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Homework is one of those things students expect to get & teachers expect to set. However, it can be a real pain to set, mark, collect, track, etc. From September it was introduced as part of the school’s LIP & it’s something that’s become increasingly part of my own development as a teacher. I have decided to focus on it as part of my appraisal for this academic year & I’d have liked to have done a formal action research project on it – anyone know where I can get action research accredited nowadays?
I’m not actively trying to do anything new or particularly innovative, I am aiming to take best practice and try it with my classes to revamp homework so that it becomes more meaningful to my students.
The first part of investigations has been focused on self marking, online homework. I’ve used this in the past for GCSE ICT by using SAM Learning & I’ve found it really useful. However, SAM Learning doesn’t have content for some of the courses that I teach including OCR Cambridge Nationals in Creative iMedia & BTEC Information & Creative Technology which is a shame. It’s a major drawback for me & it means that I only have access to some assessments for one class which isn’t overly useful.
In the past I’ve used Yacapaca for KS3 baseline assessments and found it to be very good but that’s been as far as I’ve explored the site. At the end of September I used to save the results and then forget about it until the next Augest when I imported my new classes. By accident I stumbled over some quizzes for Cam Nat in CiM & BTEC ICT but didn’t find them particularly useful for the parts of the courses I was up to. Yacapaca has a built in function to allow you to make your own quizzes for topics of your choice & I’ve recently started to make my own. So far I’ve created three quizzes for Creative iMedia focusing on the unit R081 as this is the examined unit for this course. I have created a quiz for the first three learning outcomes including between 15 and 18 questions in each of these quizzes.
To be honest, I initially found it a bit tricky creating the quizzes but I’m now quite comfortable with it & find it quite easy. I like that I can import images onto the quiz and intend to add audio as soon as I find the time. This covers the differentiation issues within this style of homework & could help students to take their time. There are different styles of questions which you can assign from drag & drop to true or false. This adds a level of differentiation into your questionning. Phasing of the questions also allows you to add some more differentiation in there as well as to simulate exam style questions.
Setting up classes on Yacapaca is quite easy as you just need to import your class list or copy & paste it. The logins are automatically generated & you can print off cards. I just ask students to staple their pieces of paper in. Assigning the quiz is easy & straight forward and you can easily set beginning & end dates of assessments so that you can prevent students completing the work later on & claiming it was done on time. I also like that I can edit the end date if I have students who have not completed their work.
Monitoring and marking homework
One of the things I like about Yacapaca is the email they send me when someone has completed their work so that I can check up on students as they progress. This makes it really easy to see what’s happening with the class. Marking from my point of view is none existent as the website does it for you.
You can see here a cross section of results from my class. Some students haven’t completed the quiz & they appear as a blank space on the spreadsheet. Others are graded & then an average is worked out. I have students create a table in their books (or a stick in sheet) & then I add their quiz scores in. Yacapaca also gives me a nice break down of the questions & who scored well on each one which allows me to see what I’ve taught well or, more importantly, what everyone has struggled with.
When students completed the LO2 quiz I identified that work plans appeared to be an issue for the students & I have concentrated on this as part of my revision lessons. I think it’s a lot easier to use this data to quickly assess than if I’d actually had to mark the quizzes by hand & work out where they’d gone wrong.
Overall I love this system for a number of reasons:
This is definitely something I will continue to build on as I teach throughout the year. I don’t think it’s particularly difficult to set up appropriate quizzes & I will be able to do smaller ones as a plenary for my lessons. Overall, this is a successful type of homework for many reasons but mostly because students told me they liked the instant feedback & they liked that it was a different type of homework to what they often get. Variety has to be a good thing!