Monday, April 27, 2009

Let Parents Know About Homework

I've been absent from posting over the last four months because I started teaching half-time at St. Helens High School in St. Helens, OR in addition to substituting at 12 districts in the Portland area.  How I'll continue blogging when I am teaching full-time is a mystery to me, but I'm hoping to make some posts over the next few weeks reflecting on my teaching since January thus far.

One successful strategy I've used is updating parents on student's homework assignments.  I created three blogs for each of my classes, although it's turned out one for each preparation would have been enough.  Sending home a letter at the beginning of the year, I offer to e-mail or text daily homework assignments to parents, keeping them in the loop so they can check up on their kid if they want.  Then I simply sign up parents for feed updates from the blogs using Feedburner for e-mail and Pingie for SMS.  Pingie will only forward the post title to the phone and give a shortened URL to the entire post, but at least parents will know whether their kid has homework or not.  Updating the blogs each day takes about five minutes total.

You may have noticed I also offered to contact parents weekly with grade updates for their students.  That takes significantly longer, and I question whether I will do it next year.  What I need is a grading program that offers automatic e-mailing or texting options, rather than requiring parents to log on to a website to check their child's grades.


  1. Great site. I, too, am interested in the school-home connection. I devolved all of my homework for my seventh graders last year to their parents. On back-to-school night I make a deal with parents: I won't assign grammar or essay homework, if you will supervise reading-discussion homework. No parent at the middle school or high school level wants to supervise the latter. I have parents grade a three-minute discussion of the daily homework reading and assign a grade for the quality of discussion. I got a high degree of buy-in from parents and students. I flesh out this homework program much more on my blog at

  2. Mark,

    Thanks for your comment. I most likely will steal some of those homework ideas. Also enjoyed your most recent post on vocabulary instruction and will cross post a comment there: