Make an incentive for arriving on time (e.g., points toward earning a reward or privilege).
Set up enjoyable, brief ‘bellringer’ activities before class to encourage students to arrive on time.
Create a class-wide incentive system in which students ‘clock in’ (record their arrival time) as they enter the classroom. The teacher establishes a cumulative time goal (e.g. 6 hours). Students who arrive early contribute to the growing class total the number of minutes between their arrival and the start of instruction. Students who arrive late have the amount of time they were late deducted from the class total. When the class total reaches the teacher’s predetermined time goal, the entire class participates in a desirable activity (such as watching a movie or having a pizza party).
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Require tardy students to’make up’ missed class time (e.g., staying after school or completing extra assignments) if they do not have a valid excuse for being late.
Create a school-home note system to inform parents about their child’s arrival time, classroom attendance, and overall performance. Ensure that other teachers release their classes on time so that students have enough time to get to your classroom.
2. The student fails to bring necessary work materials to class on a regular basis.
Remind students at the end of class to bring their books or other work materials to the next class session.
Maintain a supply of pens, pencils, and writing paper in the classroom for students to use if they forget their own.
Send a list to parents of the materials that students should always bring to your class. Encourage parents to check with their children before school to ensure that they have everything they need.
Teach the students a general system for organizing their work and storing their materials. Every subject should have its own section in the organizer. Each section should have a calendar for recording assignments and a place to keep work in progress. Pens, pencils, and writing paper should also be kept in the organizer.
Assign a ‘peer buddy’ to each student. If a student forgets a book, pencil, or other item, instruct them to share or borrow from their peer buddy. Also, at the end of class, have student pairs double-check with each other to ensure that each has written down all assignments correctly and has the necessary study materials for homework.
Allow the student to use a basic self-monitoring system. At the end of each class, the student answers one question: “Did I have all necessary materials in class to do the work expected of me?” Provide an incentive (e.g., privilege, extra-credit points toward a grade, etc.) if the student answers ‘YES’ to the self-monitoring question a certain number of times per week. (For students with very poor organizational skills, start with a simple goal, such as 2 YES ratings per week. As the student improves, raise the bar to three, four, and eventually five YES ratings per week. Also, check the student’s rating on a regular basis to ensure that the student is being truthful in his or her ratings.)
Assign one staff member at your school to manage a caseload of students who are experiencing organizational difficulties. That staff member ‘checks in’ with these students before they go to class at the start of each day. This person can quickly review students’ daily schedules and ensure that they have all necessary work materials. If a student is missing an essential item, the check-in person should assist that student in obtaining the missing item prior to class.
3. The student does not appear to be motivated to complete in-class work.
Examine the student’s academic skills to ensure that he or she does not have skill deficiencies that are being concealed behind a mask of poor motivation.
By completing a certain amount of schoolwork, the student can earn points or tokens toward rewards or incentives. Discuss possible rewards with the student and let him or her choose the ones that will motivate him or her the most.
Cooperative learning activities can be used to teach course content. Cooperative learning allows students to learn while also receiving motivating social reinforcement from their peers.
In order to capture and maintain students’ attention, incorporate high-interest topics into your lessons. Simply ask your students what topics they are most interested in (whether through class discussions, written surveys, or individual student-teacher conversations).
Give the student options for structuring his or her classroom learning experience. Consider allowing students to choose where they sit, who they sit with, what books they use for homework, or the type of product they agree to produce (e.g., offering the option to students in a writing course of composing an opinion essay, a newspaper article, or letter to the editor).
Give students a say in how the lesson is structured. You could, for example, have the class vote on whether they want to spend a class period working in student pairs at the computer center reviewing course content posted on an Internet site or remaining in the classroom working in larger student groups to extract key course concepts from the textbook.
4. The student appears to be unable to complete in-class assignments.
Examine the student’s academic skills to see where he or she falls short.
Adjust the classroom instruction for the student based on his or her skill level. A student who struggles in a higher reading group, for example, may be placed in a lower group.
Provide completed models of all steps of the learning strategy that the student must use to complete the assignment on review sheets. Take care when creating the review sheets so that the student can understand the key elements of the strategy when reviewing it independently.
Make a connection between the student and a classmate, an older student, or an adult volunteer who can tutor the student in the area(s) of academic weakness. (Ensure that the majority of tutoring time is spent actively working on the targeted skills rather than engaging in social conversation!)
Provide the student with materials appropriate to his or her ability level so that he or she can practice, practice, practice key skills taught in the course. If the student is working on practice materials independently, provide answer keys so that the student can quickly check his or her work.
Give the student study aids and reference materials that will help him or her understand the course material better, such as guided notes and glossaries with key course terms and definitions.
5. The student completes classwork quickly but with little regard for quality.
Choose assignments with high-interest’real-world’ applications for students to encourage their best efforts. For example, have students write an autobiographical essay that they can later use to apply for a summer job.
Make a ‘quality rubric’ that lists the key quality dimensions that you expect from the student’s work. Require students to grade all classwork using the rubric. Allow the student to hand in work only when he or she can honestly assign himself or herself the highest possible ratings. (NOTE: This technique can be used with a single student or the entire class.)
Form groups of students and have them exchange completed assignments. Students should be instructed to rate the quality of their peers’ work and to share their written evaluations with one another. Encourage students to make changes to their own assignments in response to peer editorial feedback before collecting work.
To avoid having students rush through an assignment in order to have free time, assign extra classwork to anyone who completes it early.
Invite ‘guest reviewers’ from outside the classroom (e.g., another teacher, principal, or visitor from outside the school) to look over important student assignments and provide face-to-face feedback on the quality of the work on a regular basis.
6. The student is not involved in large-group discussions.
In your classroom, make it clear that students are not permitted to tease or mock their classmates for giving an incorrect answer. Students should feel comfortable making mistakes, even in front of others, as they work to master difficult course material and concepts.
Inform students that their willingness to participate in class and their preparation for class discussions will determine a certain percentage of their course grade.
Put all of the student names on index cards or slips of paper and put them in a container. Pose a question during class discussion and allow students a brief period of ‘think time’. Draw a name from the container at the end of that time and ask that student to attempt an answer. Then, in the container, replace the student’s name and ask another question. (If you have students who are extremely shy about participating, allow them to pass if they do not know the answer when called upon.)
Meet with the student privately and read a passage from the course text to him or her (or other relevant material). Provide the student with the discussion questions you intend to ask him or her in the next class session, and inform the student that the answers to those questions can be found in the passage. (If the student requires additional assistance, highlight the sections of the passages that contain answers to the discussion questions.)
Allow students who do not know the answer when called upon to choose a “lifeline,” a peer they believe will know the correct answer. However, if a student uses a lifeline, do not accept the answer until the student using the lifeline states whether or not the lifeline’s answer is correct.
When responding to a discussion question, allow students to consult their notes and the course text.
Allow the student to use a basic self-monitoring system. Set a reasonable daily goal for responding to discussion questions with the student (e.g., “In each class, I will raise my hand to answer at least 3 questions.”) At the end of class, the student writes on a sheet how many times he or she participated in class discussion. If the student meets or exceeds the daily goal, he or she receives a point or token that can later be redeemed for an incentive. Of course, the teacher should check the student’s rating on a regular basis to ensure that the student is being truthful in his or her ratings.
7. The student takes inadequate or insufficient notes on the lecture content.
Part of the course grade will be based on the quality of the student’s notes. Collect student notes to grade and provide written feedback on a regular basis, preferably near the start of the school year. (NOTE: Before grading student notes, ensure that students with disabilities that affect note-taking receive appropriate accommodations, such as those discussed below.)
Students should be given sets of “guided notes” (notes which contain main headings and some key information but leave blanks where the student is to write in additional information).
Keep a master set of teacher course notes on hand for students to borrow and compare to their own. Alternatively, obtain permission from a student in the class who takes good notes to photocopy his or her notes and make them available (e.g., with weekly updates) for other students to review.
When discussing important material in a course lecture, explicitly instruct students to take notes.
Allow students to record lectures. Alternatively, establish a practice of recording your own lectures and allowing students to sign out audiotapes for review.
Encourage students to form study groups to prepare for quizzes and tests (e.g., in study halls or after school). Students can compare notes in these groups, increasing the likelihood that students with poor note-taking abilities will fill in gaps in their own notes while reviewing important course content.
Create a rubric for judging the quality of course notes with the class. Students should exchange notebooks on a regular basis and provide structured feedback to one another on the quality of their note-taking. Make it a requirement for students to write up their feedback and share a copy with you. Use that feedback to identify students who are consistently rated as poor note-takers and spend time reviewing effective note-taking strategies with them.
8. The student is distracted and unfocused in class.
Place the student near you in your teaching ‘action zone,’ which is the area of the room where you face the most when addressing the class.
Make eye contact, call the student’s name, and ensure that he or she is clearly attending to you when giving individual instructions or making a request to the student.
Display a daily agenda on the board that describes the main activities for the class. Include an estimate of how much time each activity will take. Before beginning instruction, go over the agenda with the class. Maintain the agenda on the board throughout the class period.
Divide larger assignments into smaller ‘chunks’ or sections. Allow the student to take a short break after completing each section successfully.
Before starting an independent assignment, have the student describe his or her work plan aloud to you. Inform the student that you intend to check in with him or her at the end of class to see how far the student has come toward achieving his or her work objectives.
Teach at a quick pace to ensure your students’ attention.
Provide a quiet, less-distracting corner study space (e.g., study carrel) in a less-frequented section of the classroom for the student to use when concentrating on independent work.
Place the student next to a cooperative classmate who has good work habits. Teach the student how to quietly ask a classmate for assistance whenever he or she is confused or unsure about a class activity.
9. The student refuses to do work assigned by the teacher.
Examine the student’s academic skills to ensure that he or she does not have skill deficiencies that are being concealed behind a mask of noncompliance or defiance.
Employ strategies to increase student motivation to learn (see ideas listed in section 3).
Make eye contact, call the student’s name, and ensure that he or she is clearly attending to you when giving individual instructions or making a request to the student.
Maintain a positive attitude when interacting with the student. For each negative interaction, try to have at least three positive interactions with the student (e.g., greeting the student, complimenting his or her behavior, acknowledging a correct answer) (e.g., reprimand).
Create a reward system in which students can earn points or tokens toward incentives or privileges in exchange for complying with adult requests. Set a percentage goal for student compliance first. (For example, if the student typically only complies with 50% of your requests, you could set an initial goal of 70% compliance.) Before beginning the program, meet with the student to teach the student your definition of compliance (e.g., ‘The student carried out the teacher request within 20 seconds without complaining’). Inform the student that if he or she complies with teacher requests at or above the pre-set goal during the periods when a behavior program is in effect, the student can earn a point or token. The points or tokens can be redeemed for rewards or privileges on a regular basis.
Make a list of fair and appropriate consequences for students who refuse to comply with teacher requests. Explain these consequences to the class ahead of time, and be consistent in imposing them whenever a student fails to comply. (Rather than simply sending the student to the principal’s office at the first sign of defiance, develop a series of consequences for misbehavior that can be delivered in the classroom.) Teachers should be aware that imposing only negative consequences when a chronically defiant student misbehaves is unlikely to yield positive results. When negative consequences for misbehavior are combined with a reward system for positive student behavior, the chances of success increase.
10. The student seeks assistance from others even when he or she is capable of doing the work.
When a student asks for help that is unnecessary, tell him or her to try the problem or work on his or her own. Keep the interaction brief and professional.
Encourage the student to work independently: Approach the student at random intervals while he or she is working and offer encouragement (for example, by briefly praising the student for effort).
Meet with the student to create a list of strategies that the student can use on his or her own when struggling with seatwork. Referring to a model that demonstrates how to solve the problem type, referring to notes or the course text, or consulting reference resources such as dictionaries, glossaries, or maps to find an answer are all possible strategies. Whenever a student approaches you for help, have the student describe independent strategies he or she has already tried before offering assistance.
Create a’memory-friendly’ classroom by publicly posting essential information that students are likely to need for reference (on the board or as posters) (e.g., the daily class schedule or agenda, in-class assignments, step-by-step breakdown of strategies for completing academic problems). When a student asks for help, direct him or her to the appropriate information resource and instruct him or her to find the answer on his or her own. ; 11 The student does not seek peer or teacher assistance, even when he or she clearly requires it.
Give the student a private signal to indicate that he or she requires assistance from the teacher. Provide the student with a red folder (‘help folder’) containing practice worksheets, for example. Meet with the student privately and tell him or her that whenever he or she gets stuck and needs help with independent assignments, he or she should pull out the folder and start working on practice worksheets until the teacher can help. Monitor the room during seatwork; if you notice a student working from the red ‘help folder,’ approach the student quietly to offer assistance.
Provide completed models of all steps of the learning strategy that the student must use to complete the assignment on review sheets. Format the review sheets so that the student can understand the material while working independently. Instruct the student to try to solve seatwork problems by referring to the completed models first.
Create a’memory-friendly’ classroom by publicly posting essential information that students are likely to need for reference (on the board or as posters) (e.g., the daily class schedule or agenda, in-class assignments, step-by-step breakdown of strategies for completing academic problems). Encourage the student to use the appropriate memory aid (for example, posted academic strategies) whenever he or she requires assistance.
Allow students to work on seatwork in pairs or small groups. Encourage them to seek assistance from one another as needed. During seatwork, approach the student privately. Encourage the student to demonstrate (‘think aloud’) the strategy he or she is using to complete the assignment in a supportive manner. If the student is employing the strategy incorrectly, correct him or her. Make sure to acknowledge the student’s efforts.
Meet privately with the student and brainstorm a list of strategies that the student would be willing to use to get help with independent work. For example, the student may agree to consult his or her notes first, then ask a peer, and finally approach the teacher for assistance. Make a checklist of the student’s ‘help steps,’ and remind the student to use it whenever seatwork is assigned.
12. The student does not correctly or completely record homework assignments.
All class assignments for the week or month should be typed up and distributed to the class.
Set up a ‘homework hotline’ where students (and parents!) can call and listen to a pre-recorded message that lists current class assignments. Create and maintain a web page where students can browse a list of pending assignments and their due dates.
Students should be paired up. At the end of each class, instruct students to quickly check each other’s organizers or notebooks to ensure that they have accurately and completely recorded board assignments.
Instruct the student to come to you with his or her organizer or notebook at the end of each class period. Read over the student’s listing of assigned work. If the student’s recording of the assignment is incomplete or incorrect, prompt him or her to write it correctly. Then initial the assignment page.
Select a staff member (e.g., vice principal, reading teacher, counselor) who can serve as a ‘check out’ person at the end of the school day. Assign that staff member a caseload of students who have chronic difficulties accurately recording homework assignments. As each student stops by, the ‘check-out’ person reviews the student’s recording of assignments to ensure that he or she has written them down completely.
13. The student fails to take work materials home that are required for his/her homework assignment.
When writing assignments on the board, include a list of required work materials as a reminder to students.
At the close of class, remind students what materials they will need for homework.
Have the student keep one set of textbooks at home and one at school.
Post worksheets to be done as homework on the Internet where students can download and print off as needed.
Explicitly teach students how to prepare at the end of each school day for that night’s homework. Instruct students to review each instructor’s homework assignment and verify that they have put the necessary work materials to do that assignment into their backpack or book bag. For students who need additional practice, walk them to their lockers at the end of the day and coach them as they pull together their homework materials.
14. The student does not have a regular routine (fixed time, location, etc.) for studying and completing homework.
Have the student complete a homework schedule each week with adequate time set aside daily for homework. Verify with the student’s parent(s) that the student is abiding by the schedule.
Meet with the student to identify both a place at home where the student can do homework without distractions and a set time for doing homework. Check in with the student occasionally to monitor his or her homework habits.
If the home environment is not conducive for completing homework, encourage the student to find another location (e.g., local branch of the public library, community center) suitable for homework.
Encourage the student to use study halls or other in-school time to get a head start on homework.
Team up with other teachers to sponsor a ‘homework club’ where students can stay after school to complete homework with adult support and supervision. Consider having different teachers ‘host’ the club on different nights of the week.
15. The student lacks an efficient strategy for completing homework assignments.
Train students in the specific steps needed to build a work plan for doing homework. Show them how to preview their afterschool assignments, order those assignments so that they do the most difficult first (when their energy level is highest), break larger assignments into smaller sub-tasks, and estimate how much time each assignment is likely to require. Assign students to create their own homework plans for a week and to turn them in to you. Follow up by asking students to reflect on how their use of these plans may have improved their homework completion.
If you are giving students an especially challenging homework assignment, provide them with strategies (e.g., time-saving tips, techniques to check for mistakes, etc.) for doing that homework efficiently.
Suggest to students that they take short breaks between homework assignments (e.g., spending 10 minutes watching television) to refresh and reenergize.
Recommend to students (and perhaps to their parents) that they remove unnecessary ‘time-wasters’ from the homework setting (e.g., Internet messaging, television, radio, cell phones) (e.g., Internet messaging, television, radio, cell phones).
Enlist the student’s parent to serve as a ‘homework coach’, meeting with the student each night to look over assignments, set up a plan for completing the homework, monitoring the student’s actual time spent doing homework, and reviewing finished work to verify its completeness and quality.
16. The student completes homework but fails to turn it in at school.
Meet with the student’s parents and suggest that they check each morning to be sure that the student has all completed homework assignments in his or her backpack before leaving for school.
Set up a homework chart for the student. Award the student a point for each day that he or she turns in homework. Allow the student to redeem collected points for rewards or privileges.
Build a sense of personal accountability by requiring that students put their homework directly in your hand as they walk in the door at the beginning of class. Note which students fail to turn in homework and approach them before the class period is over to have them pledge when they will turn it in.
Send ‘overdue homework’ notices home every several weeks to parents of your students. The notices should include enough information about the missing assignments so that the parents have all the information that they need to prod their child to get the work done and turn it in.
Designate a staff member to be a ‘homework check-in’ person for selected students. At the beginning of the day, students go to the staff member in the school’s main office and surrender their completed homework assignments. The staff member immediately puts students’ homework in the appropriate teachers’ mailboxes.
Encourage students to complete their homework in study halls or in an afterschool ‘homework club’. Appoint a staff member to collect students’ completed homework before they leave for the day and to put finished homework into the appropriate teachers’ mailboxes.
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Homework Help Intervention