Takeaway Homework Menus: The Basics

Takeaway Homework Menus are based on an original idea by “Twitter phenomenon and outstanding teacher” Ross Morrison McGill (100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers) – webmaster of the inspirational Teacher Toolkit site – and if you’re not familiar with the idea, the basic premise is a simple one:

Starters and Mains…

Instead of giving all your students a single “Homework Task” (an essay, a set of questions or whatever is appropriate to the course you’re teaching) you give them a menu of possible choices from which they can choose the homework they want to do.

This could be as simple as a choice of doing one from a selection of 5 or 6 different essays or, as in the majority of Takeaway Homework Menus, students are required to select from different types of task. This usually involves the Menu being:

1. Organised into sections, such as Starters, Mains and Desserts to maintain the Menu theme. Students may, for example, be required to do homework tasks selected from each part of the menu in the following ways (examples taken from this Express Crime and Deviance Takeaway homework menu, created by Miss Coleman to “Deliver fresh, hot and delicious homework tasks straight to your doorstep!”).

  • Starters may involve small and simple tasks (Write a tweet or no more than 256 characters explaining a Sociological key term covered in the Crime and Deviance unit).
  • Mains are usually more-involved and take longer to complete (Create a ten-question quiz for your classmates based on one area of the Crime and Deviance unit).
  • Desserts are again relatively straightforward tasks but can be used to test different skills to those included in Starters (Choose one piece of marked work in your book and re-do it, ensuring that you are responding to feedback and making improvements where necessary).
  • Desserts and Specials.

    What to include in each section is, of course, something for you to decide – Starters could include simple small-mark questions, while Mains could be a selection of essays – and the format’s flexible enough to incorporate a wide mix of practical and theoretical activities. If you want a further (sociological) example, the eponymous Miss Coleman has created a similar Takeaway Homework menu for social inequality.

    2. Differentiated in terms of difficulty: The example Crime and Deviance Template uses a “Periometer Chilli Scale” as a way of indicating the level of difficulty: 1 Chilli equals “mild difficulty” while 3 equals a high difficulty. Students simply chose the Homework that they (and you) think best suits their particular needs at any given point in the course.

    As you’ll discover if you explore this general idea further there are many different ways to put your Takeaway Menu together, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. There are also different types of template you can use, but for the moment, the easiest way to get to grips with the Takeaway technique is probably to have a look at some of the ways other teachers have used and shaped it and then devise your own Menu that meets the needs of both the Specification you’re following and the different students in your class.

    This Takeaway Menu, for example, is based around “Nandos” and uses the same Periometer idea as above to create a simple structure of ascending difficulty (from “Extra Mild” to “Extra Hot”). Unless you teach some sort of Performing Arts class you can ignore the content – I’ve just left it in to show the range of differentiated tasks – and instead use the blank Takeaway Menu to add your own questions / tasks using the Text function of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Alternatively there’s a similar Word-based Takeaway Homework menu Template you can download. Just add your own tailored content for an Instant Takeaway Menu. If you’d prefer something ready-made (pre-cooked?), have a look at the Nando’s Families and Households Takeaway Homework menu or the Pizza Express Mass Media Takeaway Revision Menu. Both were created by Lucy Cocker and are a good source of ideas, examples and inspiration. Both are Word documents which makes them relatively easy to edit if you want to create your own Takeaway Homework menus based on either template.

    And if you want a little more context about Takeaway Homework, have a look at these basic instructions (with a few examples you can adapt).

    Alternatively try these more-detailed instructions and a short explanation of one way to put your own Menu together.

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