The Homework Workload
Homework in general is one of the most debated topics amongst teachers. Several teachers believe homework has a great deal of purpose and value while many others feel it’s a box ticking exercise to please parents and SLT. Let’s face it who honestly likes the workload homework creates? Extra planning, marking and feedback time is needed for the teacher and the students are spending several hours after school completing extra work. This all sounds pretty negative? It isn’t honestly.
Homework can play an integral role in a student’s educational life and learning of a topic. The real key though is homework needs to be planned for and have purpose. There are three main areas which many teachers successfully implement which have an impact on learning at the same time as reducing the workload.
Here teachers set students a task of investigation or preparation for the following lesson. This could be from watching a video or researching a particular fact or topic. Students then come to the lesson on a level playing field ready for a class discussion. This allows the teacher to then have more time to work on application and mastery of skills within a lesson rather than discovery.
There are many computer software programs available both freely and cheaply to classroom practitioners of any subject area. My particular favourite free maths sites are Matific (primary) and Hegarty Maths (secondary). There are many more sites within schools that can be paid for which provide different options such as Maths Space, Mathsters and the PiXL Maths App (sorry these are all maths examples).
The great thing about modern technology though is it provides students with instant feedback and reduces the workload for teachers. The homework does still have meaning and purpose through in the practise of skills, which in turn helps with student’s fluency of a topic. To quote Aristotle
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act but a habit."
Multiple Choice Question (MCQ)
Provide teachers with a quick and easy way to assess students’ knowledge without too much extra marking. This is something we need to heavily consider our students seeing as potentially the NEW GCSE reforms mean students certainly within mathematics may see more multiple choice questions and students need to know how to tackle this type of question.
My favourite free maths MCQ site is Diagnostic Questions and non-maths specialist site is Get Kahoots although I’ve not used this for homework purposes yet it has a bank of over 40 thousand quizzes ready for use or you can create your own.
These methods are great to add into your teacher repertoire of homework’s and planning as they each have a direct impact upon learning when the questions and aim of the task is thought out and valuable. However I’m a great believer that written work may take more time to mark but it is just as valuable for the students to gain this written practice as it is the form in which a student’s terminating exam will appear in. A great website with a bank of 100’s of homework’s is PRET Homework's. These provide students with an aim and purpose, allowing the student to practise a skill, stretch themselves, carry out research and have an insight into the literacy element of a topic area. It is vital our students understand the language of the exams, if you’ve seen me talk recently it is something that is a common feature of these talks.
My own version of these PRET Homeworks can be found in the following areas of the site.
To summarise I’m a great believer that homework has a relevance and importance in student learning. However homework to have this impact needs to be planned for and not just a tag on.