Author: William Emeny

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How has the introduction of department-wide interleaving affected students’ rates of learning?

Two years ago we took the decision to introduce department-wide interleaving (and spaced practice) through the introduction of Numeracy Ninjas, weekly skill quizzes (on a mixture of topics) and delayed end-of-unit testing. This was in response to our learning about Desirable Difficulties and the impact university laboratory studies had shown these can have on learning. For more information about Desirable...

Putting ‘mastery’ into practice: impact videos from the MathsHubs’ Secondary Mastery Specialists programme

In the school year 2016-17, all Maths Hubs participated in a national project to start exploring teaching for mastery approaches in secondary schools. Between two and four teachers from secondary schools in each Maths Hub took part in a programme, with three residentials over the course of the year, developmental work back at school, and ongoing communication and discussion in...

An interview with Robert and Elizabeth Bjork

Craig Barton’s brilliant maths podcast has hosted some inspirational and influential education thought-leaders in its time including Dylan William, Bruno Reddy and Dan Meyer. His most recent episode takes it to a new level, having secured a 2-hour interview with Robert and Elizabeth Bjork! In a wide-ranging interview about learning, forgetting and memory, Craig and the Bjorks explore both the theory...

Spaced and interleaved retrieval practice using flashcards

I’ve never understood the ‘drill-and-kill versus teach-for-conceptual understanding’ argument. In that, I mean it’s not a dichotomy. Both reinforce each other. Students who try to problem solve with fluency but no conceptual understanding can’t apply their knowledge to new contexts. Students who try to problem solve with conceptual understanding but no fluency fall into working-memory overload in doing the basics...

Preparing Y11 students for the new 9-1 GCSE exams- meet the WAFF!

Hi everyone! I write to share what we’re doing at Wyvern College this year in the final six months to prepare our Year 11s for the new 9-1 exams. This may or may not be of interest to you. As HOD at Wyvern, I have been very preoccupied with putting this preparation schedule together this year. I think it’s more...

Help us build Numeracy Ninjas, the app…

We are looking for a developer to partner with to build iOS and Android apps of Numeracy Ninjas. With over 2500 schools now using Ninjas worldwide, we want to take the project to the next level, giving students the opportunity to improve their maths skills on their smart phones and tablets. If you are a full-stack developer yourself, or if...

Biteable for making videos featuring animations

We want to set the right tone in the first few minutes with our year 7s with a bit of ‘visioneering’. We used Biteable to make the following video to welcome our newest students into our maths department. We used iMovie to add the voice over:  

A week working at UCLA in the Bjork Learning and Forgetting Lab

Dear readers, Over the summer I was privileged to visit UCLA in Los Angeles to work with a number of educational researchers looking into how cognitive science can be used to improve teaching. In a highly stimulating week I learned about both the historical and contemporary research findings relating to our thrusts and was also able to share some of...

The impact of using Numeracy Ninjas on the numeracy fluency of Key Stage 3 students in a large comprehensive secondary school

At Wyvern College we have run a year-long research study to assess the impact of using Numeracy Ninjas on the fluency of our 470+ Key Stage 3 students’ mental calculation strategies, timestables and key skills required to successfully access the GCSE Maths curriculum. We are delighted to publish the impact report summarising the statistically significant improvements that Numeracy Ninjas has made to...

Experiments in mastery… rigour is a vital component…

Define a mastery approach to teaching maths. That’s a tough task. Whilst there are many elements that could be debated, I hope we’d all agree that rigour is a fundamental component. In our maths dept at Wyvern College, we’ve started focussing recently on understanding strategies and approaches to incorporate high levels of rigour into our resources. We’re still in the...

My interview on the Mr Barton Maths Podcast

This weekend I had the privilege of being interviewed by Craig Barton for an episode of his wonderful maths podcast. We discussed many issues relating to maths education, including: How does Will plan lessons? – we dive very deep into this! How do Will and his department try to create renewable lessons? Can Will describe a lesson that went badly,...

Prior-learning dependencies flow between Maths GCSE subject domains

Just over two years ago I published the post, You’ve never seen the GCSE Maths curriculum like this before, summarising my analysis of the prior-learning dependencies within GCSE Maths learning objectives. The curriculum map I produced showed the importance of students having high fluency with specific number related topics, such that the topics do not consume working memory resources when students were...

#MathsConf6- maximising the impact of multiple-choice questioning

At #MathsConf6 I attended a wonderful workshop delivered by @NaveenRizvi who works at Michaela Community School. She shared a number of valuable insights gained from visiting high-performing American Charter Schools and observing the practice of their best maths teachers. In this post, I’d like to share and then elaborate on an aspect of multiple-choice questioning, mentioned by Naveen, that was a...

Timestables diagnostic tool and adaptive question generator

It’s no secret that we have plans to develop an online version of Numeracy Ninjas in the future where students can battle against each other online in a games-based environment and receive diagnostic feedback on their numeracy strengths and weaknesses. In the meantime, I have put together a timestables diagnostic tool and question generator in Excel. I made it to...