Homework – A Student’s View

As Trinity students, we all work hard day in, day out to climb our mountain to university or a real alternative. To support us on our journeys, the academy has changed and improved the homework system. After speaking to a handful of students, it seemed as if some of us may not have understood the purpose and the benefits of this change. Therefore, this blog aims to clarify the purpose as well as providing advice on how to effectively complete homework to support revision.

What is the purpose of this change?

Homework is a vital tool that we must use to our advantage to ensure we make progress. If we do not complete homework to the best of our ability we are wasting an opportunity. The new homework system is designed to make sure that we all develop the skills needed to be really effective learners from the first days of Year 7. It is basically a revision strategy; it instructs us in how to chunk, memorise and recall key elements of learning.  This strategy is extremely useful especially as the new GCSE specifications require an even stronger command of subject-knowledge. Some students asked questions regarding the fact that the homework is not aligned to the topic that they are being taught in lessons. It is intentionally designed to be interleaved.  This means that the revision (homework) is not the same as what is being taught in lesson; homework may be based on learning from the previous cycle or even the previous year.  This is so we can interrupt the process of forgetting information and, as a result make the information stick for longer which allows the knowledge to be both well embedded and easy to retrieve therefore ensuring that we are truly mastering the content and are exam ready.

How does this new system benefit us?

The improved system means that we can now revise and master information at home every night instead of worrying about learning new content and completing unfinished classwork which is done best with our teachers’ support. Also, by ensuring that information is memorised over a longer period of time, rather than in an intense revision session just before an exam, we are developing our ability to retain and effectively recall the knowledge we need to pass exams. Cramming is not an effective tool and it can lead to increased anxiety.  Our new homework system will hugely reduce the pressure of exams as the learning is spread over 5 years. Additionally, it is a method we can use for the rest of our educational and even professional lives. This method of revision is commonly used by university students as it has proven to be the most beneficial. This means that we are being prepared for higher education as it is helping us maintain a healthy and effective revision ethic.

How can we complete our homework effectively?

At the start of every morning meeting we practise the correct method: read a specific section, cover it, write out what you can remember and then check – correcting any mistakes. Below are some instructions on how to complete your homework to ensure it sticks.

  1. Chunk it. You have been instructed to write out a specific section of your 100% sheet. This is to help you organise the content and, therefore, prevent it from overwhelming you. You can minimise the amount even further if you would prefer to do it in smaller sections.
  2. Memorise the section. Repeat it to yourself or write it out (use scrap paper) from memory increasing the amount each time (for 10-15 minutes) over and over again until you cannot get it wrong. Get someone in your family to quiz you.
  3. Cover it up. Put away your 100% sheet so you cannot copy it. This really gets your brain to work hard which makes it more likely to stick in the long term.
  4. Write it out. For 15-20 minutes, write out what you can remember. Even if you are struggling do not look back at the 100% sheet, instead engage and challenge your brain.
  5. Check it. Once you have filled a whole side of A4, refer back to your 100% sheet and check your homework against it.
  6. Amend any mistakes. Make corrections in green pen and continue this process until you have truly mastered the section. Make sure that you have completed a minimum of one side of lined paper (2 sides if you are in year 11).

This process may seem mundane; however, if it is completed properly, it will guarantee that information is embedded and can be easily retrieved. It takes only minimally longer than simply copying the information out but is hugely more effective to support with memorising the information. Copying the information out is the easiest and least effective method. Although it may be better than doing nothing, you are ultimately only restraining yourself from getting the best grades.

Trinity was inspired to adopt this approach after visiting Michaela School in London who showed us their knowledge organisers and approach to homework; research has proven that this is a great way to revise and if you would like to know more information about it you can visit http://makeitstick.net/. Conclusively, the new homework system is a further step in ensuring that each of us will succeed at university, thrive in a top job and have a great life.

Iqra, Class of 2019

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