The school I work at has different homework policies depending on the department. Some have longer projects on rotation, so the Art department might have a Year 7 project in the first half-term and then not have a Year 7 project again until the summer half-term.
Maths, however, have homework once every week, to last for about 30 minutes for every year group. This is to be marked and used as part of a learning dialogue with the student. There is also an expectation that the homework will not be set for the next day – that there is at least two or three possible nights for the student to sit down and complete the homework. I’ve read conflicting views on the impact of homework on achievement. I don’t really have a choice in the setting of homework but have complete autonomy on what that looks like and I want to make that worthwhile.
What to do when students don’t do their homework, though?
I want students to see the benefit of homework and to be able to respond when they aren’t completing it. This can be an equity issue – there isn’t an appropriate space at home to be able to complete the work but often, students just can’t see the point of completing homework. So, when I set homework, how can I convince my students that it will be worthwhile? I could provide a type of homework list:
- Consolidation: Homework will provide an opportunity for you to practice skills that we learnt in class but didn’t consolidate;
- Flip: Homework will be a video or audio clip that you are to write one question based on – either something you don’t understand or something that you’d ask based on it;
- Functional skills: Homework will be an open problem that will expect you to apply Maths from different topic areas (e.g. Number and Shape). I will aim to make these problems interesting and engaging;
- Revision notes: Homework will be to make revision notes that then can be brought into some assessments (addressing a studying issue that lots of my students have).
And I could provide ways that homework will be used:
- Homework will be marked and feedback will be given on it
- When I mark homework, I will give some input and then set a question that responds to a mistake you are making or extend your thinking. You will then have to respond to this question and comment, with an answer and comment of your own
- For richer homework tasks, I have students mark each others’ work based on a rubric and to give 3 WWW (what went well) comments and 1 EBI (even better if)
I am not allowed to use homework as a way to give a grade to a student – this is all done with external, state set exams at 16, 17 and 18. Prior to that, my school will only use data from exams based on this style of test set and marked in house across the year groups.
Would you add any other types of homework or ways to use it?