I’ve talked a lot about the importance of giving students choice within an activity and choice of the activity itself. This year with my new Year 10 History group, I am extending it to homework tasks. Once per month, they will be given a grid sheet for their homework and they will ‘construct’ their homework by select one box from each column (unless otherwise directed). Boxes are weighted with ‘homework points’ (in red on the example below). The homework points will be cumulative over time and can be adjusted to increase/decrease the level of challenge over time. Individual students can also be set targets for homework points to be achieved.
Although, this is the first time I have tried this (and it will be interesting to see how this works over a long period of time), I have had the first set of homework in and the standard was very high. Several students went down the ‘blogging route’ and uploaded their blogs to our newly established class Edmodo group.
The reason why choice can be so effective is that students may choose to play to their strengths or they may choose something else just because it is ‘new’. Obviously when creating the choices, a teacher has to be careful not to provide a really easy option for the student who only wants to spend three minutes on their work. From the example below, you can see that taken on their own, there is nothing novel about any of the tasks (indeed, I have set them all as individual tasks in the past). But our class motto this year is ‘is my work the best it can possibly be?’ and having this kind of choice is one route to achieving that.
(We have been studying the Plains Indians as part of our American West unit.)