37 Clever homework by Rose Fletcher

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1 7 Clever homework by Rose Fletcher Rose Fletcher, Head of English at a London grammar school, GCSE exam marker and contributor to AQA s Digital Anthology Homework can be a tough sell for both teachers and students: teachers dread the piles of dutifully completed worksheets while students hate having their free time zapped by repetitive tasks. But if you harness the power of homework, you gain a learning environment that s enriched by your students lives beyond the confines of the classroom. Because students complete homework (mostly) individually and (mostly) outside school, it gives them a chance to develop independent ideas and interests in more depth than they could do in the classroom. What could be better! Rose s five favourite approaches or ideas I love getting students to create a collage or visual representation of a theme (or themes) in a text. Some students will draw their own pictures, some will cut them out of magazines, some will use clip art. But whatever they do, their collages will be a true reflection of their engagement with the text. Finding a bad example is a great homework task for higher ability students. It works best for creative writing or non-fiction and media units of work. Asking students to find, for example, a badly designed advert or leaflet (and preparing to explain their choice) means that they have to deploy the evaluative skills you ve been teaching them. It also makes an entertaining and engaging start to your lesson. A fantastic homework task for sixth formers (or higher ability year students) is to get them to create a revision guide. Before setting the task, you ll need to divide your text into sections and then assign these sections to your class. I ve found that this works best when texts are divided into characters and themes. Pairs of students are then assigned one section each, working together to create the guide. You can collect these and use the power of reprographics to collate them into a single, comprehensive revision guide. The key to success here is that students are aware that others will read and rely on their work. Blogs are a fantastic tool for homework and can be used in many different ways. The power of the blog is that all blog users can see everyone else s contributions, so genuine communication is enabled outside of lessons. Here are just a few ideas for using blogs: respond to critical positions on texts (particularly good for A level literature students) evaluate other students work (works well for Media Studies projects, creative writing, paragraphs from essays etc.) leave a comment reflecting on your own learning. And here are a few tips for blog success: a) Either insist that students register an account which uses their real name or get them to use their real name when leaving posts or comments, otherwise you won t be able to track who has and hasn t commented! 0 Teachit (UK) Ltd

2 b) Check that the blog can be accessed via your school network and that all students have the address written down correctly. c) Decide at the outset how much engagement you will have with their comments. Blogs do enable communication outside of lessons, but don t encourage students to think that you ll respond to every comment at all times of the day and night! Think! Not all homeworks have to be written down in books. Ask students to come to their next lesson having thought about a key question. Even if they only think about it as they come through the door, their brains are still engaged before the lesson starts. Whizzy and web-based ideas The internet offers so much scope for homework and crucially allows students to access and explore resources in their own time and space. Creating a Wordle ( is a great creative homework task. Students could copy and paste virtually any text into Wordle and play with it to explore language. Here are just a few suggestions: a scene from Shakespeare, an A level poetry selection, a selection of newspaper articles The best thing is that everybody s will be different. Use (I ve found that this is the simplest platform more so than edublogs) to create your blogs and engage your students outside the classroom. The British Library website ( is an amazing resource and perfect for engaging older students. Their extremely clever online gallery gives students virtual access to some of their rarest treasures. A level language students will be fascinated by the real variations in language they can spot. A perfect resource for an independent research project! Good old YouTube ( is a perfect platform for homework. Students could create, for example, readings of poems, slideshows of images on themes or five-minute versions of plays, uploading them at home. British Pathé ( is an unbelievable archive of footage from the 0th century. At home, students could find and watch clips on topics relevant to the context of their literature texts (for example, the Great Depression for Of Mice and Men). Good homework:. is re-branded as learning outside the classroom. prepares for future learning. enables students to follow their own interests by offering choice as far as possible: by method of presentation, selection of examples etc.. feeds into the first activity of your lesson (this also puts pressure on students to complete it!). is easy to check so that it doesn t become a burden for you or for them. See the site Find the editable resources, links, interactive materials and special versions of Magnet, Cruncher and Syntex at takefive 0 Teachit (UK) Ltd

3 Rose s top clever homework resource (880) Advertise me! How it works This original KS resource asks students to produce their own advertisement for a book. It includes tasks for a lesson, as well as the homework task of creating their own advertisements. Tip! Clever homework challenges your students without adding to your marking pile. Five things to try Take this resource further by developing it into a speaking and listening unit. Organise the students into teams and get them to design a whole advertising campaign for books. They could present their posters, TV adverts, press releases and media strategy to the group or to you. Pick the best one and award them a prize (a book token, of course!). Ask the class to create their own advertisements for the text you are studying perhaps even pitching it at different audiences. This would work brilliantly for GCSE novels such as Lord of the Flies. For example, how would they sell this to adults as opposed to teenagers? Take the students and their book advertisements to the school library. Get them to present their work to the librarian. Ask whether the posters can be displayed on the library walls. Start with some non-fiction and media work focusing on advertisements for e-readers. Collect adverts for Kindles and have students analyse how these are produced prior to making their own rival adverts for books. And four more choice clever homework resources Instead of creating a visual advertisement, students could script and record a radio advert (complete with jingles!). (0) Sources of the satire is the perfect homework task. Based on the novel Animal Farm, and aimed at KS students, it involves independent research into context. Students could do this at home rather than in the library, as is suggested in the introduction. The presentations will develop everybody s understanding of the context of the novel. (60) Wanted! This Of Mice and Men task gets students to look closely at the description of Lennie in Chapter. It certainly encourages a creative response and is straightforward enough for students to complete independently. (0) Create a reading quiz would work well for either KS or students. This looks simple but forms the basis of a great homework task. Divide your class text into sections or themes and give each student (or pair of students) the homework task of setting a quiz on that theme. They can then set and mark quizzes for the other students in your group. The resource suggests using true or false questions, but students could make the task more challenging by using open questions. (7) A novel idea is a fantastic, enriching homework task for older students which involves READING! This resource is a selective guide to modern fiction. Students simply choose a book and read it! (You could take this further by asking them to produce their own list.) 0 Teachit (UK) Ltd

4 The photocopiable resource (880) Advertise me! As an advertising agency staff member you have been given an exciting new account and need to draw up a presentation to promote a fabulous invention. Before you begin, read the details below and think about how you could promote interest in this item, to get people talking and excited by it. This invention n is lightweight and portable. Details of the invention n is a freely available and easily accessible information source. n is affordable for most people, prices can vary. n needs no power pack, batteries or recharging. It will never run down. n is portable and works anywhere from a beach to office, home, bus or plane. n has new versions released all the time, but old versions still have value and are enjoyable. n works in a bath with no risk of electric shock or danger to the user. n is perfect for air travel and can be placed in your hand luggage, unlike many gadgets. n promotes relaxation, education, challenge and entertainment. n makes travel in time and space possible. n allows people to experience things they might never get to do, to see places that they might never see and to discover new things. n appeals to all ages from newborns to the very old. n helps bring people together through shared enjoyment. I think this invention is 6 0 Teachit (UK) Ltd

5 Did you work it out? The invention is a book! Books can do all of the things that are listed above. Task Design a campaign to get people talking about books and what reading can offer them. Before beginning your advertising campaign there are three things to think about: ) How precisely will you advertise books and reading, what angle will you take? For example you might advertise reading for pleasure and enjoyment: Go anywhere with a book, or you could focus on reading as a skill that helps people succeed. ) What specific audience will you target? For example: you might target children or books for babies. Or you might focus on encouraging more teens to read. You might even want to promote the idea of parents and children reading together. ) What form will your promotion take? You could design a poster or leaflet, write a press release, make a mini-movie or anything that you can think of that shows creativity and inventiveness. Your personal challenge is to make your work distinct and unique. So how will you ensure your ideas stand out from the crowd? Use the space below to jot down some ideas. You could make a note of the audience, form or key words and phrases you might like to include. 0 Teachit (UK) Ltd 7

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