Takeaway Homework…

#15MinForum – 8/3/16

Homework has been a topic of discussion for us over the last year or so, at least to the extent where we have clarified the expectation of our staff in relation to the setting of homework to make sure it is set at the right time for the right reasons, rather than setting banal tasks just because the homework schedule says a teacher should set it every Tuesday for a particular group. Making sure that homework embeds or extends learning is surely the key to making it worthwhile…

My own personal interest in homework over the last couple of years has been about encouraging a shift in student mindset from one where they think they are doing homework for me because I asked them to do it, towards a mindset where they are choosing to do homework for themselves because they recognise the value in the process… no small task!

The idea of takeaway homework is an idea that I think could really support this shift, partly because of the owernship it gives to the students and partly because of the fact that it forces a teacher to put together a medium-term plan of home-learning tasks that nest within the bigger scheme of learning for a unit of work (rather than, as we are probably occasionally guilty of, grabbing a random worksheet or giving them a page number to answer a few questions from in the closing minutes of a lesson without as much consideration as you might like!)


Photo Credit: jam_90s via Compfight cc

The Forum…

Dan Toomey (@MrDToomey, our KS4 Science Coordinator and Teacher i/c Physics) opened his session with the preface “Just to be clear, this is not my idea – I saw Lucy McDonald [one of our wonderful geographers] using it, and there are loads of versions floating around on twitter”… a magpie indeed!

The idea is fairly simple: students are given choice and encouraged to be creative by providing them with a range of homework tasks to select from – a recipe for students taking ownership of the homework tasks. Whatsmore, the choices given to the students can be easily differentiated. Dan’s version, based on an idea that seems to have come originally from @ItsNads88, uses the Nando’s menu:

Takeaway Homework Magnetism_ Higher

One difference between the way that Dan is using it in comparison to the way some of the other versions seem to be used, is that each column on the menu represents a task that is expected at different points across the unit. So the ‘starter’ (first column) encourages students to select a task that must be completed within the first few lessons of the unit and the ‘dessert’ (final column) offers a selection of revision tasks. The ‘main’ (middle column) is (or at least contributes to) the main assessed task for that unit of work. In science, this is typically a task that is the focus of our formative assessment policy (i.e. it will have explicit success criteria, involve a round or two of peer and self-assessment, a bit of DIRT, and then teacher assessment with formative marking (WWW/EBI).

With students from a single class working on a range of different tasks, it presents some exciting opportunities for a bit of jigsawing with the seating plan to get students assessing the work of others who did the same task, but also looking at the work of those who did a different task…

menu and workmenus

The whole menu is shared at the start of the unit and due dates are attached for each column, though students can work on tasks as and when they see fit and submit work at any point before the due date. Dan also indicated that there may sometimes be a bit of smoke and mirrors with regards to which tasks are the easiest and which are the hardest if there are students who seem to be opting for the easiest tasks (the lemon and herb option!) or who are jumping into the top one (the extra hot) when they aren’t quite ready…

Have a go… and then share it on #TakeAwayHmk!!

Interested in a little more reading?

  • See more about Takeaway Homework from @TeacherToolkit in his blog-post here
  • See some more general musing from Stephen Tierney (@LeadingLearner) on the value of homework in his blog-post here
  • See Tom Sherrington’s (@HeadGuruTeacher) discussion of some of the research on homework in his blog-post here.




Author: L&T Magpie

Assistant Headteacher (L&T)

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