In last month’s blog, I explained how extended homework tasks have supported our students’ learning. Working in this way has helped to develop independent learning skills and time management skills, and the choice students have to plan, research and complete different activities has allowed them to pick tasks suited to their own preferred learning styles and interests.
We use SOLO to underpin our lesson planning (see previous blogs for an explanation of how SOLO works in the classroom), and students have liked the way that the extended homeworks provide them with an opportunity to access the ‘extended abstract’ stage of SOLO. This has allowed them to display their creative skills, and importantly provide an opportunity for more-able students to extend themselves and showcase their talents.
Examples of the first homework ‘menus’ for each key stage three year group are available to download from October’s blog, and I have reproduced some of the students’ efforts from these below:
The year eight theme of ‘volcanoes’ usually inspires a wide range of tasks, but I was particularly impressed this time by this working model. Not only did it include an internal light source that illuminated the lava flows, but it was also designed to erupt and produce lava flows which engulfed a village on the lower slopes. Some great descriptive writing accompanied the model, telling the story of this settlement, and linking it to real life examples. However, the highlight for me was the smoke candle that was ignited and placed inside the volcano – making a great demonstration for the class to enjoy. This sparked a lively discussion about different types of eruptions, and a link to another student’s homework which focused on the problems caused by the recent events in Iceland.
Many students made models as part of their work – relating their constructions to real volcanoes, or using them as a stimulus for creative writing. One model included a small pump that had been made from car parts to activate the lava flows. This had been painstakingly constructed in collaboration with his Dad – I really like the fact that parent and child had sat together to work on this – and there was a real pride in his finished product.
Some of the tasks on the ‘homework menu’ allowed some of the keen writers to get their teeth into some thought-provoking titles. Some extracts from the students’ writing I particularly liked are shown below:
Which Is Heavier – Rich or poor?
A number of students attempted to tackle their homework subjects as recipes. This example shows a ‘recipe for a developed country’ – as part of the homework theme of world development:
Year seven students were hooked with the ‘make a web site’ suggestion on the homework speed dials (see October post), and one girl produced a really well-constructed site covering her hobby of bouldering, with reference to trips to France and background geology. One year nine student coded his own interactive programme titled ‘world development’, and focused on contrasts between selected countries of the world. As usual, loads of ‘pearls’ appeared – often from quite unpredictable authors!
I am currently building a gallery of work samples from extended homeworks on the Devon Geography web site:
Take a look, and let me know of any open-ended tasks that might be suitable to add to my homework menus for other topic areas!