Friday, January 24, 2014

Universal Homework Model (UHM)

I'm starting over on my video series from WBT.  I'm starting at the beginning.  Having a student teacher my first quarter and being on maternity leave my second quarter this year, made it very difficult to really get my kids in a good groove.  Soooo.... that means I'm kinda starting from scratch.  First up is the Universal Homework Model (UHM).  I started out with this model this year, but with pressure from some parents (who didn't quite get that the list was voluntary) and from my partner teacher who lives and dies by homework, I crumbled and started doing what everyone else does.  I was so disappointed in myself for not standing my ground.  BUT I was standing my ground on several very serious topics so I just let this one slide.  With that confession aside, I'm picking myself up, dusting myself off, and going at it again!

The Universal Homework Model (UHM for short) is a homework routine that allows the children choice over how much homework is completed each night.  The model incorporates genuinely entertaining assignments, with an added bonus of positive peer pressure, to build students' reading, writing, and math skills.  Students are not required to do any homework.  However, the amount of homework completed by the class determines how many minutes of Mind Soccer the class gets to play on Friday.  The class earns 1 point for each star of homework completed.

For example in my class of 20 students:
10 do 1 star homework (10 points)
4 do 2 star homework (8 points)
and 3 do 3 star homework (9 points).

My students earned a total of 27 points that night.  For mathematics sake, let's pretend they earn that many points for each night of homework in a week (4).  That means that the class earns 108 points.  Hold that thought!

For 20 students the highest number of points possible for the week is 240.  80% of 240 is about 192 so to get three minutes of Mind Soccer the class earns 192-240 points.  60% of the points possible is about 144 points.  So for 2 minutes of Mind Soccer the class earns 144-191 points.  Finally, 40% of 240 is 96 so for 1 minute of Mind Soccer the class earns 1-95 points.

Since my class earned 108 points, they get to play 2 minutes of Mind Soccer on Friday.  Do you understand what just happened?  You have students volunteering to do homework, asking begging you for additional assignments all to earn up to 3 minutes playing an academic review game.  They are volunteering for work to earn more work!  HEELLLLLLLOOO Teacher Heaven!  You are a beautiful place!

Now, here is where all that peer pressure comes in!  When kids bring in 1 star work, they hold it in the air.  When kids bring in 2 star work, they stand up and wave their work in the air.  When kids bring 3 star work, they stand up, wave their work in the air and everyone cheers! On Wednesday you are going to total up the points and looking very concerned, VERY concerned... ask who is willing to do EXTRA work to help the class earn those Mind Soccer points.  Write the volunteers' names on the board.  Have everyone cheer for them and make a BIG deal about it.  Have kids turn to their partners and BEG them to do 3 stars of homework.  Have the kids BEG you for MORE work to help them out!  Anything you can do to get them to do more work at home!

But isn't this supposed to SAVE me time? you ask....

Why yes!  You don't take these things up every day and grade and return them. NO! You may walk around and check that it has been completed.  Or, depending on the age of your students, you might choose homework captains (my preferred checking method) who check that homework has been completed.  If any times on the Super Speed assignment seem hinky, have a homework captain time the student reading the page to check the times.  Easy peasy!  On Fridays, the students staple all assignments together and return them to you.  <sigh> So simple!

Below is a video from Coach B. explaining UHM in even more detail.  Be sure to take a look so you get the full picture.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I found the COOLEST technology this week!  First of all, I just discovered LearnZillion!  It is AMAZING!  For anyone who is interested in the flipped classroom model, these videos are already made for you.  Simply follow the site's directions to register for your own account, create classes, add students, and assign videos.  My kids tried it this week and they LOVED it!  I took them to the computer lab to try it out so everyone would have a computer.  My high ability kids were able to watch the lesson and complete a task and then spend time on BrainChild (a website my district uses for test prep that progresses the kids at their own pace).  My mid ability groups spent a little more time watching and analyzing while asking each other questions.  I let them work in pairs or triads.  My low ability group stayed with me in a small group and we watched the video all the way through first, then watched a second time stopping to ask and answer questions.  My kids called this a "close video."  I guess all that "close" reading is sinking in!  It worked really well!  I was super excited and I hope to start experimenting with flipped lessons!

Then tonight I stumbled on this little beauty at ThingLink!  You load a picture by just dragging and dropping, and then add some links.  The kids click on the links and complete the tasks.  I want to go back and add a Prezi link to this too so all this amazing technology is linked up!  This is my first thing-link and I was playing with our comprehension skill from this week since I just finished it up today.  Hopefully I can sit this weekend and play some more with upcoming skills.

What do you think?  Can you incorporate this into your lessons?