I wanted to write this blog post to share a teaching technique that has just recently saved my bacon in an emergency situation -something I will expand upon later. This idea came from Pete Jackson [@PeteJackson32 – do follow him on Twitter as he shares some really good stuff], a Yorkshire-based Head of Humanities. The idea also takes me back to my old German teacher who used a similar, if less nuanced, strategy in my lessons 20 years ago.
Recently, Pete highlighted his resource which was presented in a menu format in a four page leaflet. The menu contained a variety of Home Learning tasks from which students could choose to demonstrate their learning. The different types of tasks were structured in levels like a menu. So this means that –
Starter exercises provided overviews and focused upon reinforcing knowledge.
Main course exercises provided more in-depth, demanding tasks and focused upon applying knowledge.
Dessert exercises provided broader = more creative tasks that focused upon applying and exploring tasks.
An example of such a menu can be downloaded below as a clear example of how this task setting strategy works.
This, I thought, was a fabulous way of presenting tasks and allowing independent learning to flourish. Pete kindly sent me an electronic copy of the resource to play with and I thought it could be applied in a variety of ways other than Home Learning tasks. So for example –
Topic based menus can be created for a revision programme, where students choose their own revision tasks to complete and for you to check.
But this is where it has truly saved my bacon recently. There has been a long term illness in the department I work in and I have been asked to take responsibility all the Year 13 and Year 10 classes in her absence. Now the timetable restrictions have led to the fact I cannot teach all the lessons for these classes. So I have created topic menus for the areas of the courses for these classes and will be setting tasks from these menus. Therefore, students have choice on how to demonstrate their learning, but also they will never have the excuse of never having any work to do. Especially as some of these tasks can be completed twice with different exam questions or readings. Ideal as then parents are confident that their students are being looked after in the event of a long term absence of a teacher.
In addition, the menu has attached to it a Twitter hashtag [#AskMitch] which I can monitor through the Department Twitter account and students can contact me and ask questions if necessary as well as my school email address so students can send me work based from the tasks on the menu.
This is a superb task setting strategy that promotes independent learning and can save your bacon, like it has done for me. Thank you, Pete, for being so generous and sharing this inspirational idea.