The Value of Going Back to Basics

This blog piece is written by Rachel Sneyd. Rachel is currently completing an undergraduate degree in History and Politics at Trinity College Dublin. She is a keen writer and has just submitted her first teen-fiction novel for publication.

The Value of Going Back to Basics

It might seem counterintuitive, but sometimes in order to help a student move forwards you have to go backwards.

The roots of seemingly big problems are often found in basic gaps in knowledge that occurred months or even years before. For whatever reason a student doesn’t fully master a piece of information or skill. They can’t keep up with subsequent work that relies on them having this knowledge and they fall further and further behind. Their confidence is eroded and they are too embarrassed to ask for help with something they should already know. A simple gap, like not having fully grasped factorising in fifth class, becomes a big problem, like not being able to do Leaving Cert algebra.

Identifying these gaps and taking the time to fill them in, even if this means going backwards in the curriculum, can allow the student to finally catch up with their classmates.

There is also value in going back to a level of work that the student finds more manageable. They finally get a chance to be good at the subject and their confidence is built up. A third year student who thinks they are bad at English can excel at first year year level comprehensions. They can gradually be moved up to second and then third year work, often without realising that the work is getting harder. They have the confidence to attempt work they would have thought was impossible and even more importantly they expect to do it well because they have gotten used to succeeding.



Back to Basics: ABC’s

This blog piece is written by Rachel Sneyd. Rachel is currently completing an undergraduate degree in History and Politics at Trinity College Dublin. She is a keen writer and has just submitted her first teen-fiction novel for publication.

Young students (and not-so-young students) who have trouble reading and writing often struggle with the most basic building block of all: the alphabet. For some this means confusing Bs and Ds or forgetting what sound Q makes. For others it means not being able to identify more than a handful of letters. Not knowing the alphabet is a problem but luckily patience, revision and a bit of play-dough can make a big difference.

Aim: To revise the alphabet and build reading and writing confidence.

You need: Markers, coloured paper, play-dough, stencils.

Give the class the markers and coloured paper.

Write the day’s letters on the board and have the students copy them down. This works best if you break the alphabet up into manageable blocks and concentrate on 3 or 4 letters per lesson. It will take some time to get all the way to Z but the results are well worth it!


Measure the speed of light using marshmallows

This lesson is developed by Conor Coyle. Originally from Monaghan Conor moved to Dublin for university where he studied Applied Physics for four years. After this he spent a year in Chongqing China teaching, my itchy feet didn't stop there, after China Conor moved to France where he worked as a waiter and studied French part-time. He then returned to Dublin where he is now a final year postgraduate researcher working on low temperature plasma physics for biomedical applications. Conor likes cooking and make a mean chilli con carne. (which he hasn't made for me yet! Naoisé)

Items needed for this experiment : Marshmallows, Plate, Microwave, ruler, marker, brain engaged

What you need to do:

  1. Cover the plate in marshmallows, remove the turntable from the microwave and cook for 45-60 seconds.
  2. Take the marshmallows out and note the melted spots on the marshmallows. Using ruler measure the distance between the spots.

Autour le Monde- Around the world

This lesson is create by Annika Stephan who was born in Düsseldorf. Completed her Abitur in 1996 and moved to Ireland in 1997. Commenced studies in Cultural Studies & French at DKIT in 1997. Completed BA Hons. in Heritage Studies & French at GMIT in 2002. Lived & worked in France between 2001/02. MA Hons. in German Literature from UCD in 2008. Lives with Muffy, the hamster and two guinea pigs, Billy and Bob.

The aim of this lesson is too learn French vocabulary in a fun and dynamic way. For prep you will need to make up some visual flash cards. To make it easier in the beginning especially with younger groups you could add pictures to the cards.

This is a game to play in a larger group of at least three students! But it is more fun with more students. Autour le Monde translates as Around the World, and this is exactly what the aim of the game is all about: to get around the table back to your own chair by guessing the correct translation of words in French.


Human Clock

This lesson was created by Ellen Kelly. She is in her final year studying Maths and Biology at NUI,Maynooth. She has always enjoyed maths and hopes to teach it at a secondary school level soon enough! however when im not pondering some maths problems or prepairing my classes she likes to relax with a bit of yoga. 🙂

For this lesson

  • Cut out the numbers 1-12 and place them around the table to resemble a clock face. (or you can get the students to draw the numbers on the table now that we can do that!)
  • Now simply ask each student to be either the minute hand or  the hour hand and given a time ask them to possition themselves appropriatley around the table.
  • This lesson can be easily adjusted depending on the number of students to a class and the eqiupment/space available to you.
  • For instance with only one student the clock hands can be cut out so the student can place them in; or with more than 12 students each one can be a number and stand in a circle representing the clock itself while the remaing students act as the clock hands.

Point of Blog

Our motto is that "we don't do normal". Everyone who comes to The Homework Club is different and is here for a different reason. It's not important if they are dyslexic, have reduced hearing or simply don't "get-it". This Blog is about creative teaching that suits everyone, all of the time! No one needs to be "special". The work is done in groups, so students avoid stigma and don't feel only they need help!






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