I don’t know where to start – in a few clicks you have access to tiered questions on a multitude of topics with answers. Answer in an exercise book or on a mini whiteboard – it’s genius! Another click and the questions change.
If that wasn’t enough, you can print out individual worksheets at each level – differentiation without a headache.
I chose to print out the three tiers and award them points. Bronze = 1 point, Silver = 2 points, Gold = 3 points. I put together a cover sheet with instructions and the students instantly had control of their homework. All I asked for was 20 points of answers. The ones who need the practise can do lots of low scoring questions, the ones who need a challenge can do fewer questions at a harder level. My task is available to download below (full credit to Mr Carter given) – It prints nicely as an A5 booklet.
In an ideal world you would issue a homework sheet with a deadline and then dutiful students would hand in beautiful pieces of work on the specified date.
the work is handed in
the work is handed in late
the work isn’t handed in because they’ve lost it
the work isn’t handed in because they’ve left it at home
what homework, I’ve got nothing in my planner?
I have a standard practice of printing 10% (or more) extra worksheets than I need given the track record of some of my students. Let’s just say lunch detentions happen so regularly for certain bods that they are referred to as ‘lunch dates’, much to the amusement of their friends! The annoying bit is finding/handing out the spare sheets and chasing deadlines. There is also the classic response of ‘I couldn’t get a new sheet because I couldn’t find you, Miss’.
I found this genius gadget in my local Asda (Walmart), but you could recreate it with laminated card and a pin-board.
In each day section I record the homework set on that day – addresses the issue of not knowing there was homework.
Each week I transfer last week’s deadlines across – no excuse for not knowing when work is due in.
Underneath each day I pin a plastic wallet with the spare copies (but not the master copy) of the worksheet set – students can access spare sheets whenever they need to and I can find them quickly too (no more rummaging in folders/drawers)
The board is stuck on the wall, near the main board so it is in the eyeline of the students – a constant reminder.
I’ve been using it for a month now and students are already helping themselves when they lose sheets. It’s also a much quicker reminder for me too.
The last word of this post has to go to my Year 11 frequent homework dodger:
‘We’ve got no excuse for not doing our homework now, have we Miss?’
After the warm response the first takeaway homework received, I’ve written another! This time it is about Pythagoras and basic trigonometry – suitable for introductory or revision homework. This one hasn’t yet been trialled, so let me know how it goes.
If you have been on Twitter recently you may have seen educators sharing their ‘Takeaway’ homeworks. The idea is in Ross Morrison-McGill’s splendid book ‘100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Outstanding Lessons’ (@TeacherToolkit). Maths teachers have started embracing this concept and sharing their menus online.
Image credit: Bloomsbury Press
I’ve written a ‘Takeaway’ homework aimed at Year 9 Level 6/7 students on constructions, plans and elevations. Each task has a monetary value based on difficulty and every student must complete at least three tasks to complete the minimum £12 of homework. I personalised my in-school version to include the websites we subscribe to and books we use. I’m looking forward to seeing what my students hand in and I will update this post when they do.
Teachers often get students to do research homework for one of two reasons: to increase independent learning and develop an inquiry mindset or as an easy homework to set/mark.
Pupils often see research homework in one of two ways: as an opportunity for independent study and to find out cool facts that no-one else will find or as ‘None set’ – the teacher won’t check it and if they do there is the excuse that the computer wasn’t working, the printer had run out of ink, the internet went down or it wasn’t their classes day to use the school library.
How can you change this mindset?
Over the years I’ve set this type of task with varying degrees of success. Conscientious pupils write/type a short essay, with diagrams if appropriate – you could put it straight on the wall to be admired. Others print out webpages or copy a couple of lines from the internet/textbook/friend. Then there is the woeful list of excuses brigade …
This time I changed one thing in the task and I was frankly amazed: 100% successful completion. The change was so simple – how it could be done.
I asked them to research letter frequency analysis. Some wrote a page in their book, some took a photo of a page from a book, some did a printscreen and others bookmarked a website. Three of these four formats involve the use of smartphones. Unless your school has draconian rules on mobile phone use in the classroom, this is a good way to engage pupils. It promotes responsible use of technology and prompted discussions on how they’d searched to get their result.
All I had to do was walk around the room and let them show me their homework while they did the follow up task. Cynics might say that they could quickly do their homework before I got to them – this is a valid comment, except the ‘Usual Suspects’ came into the room waving their phones, desperate to show me their work!
BTW I was rather amused when one of the pupils showed me a screengrab of this blog – he didn’t have a clue that I’d written it.
Sometimes you don’t get to a suitable point in a topic for a specific homework task, sometimes you want pupils to reflect on their understanding and sometimes the printer/copier breaks. What should you do?
I get pupils to think about the work they’ve done and write two or three questions on a topic they’ve struggled with. They then answer their questions. Next they think about any misconceptions and write wrong answers. They then write an answer with a numerical error. So each question has one correct answer and three wrong answers.
They have had to review and reflect on their personal learning and then apply it to a question.
The teacher gets an idea of what the class as a whole understands and what misconceptions exist.
Follow Up Task
The teacher can type up the ‘best’ questions into a PowerPoint presentation to use as a multiple choice quiz activity. A class written resource is always fun to use.
For those of you lucky to have an interactive handset system, you have a ready made, personalised, multiple choice topic quiz.
Just a quick post today. If you don’t already use Manga High, it’s worth a look. There is no charge for schools to create accounts and can be quite addictive/competitive – I’ve found some of my most disengaged pupils arguing over who was going to get a bronze medal first.