Homework Help and Other Helpful Hints

Need Help with English Assignments and Homework?

Help your child keep track of his/her work and instructions:

  1. The binder is a great tool for students to use to keep track of their work, but it must stay organized. Some students use dividers, others use dividers with pockets. For other students separate accordion folders help them keep track of their work.
  2. It is important to clean out the binder weekly. HELPFUL HINT: Do not throw any work away until the end of the semester. Students (and parents, too) sometimes think papers are no longer needed, when they are really part of a work in progress. Keep a place to store all old papers until the end of the semester.
  3. Sometimes grades are marked incorrectly or their is confusion as to whether a student completed his or her work. If you have kept all the papers, you can go to the box and pull out the work in question.
  4. The backpack is another tool to help your child stay organized. But it too can become an additional place to lose, crumple or ruin work. Remind your child to clean his or her backpack out weekly. Again, place all papers in the "box under the bed" until the end of the semester. That way, anything that he/she didn't realize he or she needed will be in one place.
  5. Help your child develop good organizational habits. One highly effective and organized person has a mantra. Before he ever goes anywhere, he runs through this list: keys, wallet, cellphone, sunglasses. That way he is sure to have all the tools he needs and he does not leave things behind.
  6. If your child gets in the habit of checking his/her agenda each evening and places all the assignments in the backpack before the end of the day, things will be where he/she needs them in the morning.
  7. If he/she makes sure his/her work is complete and stored in the backpack and the backpack is by the door , your child is less likely come to school unprepared. Paper, pencils, assignments, projects will all be at his or her fingertips.
  8. Whatever organizational tricks you use can help your child, too!

If your child does not know what his or her homework assignment is:

  • As stated on the previous page, make sure your child writes his or her assignments in the agenda, daily. They should have something written in their agenda for every class, every day. Sometimes this will be what they discussed in class. Other times it will be what they discussed and a homework assignment.
  • Long term assignments will be posted in the agenda to help students plan how they will break the assignment up into manageable pieces. It is important to make sure your child stays organized and writes his or her assignments in the agenda on a daily basis.
  • If you would like to verify that your child has written the assignments in the agenda correctly, simply ask your child's teacher to initial the agenda to verify the authenticity of the assignment. It will be your child's responsibility to request the signature.
  • Many teachers post homework on the Marston Middle School Website: http://www.sandi.net/marston Click staff, find your child's teacher's name, click his/her name; find the homework page for your child's class.
  • It is helpful to have phone numbers of responsible students so you child has someone to call when they need information regarding the classwork or the assignments. A good homework partner can help your child keep current with classwork when he or she is absent or when he or she has forgotten to write in his or her agenda.

My child always says they have already finished their assignments, but then he or she does not turn it in:

  • Have your child show you their paper and compare it with the assignment posted on the website or in his or her agenda. If this is a writing assignment, ask them to read it out loud to you. Students often catch items that need revision or editing when they read their work out loud. If they are comprehension questions or notes, ask them to explain what they are reading and see if the answers are written in complete sentences. Help your child edit for capital letters, punctuation, and paragraphing.
  • Students are required to read on a daily basis. If your child has finished his or her homework, ask him or her to find a quiet place and read a good book. Different teacher's have different independent reading requirements. Check with your child's teacher to find out what his or her requirements are for independent reading.
  • If your child consistently says that he or she has finished all his or her work, contact the teacher to make sure all assignments have been completed. You may also log on to parent portal of Power School to verify there is not missing work. If you do not have a log on for Power School, contact the office and register for your log-in number and code.

What if your child does not understand his or her assignments?

· If your child needs additional help, he or she can attend tutoring before school, after school, or during lunch. Look on the English Department tutoring schedule and see when your child's teacher is available to give extra help.

· Many teachers require students take notes as they give directions for assignments. Have your child check his or her notes. If your child is not taking adequate notes, discuss with him/her the need for complete directions. You may also have him/her contact his/her homework buddy for more detailed directions.

· There is a link to some basic Power Point Presentations on how to take notes and how to write different genres. The "Power Point" page on the English Department website is on a tab at the side of this site. These directions were developed as a general guideline. Your child's individual teacher will have his or her variation of these formats. But, if you child needs general guidelines, he or she can access these presentations to review the basic information for each writing genre.

· Ask your child to show you his or her returned work, after it is graded. See if your child is doing well or is need of further instruction. Some teachers have students post work electronically, and grade the work electronically. Have your child log-in to the site his/her teacher is using, check for the teacher's comments on-line.

· There are several on-line tutorials you can search for. There is a list of web-sites posted on the school web-site.

If you are not sure of your child's progress:

  • Contact your child's teacher by email or by phone.
  • Go on-line to PowerSchool to see your child's current grade and any missing assignments. You can contact the school and request a user name and login code. If you do not have this code, you may use the student portal and have your child log in to his/her classes.
  • Speak to your child's counselor about a Weekly Progress Report. It can be filled out by one or more of your child's teachers, each week, so you can know their current grade and citizenship. The progress note also tells you if your child has any missing work.

Other ways to help your child at home:

· Make homework a daily habit. If your child does not have any homework, have them sit and read or write in a writing journal.

· Give your child a quiet place to complete his or her work. Make sure it is comfortable, organized and has enough room for all their books, papers and other materials.

  • Make sure there is a good light source.

· Establish a regular study time. Secret's of Straight A Students gives several tips which help students become successful and confident learners. http://www.rd.com/advice/parenting/secrets-of-straight-a-students/

· Have your child share his or her work with you before he or she leaves for school. Celebrate the accomplishments and assist with revisions.

· As them questions about their work. Who, why, what and how questions are always good questions to use to facilitate a good discussion.

· Ask your child to teach you what he or she learned. Students learn more from teaching than from doing.

· Reward responsible and conscientious behavior with praise and remind them that they are developing skills that will help them throughout their lives.

· Make sure your child has all the tools necessary to complete his or her assignments. Having paper, pencils, highlighters, post-it notes, thesaurus, etc. handy will alleviate some of the homework stress.

· Be sure all electronics are off. No television, music, texting. Work comes first!

Here are some other resources for your use:

How to get you're your child to love to read:

Reading resources on-line:


Here is an excerpt from a CNN article : How to get your kid to be a fanatic reader:

Where to find books your kids will gobble up.

ReadKiddoRead.com, GuysRead.com, and Oprah.com's Kids Reading List are excellent resources, and they're simpler to use than an iPhone. The American Library Association and the Young Adult Library Services Association have recommendations for terrific books, easily found by searching "ALA reading lists." DropEverythingandRead.com has a "Favorite D.E.A.R. Books" tab on its home page.

Most libraries and bookstores are extremely generous with their time and help. Kids and parents should visit Scholastic and other book fairs. Free or low-cost books for schools are available (while supplies last) at ReadKiddoRead.com, FirstBook.org, andReadertoReader.org.

Reading role models, please apply here.

Let's face it: Most of us don't realize it, but we are failing our kids as reading role models. The best role models are in the home: brothers, fathers, grandfathers; mothers, sisters, grandmothers. Moms and dads, it's important that your kids see you reading. Not just books -- reading the newspaper is good too.

The president and the first lady can be powerful role models if they are willing to pitch in and press the issue from their bully pulpit. In England, the entire country celebrates World Book Day. Every young lass and bloke gets a pound to buy a book of their choice, and most bookstores lower prices for the day. Cheers for former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was an active role model for getting kids reading.

By showing more respect for books, kid-influential organizations such as ESPN, the NBA, and the NFL could help thousands of kids become better readers. I cringe when I hear college-educated sports announcers scoff at books during broadcasts because they're afraid to man up to being readers themselves.

Hollywood studios and stars could inspire kids to read, but often don't. Apparently, some film directors think it's their civic duty to teach kids how to smoke. Magazines and newspapers could call attention to the reluctant reader and literacy problems on a daily or weekly basis. Fast-food chains could put stories in their kids' meal boxes -- most publishers will work with them. Video-game makers could incorporate written stories in their games; maybe it ought to be the price of admission for selling to kids. Many publishers could do a much better job of supplying free or low-cost books to schools in need.

Now, this entire article probably took you only a few minutes to read. Please don't let your effort end here. While you're thinking about it, send your thoughts, or even this piece, to your school principal or librarian. Heck, send it to the White House. If you have the means, offer to buy your local school a few good books. But most important, take your kids or grandkids or students to a library or a bookstore or go online to search for some books right now. If you have better ideas than the ones suggested here, terrific -- please share them with your school, or in the comments section below, or at ReadKiddoRead.com.

Your taking action will speak louder than words to kids about the power and glory of reading: First you read, then you get up off your seat and do something to fix the problem.

To read the entire article:


Here are some reading tips from a reading specialist at Larkspur Middle School

Reading Tips for Parents of Middle School Students

Welcome to Larkspur Middle School! As your child's first and most important teacher, you can be a powerful force in your child's efforts to become a skillful reader. Whether your child is already a proficient reader, or is a struggling or reluctant reader, your positive encouragement can help them make continuous strides toward success. Here are some suggestions on how you can support reading at home.

Create a quiet, special place in your home for your child to

read. Keep books and reading materials readily available.

Help your child see that reading is important. Set a good example for your child by reading books, newspapers, and magazines. Talk about what you are reading.

Be attentive to your child's interests and developing skills. Remember to be somewhat non-judgmental about the text your child chooses: cartoons, instructions for video games, fantasy, sports, or fashion magazines can be the key to unlocking a lifetime of reading pleasure.

Allow your child to subscribe to magazines based on his/her interests to encourage frequent reading.

Read and discuss newspaper and magazine articles. An article beside the breakfast bowl can provide a great alternative to the usual, routine conversations!

Visit bookstores, public and school libraries regularly to find materials for pleasure reading.

Turn the television off at least once a week and read as a family. Discuss what everyone is reading.

Remind your child that sometimes adults have "homework" to do as well (i.e. reading reports, doing performance appraisals, research, etc.). This will allow your child to see the connection of reading to real life.

Create a family "word wall" on a bulletin board or the refrigerator. Share new words you came across in your reading and what they mean.

Encourage your child to read for 15 minutes before going to sleep each night.

Take reading materials with you to shared outings. Encourage your child to read while riding in the car, waiting at the doctor's office, passing time between activities.

If your child has an assigned reading, try to read the same book so you can have meaningful discussions about the story. If your child is struggling to complete an assigned reading, try taking turns listening to him/her read, and reading aloud to your child, checking frequently for understanding.

Ask your child about reading strategies he/she has learned at school. Have your child use these strategies when reading at home.

Encourage your child to re-read material to get a deeper understanding of its contents. This is particularly true for non-fiction material (textbook content) and material written above grade level.

Discuss the importance and approach of reading for different purposes: to entertain, to inform, to persuade, etc. Reading for different purposes helps to define the speed and depth of understanding to apply to that reading.

Distinguish between skimming, scanning, speed reading, and reading for deep understanding. Help your child to understand the appropriate applications of each.

Encourage "engagement strategies" such as highlighting, using post-it notes, underlining, and developing questions as your child reads. These behaviors help to habitualize the process of making-meaning and to ensure your child is doing more than reading the words on the page. Although your child should never mark in a library or school textbook, cutting post-it notes into smaller "flags" can serve a similar purpose.

Write notes recognizing your child's accomplishments. A little praise can go a long way!

Reward progress with a trip to the bookstore to select a special book.

Consider purchasing an electronic reader (i.e. Kindle, Nook, etc.). E-readers have become very popular and may entice your child to read more often. Because of the expense, we do not recommend bringing these to school.

Emphasize the importance of reading as a life-long habit and encourage its frequent practice.

How to help your child become a better writer



The Power Point page has a presentation on how to read and write a narrative.

There are other helpful hints and websites on the page "Helpful Hints for Parents" ... How to Help your Child be Successful at Marston

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