Creating effective, efficient and engaging Homework for Key Stage 3 Drama

I’ve had a odd journey with setting homework during my career. I have to be honest I haven’t always liked it or seen the value in it. In my early years of teaching I was quite anti-homework and set it only on the rarest of situations. I didn’t set much homework for Key Stage 3 and the homework I set for Key Stage 4 was pretty much coursework and revision. That was a long time ago now and both my perceptions of homework, and the perception of it in general, has changed. 

John Hattie states that Homework has quite a high effect size on helping students make progress. He states if homework has a clear and meaningful purpose to both the student and the course, then it has the potential to make a valid contribution to the students learning.

Robert Marzano looked into this further and found that the age group where homework was most effective was students aged 15 to 17. What he also found was the homework most effective when there is opportunity to show that homework or receive feedback on it on from the teacher.

So what is the purpose of homework at Key Stage 3? Studies show that it doesn’t have a massive effect on students progress.

I’ve set all sorts of homework at this level in previous years. So many of them fall into the trap of being something time consuming for the student to create and hard for the teacher to assess and feedback on.

With Key Stage 3 homework we want to create tasks that will emulate the kind of homework tasks that students will get in Key Stage 4. I’m not there yet in creating a whole years worth of excellent homework tasks, but I’ve created a few that have worked well this year. I wanted to share with you and build on them for next year.

Still Image Success Criteria.

This is a very good example of a homework that is very short and simple but has a long lasting impact on the students progress in Drama.

One of the first homework’s students to in Year 7 is to watch this YouTube clip I made several years ago on Still Images. The students then create a list of 5 essential ingredients that could form a success criteria for making the best Still Image. The students write them in their books as evidence but then use this homework in their next lessons when they do practical work. They use all their homework make a definitive success criteria, which we adhere to in the practical work and assess ourselves against. As the teacher, I challenge them to explain their decisions and justifications for the choices they have made.

As a homework, this is a very simple task and one that takes little longer than the YouTube clip. But, it is a very practical piece of homework which informs the way students work and create work in the Drama Studio. This homework is something that stays with them all the way through Key Stage 3 and beyond.

What’s so funny?

This homework carries great engagement and generates hilarious practical work.

Towards the end of Year 7 we study comedy and as part it the students watch clips of various comedy sketch shows from past and present. The homework is for the students to research and find 3 clips of their own. The students need to analyse what happened in the clips, why it was funny and how they could use that as inspiration for their own performance.

Again, the homework is engaging and easy to complete at home but has massive impact on the students practical work. Students were buzzing to find ways of emulating the comedy performances they saw in new ways.. As a teacher, I could quiz the students on how they were making decisions based on their homework.

Characterisation notes

This homework comes in Year 8 and starts to focus the students on the understanding of key terminology. This one is from John Hattie is a classic retrieval of information exercise. Students go on to the BBC Bitesize Website and directed towards of the complete sections there, such as Using your body or Using your voice. Students then select, or given, one of the 10 pages of notes to read and take notes on. They need to understand that once they come back into the Drama Studio they will need to know what the page was about but not have the page with them.

Once back in the Drama Studio, students get a worksheet with ten boxes in them. They must first summarise the page they read in the appropriate box. After which, they must find students in the room that have read the other pages and complete the sheet with all the information from the website.

I then give the whole class feedback using a PowerPoint with the key knowledge of each page. This allows them to complete the sheet properly and accurately. This also means that we can revisit this sheet anytime through the scheme and even return to it as homework later on in the term as a revision tool.

These are three homework’s for Key Stage 3 that offer challenge, that are short and simple and are easy to manage for the teacher.