Creating worthwhile activities for students to complete at home

Creating worthwhile activities for students to complete at home

I was visiting a school a couple of weeks ago and the deputy principal was telling me that she has been inundated with emails from companies trying to sell resources and activities for students to do during the time they are learning at home. Of course, companies are opportunistic and always ready to take advantage of teachers’ overwhelming commitment to the learning of their students – something that always seems to connect with the hip pocket nerve.
All resources, mine included, are only as good as the thinking behind them. As a teacher, I found that the resources that helped me the most were the ones I created myself. This is time-consuming, of course, but it was one of the aspects of teaching that I enjoyed the most. These resources were tailor-made so tended to be the most effective.

When providing activities for students to do at home always ensure they develop the knowledge and skills that the students need. Both the knowledge and skills come from the Australian Curriculum but also from what teachers know about the individual strengths and weaknesses of their students. One thing we want to avoid is endless worksheets, particularly those where the intellectual demands are not that high. For example, if a student is a weak writer a diet of cloze activities will do little, if anything, to improve their writing. Look at any activity and ask yourself, “What skills is this developing, and is the skill that the student most needs to develop at this time?” Many worksheets are busy work. I have heard them referred to as ‘shut up sheets’ and ‘drills and skills for dills’.

The rationale behind Hooking Students into Learning … in all curriculum areas is to start with the skill that students need either for their assessment or from what you have observed. Select a suitable activity and develop material with relevant content. You can be sure, then, that students are doing something that is worth their time and effort. 


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