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Gamified Homework: Climbing Homework Mountain

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

This gamified homework variation, although having a superficial similarity to its Climb Every Mountain counterpart, combines the idea of giving students a “free choice” of homework with clearly-structured limits as a way of achieving an ultimate homework goal (reaching the top of the aforesaid mountain).

Game Board

The basic idea here, therefore, is that students start at the bottom of Homework Mountain and gradual work their way to the top. How they do this – quickly and directly or slowly and indirectly – is entirely up to them.

Instructions

1. All students begin at the lowest level of Homework Mountain, on any Homework square they care to choose. The objective is to reach the Peak by answering questions as they climb.

2. Once a student has answered a question in one round of homework they then select and answer an adjacent question in the next. This continues until they reach the top or no more homework is set. Students can move from one square to the next in whatever direction they choose and there are different possible routes up the Mountain, with varying levels of difficulty:

  • A “direct route” for example, involves a student starting at the central 10-mark question, followed by the 20-mark question above it and the final 20-mark question above that.
  • A more-circumspect route, on the other hand, might involve a student working their way up the left-hand side of the Board, answering questions worth 2, 2, 6, 6, 10 and, finally, 20 marks.
  • 3. Once a student completes the question at the Peak they have finished. A possible variation here, however, is that having ascended Homework Mountain you can require them to safely descend by a different route to the one they took to the top.

    I’ve included an example Homework Mountain Board with questions covering Families and Households. I’ve left this in PowerPoint format for easy editing if you prefer to set your own homework questions. It also makes it fairly easy to refresh the Board with different questions when you move-on to a different Module.

    Gamified Homework: Climb Every Mountain

    Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

    This second example of gamification takes a slightly different and less organisationally-complex approach to setting homework than its Earn-to-Learn predecessor.

    Click to download Game Board
    Families and Households game board

    It does this by adopting the mechanics of a game board: all students start at the same point and work their way to the top (or end-point) by traversing different levels. In this particular example I’ve created three levels, but there’s no reason why you can’t extend this to add more levels if required.

    To understand how the gamified design works, have a look at the PowerPoint Board file:

    1. The first level of the Board contains a set of relatively low-mark questions. Students can select as many as they like to complete for homework, with the objective being to “escape the level” by matching or exceeding a pre-specified “level mark”. In the example I’ve provided students need to score 15+ marks to go to the next level but this can, of course, be adjusted to whatever score you like.

    A student could, for example, select a couple of higher mark questions (10 and 6) to complete. If they score full-marks they complete the level. If, on the other hand, they score 12 marks they would need to complete further homework questions in order to successfully complete the level.

    2. Once a student has achieved the requirements for level 3 they have completed that set of homework tasks. If you want to extended individual students further you can, if you wish, set “advanced levels” for them to complete.

    I’ve provided the “Families and Households” question Board as a PowerPoint file to make it easy for you to tweak and edit it to suit your own particular course.

    Variations

    Click to download blank game board.
    Blank Game Board

    A variation you may want to consider is that instead of putting homework questions directly on the Board you simply indicate the marks available for each “question square”, as in this blank game board.

    When a student chooses, say, a 10-mark question you can give them a prepared question that corresponds to the mark box they’ve chosen. Alternatively, as with Earn-to-Learn, you could have a prepared list of 2 / 6 / 10 mark questions and students can select the ones they want to do from the list.

    This variation means that you don’t have to physically add questions to the game board, which makes it easy to reuse for other topics. All you may need to do is adjust the marks for each question box, depending on the topic being covered.

    Gamified Homework: Earn to Learn

    Monday, September 28th, 2020

    Although the basic idea behind Takeaway Homework is perfectly serviceable, teachers at Community College and A-level are more-likely to want to use homework as a way of getting students to practice exam-style questions.

    It is, of course, possible to tweak the Takeaway system to, say, require students to complete a single homework task each week, as with this example Takeaway Menu for crime and deviance (there’s also a blank template if you want to create your own questions) that starts with something relatively simple (“Mild”) and builds towards something more-difficult (“Extra Hot”). This is useful if you want to:

  • ease students into exam-type questions, starting small and easy and gradually increasing in length and difficulty.
  • encourage students to practice a variety of different types of exam question.
  • An alternative here, however, is to take this basic idea a step further by introducing an element of gamification (game-like) into the equation. This involves using some of the mechanics of games – rewards, progression towards a specified goal, individual and group competitiveness and the like – to spice things up a little.

    Read On For Instructions about “Earn to Learn”

    Homework Grid

    Sunday, April 4th, 2021
    Blank Homework Grid

    While the idea of offering students a choice of homework – sometimes quite literally from a Homework Menu or, more-creatively still, in a gamified form – isn’t particularly new there’s always room for variations around this basic principle – and this is where the Homework Grid [hgrid.pdf] might conceivably find a small gap in the competitive homework market.

    Preparation

    The basic prep involves loading each blank Homework Grid with a range of 1 – 10 mark questions (you can, of course, change this to whatever suits you best). These are coloured-coded (because of course they are) and I’ve included the code with the template (red squares, for example are 10-mark questions).

    Each Grid you create can reflect a whole course (e.g. Sociology), a specific module (e.g. Crime and Deviance), a topic within a module (e.g. Theories of Crime) or whatever arrangement best fits your homework schedule / preferences.

    Set a “total question” score for each Grid. For the sake of illustration, I’ve suggested 30 marks for the blank specimen grid I’ve created i.e. students must answer questions worth 30 or more marks in total for any given piece of homework. You can vary this number depending on how often you set homework and any changes you make in the marks for each question type on a Grid.

    How to use the Grid