Sunday, 29 April 2012

Homework - finally getting it right?

I had the oddest experience at Parents' evening. A mother sat down and said, "You know that Macbeth homework you set? Becky loved doing it." I turned to Becky and asked, "Really?" and she nodded in mortified agreement.

I've struggled with homework for years. I don't like chasing it. I really don't like marking it. A lot of the time it has very little purpose other than parents expect it and complain if it isn't set. And yet, one of the most important things I believe we should do is create independent learners. So I had a proper think about how to do something a bit more meaningful and, dare I say it, enjoyable.

Working on the principles that most students are competitive, like to learn in different ways, and homework should be both relevant and fun, I came up with the Macbeth homework challenge.

Basically, every student has a target of 60 points to reach over the half-term. They can choose to do this lots of different ways, as each task has a different value attached to it. It is designed so that you can't just do 10 point tasks and there is a minimum of 2 to do to complete the challenge. It also covers lots of different VAK ways of learning. They then break it down and set themselves homework tasks in their planners for the coming weeks. The crucial bit is that just because they complete a task, it doesn't mean they automatically get full marks for it. It has to be quality work, showing analysis and creativity and we discussed what that meant for each task. They could also negotiate a task of their own and a points value with me.

The results were astonishing after just 3 weeks:

In a class of 32, only 2 students didn't run with it. Bearing in mind that at this point they should have had 30 points, you can see 27 had met the target, of whom 19 had exceeded it. And yes, you do see 6 students who had met the final target of 60 after only 3 weeks (one almost doubling it with 110 points). Additional voluntary homework is a new one on me! I shared this information with them and three weeks later, every one of them had completed the challenge, more than half doing more than the minimum 60 points. Interestingly, nearly all the tasks had been chosen by someone, which pleased me enormously. It was also a pleasure to mark because they had put so much effort into it.

Most importantly, the work they produced was amazing, and I believe it impacted on their CA marks too. Macbeth was their first CA in Y10 and every student bar one (there is always one) was within a grade of their FFT target for the end of Y11. 16 of them met or exceeded it with their first attempt, which I'm more than happy with!

1 comment: