Today’s post was inspired by something I learned from a fellow 4th grade teacher at my school. It’s a brilliant move to save both time and paper. A few years ago I transitioned to using Star Homework from Whole Brain Teaching. I created a homework log (which was tweaked as needed because I’m forever tweaking something) and dutifully made my copies each week. However, with all the formative assessments and data charts I’m required to use, if there’s any way at all that I can find to reduce the number of copies in my life…I’m going to take it. This is one of those areas.
Waste Not, Want Not
Students in my school are given an assignment planner at the start of each school year. It costs families $15 on top of everything they’ve already spent on supplies – not a small amount, especially for many in my Title 1 school. With the use of the Star Homework Log, my need for such a planner became nearly nonexistent. What a waste to spend $15 on a perfectly good, sturdy, organized planner! Fortunately, I work with some pretty clever teachers who also would like to avoid the copy machine even more than me.
My friend typed the daily homework requirements onto a sheet of large adhesive mailing labels. She then attached these labels to the front of each student’s planner. At Open House (which we have a few days before school starts), she explained the routine. Students were to complete the four tasks listed on the front label. Once done, parents were to sign the planner for that day indicating their child had done the homework. What’s not to love about that idea? No more copy machine, no more carrying an extra piece of paper along with the planner, and making the most out of a high-quality school supply. Plus, if there’s an extra assignment to complete, the planner has plenty of room for writing it down. A triple win!
My Own Special Spin
Using the basic template my buddy had created, I made some revisions to her idea that better suited my situation. First, to save considerable money, I printed my labels onto copy paper instead of labels. That also allowed me to use a bright yellow color to make my labels more noticeable. (Click on the link and you can get the labels in Word to edit as you need.) Second, my friend warned me against using a check box as some parents had checked the box, which isn’t really necessary as long as the planner is signed. So I used plain ol’ bullets. Also, I covered my paper labels with clear, strong packing tape. This keeps it from getting torn, wet, or written on all year. It really didn’t take very much time to cut the labels apart and tape them down. Now I’m ready to make better use of my time, even if it is standing in front of a copy machine.