on this, just check marks that 4 tasks were done. This is brand new, something the teacher told us on meet the teacher night was "something new we are trying this year". The "idea" one was to come up with your own task for spelling. We (I) decided to do a word search with his spelling words in it.

Another thing...my DS has high functioning autism, and still gets OT for sensory issues and some fine/gross motor delays including struggling with handwriting. When I first saw this, I freaked thinking about all the headache it would be for both him and I if he had to do all this writing (report, poem, etc.). After consulting the teacher, she is totally fine with him typing it on the computer or me typing/scribing for him to help make it less arduous. So now I have mixed feelings...it still seems like too much, but I kind of like the creative aspects of it. Maybe one or two of those a week might be more reasonable? Because in addition to this homework, he has to keep a reading log (read 80 minutes a week), study his spelling words (another area where he is not so fast), and work on memorizing his math facts (memorization of facts is tough for him). He is very good at understanding the concepts behind science, social studies, and math, but the memorization, reading comprehension, writing, and spelling are tougher for him. And yes, a lot of these when we read the description, he is like "huh?" So much of it is parent (mostly me) led, with me giving him a lot of direction and asking him questions to guide him in the thinking process or me teaching him what a poem/report/poster/etc. is and how to do one. Maybe this is a way to get more parents heavily involved in what their kids are studying?

I am just trying to get a feel for if this type of homework is a new trend, or just something "different"? The only other reason I can think of for the "different" homework might be that his school is in the process of becoming certified as an IB "Primary Years Program" school, and maybe they are using this as part of that?

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#8 of 15 Old 10-14-2010, 12:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jillmamma View Post
After 4 weeks, all items will be done, so 4 items per week, but in whatever order you want...you could start with one of each, all one subject, 2 from 2 different subjects, etc., but eventually all 16 have to be completed.
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Oh!

In that case, I wouldn't like it at all. Homeworks should be something they can do alone. Some of those projects are WAY to much for 2nd grade hw.

If it were truly a menu (nothing required), I could see the benefit of having activities with differing levels of difficulty and work. It would offer a challenge to those who want/need it. But requiring all that in 4 wks is way too much, imo.
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#9 of 15 Old 10-14-2010, 02:55 PM
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That would be too much for my 2nd grader and it would require too much help from me. I think kids should be able to do their homework pretty independently in 2nd grade.

My 2nd grader gets a few pages of language arts, a few pages of math, has to read and practice his spelling words. They sometimes have a project instead of pages of worksheets (2 weeks ago had to write a report about an insect and make a model of it).
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#10 of 15 Old 10-14-2010, 03:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jillmamma View Post
I am just trying to get a feel for if this type of homework is a new trend, or just something "different"? The only other reason I can think of for the "different" homework might be that his school is in the process of becoming certified as an IB "Primary Years Program" school, and maybe they are using this as part of that?
This, I think.

My dd (first grade right now) is in a school that just got certified as an IBPYP school last year, and her homework is like what you listed in spirit. We don't have the same list or anything. But every week there is some project or another that needs some parent involvement. We found that at the very least, a parent had to discuss and help with the brainstorming and visualization process before letting the child get started.

It is true that some parents at my dd's school complain that the homework is excessive. For our family, however, we think it is great, but every family is different. Like your child, my dd gets the standard homework everyday. Those little projects are on top of the regular homework. The spelling tests and stuff like that is important, but it can get a little boring. I like the creativity and the big picture view that my dd gets from doing these types of projects. When the instructions are vague, we just guess and/or let my daughter make up her own rules. That always turns out just fine. The whole point is that teacher and principal want to see creativity.

My dd is not in second grade, but my daughter has like one or two projects a week. I think 4 a week may be ambitious, but it could be that 2nd graders are a lot more capable than 1st. It sounds like your school is spending this year piloting what they think they want their PYP program to look like. The school probably hasn't yet figured out what is a reasonable amount of workload the children can handle in future years. If you talk to the teacher in a friendly nonconfrontational manner and tell her that you think 3 per week is all your child can effectively do, I'm sure the teacher will say it's fine and appreciate the feedback.

The list you wrote sounds like a lot of fun.
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#11 of 15 Old 10-14-2010, 03:32 PM
 
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Oh yes, if the vague instructions really bother you (Vagueness never really bothers our family because our policy is, "When in doubt, just wing it!"), then just send a note to the teacher asking her to send you her rubric for the project. If they are trying to become a PYP school, they will either have one, or at least have a rough draft in progress. The rubric will be kind of vague, but will give you an idea of what exactly the teacher wants to see you child has learned from doing the project.

In kindergarten, my dd did projects like this with no feedback, and how she did on the projects certainly didn't have any effect on her report card. In first grade, the teacher sends these rubrics home before the project is assigned, then after the project has been graded, the teacher sends the rubric filled in with her feedback.
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#12 of 15 Old 10-15-2010, 07:01 PM
 
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Oh!

In that case, I wouldn't like it at all. Homeworks should be something they can do alone. Some of those projects are WAY to much for 2nd grade hw.
I have to totally disagree! (Not that I like doing homework with my reluctant 2nd grader!). The purpose of homework is reinforcement and to show parents what the students are doing/learning.

I also like the "assign a variety of tasks that kids can balance out," concept. If you do all the fun/easy stuff for you first then you're left with the tough items later. I also like not getting an assignment one afternoon that is due TOMORROW (ack! Family life revolving around a worksheet!).

That being said, I hate, hate, hate homework. I've lived through both types. And I guess I'd have to choose the loosey-goosey option with flexibility to worksheets and silly "make-work" like EXACTLY copying an image from your science book, complete with text BY TOMORROW.

Now I'll go back and keep searching for ways to get the "strong willed 2nd grader" to do her homework with minimal drama... and actually DO IT. Blerg.
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#13 of 15 Old 10-16-2010, 04:13 PM
 
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Having taught Pre-K through third grade, I think that's way too much for your average second grader. Too much having to explain what to do. Too much to accomplish in a week. I could see a few of those A MONTH, but 16? Whoa.
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#14 of 15 Old 10-16-2010, 05:03 PM
 
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I have to totally disagree! (Not that I like doing homework with my reluctant 2nd grader!). The purpose of homework is reinforcement and to show parents what the students are doing/learning.
That isn't what teachers are taught homework is at the universities my brother and I attended and it isn't what teachers try to do with homework in the areas we have lived in. I think this is something that probably varies in different regions though depending on the teaching philosophy that is used. In our state the focus is on inquiry based work so the homework given is either skill practice or something that children can independently delve into without their parents teaching them.
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#15 of 15 Old 10-16-2010, 08:04 PM
 
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Wow, I'm shocked at the amount of work. While most of the projects sound fun and interesting, it really does appear to be a lot for a 7 or 8 year old to manage. If the menu of projects was optional, I'd be all for it! It needs to be optional at that age. It is unrealistic to expect a kid that age to manage that kind of stuff. And, it's unfair to parents that might not have much opportunity (time) to sit and work with their child on special projects that require direct parental assistance.
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