Cunning Plan 137: making homework more exciting

Teaching History journal feature

By Robin Conway, published 25th March 2010

Making homework more engaging and educationally valuable

Ever since I started teaching, homework has been something of a bugbear. Administration alone is a hassle: not only remembering when to set and collect it in, but keeping track of the various students who fail to deliver anything on time (except highly creative excuses) and of the follow-up action that I threaten. Although each year begins with strong resolutions to be more organised and more consistent, my September enthusiasm is replaced by mounting despair as the nights draw in and the excuses become more brazen.

Advice from senior managers to avoid simple follow-on tasks from lessons - exploiting instead the potential of homework to stimulate new interest in the topics and challenges ahead - initially offered few answers. How could I set worthwhile preparatory tasks in those classes where a 50% submission rate might be seen as successful without risking the failure of my lesson plan as soon as I declared ‘Good morning, now can you please get out your homework?'

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