My classroom is accessed via a long narrow corridor which opens up onto the stairs. Therefore, I have lots of display space outside of my classroom. One of my boards is one of the most seen boards in the school because it is next to one of the main doors. Baring that in mind, I wanted this board to be relevant to all, science related and a fun (or as fun as possible!) learning opportunity to boot.
So I dreamed up this creation: the interactive units display.
The main focus of this display is a set of 12 laminated questions on individual ‘flaps’. Lift the flap and the answer is revealed underneath. I laminated these prior to folding which makes them designed to automatically pop open – a circular number *just* holds the flap in place. The overall effect is quite 3D which I really like because the flaps seem to invite you to have a peek underneath.
I also included a score board and attached pencil so those who have ‘had a go’ can jot down their score proudly.
The real heart warming moment came when I saw people using it. You see, I didn’t tell anyone that it was an interactive board. It wasn’t promoted in any way. Yet, here we are, a week after its conception and there are 5 members of staff (!!) and 22 kids across 7 different classes who have listed their scores on the board.
The REALLY fantastic thing about all this? Not everyone got 12/12 but they were proud of their scores and wrote them up anyway. No fear of judgement. To me, this just shows what a fantastic set of growth mindset kids we have. I hope they will have another go soon and show they can improve their score.
Now I’m brainstorming other ways to make an interactive display! Ideas anyone?
Moving to my latest school was a small shock when it came to homework.
At my previous school, homework hand-in rates were exceptionally low and the entire process was a constant time-consuming battle. Eventually our department adopted a ‘project based’ homework approach where only 3 pieces of homework would be handed in each year. Despite this, I still had to literally find and chase children to collect in their projects (and I mostly ended up with lame excuses rather than the actual work!).
This was all in sharp contrast to my new school where the children are frequently prompting me to set their weekly homework. I have even experienced children interrupting my coffee break to hand in homework early!
Being that I never had to handle vast quantities of homework before I quickly became swamped with the task of organising homework setting and retrieval. Matters were complicated when each year group had a set night for Science homework but I did not teach all of the year group on that day. Nor did I teach all of the year group on the designated hand-in date and therefore couldn’t collect the work ‘next lesson’. This resulted in a year of always feeling on the ‘back foot’ when it came to homework.
My latest strategy is working very well however.
Here is how I stay on top of the homework paperwork mountain:
Homework Setting & Design:
Homework is meaningful, linked to our lesson and extends their learning while reinforcing facts/skills learned in the lesson.
All my homework is set on worksheets or can be completed on paper. The paper is pre-trimmed so it can be glued flat into the pupils book once returned.
Spare sheets are available in a designated place.
Books do not go home. This prevents the inevitable lost/forgotten books impacting learning through missing work and time spent searching for books in desks or looking for paper to write on. I don’t set ‘complete classwork’ homework. That can be done during lunch or in reflection time. The worksheets contain any key ideas which may be in their books and are needed for homework.
I aim to decide upon, copy & trim the homework at least 3 days in advance.
Every sheet has a clear area where the pupil can write their name and class. This simple measure dramatically reduces the number of sheets without names at the Hanson point.
Each sheet also has a space where I can scribble feedback as required. Nothing is written on the back of the sheets so they can be glued flat in class books.
As I teach the same lessons each year/term I found it is a good idea to create a separate document which lists all the homework I set as reference for the next year.
During a lesson previous to the homework night, check each child has written homework task in their diary (on the appropriate day) with the correct due date. If you are super organised you can print the homework task on a sticker for each child to stick into their diary. I check by asking the pupils to copy the homework at the start of a lesson and leave their homework diary open on their desk. I will shut the diary when I have checked it.
Have a designated person in each class collect in the homework. They are also responsible for checking everyone has put their name and class on the paper. The monitor marks who has handed in their work on a tracking sheet and brings all the work to my classroom on a set day. This avoids 60+ kids coming to my room to hand in their work individually.
Each class has a designated homework folder which is clearly labelled and has my tracking sheet attached to the outside. The monitor collects this from me on hand-in day. There work is stored in the folder for marking and until it is returned to the students.
For pupils who have a note from home to excuse their homework I request they accompany the monitor when the homework pile is handed to me. I can review their note in person before the lesson. I then make the appropriate recordings on the tracking chart.
Any work handed in late is recorded in my chart.
Marking & Returning Homework
I only record effort grades for homework. I have found that parents have too much input when it comes to homework and the work often isn’t a true indication of a pupil’s ability.
Missing work is not chased. It is noted in my chart and this information is passed onto parents through notes in the child’s homework diary. I also give a copy of my homework tracking sheet to form tutors once a month so they can detect patterns. My lessons do not depend upon completed homework.
The same monitor who collected in the homework hands it back post marking at the start of the next lesson. Comments can be acted upon during reflection time and the sheets are glued flat into books as soon as they are received.
This plan has worked well for me. It’s not foolproof and is certainly not the best use of homework for learning but this gives me something workable with room for tinkering & improvement. What more can I ask for?
Love, cuddles & death stares,