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Five Homework Strategies for Teaching Students with Disabilities (page 2)

By — Educational Resource Information Center (U.S. Department of Education)
Updated on Oct 22, 2010

Strategy 3.  Teach Study Skills 

Both general and special education teachers consistently report that homework problems seem to be exacerbated by deficient basic study skills. Many students, particularly students with disabilities, need instruction in study and organizational skills. 

Here 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. 

Teachers can enhance homework completion and accuracy by providing classroom instruction in organizational skills. They should talk with parents about how to support the application of organizational skills at home. 

Strategy 4.  Use a Homework Calendar 

Students with disabilities often need additional organizational support. Just as adults use calendars, schedulers, lists, and other devices to self-monitor activities, students can benefit from these tools as well. Students with disabilities can monitor their own homework using a planning calendar to keep track of homework assignments. Homework planners also can double as home-school communication tools if they include a space next to each assignment for messages from teachers and parents. 

Here's how one teacher used a homework planner to increase communication with students' families and improve homework completion rates: 

Students developed their own homework calendars. Each page in the calendar reflected one week. There was a space for students to write their homework assignments and a column for parent-teacher notes. The cover was a heavy card stock that children decorated. Students were expected to take their homework planners home each day and return them the next day to class. 

In conjunction with the homework planner, students graphed their homework return and completion rates-another strategy that is linked to homework completion and improved performance on classroom assessments. The teacher built a reward system for returning homework and the planners. On a self-monitoring chart in their planner, students recorded each time they completed and returned 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 met the success criterion, they received a reward at the end of the week, such as 15 extra minutes of recess. The teacher found that more frequent rewards were needed for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. 

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