Teaching approaches: Homework

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Teaching Approaches

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Homework can be a contentious issue in schools, not just for pupils, but for professionals too. The question of how much, and what type, is hotly debated, with some arguing that homework is unlikely to benefit the pupils who need such benefits the most.

Here we present some active learning homeworks, and some which may be used for assessment. The 'flipped classroom' is oft discussed at present; in this view, classroom work of reading, viewing powerpoint slides, working through basic worksheets and so on should be done at home, with classroom time reserved for, reasoning, whole class dialogue, and enquiry based learning instead.

As with other approaches, and ordinary lessons, what is important is that you have a core idea of the learning objectives of any tasks set, and that such tasks are appropriately challenging and engaging for your purposes. The use of technology tools may enhance homework by providing novel multimedia options or online collaborative tools, for example.

Relevant resources


Astronomy Stars in the sky: what's up?
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Use a software planetarium and encourage students to think about astronomy
This activity offers an opportunity for whole class(ta) discussion(ta) and questioning(ta) centred around the use of the Stellarium. It also affords good opportunities for self-directed study or homework(ta) extensions, including perhaps the use of free mobile apps(tool) (see below). There are also opportunities for some cross curricula(i) discussion of geography (navigation by stars) and history or literacy in relation to the ancient world.
Astronomy It's full of stars
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Using a telescope and considering how those early astronomers may have worked
Astronomy(topic) has been practiced for centuries and doesn't require expensive equipment! This first session aims to train the whole class(ta) to use a telescope and, hopefully, to provide an opportunity to engage in some active learning(ta). The lesson includes some naked-eye observations and describes how modern technology helps scientists know where to look. You can explore the scientific method(ta) and language(ta) at this point, using targeted questioning(ta)/differentiation(ta). Students may be able to engage in an inquiry(ta)-based project around this work, perhaps for homework(ta).
CPD Giving Written Feedback
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Effective methods for written feedback
This resource discusses written feedback in the context of assessment(ta) and giving clear learning objectives(ta) from any feedback given. While such feedback is often on homework(ta), the resource is intended more broadly than that.
Environment Our Living Environment
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Wise up on ecology
This study module, an online booklet, deals with the particular ways of thinking about and studying of the environment. It is a useful homework(ta) resource to encourage pupils to engage with key scientific vocabulary(ta) and use their knowledge of the scientific method(ta) to engage with inquiry(ta) learning.
ICT Monsters using Scratch
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Children using a computer programming language to create moving monsters
This activity developed the specific e-skills(topic) of programming and digital animation. It could be considered the first step towards enabling children to design and create their own games(tool) using sprites and user-input controls. Computer programming helps to develop investigation(ta) skills as it requires the use of a previously unknown language(ta) to execute commands, which also develops the skills of mathematical thinking(ta). Computer programming also involves the use of modelling(ta) and planning(ta) techniques. Because Scratch is an open source programming language, this also creates opportunities for homework(ta), as the children are able to download the software for themselves at home.
Patterns Exploring Pattern
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Exploring patterns in mathematics
Each chapter of this tutorial highlights the study skills(topic) required to work through the real world examples and activities given. There are problems to be solved, some of which involve higher order(ta) thinking skills (for example, being asked to correct a set of instructions), and all of which encourage the use of mathematical language(ta) and mathematical thinking(ta). The resource could also be used in class, or as a useful homework(ta) pack.
Reading skills Reading and discussing popular science articles
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Read. Get the world's view and see how science works for real
The resource relates to the importance of:
  • Scientific literacy(topic).
  • Science citizenship(topic) - understanding science in its context.
  • Literacy - understanding the role of different media in dissemination.
  • Scientific understanding of particular concepts chosen.
  • scientific language(ta).
  • scientific method(ta).

It can be delivered through a combination of homework(ta) (perhaps to find an interesting article), group work(ta) to explore various articles (perhaps in a carousel), and/or use of ICT(i) including PowerPoint files to encourage students to present an area they are interested in.

Using images Organising images for a narrative
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Write an essay without words
The lesson encourages students to think about how to portray their knowledge through narrative(ta) - which may engage some students who would usually be less interested. The lesson encourages students to think about how to capture valuable information and ensure that key elements are highlighted while not 'overloading' the viewer with data. The lesson can be tailored to any age group - for younger pupils the task could be to take before and after photos and label them. More advanced pupils might explore time-lapse photography. Pupils should be encouraged to think about how this relates to the scientific method(ta) The task is interactive and could be conducted as a group work(ta) activity or as an element of an inquiry-based learning project. It could also lend itself to whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) and the use of ICT(i) including 'clicker' response systems for assessment(ta) and questioning(ta).
VLE Using a VLE in the Classroom
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Using a VLE to support the teaching of French
This activity uses a VLE to help pupils develop their language(ta) and vocabulary(ta) skills using games(tool) and a range of teacher-produced digital media. These resources were also available to the pupils out of school to support them with their homework(ta), thus equipping pupils with more independent study skills(topic). The teacher also used the VLE to support their own classroom management(ta), using data from the VLE to record which tasks the pupils has worked on.