Give it a go

8th April 2005 at 01:00
Sue Cowley offers some advice on setting and collecting homework.

Homework can prove to be a classroom management headache, especially if you are constantly chasing children to hand it in. Use some imaginative strategies to make the setting and collection easier for yourself.

* Set the standards from the start: If you want all homework completed by all pupils, you will have to sanction those who fail to hand it in. This can prove time-consuming - you must follow through on sanctions, or the punishment is pointless. Offer good rewards for those who hand work in on time to make completing it an attractive option.

* Make sure they write it down: Walk around the class to check that everyone has noted down the task in their diary. That way there is no excuse for non-completion.

* Use a range of activities: Every written task you set the pupils to do at home will increase your marking load. Use a variety of activities instead: background research, memorising poems, bringing in resources, interviewing family members, and so on.

* Make it relevant and interesting: Don't get trapped into setting homework just for the sake of it.

* Use projects: Projects are a great way of giving a task that spans a number of lessons. They help you differentiate, as the motivated pupils can go to town. Check on work in progress as some leave it to the last minute.

* Watch for plagiarism: The internet has increased such chances. It is easy to spot, as most children simply print out pages and pages from the computer. Tell the class that you would prefer a short, original piece rather than reams of copied work. Warn that plagiarism is a serious offence in exam coursework.

* Use a "get out of homework" card: At the start of term, give each pupil a card which can be used to miss one homework during the term. This shows the children that you are reasonable, and it encourages them to take responsibility for their own workload.

* Keep potential problems in mind: Don't forget that some children may face difficulties in finding the space or time to do their work at home. An after-school homework club will help a great deal.

* Think about when to collect it: If your children regularly fail to complete it, asking them to hand it in at the start of the lesson will set up a series of pointless confrontations. Instead, go around to collect it once the pupils are settled to work.

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