Sunday, 1 June 2014

'twenty seven' - Takeaway Mathematics Homework

This has been brewing for a while now...

...I've finally had a chance to sit down and create my own version of Ross McGill's (@TeacherToolkit) brilliant 'takeaway homework' idea.

If you haven't already read his excellent '100 Ideas for Outstanding Lessons' then you must go and sort this out. This idea came from that very book (idea #56) and Ross blogged about it, and all those teachers already using their own, on his blog at:

This is well worth a read to get the background information on the idea and to see what else is out there that can be used/'magpied'.
Being the insomniac that I am, I have just created my very own takeaway homework menu and can't wait to introduce this to my students when returning to school, well, I suppose...tomorrow! I would like to introduce my new takeaway restaurant...'twenty seven'...

This is the logo I created for my menu. All my students have had it drummed into them that 27 is my favourite number and so there really was only one name I could have gone with!

FUN FACT: Did you know, 27 is the only 2-digit number whose sum of its digits is equal to the sum of its prime factors?!

I started scribbling some ideas and tasks for my takeaway menu on my 'Penultimate' app on my iPad and then, having got the basics down, created the above logo. It's pretty much steamrolled from there. I looked at a lot of the other takeaway menus already out there and took inspiration from many of them when creating the rest of my menu. Thank you to all of you who see something similar in mine below! I'm surprised at how much time I've put into the layout and design of it, as well as ensuring the content is sufficient and varied.

Here's how the 'front' looks...

and the 'back'...

I decided to have the menu fold into thirds. After I had designed it and was happy with the layout, etc, I printed it off to see what it'd look like. Here are a few images of the folded version that I'll be handing out to students/having on display in class...

 This is what the front of the menu looks like (when folded)

Here's a view of the folded version, looking inside the menu
 The back of the menu, with the instructions
The inside of the menu, fully opened up.

I'm really pleased with how the menu has turned out and have now turned my attentions to ensuring I introduce it to students in the right way. I want to make sure I cover any questions they may have about how we're going to be using it.

The thoughts I've had are as follows:

I'll need to see, from them, a piece of homework each week, or at least evidence that they are working on one of the more demanding tasks (a 'main' or 'special'). This way I'll still be 'setting' homework in line with my school's homework policy and the students will be getting the required amount each week/fortnight.
By insisting on students achieving at least 12 chillies throughout the half term this covers the above too.

The students will get full choice over what tasks/combination of tasks they complete and I've tried to include a range of tasks to suit all students interests. Equally, for those that don't have access to certain equipment they'll still have plenty to choose from. This was another reason I chose the name 'twenty seven' - lots of choice!

The tasks are all pretty standard and so should allow students to choose any of them for a particular topic they are studying. I didn't want to have to create one of these takeaway homeworks each week, for every new topic we looked at, and so kept the tasks generic. Mine could probably be used for most subjects - there's only a few 'subject specific' tasks in there.
Equally, students can now take their own 'spin' on the tasks and adapt them as they feel necessary.

This is something I'll look to share with the rest of my department/school after I start seeing the results of it, the homeworks start coming in, students' reactions etc.

In order to track what each student has/hasn't done (chilli wise) I'll add a column to my markbook and update this each week when 'reviewing'/collecting in homework. I'll also need to explain to my classes (the ones I choose to run this with initially) that the same expectations apply in terms of not meeting the required standards. As there is the goal of achieving 12 'chillies' over the course of the half term, I will also have some sort of 'progress check' week whereby students will be reminded of how many chillies they still owe.

I intend on putting a copy of my takeaway homework on the school's VLE for them to refer back to each week. I'll also create a display in my room for them to look at a few laminated copies of the menu and for them to see examples of homeworks completed (as I get them in). I'll share these on here this space!

In terms of the tasks that are on the menu, I've thought about having exemplar materials to show the students the type of thing I'm looking for with each task. Some of this will naturally come into play when some homeworks start coming in, but ,initially, they may be unaware as to what is expected? Do I need to spend a good half of a lesson explaining the tasks? Now, I don't want to limit what they are capable of here and so feel this will only really be needed to explain the more unusual tasks - tasks like the hexaflexagon and crossnumber (for those students that haven't done one of these in class with me before). I also feel it'll be important to show students examples of 'good' homeworks as they come in to get the class excited about what is being done by others and get them to think about what they can do with the task, how they'd do it differently, how could it be made better etc.

I'll also have to think about how I 'mark' each piece of homework and what 'success criteria' my marking will be based on. Perhaps I'll discuss this with each individual class and together agree on the criteria to be assessed against?

Lots of things to think about. Lots of things that will probably come out of trialing it for a few weeks and seeing where it takes us. Nonetheless, I'm excited about the impact it can have on my students. Homework, at present, is something I set because I'm told I have to. It's something that has become quite predictable in that it'll be a 'complete your mymaths tasks' or 'do this worksheet'. By giving my students the choice of what they do, as long as they do something, it should improve return rates, engagement and (of course) their learning.

Please let me know your thoughts if you're one of the many teachers already using Ross' idea. Let me know what you think about my menu too.
Comment below or find me on Twitter (@mrprcollins)

Check out the progress I've made with the #takeawayhomework by viewing my subsequent blog post - 'takeaway homework-the initial phase' -->

If you'd like a copy of my menu it can be downloaded from my TES resources here.


  1. Look forward to seeing how this will all be assessed.

  2. It will be interesting to see the student's interpretations of the different tasks.

  3. I look forward to seeing how the students interpret the tasks.

  4. I have showed your takeaway homework to my department and they all loved it!! Is it possible to have a copy of the original file rather than the pdf so we can change it slightly before we use it with our students. Thanks

    1. Have e-mailed you Kerry. Also, take a look at my latest blog post for a link to the file...

  5. I've only just been introduced to takeaway home works and was a bit at a loss as to how it could be used with maths until stumbling on your blog. Like Kerry I'd also love a copy of your original file to adapt it for my own classes if possible as its a great idea.

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  7. Hi, Please could you all tell me what sort of age you are teaching this take away menu to?
    Thank you.

  8. Hi, Could you all please tell me what age(s) you teach this to?
    Thank you.

  9. Have just introduced this to my KS3 classes - they seem to be loving it and some of the work produced is incredible.

  10. I think it is absolutely brilliant - I have seen this sort of thing before but yours is the one with the most usable ideas. Thank you very much

  11. Thank you for your kind comments, Jane - I hope you find the takeaway menu useful!