One of the most exciting parts of being a teacher is having the creative freedom to experiment with routines and procedures that work best for you and your students. The little tweaks we make in our classroom throughout the year create an environment that is more functional and exciting for students.
The Evolution of Homework Collection
One of the classroom routines you may find yourself tweaking frequently is homework collection. Those first few minutes when students walk into the classroom are filled with a lot of hustle and bustle…and an occasional unexpected surprise. Homework collection should be quick and seamless, but finding an approach that works best for you may take some time. Here are a few approaches I’ve tried in the past:
Turn In Bin
Students place their homework in a turn in bin. The pros? Homework submission is quick for students. The cons? You may find nameless papers and it takes time time to sort through the pile to figure out who’s missing their assignment. Check sheets or classroom jobs can make this approach a bit easier.
Corner of the Desk
Students place their homework on the corner of their desk before starting their morning work. You walk around and collect homework from each student. The pros? You are able to greet each student at their seat first thing in the morning. It’s also easy to see who has their homework ready to submit on time. The cons? This collection process can be time consuming and placing homework on the desk crowds students’ work space.
Stack on the Station
Students place their homework in a pile at a central location on or near their table group. You walk to each group’s “turn in spot” and thumb through papers to see whose work is on time. The pros? Homework collection is fairly quick. The cons? Less organized students who benefit from visual cues and don’t take note of the flat stack of papers piled near their seat consistently needed reminders to turn in homework.
An Efficient Homework Collection Routine
The routine that has been most efficient for my students is very similar to the group station routine with an added layer of organization. The Homework Drop Box makes turning in assignments quick and easy for students and teachers.
How It Works
At the end of each day during Tidy Up Time, our Teacher’s Assistant places a drop box at each table group.
When students arrive the following morning, they walk to their group drop box, find the file folder with their name on it, and drop their homework inside the folder. Students place their assignments in their folder standing tall in portrait-style rather than laying down in landscape-style. This allows the teacher to quickly walk to each station, thumb through each folder and instantly see who has and hasn’t turned in homework.
The teacher can then grab the top of all the papers at once and pull the assignments out into a neatly organized pile.
In my classroom, the Teacher’s Assistant then moves our drop boxes out of the way until we need them later in the day, or until the next school day.
Having a smaller file box at each group, rather than a larger one for the entire class eliminates the problem of a long line to turn in homework. This means students settle into their seats and start their morning work without wasted time.
Although some of the changes we face as teachers tend to throw off our equilibrium for a moment, focusing on smaller changes that benefit our students helps bring us back to a more balanced and efficient groove in the classroom.
Ready To Bring This Routine To Your Classroom?
If you are interested in trying the Homework Drop Box routine in your own classroom, grab my free Homework Drop Box Labels here and my favorite sturdy file bins here. (This is an affiliate link for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.)
Where can I find these bins?
Hi Katie, you can find them here (affiliate link).
I was reading about your homework drop box’s and I love this! Homework collection has been crazy with me so I can’t wait to try it. I was curious though, it says that the teacher’s assistant places the bins on the desk. Is this a student that has that job for the week/ month? Or do you actually have a teacher’s assistant with you?
I ask because I am gaining a teacher’s assistant next year and I am looking for ways to improve their organization to have a smooth transition into my class.
Thank for all of your great ideas!
Hi Meghan, thank you for reaching out. I noticed your comment got lost in the shuffle, but it just caught my eye when I was updating this post. 🙂 You are so fortunate to be gaining a teacher’s assistant! Mine is a student job. 🙂 I hope you are enjoying your school year!
I love this idea of the homework drop box. I am currently observing in a first-grade classroom and I can see how crazy homework collection can be. As a preservice teacher I love reading blogs like this. Being organized is a very important part of classroom management. The homework drop box is such a creative, yet efficient way for students to turn in their homework. The homework drop box allows students to place their homework portrait-style rather than landscape style which is beneficial for the teacher. This way the teacher can notice quickly who has and has not turned in their homework. I hope to use this efficient homework collection technique in my own classroom one day.
Excellent tup! Thanks so much for the idea, sharing the labels, and link for purchasing the boxes! This will be a game changer for me this year! How do you go about collecting finished and unfinished work and absent/make up/corrections? I need ideas for this paper management area as well. I have kids who are pulled consistently out of class for different support and managing the work is a real struggle. Thanks so much!
Thank you for reaching out Ashley. 🙂 To collect finished work, I’ll either use these same drop boxes, or have students place the work in a pile on their station (the white shelf at the end of each group). Sometimes, I’ll have finished work placed on station 1, and unfinished work placed on station 2. Any makeup work for absent students is submitted to the drop box the morning it is due.
Are these the small size ones through the link or do you use a bigger size? Love the idea!
I use the small file boxes. 🙂
I love your white cabinets with the green trays that appear to slide in and out. Where can I find those? Thanks
Hi there! They are from IKEA.
Hi! I love this idea for the classroom. My school is departmentalized so I have three different classes per day. Do you have any suggestions for implementing this strategy in a departmentalized classroom? Thanks! 🙂
Hi Taylor, thank you for reaching out. Is there time during your first few minutes/class warmup when you could quickly check what work has been submitted?
I would love to implement this in my classroom this year, but struggle with my students tearing out the pages correctly without ripping their work up. I want to send the math book home because I have had numerous comments from parents that it helps to see the work we did together. That means that students have to too out at school. Any ideas for me?
Hi Kerri, You could get the larger hanging file bins and have them turn in their whole workbook with a paper clip on the page they complete the previous night so you can quickly flip open and check their work.
Do you use EnVision? Our school uses EnVision and those sheets look awfully familiar haha. If so, do your enrichments match the curriculum?
Hi Amy, yes we use EnVision and yes the enrichment math units are very nicely aligned. 🙂
Wonderful news! Thank.you for.your quick response!
I LOVE this idea! Homework is one of the banes of my teaching existence. We give weekly homework Tuesday to Tuesday and it’s a nightmare. It’s one sheet and 90% of students don’t turn it in. After Friday, they forget about it. Even though they have a week, it doesn’t take that long.
I’m going to work this out this summer and use this idea if I can. Are you open to making these labels editable? I love that it’s free, but I use “Table 1” and so on and save Group 1 for small groups and would like consistency and no confusion on names.
Hi Jennifer, glad you found a system that might helpful as you get organized for next school year. 🙂 I will make note that an editable version will be helpful for any potential future updates.