I send out text reminders for major projects and tests via the app, Remind. Please see the instructions on how to join Remind on Canvas.
    I do not give a lot of homework in my classes, since they are usually given plenty of time in class to complete their assignments. Students have been told that anything they did not complete in my class that day becomes homework unless they are told otherwise. Everything that we do in class that day is written on the board and they are told to copy it as soon as they enter class, and keep it in their History binder. 
    After the first week of school, we will start reading the textbook aloud in class. Students are given the task of completing their Lesson notes and Lesson Checks that coordinate with that days reading and have it ready for class the next time they come. I may take a completing grade- 100% of the pages must be finished-everything can be found in the reading, and if they get stuck, have been told that they can come to see me in the morning to get help. Regardless of whether or not I take a grade on the work in class, I review the correct answers in class, and students are encouraged to correct their answers so that they may have the correct information to study.
    By the 8th grade, tests questions do not only involve recall, but require students to think critically. This is something that takes a lot of practice, and some students may struggle at first. To practice this skill, we often  examine primary and secondary sources and discuss it as a class. Parents can help at home by encouraging their students to read a newspaper or watch the national news and discuss current events with them. Focus on comparing and contrasting what is happening today with events from the past. Help them to expand their knowledge base by talking to grandparents or other people about past historical events and how they have changed the way we think about things or do things today.