UKEdMag: Homework in the Digital Age by @chrishealey23

SMHWBy: Chris Healey (Extract)

How the Bishop Justus School in Kent is transforming homework using technology.

1. What were some of the key issues you faced which made you decide to implement Show My Homework (SMHW) at Bishop Justus?

“Homework” or independent extended work is vital in the educative process. Homework completed, marked and feedback thoroughly is a vital part of the one-to-one coaching dialogue that is needed in a successful student-teacher relationship.

We are a Church of England school in Bromley, part of the Aquinas Church of England Education Trust. We have outstanding teachers, dedicated students and supportive parents. The reason we chose to implement a homework system is simple: to support all three stakeholder groups and support the students in continuing their outstanding learning outside the classroom.

We looked into designing our own bespoke software to use for homework being delivered through the internet. We wanted to ensure all stakeholders benefitted fully from the homework process.

Students: we wanted to support students with detailed, scaffolded homework allowing them to understand the criteria, or extend their own learning. Those with organisational issues would be able to use the system to ensure they knew when work was due.

Parents: the system would allow parents to be confident that suitable challenging homework was being set regularly. It would also encourage parental involvement in homework.

Staff: such a system would allow Learning Directors for every year and Subject Leaders to see the amount and quality of homework set at the click of a button, rather than through student questionnaires, book looks and anecdotal evidence.

2. SMHW impact/experience – Teachers/School

Bishop Justus has always been proud to embrace technology and its educational uses. Having trialled our own bespoke system with mixed results, the Show My Homework name seemed to keep popping up, always highly recommended. The decision to use SMHW proved to be an excellent choice. After a telephone chat and a convincing video conference, we had the chairman and CEO of SMHW, Naimish Gohil, in school to present whole-staff twilight training. The system is so simple to use that teachers needed no further training. After four weeks of trialling, where setting of homework on the system was optional, we launched fully in January. Now all homework is set through the system. The teachers LOVE it. We can share each other’s homework and reuse homework questions in one click. It allows us to provide learners with much more to support their learning: Presentations from the lesson, extracts, video guides, web addresses, modelled answers and success criteria. Such an array of resources would not be printable for whole classes; and with this system, printing can be avoided entirely. Homework statistics can be filtered by year, subject or teacher, allowing us to compare provision across the school. This allowed us to quality assure homework for standards and consistency. We can also address situations where students may become overloaded with assignments. The system allows Google calendar integration, so my phone shows me automatically when homework is due, and I even receive email reminders to collect the work!

3. SMHW impact/experience – Parents
Parents feel part of the homework process. Where students may previously have forgotten to write homework in their planners and then told parents “No mum, not been set any”, the system removes this risk. Now as a daily routine, parents can login and see their child’s schedule. They can involve themselves in supporting their children. Even if they have forgotten their login, the homework calendar for the whole school is available on the site without login. It facilitates their involvement, interest and support of the educative process.

4.    SMHW impact/experience – Students

The students have experienced the greatest change in culture. We have high expectations, and the students now can complete all homework to the best of their abilities. There’s no excuse now. All the resources are there able to be loaded on phones, tablets or PCs – and if there is a problem with the computer at home, we provide homework clubs at school with computer access.

It allows them to submit work online if they desire, and receive feedback online. Every lesson now can focus on the learning experience without the 5 minute administrative break where students try to copy down homework – hopefully writing it correctly. We have even changed our adverse weather policy. Now, if the school is out of action due to snow, teachers will upload the day’s work for their classes, and students can complete it at home handing it in on their return.

Students with literacy, learning and language difficulties now have much greater support. The work can be far more scaffolded to suit their needs – with 20MB available to upload on each homework and as many links as you want, you can offer modelled examples, keywords, further research and success criteria for each task.

But my favourite aspect is how…

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Chris Healey is Director of New Technologies at Bishop Justus School in Kent @chrishealey23

You can contact Show my Homework via:

Phone: +44 (0)20 3397 7546



Twitter: @Showmyhomework


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