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In the article, Homework: A Few Practice Arrows, Susan Christopher makes the following statement:
“When homework is used as a formative assessment, students have multiple opportunities to practice, get feedback from the teacher, and improve. Homework becomes a safe place to try out new skills without penalty, just as athletes and musicians try out their skills on the practice field or in rehearsals. Effective homework is the rehearsal before the final event. Because the role of homework has changed in my classroom, so has the way I evaluate it. I no longer count homework when computing student grades.”  

Having taught in a setting where more than 80 percent of the students are eligible to receive free or reduced lunch, I have seen first hand the hinderance that homework can be on a students grade.  When I first started teaching, I assigned homework each night, and graded it, because thats what I thought you were supposed to do.  Many of my students didn’t return their homework, or quickly became discouraged from doing it because they didn’t have support at home.  Then there were also students who would ace their homework, but weren’t able to perform in class (presumably because a parent or someone else was doing most of the work).  Similar to the teachers at Health Sciences High and Middle College (Fisher, Frey, Pumpian, 2011) in San Diego, California, my school district went through an extensive reevaluation of our grading procedures and moved to standards based grading several years ago.  
After some time and effort, my district began using a variety of standards based performance assessments.  Several committees were formed to create district wide assessments to be used to measure student performance, and there is no longer a category in our grading system for “homework”.  It wasn’t until a few years ago though, that I decided I was no longer going to grade homework.  I was having the same issues as in the past with only a handful of students returning homework, and I began to ask myself why I was giving my little first graders homework.  What is it that they were getting out of it?  I decided that the homework that I was giving wasn’t exactly serving the purpose that I intended, which was to practice the classroom content.  Rather than asking for clarification, or help, I began to see my first graders getting stressed about their homework and on a few occasions even copying from friends.  These were habits and attitudes towards school that I did not want to see forming at such a young age.  
    I made the decision to not only stop grading homework, but to scale back on how much I gave.  Instead I only give the homework that I feel the students need in order to do well.  As Susan Christopher (2007) states “when homework is used as a formative assessment, students have multiple opportunities to practice, get feedback from the teacher, and improve. Homework becomes a safe place to try out new skills without penalty, just as athletes and musicians try out their skills on the practice field or in rehearsals. Effective homework is the rehearsal before the final event.”  I have dramatically reduced the amount of homework that I give as a result of this reflection on my practice. I do give nightly math homework, because it is included with our curriculum (its just a tear out page in their workbook) and the parents really like it. Other than that I send home a word list for the year and students are expected to read nightly. I also have a variety of digital resources on hand for parents to use should they feel like their child needs (or they want) more. I invite students to bring in any homework or extra items that they do at home if they want recognition for it or have questions, but I make it clear that it is not part of their grade.
I have had an overwhelmingly positive response to this method from parents and students alike. Here are a couple of more resources regarding homework that you may find interesting!

*I really enjoy Rick Wormeli’s videos- he does a really great job at explaining standards based grading!


Christopher, S. (2007).  Homework: A few practice arrows.  Educational Leadership, 65(4), 74-75.

Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Pumpian, I. (2011).  No penalties for practice.  Educational Leadership, 69(3), 46-51.
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My Journey with Essential Oils

Disclaimer-  In order to maintain compliance with my Young Living member agreement and FDA rules and regulations I am extremely limited with the content that I am able to share with you in regards to my experiences with YL Essential Oils.  I do not claim that YL Essential Oils can be used to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat  or prevent any disease or abnormal condition of the body.  My intent during this post is to share with you my journey and how the use of essential oils has helped to enhance my life.


Hello… My name is Lindsey, and I’m an essential oils addict.

My oils are always with me!

I started this journey with essential oils about 3 years ago after attending a “class” that was hosted by a good friends sister.  I had already heard a lot about these oils, but like many I was skeptical.  The presentation was extremely informative, and I really connected with the information being given, especially our presenters personal journey with essential oils.  Long story short, I decided to give it a try and ordered a starter kit.  I knew my husband was going to think I was crazy for spending $150 on a bunch of little vials of smelly stuff but I figured what the heck, maybe one of the “potions” would help with that haha (on a side note, the starter kit now comes with SO much more than what I got, for the same price)!

One day I wasn’t feeling well, my sweet 2yr old
 brought me things to make me feel better 🙂

     When my oils arrived I had just pulled a muscle in my back/ neck area and my neck was completely locked up.  Despite everything I tried I could not turn my head.  Before heading to the chiropractor the next day I thought I would give these oils a try.  I put on two of the oils right before bed as directed, and when I woke up the next morning my neck cracked like crazy and I was able to fully rotate my head!  Coincidence or not I was sold (I figured that was unlikely to be related to any kind of placebo effect).
     At the time my son was also having respiratory issues and we could not use any typical household cleansers.  Creating a mixture of Thieves and Lemon oils with vinegar and water worked well for all of our day to day surface cleaning for several years.
     In short, I used all of the oils in my kit almost daily for several different needs and noticed improvement in our quality of life.  My kids and husband even began to ask if I “had a potion for ______” (they lovingly call them my potions lol).  And that initial kit that I had purchased lasted me almost an entire year!

    Around my 1 year anniversary with Young Living I began to branch out and purchase oils to meet specific needs, as well as a second kit- this time it came with a diffuser!

    By the time I had received my diffuser I had already heard about other people using oils in their classrooms so I thought I would give it a try.  If you decide to do this, it would be wise to double check with your school district/ administration regarding their policies around such a thing.  I do not diffuse the oils while the kids are in the room- some of them are fairly strong when being actively diffused, so I usually do it in the morning before they arrive or at the end of the day after they have left.  Some of my favorites to diffuse are Peace and Calming, Thieves, Citrus Fresh and Lemon.  I usually set my diffuser right on the carpet… mainly because thats where we spend a lot of our time in 1st grade.  I imagine that the carpet absorbs all the diffused goodness 😉

This is not a good way to store your oils.
 Do as I say, not as I do 😉

Take a peek inside my current YL Essential Oils collection!
Click on the link to learn more about each oil.

Lavender, Lemon, Panaway, Lime, En-R-Gee, Stress Away, Fennel, Slique, Citrus Fresh, Purification, Highest Potential, Joy, Thieves, R.C., Vetiver, DiGize, Valor, Peppermint, Frankincense, EndoFlex, Peace and Calming

While I do use some oils in the classroom on occasion, I mainly use them personally so that I am bringing the best version of myself into the classroom each day.  Should you be interested in trying these for yourself PLEASE make sure you are using therapeutic grade oils.  To date I only know of two companies who are able to call themselves “therapeutic grade”, Young Living and DoTerra.  If you are thinking that you want to try Young Living, I highly suggest becoming a “member”.  Think of it as the Sam’s Club for oils.  There is no obligation to buy or have a monthly sales quota.  You simply get the wholesale price (24% off retail) of all your purchases.  To become a member you would need to sign up here- Member Sign Up (Use the code 1443071 when prompted for your enroller/ sponsor ID).  As part of your membership you are required to purchase a starter kit (you can view them here- Starter Kits).  They range in price depending on the kit that you choose but they are well worth every cent.  Like I said, I have now purchased two and will likely be purchasing a 3rd very soon.  I recommend getting one of the kits that includes the Everyday Essential Oils Kit (alone this kit is $170!).  These oils are the most common ones for day to day use.

I hope that you found this post to be somewhat informative.  I apologize that I had to be fairly vague in order to be compliant with FDA regulations.  Should you have any specific questions regarding my journey, the oils or their uses please don’t hesitate to email me or message me via Facebook at Teacher Mother Wife = Life.    I personally have had great success by using these oils, and it is my sincere hope that you would to!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  Young Living products are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.