After much deliberation within my own mind about trying Take Away Homework, I decided to give it a go last term.
I’d read up about Ross Morrison McGill’s aka @TeacherToolkit idea of Take Away Homework over the summer and investigated a variety of examples but decided I would get to know my year 7 pupils first before introducing it.
Last term I decided it was the time to try out take away homework with KS3. The concept is great, it just requires a bit of work for the teacher before hand but it makes setting homework easy for the rest of the term. A winner in my book.
I decided to go with the 3 choices each week option; each choice had a different chilli rating to determine the amount of challenge/work involved. The year 7 menu looked something like this…
Below I’ve included some of the successes and failures of my efforts with Takeaway Homework to help you.
1 // The pupils produced a wide variety of pieces of homework, some clearly spent more than the 30-40 minutes recommended for KS3.
2 // A number of pupils enjoyed the choice of homework tasks and options for creativity.
3 // Others enjoyed knowing what the next piece of homework would be and making a start on it early.
4 // For me homework was set for the term, I just had to collect, mark and praise. Win!
5 // I was able to create this great display with the fantastic homework produced by year 8 (note: the spinners and cotton wool clouds are classwork, the rest however is homework)
— Mrs Humanities (@MrsHumanities) December 27, 2014
Failures Areas To Improve
1 // The date set confused them. I thought this would work since the planners only give the date for Monday of each wee. However this was a difficult concept for many to grasp particularly year 7 since their lessons are on a Thursday and Friday, so their homework wasn’t set until the end of each week. This method totally failed. If I use this style of menu again I will identify the week set (i.e. Week 1, Week 2), perhaps I might even go as far as to work out the actual date the work will be set.
2 // Some pupils hated the choice. A number of pupils struggled with the choice of tasks, when I gave the pupils an opportunity to give feedback at the end of the term a small number said they just wanted the teacher to tell them what to do or to give them a specific task to complete. Whilst I prefer to give pupils choice, for some I think I would tell/discuss with them which task to complete by highlighting it with them, taking the anxiety out of choosing.
3 // Lack of effort. Despite a good number of pupils going to great lengths to produce high quality homework many were clearly rushed just to have something to hand in. This had even occurred when the pupil had chosen to complete the Flaming Hot task. This was disappointing and a nuisance to follow up. Setting out clear expectations is essential, eventually the quality of the work improved but it took a few weeks.
4 // Time consuming. Some tasks I realised were quite time consuming for the pupils such as the video making choices, research projects or key word and definition match up games. Clearly some pupils spent several hours completing their tasks. I think in future I would either set challenging but less time consuming activities or make it that all Flaming Hot tasks are over two weeks. If I did the latter choice I would ensure I set out my expectations of the level of effort required, else they’ll be doing it again *insert maniacal laugh*.
On reflection Takeaway Homework was successful with year 7 and 8, when I started at the school after Easter homework was an issue. I would spend as much time chasing it up as some students spent doing it (obviously this refers to the ones that made an effort). Now I’ve the majority of pupils handing in their homework each week, with a few exceptions of course. Choice works for many but not for some. Creativity is key to engagement.
Well if you are considering this approach, I hope this has given you some additional insight and helped your decision.
I’d definitely recommend it and although I won’t be using it this term as I’m trialling project based learning, it will most certainly see a return in term 4.