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Self marking homework – Yacapaca

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.

yacapacaCreating appropriate homework activities

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.

Yacapaca 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 homework

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.

Yacapaca results

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.

Yacapaca breakdown of results

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:

  1. This system makes it easy to monitor and track completion of homework as it’s very visual & doesn’t rely on my keeping a record as such.  I can arrive at my lesson with an idea of who I will need to speak to before I even start.  On one occasion I was pleasantly surprised when I realised I didn’t need to speak to anyone!
  2. The data is easily accessible and there for as long as I leave it there.
  3. It informs my planning quite well & allows me to focus on what I need to improve in my own teaching.
  4. The assessments are there for others to use across the world. I know resources for some specifications (especially new ones) aren’t easy to find & I think there’s a massive value in sharing.  Cam Nat in Creative iMedia is one such course & I think it’s important to share especially with all the changes.
  5. I can use these as class tasks if I need to.  One quiz was set for my class when I was absent. It was a valuable lesson & I could track progress from my meeting. I also knew that it wouldn’t be difficult for anyone to pick up & deliver.
  6. Differentiation can be built into the quizzes which, for my school, is part of the LIP and I am, therefore, ticking the right boxes.

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!

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2 comments on “Self marking homework – Yacapaca

  1. teachingbattleground
    December 10, 2014

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  2. Ian Grove-Stephensen
    January 5, 2015

    Reblogged this on Yacapaca and commented:
    Homework is one of the classic use-cases for Yacapaca. It’s fantastic to be able to share a real teacher’s appraisal of how it works.

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