Sparx Tips to support the return to school of all students

At Sparx we remain dedicated to offering you as much support as we can following a period as challenging to the education sector as anyone can remember or imagine. To help you and your students settle back into the routine of all students being back in school, we have put together a few ideas and reminders of what is available in Sparx.

Schemes of Learning (SoLs)

As teachers and schools have faced a lot of disruption to their regular curriculum, it is worth having a look at the Schemes of Learning within your school. 

  • If classes have fallen behind on their schedule, we have the ability to move a SoL in Planner down by one week at a time to bring it back in line with what you will be teaching. If this would be useful, please let us know the school, class name and by how many weeks you would like us to move the SoL.
  • If the order of your SoL has been disrupted you may consider assigning a new SoL for the remainder of the school year. This could be created from scratch using a blank template or by copying your existing SoL and editing as needed. This could be made for the rest of the school year, or as a temporary ‘fill’ for the rest of the Spring term. Advice on this process can be found in our article How to create a Scheme of Learning.

Motivation of Students

Students will face another difficult transition as they return to school from next week. To get them back into the swing of things, why not take this opportunity to launch a Sparx rewards initiative? Here are some suggestions:

  • A week-long XP race! Individuals, classes or specially created small teams compete to score the most XP. Whoever scores the most XP over a set period of 7 days receives certificates, shout outs and awards! 

The Total XP (Last 7 days) column on the Student Rewards page in Teacher Portal could be really useful here. Certificates can be downloaded here including a Customisable Achievement Certificate for any competitions you create. 

  • Use the name change from Optional to XP Boost to promote the benefits of attempting this extra homework package. Students can gain 2-3 times as many XP by completing XP Boost and Target tasks compared to compulsory Homework. 
  • There are other ideas you might find useful for supporting student motivation available here and here.

Monitoring Progress and Completion

  • On the Incomplete Homework page, you can select classes or year groups for information on the number of students who have incomplete homework outstanding from the last six weeks. By selecting ‘Download Incomplete List’ you will generate a report that details individual completion data. This could be used to encourage students to focus on particular weeks to reduce their own number of incomplete homework tasks.
  • A similar record can be seen on the Class History page. By clicking on any red squares here, you will be able to see the percentage of homework completed in a particular week by an individual student. For those percentages close to 100%, it could be a real incentive to encourage students to finish a homework that is already mostly completed!

Getting back to Bookwork

Understandably, some students may have fallen out of the habit of maintaining good quality Bookwork during an extended period at home. Consider revisiting the purpose of Bookwork and reminding students that if they pass their Bookwork Checks because they have been recording their work correctly, they will receive fewer Bookwork Checks and will finish homework quicker.

  • The video explaining how Bookwork checks work, along with other training materials aimed specifically at students is available in our Training Materials for Students
  • Share examples of great Bookwork produced by your students with the rest of the class.

Length of Homework

  • Our recommended default homework length is 60 minutes. Our research and evidence show that the more time students spend on their homework, the better for their attainment. Try to get students back working for 60 minutes on their homework as soon as you can
  • Some students and/or classes may need a short period to get back into the swing of homework. At your request, we can change the default length of homework for a class to be anything between 30 and 90 minutes, or you can choose to set homework to ‘half length’ (30 minutes) on a weekly basis using the Planner page
  • If you feel an individual student would benefit from reduced homework for a period as they settle back into a more normal school routine, you can change their homework type in Student Manager to ‘Half Length’ (30 minutes) or ‘Optional Only’ where no Compulsory Homework will be set, but the student can still access XP Boost and Target packages.
  • This could also be done for the whole class for the current week by choosing ‘Optional Only’ in Planner. This would give students the chance to work on incomplete homework tasks from previous weeks, for example. For more information, please see How to change homework to Optional only.

Finally - as well as students, staff in schools have been through an incredibly challenging time over the past few months. We hope that Sparx will continue to support students' progress and learning, as well as reduce the amount of time teachers need to spend planning and preparing high-quality content. Please remember that we are here to support you in all Sparx-related matters. If you have a question, you can use the ‘Need Help?’ button that is at the top of each page on Teacher Portal (this will allow you to search for a topic and take you through to our Knowledge Base) or contact the School Success Team by emailing schoolsupport@sparx.co.uk.