25 June 2015

Pret Homework

At #TMEpsom today - which was hosted by my lovely new school, Glyn - I did a short presentation about Pret Homeworks. This post tells the story of Pret Homeworks - where they came from, how they work, why they're great and what's coming next.

Last summer Kathryn Forster, Head of Maths at the TES 'Creative School of the Year' 2015 Seaham School of Technology, tweeted some pictures of a new homework template she'd devised. It was lucky I spotted this tweet in my busy Twitter feed because it turned out to be the start of something big.
The homework pictured below is one of Kathryn's original designs. The Skill Practice element is what most standard maths homeworks involve, and remains essential, but we also have an additional four elements:
  • The Literacy element requires students to learn the spellings and definitions of key words. 
  • The Memory element requires students to memorise facts or formulae. 
  • The Research element is a short independent research task. 
  • The Stretch element provides some more challenging questions.
So the design covers knowledge, skills and enrichment all in one place.

Kathryn's homeworks are used in conjunction with peer-assessed Homework Checks in class, like the Literacy and Memory Check pictured below.
When I first saw Kathryn's idea I absolutely loved it so I featured her homeworks in my blog post 5 Maths Gems #3 back in August 2014. Kathryn and I then made a few more homeworks, and I created a page on my blog containing links to our small collection. 

I decided we needed a name for this homework format. Takeaway Homeworks were popular at the time so I put a spin on the name and went for Pret Homeworks - creating an acronym for the words 'practise, recall, extend, think'.

I asked for Pret Homework contributions through Twitter and the collection quickly started to grow. Initially I stored all the homeworks on Google Drive and linked them through resourceaholic.com, but then something went wrong - they were being downloaded so often that Google Drive stopped letting people access them. The popularity of these homeworks was quickly growing - they needed their own website. 
The Website
So prethomework.weebly.com was born. I transferred all the homeworks from my blog to a new purpose-built website. It's been incredibly popular.

I've created a number of Pret Homeworks myself, but my primary role is collator. Anyone who creates a Pret Homework for maths is asked to email it to me at resourceaholic@gmail.com and I upload it to the website. I don't edit any of the homeworks submitted, but I do encourage submissions in an editable format so teachers can tweak them if required.

We currently have around 140 homeworks from 50 maths teachers - the full list of contributors is here. If Pret Homework were a business then Kathryn would be Head of R&D, I'd be Head of Marketing, and the contributors would be our brilliantly creative workforce. My sincere thanks goes to every one of them.
Although all the homeworks on prethomework.weebly.com are for maths, this homework format works well in other subjects. I've seen adaptations for both Science and English. I also think the homework format would work well in primary school. Our collection currently ranges from Key Stage 2 to A level including Further Maths.

The design works well for classwork too. Danielle Bartram has made a number of worksheets which were inspired by the Pret Homework format.
Perimeter worksheet from missbsresources.com
I recently asked on Twitter for feedback from teachers who use Pret Homeworks. I received loads of enthusiastic replies. Some schools are now using these as standard homeworks across the maths department, in other schools one or two teachers are using them every now and then. Either way, the feedback is excellent. Teachers report that the quality of work submitted is often high and that students enjoy completing Pret Homeworks.

Thanks to all the teachers who shared examples of students' work. It's amazing to see Pret Homeworks in action! 

Pret Homeworks also featured as Craig Barton's Resource of the Week in November 2014.

What's next for Prets?
The collection of Pret Homeworks continues to grow. Eventually I may need to upgrade the website to make it easier to search by topic and Key Stage.

During the next school year I hope to see more Pret Homeworks for Key Stage 1 and 2, and for other secondary subjects.

I'm excited by the work being done at Burford School where they are making Pret Homeworks to fit into their new GCSE Schemes of Work. Their homeworks are very cleverly differentiated - these will be uploaded to prethomework.weebly.com soon.

There's still lots of buzz around Pret Homeworks. Have you tried them yet? Do let me know what you think.

Huge thanks to Kathryn Forster for the idea - she's been an inspiration to many.

My short presentation from #TMEpsom is available here.

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