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There were ten workshops and I led one of them with Tom Leahy (@MrTLeahy a fellow Maths teacher). The idea for running our workshop on Differentiated Homework came about due to us considering the differentiated lesson. “We differentiate in lessons so we should differentiate homework…right?” Right!
How can we as teachers insist upon differentiating our classwork and feel justified in giving the entire class the same piece of homework? It can become boring for the more able, consistently annoying for those who are finding the work challenging and it can be boring for the teacher too! To an outsider, it may seem strange that we are not differentiating homework, so what’s happening? Why are we all giving our students the same homework? Let’s consider the “Why? How? & What?” of this homework scenario…
Why do you want students to complete homework?
- Practice? 10,000 hours makes perfect (Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers)
- To cover more content? The flipped classroom (Bergmann & Sams)
How do you want them do it?
- On paper – Will the students (claim to) lose their paper work?
- On-line – Do students have access to the internet at home or at school?
What are the next steps?
- How can you maintain this level of homework?
- How much effort are you putting in when setting and marking the homework?
- How can you ensure that your students learn from the homework and not end up with lots of pretty displays? What level of feedback/marking is the most effective (#Takeawayhmk – how can you fairly assess the homework…see Marking #TakeawayHmk part 1; part 2 coming soom.)
Knowing the current approaches that are taken with homework and the completion rates, the following is a list of different homework that can be tried with classes (examples of these items can also be found here).
- Two sided worksheet / laminated card
- Basic questions on one side and an extension of the concept on the other e.g. problem solving task – students can do either/or see option 4 http://expateducator.com/2013/06/23/differentiating-homework-for-gifted-students/
- On line homework (SAM Learning, MyMaths, ShowMyHomework, etc)
- Choice Boards
- More commonly seen KS2 but would transfer nicely to KS3 students e.g. http://www.theartofed.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/elementary-choice-board.pdf
- Templates can be found here http://visuals.autism.net/visuals/main.php?g2_itemId=109
- Alternatives to Traditional HW
- Suggestions by the students of Kathleen Cushman “Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery“
- An example of the grid can be found by clicking here.
- Takeaway HW Idea 56 (from “100 teaching ideas for Secondary Teachers” Ross Morrison McGill aka @TeacherToolkit) #TakeawayHmk
- Concept Cards – some staff made their own in the workshop…
Examples of Concept Cards on Concept Walls can be found here http://mrcavswalloffame.wordpress.com/ & here http://mrcollinsmaths.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/mathematical-concept-wall-examples.html
Another aspect of homework to consider is how you talk about homework to your students. Some teachers refer to this as practice as opposed to homework and as such, this can affect the quality and quantity of homework that is received. For a slightly different perspective, watch this video clip of Rick Wormeli talking about Homework vs. Practice.
Conclusion This workshop was a challenge to prepare but fun to run and differentiated homework will be an ongoing project for me. I intend to trial more approaches to differentiated homework (see Marking #TakeawayHmk) but in the meantime I will try to convince other teachers to do the same. With this in mind, I expect differentiated homework to be a way that students can experience an appropriate level of challenge in their work outside of the classroom…practice or homework; what ever you choose to call it!
Thanks for reading @SPorterEdu