PHUN Homework

PHUN Homework is Painless Homework with Unique Notions. It is a homework strategy for elementary school students. Why do educators need a strategy for homework? 3 Reasons:

1. Teachers assign homework religiously, but gain very little to nothing from it. According to research, the current form of homework (worksheets, bookwork, busywork, etc.) has not been proven to be effective for improving student achievement at the elementary level. It’s time to try something different.

2. Teachers across the country utilize best practices in the classroom on a daily basis, but those same strategies can be just as powerful during after-school hours as well.

3. Today’s economy requires all of us to do our part to save. PHUN Homework is much more economical than sending home a packet of 6-10 worksheets per student. Implementing PHUN Homework will help schools save money and increase student achievement and motivation to learn all at the same time!


The PHUN Homework strategy allows teachers to create meaningful, differentiated and purposeful assignments for each student.

Meaningful– Students practice skills using research-based strategies and not worksheets.

Differentiated– Students practice using materials/texts on their appropriate ability levels.

Purposeful– Students practice what they need to practice.

Motivating– Students practice using hands-on activities opposed to only paper-pencil.

How do you begin? ASSESS, ASSESS, ASSESS

Administer reading, language arts/writing, math, and content area assessments to every student. Analyze each assessment to determine students’ strengths and weaknesses. Make a list of the skill(s) that students need to practice. Then prioritize if necessary. Choose an implementation method: Whole group, Partner or Individual. Collect needed materials (bags, texts, games, flashcards, and etc). Design meaningful, purposeful and differentiated homework. Teachers should assign 1 required assignment per bag for students to complete and return on the following school day. The assignment should not be a worksheet. It should be an activity that has been modeled and practiced in the classroom. The assignment can also require higher order thinking skills such as those on Blooms Taxonomy. This assignment needs to remain the same for at least a month’s time. Adequate time allows students to practice the assigned skill repeatedly so that mastery can be obtained. Be sure to include written directions for all required assignments in each bag so that students know exactly what to do. You can also include samples/models.


Encourage students to complete required assignments independently because it gives you a better assessment of each student’s strengths and weaknesses as time progresses.

Choose 5-6 students a day to hold teacher-student homework conferences. While conferring with students, record valuable information/data in the Teacher Homework Management Book.

Use this data to inform future whole-group or small-group instruction. 
Always remain positive with students. Confer with students regardless if they returned homework or not. If students fail to return homework, use the conference time to discuss the importance of practicing skills at home. Never punish students for not returning homework, just keep encouraging them to do it. You can’t make them practice on their own time. They have to want to practice. It will come eventually. However, reward students who do return homework and make them feel like champions! 
Allow 5 minutes a day for Homework Show & Tell. Sometimes students will do activities in the bags that are NOT required. Students get really excited about it and they really want to share what they did. Let them! Then display it somewhere in the classroom. This little activity is a HUGE motivation for students. Especially students who fail to return homework. Be sure to record information from students’ show and tell performances in the Teacher Homework Management Book.


Change the required assignments once students have shown 85-90% mastery.
Use the data for teacher-parent conferences, RTI meetings, and share it with your students.

Change the contents in the bags when you feel it’s time to change.

I have found that students like exploring the “extras” and students often want more time to do that. I changed the contents in my bags every 1-2 months.