Homework and KOs
Students at St James complete study tasks out of lesson time. This can be completed at our homework club, or at home.
The retrieval practice activities that students complete for their homework is grounded in extensive research as being an effective tool for building long term memory. It focuses on the acquisition of knowledge, study skills and cognitive recall: all essential lifelong skills for our students.
Students receive an independent study pack that consists of an exercise book and a booklet called a knowledge organiser. The knowledge organiser contains pages of essential information and core knowledge for every subject.
Students focus on the weeks laid out in the knowledge organiser that correspond with the teaching week in school. Your child will read that section, cover it up and attempt to write down the information from memory. They will then check they have done this correctly and self-correct any missing content or mistakes using a green pen. This method is known as ‘read-cover-write-check’. There will be four subjects to complete with each one taking 15 minutes. We advise using a timer to ensure that students are not working for longer than is advisable.
For students in year 11, homework is only set by the class teacher and checked by those teachers, and not in tutor time. However, they still receive a knowledge organiser which is an essential revision guide.
Knowledge organiser homework is on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The independent study timetable of subjects is shown on one of the early pages of the knowledge organiser. Students do not have homework on a Tuesday due to the longer school day and Monday is set aside for SPARX Maths.
Older year groups need a greater variety of revision and retrieval practice activities to use during their homework time. They use these additional techniques:
Using an A6 size card/paper, turn the information in your knowledge organiser into a series of questions and then write the corresponding answer on the back of the card. This means that you can test yourself. Simply writing everything on the card would have no impact on your memory and retention of the information
Flip and fold pages
Flip and fold pages – This may be useful when you have completed a series of weeks or at the end of the topic. On one page, write down all of your revision notes. Fold the paper in half and create a mind map of the most important information on one side. Fold it again and write all of the key vocabulary on one side. Fold for the final time and draw symbols and icons that would help you to remember the content of your full page.
Elaboration – For each of the points you are revising, develop them further by asking yourself questions e.g. why would the rainfall be 2000mm? Why might mime be used as a theatrical technique? This starts to apply the knowledge and show understanding.
Retrieval practice grid
Many of you would have used these in history. Divide your page into three columns and nice lines. Write questions and answers for your chosen topic. Ask family members and friends to ask you the questions and you give them the answer, focusing on one column at a time. If you get it wrong, they need to tell you the answer and you repeat it. You now need to go back into the top of the column of nine questions and try again until you get them all correct. Move onto the next column. This would be a good grid to build up over the course of the 10 weeks of knowledge organiser homework so that you had one grid per subject!
Students need to bring their independent study pack (exercise book, knowledge organiser, whiteboard and whiteboard pen) to school every day to show their tutor that the independent study at home has been fully completed. If a student fails to produce the expected work, they will attend a compulsory catch up after school, on the same day, for 1 hour. Please note that students in years 9 and 10 will need to complete additional tasks where it is necessary to make progress. This will be discussed with the students by their teacher and set on www.classcharts.com (but it will not be checked in tutor time).
Your support is always greatly appreciated. Please familiarise yourself with the Independent Study timetable and check each day that your child has completed the requisite pages. Please also ensure that they do not forget to bring in their independent study packs each day.
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This excellent video was shared with year 11 students at the start of the year and is presented by an expert in the field of retrieval practice, cognitive scientist Pooja K Agarwal PHD.
Should you experience any issues related to the knowledge organisers or homework, please do not hesitate to contact Mrs Charlotte Webster on firstname.lastname@example.org