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“So, a question that I get asked frequently is ‘How can I make homework more worthwhile?’ and I think there's a very simple answer here, but it's one that people often overlook and that is; think about what is it you want to get out of this?

For most of us, homework is about allowing our learners, whether it be early years, lower key stage one, upper key stage two or secondary school to have the chance to show what they know, to be able to develop some skills and to be able to recommend to us what learning they need to be doing in the future.

Making Homework Worthwhile

Yes, there will be opportunities for them to be able to develop and to be able to prepare for upcoming work, but for most of us, it's an opportunity for them to reflect on learning that they've done in the past.  And if we take that simple way of working in mind then it's very easy to make homework worthwhile and that is to allow them to lead the learning.

Far too often, we get bogged down as teachers in trying to make sure that we have a task for everybody and the task is the same because it makes it easier for us - well the reality is, if you actually let the learners lead the learning, then the home learning you will get and the homework you will get from those children will be fundamentally different.

Pointless

If you wanted exactly the same from every single child then you're not actually setting homework - what you're really doing is you're getting a recipe and you want exactly the same thing back that is pointless, as well as turning around and asking them to do it in groups or in bands is also pointless.

If you work with the children in class and if you train them in class and I do mean ‘train them’ then actually what will happen is you can trust the children to go away and develop their own learning. They can present things to you, they can share them with you - it doesn't all have to be PowerPoints or Google slides, it doesn't all have to be collages - you will find children will go away and they will be incredibly creative.

Squashing

Often, when it comes to homework what we do is we squash that creativity out of them, we stamp it down, we temper it, and we try and mould it into what we want.

If you've done a good job - as I think all of us do try to do - you will have actually got children to understand what they need to do next and how they could improve their learning. Why not let them show that creatively?

Now, some people will want to make sure that they have some control, so they’ll prepare a grid and say ‘you might want to use one of these’ but, go for it and make home learning worthwhile for you and for the child.

Amazing Recipes

You'll be amazed what you'll find - you'll have those children that will make things as a recipe, for example if you're doing a subject where they're trying to show you something about their learning regarding food, whether it be the nutritional value for science and PE or whether it be actually using recipes in food technology - maybe it's looking at the ingredients from around the world in geography, maybe it's looking at the history of food.

You may well find that they will develop a recipe for something and they will present it as a poem, they may well do it in the version of a song, they could do it in the version of an equation, they could do it as pictures,  they could do it as a collage, they could do it in a taste test, they could engage with other people, they could actually get in contact with someone famous, they could get in contact with chefs and look at input from them.

Happy Birthday!

And that's just one simple idea that you could actually have rather than turning around and asking children to create a fact file where it's all done in exactly the same way.  You might have children that create an arbitrary, you might have someone that does a dedication song, if you played them something like Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder who wrote that for Martin Luther King.

A Lavish Garden

You might have someone that does a poem or what if a child constructed a dance, what if they composed a piece of music, what if they did a lavish garden design?!

Allow children to find the worth in the home learning, then you as the teacher will find it a lot more worthwhile and it certainly beats marking 30 versions of the same work - believe me, try Unhomework and you'll find that homework is a lot more worthwhile.”

You can check out all the other 'tracks' on our CPD Jukebox by clicking here.

Call us on +44(0)1267 211432 or email learn@independentthinking.co.uk for a chat about working with Mark and for details on how to save money when you book.

About the author

Mark Creasy

Mark Creasy

Mark is a Year Five teacher who also has experience in secondary - a rare breed. He is the author of Unhomework, one of the many ways he helps teachers rethink why and what they do.

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