3 Great Worksheets to Focus Your Student Leaders
These Worksheets Will Help You Develop Student Leaders
Student leadership is part of a rock solid foundation for strong school culture, but steering students in that positive direction can be a challenge. That’s why our leadership expert, Stephen Amundson, has put together three worksheets designed to address three common leadership issues.
Feel free to use any or all of them as they fit your specific needs. If you’re not sure what your specific leadership needs are, you may want to check out this post which covers some of the basic starting points for student leaders.
FREE Student Leadership Worksheets
The first of the three worksheets addresses what a leader is, and what their role can and should be. This can be a great jumping off point for new leaders, or a valuable way to regroup with more senior student leaders. It also offers an opportunity for self reflection that can be valuable for adult leaders as well
Download the first worksheet, “Leaders Are, Can, & Think.”
It isn’t always easy to keep your student leaders focused and motivated, but I’ve found that most leaders thrive on guided thought exercises like the one in this worksheet. Most student leaders have a strong desire to contribute in a positive way, but they don’t always know how to get from “I want to help” to “here’s the plan.”
Try to remember that direction in leadership is something you obtained over a lifetime, and your students don’t yet have that benefit. They’re still experimenting, observing, and listening. Each experience is an opportunity for them to hone their skills, and each challenge is a chance for them to become an even stronger asset to both their school and their community.
This simple worksheet will help your students to reflect on where they are as leaders. It will also help you to steer them toward growth and agency. Feel free to download, share, and use this student leadership worksheet in your own lesson plans!
In case you missed it, here’s a link to the free worksheet.
Downloadable Leadership Worksheets #2 & #3
The second worksheet is a more focused look at who we want to be as leaders. One of the best ways to find a starting point for any new leader is to look at leadership role models and extract the qualities we see in them which we want to develop in ourselves. This worksheet focuses on that approach, and even offers action steps
CLICK HERE for the second worksheet, on leadership role models, “Who Do You Admire, and Why?”
Finally, the third worksheet takes a more advanced step into leadership, focusing on attitude. If you’ve followed TEEN TRUTH or RISING UP even for a short while, you’ve likely heard of the impact attitude can have. In fact, it’s one of the first things I look for when I’m visiting a campus. CLICK HERE for the third worksheet, on leadership attitude.
Be sure to develop your leadership (both student and adult). It is one of the quickest ways to improve school culture, and can be a massive return on your time. Special thanks to Stephen Amundson for these fantastic worksheets! His site can be found here and is an excellent resource which I highly recommend checking out.
Check out more student leadership activities and continue learning about how to build an inclusive and diverse culture of leadership at your school with our guide to building student leaders .
Ready to take your school leadership to the next level? Check out TEEN TRUTH’s Leadership Summits !
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Website by Chris Wright
Updated 12 November 2023
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Homework - what works?
Tuesday 16 January 2018
What's your policy on setting homework? Does it concur with what research tells us about effective homework?
Whilst research evidence supports the use of homework to extend learning the pressure is on us as school leaders and teachers to set homework that achieves the Goldilocks effect: it sould not be too easy or too little, nor too hard or too much, but just right.
Cathy Vatterott ( Five hallmarks of good homework, ASCD, 2010) provides a great checklist for identifying whether the homework being set is effective:
- Purpose: homework should be meaningful and students should understand its value to their learning.
- Efficiency: homework should not just 'take up time' for the sake of it, but it should demand some hard independent thinking
- Ownership: if students see the value of the homework they will be more motivated. However, it is helpful to give students choice about how it should be completed.
- Competence: students need to be able to complete the task independently and well.
- Inspiring: homework should inspire and motivate students since this will encourage greater engagement.
In their research-informed article from the USA Linda Darling-Hammond and Olivia Ifill-Lynch make similar points in their list:
- Assign work that is worthy of effort , that is authentic and engaging: Does it make sense? Is it necessary? Is it useful, given the circumstances under which it is carried out at home?”
- Make the work doable : are the directions clear? Is the homework doable without any assistance? How does it relate to the lesson?
- Find out what students need: make the process of doing the assignment transparent, concrete, manageable, and as simple as possible.
Reflection - two views
View #1 : "If we are to consider the best evidence on homework, we may use the analogy of homework being a beautiful diamond: small, expertly crafted and precious to its owner."
View #2: Alfie Kohn, the author of 'The Homework Myth ' asks 'why is it necessary for kids to work a second shift when they get home from a full day in school at all especially when research doesn't appear to support its value?' Research shows that "below the high school level no studies have found any benefits for assigning any kind of homework - it is literally all pain and no gain."
In The thing about homework , Teachthought author, Drew Perkins, reflects on John Hattie's observation that "Homework in primary school has an effect of around zero" to suggest how to make homework more meaningful. (June 2019)
In Alternatives to homework: a chart for teachers , TeachThought staff provide some helpful suggestions that will develop thinking skills (January 2019)
Seven principles of setting effective primary homework.
In September 2019, the hugely successful television presenter Simon Cowell stated: “I didn’t have that major stress about homework, because I would just throw it away.”
Similarly, in 2018, Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker tweeted that, “Homework is a waste of time.” In the same thread comedian Jason Munford complained: “I spent three hours on a Sunday with my lot doing homework, cutting s**t out of magazines and researching animal teeth!”
Tellingly, Lineker’s tweet got more than 21,000 “likes”, but are these celebrity polymaths right in their assumptive hammering of homework?
Cognitive development and independent learning
An easy answer to the above is yes. Various studies suggest that the impact of homework at primary level is negligible whereas it is moderately effective at secondary level (Cooper 1989; Hattie 2009).
It is clear from the research that the main reasons for this are first and foremost about cognitive development and the ability to complete work independently.
For instance, Cooper and Valentine (2001) and Hallam and Rogers (2018), suggest primary pupils find it harder to stay focused and are easily distracted, do not have the independent study skills or habits that older pupils do, do not always have the prior knowledge needed to complete homework tasks, and are harder for parents to control in terms of completing homework.
However, these researchers go on to suggest that the tasks set by primary teachers involve basic skills in literacy and numeracy as well as the development of other key skills, which are harder to measure in terms of attainment in younger year groups. This means that the link between homework and attainment is arguably a misleading one and that the idea of setting homework at primary is not totally redundant.
The academic-cum-homework guru Harris Cooper still recommends setting primary pupils homework because – in later schooling – a lot of learning needs to take place beyond the classroom, which means pupils must develop good homework study habits and routines (1989; 2007).
Moreover, Cooper, Robinson and Patall (2006) also identified a number of studies at grades 2, 3, and 4 in the US (years 3, 4 and 5 in the UK) demonstrating that homework can have a positive effect on learning and attainment.
Subsequently, Cooper argues that setting manageable homework tasks in lower years encourages positive attitudes, habits and character traits as well as reinforcing the practice of basic skills taught in class.
Therefore, a more accurate answer to the concerns recounted above would be somewhat nuanced – perhaps advocating the setting of evidence-informed homework tasks that all pupils can perform easily at home.
So, what does best practice look like?
If homework is to benefit primary pupils, it is worth bearing the in mind the following:
Focus on the practice of literacy and numeracy skills : This might seem obvious, but younger pupils need to master the key skills needed in later years. Plenty of research suggests rehearsal and retrieval of skills and knowledge benefit learning and, importantly, attainment (Rosenshine, 2012). This is also evident in studies of homework, particularly at primary level (Cooper, 2007).
Set short and focused chunk-sized tasks: Overall evidence suggests setting short focused tasks, which relate directly to what has already been taught in class. Importantly, various studies find that pupils learn more when allowed to practise fewer skills or concepts (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001); this is also suggested in the reviews of primary homework by the Educational Endowment Fund (EEF, 2014). Therefore, homework should be set in small chunks in terms of content – or be focused on particular skills – in order to be properly understood by younger pupils.
Limit how much is set: In the US, the National Education Association and the Parent Teacher Association recommend the “10-minute rule”, which suggests that children should be given no more then 10 minutes of homework per-night, per-grade level (Blazer, 2009). So, a year 4 pupil in the UK should have no more than 30 minutes (as we are a year ahead in terms of schooling) and a year 6 pupil should have no more than 50 minutes. This latter amount of time might sound excessive, but it would count spellings, times tables and, importantly, reading.
Back in the early 1980s, the Department for Education and Employment as it was then used to suggest 30 minutes a day (up to two hours 30 minutes per week) for year 5 and 6 pupils. Of course, these timings are suggested and would not be ideal for all pupils or contexts. What is important, though, is that time spent on homework does not exceed these limits – otherwise the impact becomes negligible.
Space and interleave previously taught content: If feasible, homework activities can follow a spaced rotation where one short task is set on the current topic and another set on a previous topic. My son’s year 6 teacher, for example, regularly repeats at spaced intervals previous key spellings as well as mathematical methods. We have also found, in previous years, that interleaving (mixing up) times tables – once learned – improved recall (see Jones, 2020).
Informing parents of homework: Epstein and Van Voorhis (2001) suggest that effective communication of the purpose and content of homework can allow parents to understand what is being taught in class and facilitate parent–child conversations, which may reinforce the importance of school work. All of this – ideally – needs to be underpinned by a crystal-clear homework policy that is regularly shared with parents.
Supporting parents with homework: Cooper and Valentine (2001) found that pupils’ attitudes to homework were largely unrelated to ability, community and classroom norms, but impacted by parental attitudes to homework. This suggests that parents have an important function in facilitating learning at home. Furthermore, the academics found that parents improving the home learning environment, especially eliminating distractions, had an impact on pupils’ attainment in school. Cooper (2007) also points out that sessions supporting parents with teaching these basic skills can also improve homework completion.
Be wary of setting compulsory project-based learning as homework : Although these longer term tasks can be enriching, some pupils may be able to visit libraries, museums, etc whereas others may not. Judging pupils on these projects is arguably unfair. Moreover, while enriching, they do not effectively embed key skills or knowledge, especially if they are standalone projects. Also, creative tasks often involve resources, which could adversely impact pupils from a more disadvantaged background. Yes, these homework tasks can be beneficial and rewarding, but they do have clear limitations. These activities should not, therefore, be set in place of those advocated above.
Despite research clearly suggesting that the impact of homework on learning and attainment is more evident at secondary level, it does not rule out the potential benefits of well set and manageable homework tasks at primary level. Essentially, small bite-sized homework tasks can embed the knowledge and skills already taught in class. This means parents do not necessarily need to spend “three hours on a Sunday ... cutting s**t out of magazines and researching animal teeth!”. However, I can think of worst things children could be doing.
- Andrew Jones is assistant headteacher at The Reach Free School in Hertfordshire. He is the author of Homework With Impact: Why what you set and how you set it matters (Routledge, 2021). Visit https://bit.ly/3C6cvk5
Further information & resources
- The Homework Project: For full details of the academic references in this article and for further information on the homework project itself, visit https://homeworkresearchproject.wordpress.com/
- Blazer: Literature r eview : Homework , Research Services , Office of Assessment, Research and Data Analysis , Miami-Dade County Public Schools , January 2009: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED536245.pdf
- Cooper : The battle over homework: Common ground for administrators, teachers, and parents , Corwin Press , November 2007: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2006-22225-000
- Cooper: Synthesis of r esearch on h omework , Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development , November 1989: https://bit.ly/3v0fCaQ
- Cooper, Robinson and Patall : Does homework improve academic achievement? A synthesis of research 1987-2003, Review of Educational Research (76, 1), Spring 2006 : www.jstor.org/stable/3700582
- Cooper and Valentine : Using research to answer practical questions about homework. Educational Psychologist ( 36 , 3), September 2001 : https://bit.ly/3p5w1tV
- EEF: Teaching & Learning Toolkit Homework evidence summary: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/education-evidence/teaching-learning-toolkit/homework (see this 2014 summary for a breakdown of the primary homework evidence: https://bit.ly/3iPWdVj )
- Epstein and Van Voorhis : More t han m inutes: Teachers' r oles in d esigning h omework , Educational Psychologist, September 2001: https://bit.ly/2YFgzJL
- Hallam & Rogers: Homework : The evidence, UCL IOE Press, October 2018.
- Hattie: Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses on achievement, Professor John Hattie, 2009 (updated in 2011 and 2017). For details, see https://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/
- Jones: Interleaving in Practice: insights and observations from a TSA research project, Mr Jones Whiteboard blog, April 2020: https://bit.ly/3C92C5k
- Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock : Classroom I nstruction T hat W orks: Research- b ased s trategies for i ncreasing s tudent a chievement , Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development , 2001 .
- Rosenshine: Principles of Instruction: Research-based strategies that all teachers should know, American Educator, Spring 2012: http://bit.ly/2ZpbIqW
Evidence to action: the seven es of effective cpd, parents of eal pupils: support and collaboration, finding the balance with homework.
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Learning at home is an essential part of a good education. The classroom is not the only environment where successful learning can take place. The regular setting of appropriate, thoughtful, challenging and differentiated homework contributes to pupils’ overall learning experience and is essential for an individual pupil to reach their potential.
Homework is set for pupils with the purpose of supporting the ongoing progress and achievement of all pupils. It is intended to:
- Reinforce the home-school partnership
- Consolidate and reinforce skills and understanding
- Exploit resources for learning in the home
- Develop skills of organisation and self-discipline
- Prepare pupils for the demands of university or work life
- Extend Academy learning
We provide all pupils with homework to enable them to practise the skills and learning they have already acquired at the Academy. Sometimes the aim is to repeat something completed in class as a practice exercise. At other times, the homework may ask children to apply their learning to a new context.
We expect 100% of pupils to complete their homework; pupils are rewarded for their successes but where this does not happens, we use consequences. Any pupil failing to complete their homework in will be placed into an same day after-school detention.
Where there are extenuating circumstances, these will always be taken into account. Please speak to your child’s Head of year if this is the case.
Further information on homework can be found on our Synergy system – SchoolSynergy ~ Login
Education Endowment Foundation:Homework
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