I like many other teachers have recently become interested in the homework menu. Learners select the homework task they wish to tackle and in the case of the menu I used, select the difficulty based on a Nando's hotness indicator. When I gave learners the homework menu 8 weeks ago I stated that if they completed a homework every week and at least 2 extra hot homework's they would be rewarded with a Mexican style party.
The quality of the homework before using the menu was high but I believe the quality and quantity has improved due to its use. Nearly all the learners completed the 8 homework's including at least 2 extra hot ones. The only learners who did not complete the required amount were learners from backgrounds where it is difficult to complete work at home. This in itself brings issues as it would be morally wrong to not allow these learners to enjoy the party even though they have not completed the required task. I considered spending time at lunch helping them complete homework however decided against it for now.
Last Friday was the day of the party and after a morning of lessons I donned my poncho and sombrero and following their lunch break welcomed the learners into a Mexican classroom. There was a lot of excitement generated with learners answering the register with "Ole!" and "Arriba!" while I remained in character throughout. I set out three different areas including dancing, art and craft and party games and asked the learners to remind me why we were having a party.
Naturally due to the learners enthusiasm and my own the party was quite loud and I hope that it didn't prevent our headteacher from completing any work. I do however feel that on balance there were a number of skills developed through the party as well as showing learners that if they work hard it will be recognised.
What do you think? Are party's a good idea as a reward?