How Tapestry’s Activities feature can help you become a Homework Guru
by Jack on September 7
If you are a teacher, you have probably at one time or another experienced a struggle with planning, resourcing and disseminating homework. If that’s the case, then this article is for you! I’m going to talk about a feature on Tapestry called Activities and how you can use it to become a homework guru.
If you want to read more about the debate around homework you can head over to the Foundation Stage Forum (FSF) and read the article I’ve written there.
On with the show.
In my practice, I struggled with homework. The biggest issues were giving it out and getting it back. I never quite nailed a system that was easy to manage and effective to execute. My experience is probably the same as many of yours.
I tried a lot of different systems in my time as a teacher, but never quite found that sweet spot of it being valuable for the children but not taking all of my PPA time. The thing that worked best for me was homework grids. I used these in Year 6 so I can’t speak for their efficacy in other year groups. But when children start to take more responsibility for the own learning, and their own time, these work wonders.
Essentially you use a large piece of paper set out as a grid. I used a 6 x 10 grid which gave me 60 boxes. Each box was filled with an activity the child could complete. The idea was the higher up the grid, the more “difficult” the activity – this usually equated to it requiring more time, care, or thought. I tried not to fill the grid with “difficult” things and went mainly with projects that were fun to complete but provided valuable learning opportunities. Each activity gained a certain amount of “points”. So, activities in the 10th column were worth ten points, the first column was worth 1 point and so on. The activities available covered various topics and subjects.
I set a new grid every half term, so I had 6 in all I that I used each year (modified if any topics changed). The goal was for each child to score 60 points in any way they wanted. They had each half term to reach 60 points, which gave the children a lot more freedom over their own time. Having a set time frame and an achievable goal helped teach them valuable time management skills – hugely helpful for when they go to secondary school.
As I said, I found this system worked well for me in Year 6. But working well is not working perfectly.
This system still didn’t eradicate some of the usual issues: getting homework back consistently, marking, and providing accessible feedback. Although setting it is easier this way because it is just one document given out every half term, inevitably some children are not there the day it goes out. 75% of children lose the sheets which then costs more time and money reprinting them.
All of this could have been made a lot easier if we went online.
Sometimes, my old Year 6 students would come to school to pick up siblings and I would ask them how they were getting on at secondary school. Often, they would talk about homework:
“It’s all online now.”
“I can check it on my phone.”
“We upload it on our computers.”
“There’s no escaping it!”
They weren’t necessarily speaking favourably about this (the majority of 12-year-olds aren’t that excited about having to do homework) but I found it very interesting.
If you have Tapestry in your school, you can now set homework via the “Activities” feature.
Activities allows you to create and upload activities for children to access at home. They can be sent to specific children, groups, or whole cohorts. This makes disseminating the homework a breeze. In my example, I would upload my homework grid as an attachment, select all the children in my class and save.
The relatives then receive a notification that a new activity is available. They can download the grid for use at home, or simply keep accessing the activity when they log on to Tapestry. This can also be done for more frequent individual activities.
When it comes to children sending homework back this is also easy. Relatives can now create observations that link directly to that planned activity. So, they could snap a picture of the worksheet, take a video of the child completing the task, or simply write in the notes how they did.
As a teacher, you can then click into that activity and see a full list of the linked observations and bask in how much easier this is than collecting twenty difference pieces of paper and waiting another week for the other ten.
So how about giving feedback? Well, now you have a list of linked observations with all the children’s work on you can leave comments on them for feedback or create another observation for the child with a more in-depth response.
There we have it. Suddenly, giving out, collecting, and marking homework becomes more central and much easier to manage. The other benefit of course is that you won’t lose them. You can use their answers to the homework to inform your progress monitoring (provided you trust they didn’t Google all the answers) by creating an observation or formative assessment as normal.
Lastly, not only can you use this feature to create a bank of your own wonderful activity ideas, but it also comes with a Tapestry Activities Catalogue. At the time of writing, there are over 100 activities in the catalogue, all created by the education team here at Tapestry. We add new activities to the catalogue every week so keep checking back! They cover EYFS to Key Stage 2 and we also include weekly activities suitable for children with SEND. All free for you to use, edit, and send to children.
I think Activities is an amazing feature and I know it would have really helped my homework struggles when I was teaching.
If you think this could help and you want to give it a try just enable this feature from Control Panel > Features and take a look at this tutorial to talk you through it.