The 20-Step- Guide to Home Learning at Radford College Very First Draft
I'm posting this as a blog post so that I can share the journey with anyone who is interested. Primarily, this post will help my boss to see the process of how we can ditch 'homework' and move to Home Learning. Some of the language is very specific to the PYP but if you like the ideas, they are easily transferable to your education system.
Finally, I credit a guy called Leo Reynolds (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/) for his photos on Flickr, which I've used to spark things up a little. I've tried to be a good boy and share my source.
You want to start Home Learning in YOUR class?
Here's my first draft 20-step process for HOW.
Please let me know if there are errors or omissions here.
Work in progress. Hope you enjoy!
Talk with your class about what they do for ‘homework’. Ask them about the where, when, how, who with and why. (I think a class discussion is preferable to a generic survey but am open to creating one if this is preferred) Get a feel for the prior experience of your students.
Display the Transdisciplinary Skills of the PYP in a prominent place in your classroom. Understandably, this seems a lot when we already have LP and Attitude displays. It will help you so much when the discussions about goals and plans eventuate. (If you're not a PYP school, display the skills of a learner that you think are important)
SMART goals are:
Specific – targeted to a discipline of mathematics rather than the general subject.
Measureable – given a number to target. 100 push ups in 10 minutes or 10 sums correct in a row. Without a number to aim for, we have difficulty measuring success.
Achievable – needs to not reach too high. Before setting the goal in motion, it is a great idea to try and see how many/fast/few/high/long etc you can achieve as a base line. This takes time but is a fascinating process to watch kids really self-direct.
Relevant – it really helps to give the kids an idea of what you will be expecting during this timeframe. This will actually be one of the most important parts of the Home Learning process. If the kids know that you will focus on subtraction this month, they could choose a subtraction-based SMART Goal. This will, in turn, affect what they do each night for Home Learning.
Timed – we need to have a finishing point where we can re-evaluate the process, our strengths, weaknesses, actions, desires, goals, learning and so much more. Perhaps the timeframe could be for the duration of a Unit of Inquiry or a calendar month? To be discussed in year levels.
Create an Essential Agreement for Home Learning as a class. This should include the discussion about opting out. See if you can make this a moral/philosophical discussion about how the students will be relying on each other for the next n years. Depending on year level, break open and discuss the words dependable and accountable.
Prepare the student diary for a huge change. Show your class how you want the diary to be filled in. There is no better model for this than the kids themselves. Ask the students to complete a few journal entries for the day at school they’ve just had. Share successful setting out. Note the kids who take a long time or need assistance with this process. Organise an INT session for these kids – or set up some team teaching while you lead a session yourself.
Have your first official night of Home Learning!!! Tell children that you don’t want them to write in their diaries that night. Just do something towards a goal, relax and enjoy the night.
Prepare your questions for the morning. Set the class up in a community of inquiry circle and ask children to bring their diaries and a pencil to the circle. This will become second nature every morning within a few days. BE CONSISTENT.
Use the language of the Transdisciplinary Skills for your initial questions. Also ask for unique or funny activities from the night before. Allow each child an opportunity to either talk about their activities or somebody else’s. It is essential that each child participate in some authentic manner.
Hint: use your iphone to take random photos of diary entries. Let the kids know that you will take photos of these regularly. This keeps them honest and neat....
At the completion of the first week, ask students to discuss their week with a close friend. Establish a conversation pattern where they ask scripted questions of each other. This might seem naff but it really works – with 10yr olds anyway. When there is a script for peer chats, they are less likely to stray from the topic. Watch for those who make a joke of this. Ensure that students understand the importance of maturity in this step of the process. If they spend this time giggling and not engaging, you may need to discuss whether they are ‘mature’ enough to be a part of Home Learning – or are more suited to traditional home WORK. Have students report back the biggest successes of the week. Have them report back if they have altered their plan for the week to come. Make a note of this plan – somehow.
Ask children to communicate formally with their parents, perhaps through a fill-in-the-blanks letter, to describe what they have done with their Home Learning time. There must be room in this letter for the student to mention their favourites events/foods/activities/learning of the week. I am still creating this list and will seek assistance from many people before finalising it. This sheet should also refer to the Unit of Inquiry currently being studied. How did the Home Learning that took place help the student to gather a better understanding of the unit? Year 5 and 6 students might press this point more than 3 and 4.
Review, re-assess, re-write goals, re-plan, repeat from step 15.
Don’t stop talking every morning.
Don’t forget to continue talking to specialist staff, parents, PYP coordinators, your PLN or anyone else who’ll listen and give you suggestions for how to refine our Home Learning.