Homework. It is the latest priority in our school and as such teachers are now being monitored to ensure that enough homework is being set. I understand the reasons behind monitoring and I understand that parents like to see their children having regular homework. However, for me, homework has to be meaningful, otherwise it can lead to disengaged students and a dip in the quality of work produced.
In an earlier post I discussed my experiments with WallWisher. These have been successful and the Humanities department is now trialling it with IAmLearning to set homework which builds on both knowledge and skill: necessary for students to gain top marks in assessments. I would recommend both to anyone.
However, due to my new-found enjoyment of using/ reading/ writing blogs I have decided to trial blogging with students, inspired by UKLiteracy’s efforts with her Year 10 English class. The beauty of this is that blogs provide a permanent, chronological record of the learning that has taken place. I have set up a blog for my GCSE History class where I post my own summary/ view of the topic covered in the lesson and an accompanying homework. The most recent homeworks have been past paper questions but there is a great scope for posting videos/ podcasts/ quizzes for students to interact with and then comment upon.
Here is my current evaluation of blogging as a homework tool:
- Easily accessible for both teacher and students from a variety of locations/ devices.
- Homework cannot be lost/ misinterpreted due to lazy recording in planners.
- No scrappy bits of paper.
- No ‘dog ate my homework’ excuses.
- Has to be done the evening before it is due so encourages independence/ sticking to deadlines.
- Students can view each other’s work and use it to inform their own – this has been particularly successful. On the most recent assignment the comments got progressively more sophisticated which was lovely to see.
- Notes/ links/ revision guides can be posted by teacher.
- Public so is a risk of misuse by students unless moderation is set up effectively.
- Blog sites can have a range of content on them which may not be suitable for younger students.
The last disadvantage was the most worrying for me. I trust my Year 10 class and they have the maturity to filter what they view; year 7 may not. However, I have found a brilliant website called kidblog which allows teachers to set up a class blog which students must have a password to access. Once there, they can post and view each other’s posts but these are never public, nor can students access other blogs. In my English novel writing project (also blogged about here!) students are posting their stories as they write them and then are set homework to peer assess some one else’s in the comments section. This has been excellent and very valuable here is an example of the feedback from a Year 7 student –
www: good use of punctuation and rhetorical questions and it makes me want to read it!
EBI: you check all your spellings and add some other characters.
The WWW comment in particular shows a sophisticated level of comprehension and analysis.
In conclusion? Blogging is a fantastic way of engaging students in the long term. WallWisher is fab for one off/ short homeworks but for GCSE students or long term projects blogs provide valuable, relevant homework that increases engagement of students outside of the class room. Without scrappy bits of paper. Your bin and the rainforests will thank you.