James Gardner says that electing to do Takeaway Homework (whereby pupils choose what they are going to do from a list of options) gave him and his department an opportunity to make something meaningful out of something which many schools struggle with. He found loads on @teachertoolkit's blog which was his initial inspiration. He also recommends reading Mark Creasy's Unhomework book. What is the purpose of the homework we set? Why do so many pupils not do it? What can we do to make it purposeful for pupils?
They started with Homework grids but they were hard to make up for staff and there wasn't much benefit for the pupils re more doing it, etc
For all the sessions, there were a lot of good ideas from the audience, and this was no exception. Prim aka @chapeluser said that she asks for evidence of WHAT they have done to learn the vocabulary set as homework. Jonathan aka @trekkiep mentioned that his school has a 5 period day with period 6 for kids who don't submit HW during the day. Their parents are texted to let them know and whilst there are some who avoid it due to buses etc, there has been a reduction in the number of pupils who don't do their homework.
In James' school, there are set Prep sessions with subjects allocated specific slots. Whilst there are advantages to this, the drawback would be that ICT homeworks are more limited as a year group of students cannot get onto PCs all at the same time.
Prim suggested adapting the above menu to have a points score, a little like Vocabulary Man which is often mentioned on the MFL Resources forum. The pupils could be set a tarif of 50 points so they could do 5 x 10 point tasks or one 50 pointer. This would allow for differentiation as well as more technically complicated tasks.
Sometimes pupils must do something specific eg vocabulary revision but generally all homeworks are a free choice from the menu.
James showed us some fantastic results eg two girls doing a video on personal details.
However he added that there is a danger that they choose something they haven't done in class and therefore they struggle with the target language or they just don't put the effort in. He has therefore added instructions on the takeaway homework menu not to do a task unless the topic has been covered in class or it is a research HW. He has also added tasks with more chillis for differentiation and to make it more challenging. Finally he has added vocabulary desserts. Taking feedback on board, pupils now have printouts for their books and it is also on his door in case they lose it.
James stated that there had been mixed feedback although generally good at year 7, but that year 8 more negative. Again, acting on feedback, he is going to add a tickbox. And one complaint from pupils was that they couldn't ask their peers for help if they were all doing different tasks but actually this has proved to be a positive thing from the staff point of view.
Ways to move the takeaway homework on would be to have an online version with hyperlinks to Quizlet etc; to have tick box management or Idoceo to monitor / track tasks; to think about Google classroom.
James concluded that overall the quality of work on a weekly basis is higher and there has been whole department buy-in.
I do a form of Takeaway Homework with A level already but this session has made me think seriously about how to introduce it at KS3. The issues we face are the Common Assessment tasks that already form part of our Schemes of Work which would be non-negotiable homeworks as well as the fact that there is a varying level of access to tablets and PCs at home. However it is a concept that we will be introducing over the next year or so and it was great to hear James' experiences and see what to do or to avoid.