Homework Strategies for Teaching Students with Disabilities

 Strategy 1: Give Clear and Appropriate Assignments.
  Teachers need to take special care when assigning homework. If the homework assignment is too hard, is perceived as busy work, or takes too long to complete, students might tune out and resist doing it. Never send home any assignment that students cannot do. Homework should be an extension of what students have learned in class. To ensure that homework is clear and appropriate, consider the following tips from teachers for assigning homework.
  • Make sure students and parents have information regarding the policy on missed and late extra credit, and available adaptations.  Establish a set routine at the beginning of the year.
  • Assign work that the students can do.
  • Assign homework in small units.
  • Explain the assignment clearly.
  • Write the assignment on the chalkboard and leave it there until the assignment is due.
  • Remind students of due dates periodically.
  • Coordinate with other teachers to prevent homework overload.
  • Assign homework toward the beginning of the class.
  • Relate homework to classwork or real life (and/or inform students how they will use the content homework in real life).
  • Explain how to do the homework, provide examples and write directions on the board.
  • Have students begin the homework in class, check that they understand, and provide assistance as necessary.
  • Allow students to work together on homework.
 Strategy 2: Make Homework Accommodations.
  Make any necessary modifications to the homework assignment before sending it home. Identify practices that will be most helpful to individual students and have the potential to increase their involvement, understanding, and motivation to learn. The most common homework accommodations are to:
  • Provide additional one-on-one assistance to students.
  • Monitor students' homework more closely.
  • Allow alternative response formats (e.g., allow the student to audiotape an assignment rather than handwriting it)
  • Adjust the length of the assignment.
  • Provide a peer tutor or assign the student to a study group.
  • Provide learning tools (e.g. calculators).
  • Adjust evaluation standards.
  • Give fewer assignments.
 Strategy 3: Teach Study Skills.
  Both general and special education teachers consistently report that homework problems seem to be increased by deficient, basic study skills. Many students, particularly students with disabilities, need instruction in study and organizational skills. Below is a list of organizational strategies basic to homework:
  • Identify a location for doing homework that is free of distractions.
  • Have all materials available and organized.
  • Allocate enough time to complete activities and keep on schedule.
  • Take good notes.
  • Develop a sequential plan for completing multi-task assignments.
  • Check assignments for accuracy and completion before turning them in. Know how to get help when it is needed.
  • Turn in completed homework on time.
 Talk to parents about how to support the application of organizational skills at home.
 Strategy 4: Use a Homework Calendar.
  Students with disabilities can monitor their own homework using a planning calendar to keep track of homework assignments. Homework planners can also double as home-school communication tools if they include a space next to each assignment for messages from teachers and parents.
  In addition to the homework planner, students graphed their homework return and completion rates - another strategy that is linked to homework completion and improved performance on classroom assessment. Students may use a self-monitor chart in their planners, recording each time they complete and return their homework assignment by:
  • Coloring the square for the day green if homework was completed and returned.
  • Coloring the square for the day red if homework was not done.
  • Coloring one-half of the square yellow and one-half of the square red if homework was late.
  If students meet the success criterion, they may receive a reward at the end of the week. More frequent rewards may be needed for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities.
 Strategy 5: Ensure Clear Home/School Communication.
  Recommended ways to improve communications with parents:
  • Encouraging students to keep assignment books.
  • Providing parents with frequent written communication about homework (e.g. Progress reports, notes, letters, forms).
  • Providing lists of suggestions on how parents might assist with homework. For example, ask parents to check with their children about homework daily.
  • Sharing information with other teachers regarding student strengths and needs and necessary accommodations.

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