Category: Pedagogy

MathsWatch spaced-learning revision programme- Edexcel 1MA0

I’ve put together a revision programme based on MathsWatch for the year 11 cohort of 2015-16 studying Edexcel 1MA0 GCSE maths. It is based on spaced-learning principles to maximise retention. This could be used as an additional revision programme to complement weekly practice papers, which are essential in my opinion. It will ensure students systematically visit all topics on the...

Numeracy Ninjas

  Today is a rather emotional day for me. The last few years have been an amazing journey learning about effective maths teaching. Steps along the way have included: The problem with levels- gaps in basic numeracy skills identified by rigorous diagnostic testing, Forgetting is necessary for learning, desirable difficulties and the need to dissociate learning and performance, Going SOLO on the journey...

The problem with levels- gaps in basic numeracy skills identified by rigorous diagnostic testing

I have felt for a long time that one of the disadvantages of the current levelling system is that it encourages teachers to constantly teach students mathematical concepts and ideas only at levels equal to or above that which they have recently scored on an assessment.  The data-focused, level-centric system only rewards teachers if their students can  score marks on...

Join me at the English and Maths 2015 Conference #oeEM15

Optimus Education have launched a new conference: English and Maths 2015- Effective Teaching Strategies to Meet New Accountabilities. I’m delighted to have been asked to speak at the event on 22nd October and will run a workshop session on: designing a maths curriculum that ensures learning is conceptually deep, retainable and context-transferable; maximising depth of learning and procedural fluency. Other...

Powerful, diagnostic, games-based AFL- Kahoot!!!

Kahoot is a tremendously useful, free AFL tool I recently came across after a Twitter recommendation. Students can use any web-enabled device (any OS platform) to take part in games-based quizzes. There are thousands of quizzes publicly available, or you can create your own in a simple drag-and-drop editing tool and add to the public pool. There are many maths-based...

Algebra Tiles- from counting to completing the square

I have become increasingly interested in visual models recently as a way of introducing topics. Visual models have the power to illustrate concepts in their rawest, simplest form without the misleading associations that words and abstract notation can introduce. I’m convinced concrete/visual model introductions should form an increased part of my practice, but the question that interests me is which visual models...

Building interleaving and spaced practice into our pedagogy

This post builds on the conclusions I reached in the post Forgetting is necessary for learning, desirable difficulties and the need to dissociate learning from performance. Make sure you’re up to speed with that post before reading on. In my department we have historically done blocked practice from year 7 to mid-year 11 and then switched to interleaving from Christmas...

Forgetting is necessary for learning, desirable difficulties and the need to dissociate learning and performance

How many questions should I give students to work on after my instruction? Should I group all the questions together or space them over time? Should I ‘block’ questions on the same topic together or should I mix them with questions from other topic areas? Is ‘over-learning’ an efficient strategy for boosting student outcomes? Should I always be using high-frequency formative...

Student response to teacher feedback

Students responding to the feedback we give them is an important part of the ‘feedback loop’ and something I’ve often found challenging to get going well with classes. This year I’m trying to be much more specific about my expectations by giving students the following place mat explaining the tasks I expect them to complete in responding to my feedback:...

Going SOLO on the journey towards deep learning

The Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes Taxonomy (SOLO) is a notion that describes the stages of learning that students go through to reach a real depth of understanding on a topic. It outlines the journey from surface to deep learning. SOLO is John Hattie’s taxonomy of choice and is currently being studied in depth at his Visible Learning Labs (Osiris Educational...

Vocab Blitz- improving student literacy

Literacy is every teacher’s fight, no matter what subject we teach, even maths. Textbooks often have keywords and, sometimes, definitions. However, rarely will students learn vocabulary from just these, in my experience; they need to work with the vocabulary. Two activities I tried last year were “keyword bingo” and “taboo words”. In the former you read definitions whilst the students...

How do we make John Hattie’s “Visible Learning” work in maths?

Visible Learning is John Hattie’s mantra. I’ve written previously about being a big fan of Hattie’s work about what affects achievement. He’s collected just about every piece of academic research and collated a ranked taxonomy of  factors that affect achievement. Visible Learning is his suggested approach to teaching in a way that incorporates many of the significant drivers of achievement....

John Hattie- Why are so many of our teachers and schools so successful?

I’m a big fan of John Hattie‘s work. Many people have big ideas to improve achievement in education. What makes John’s work unique is that he tells you by how much things improve achievement. In a time-pressured world, what makes his work so useful is that he tells you what to prioritise and focus on, and importantly, what to ignore. I...