Ramblings from the Maths Classroom – Week 5

Decided the have a couple of nights out this weekend which has resulted in the blog being a bit later this week. The first routine I wanted to share was a tweak I have made with the use of the visualiser and mini-whiteboards. The students attempt a question and then i’ll walk around the room taking a couple of attempts which have got the incorrect solution on them. I drag the question to the left hand side of the board and then the visualiser on the right hand side of the board and display the mini-whiteboard.

This allows us to discuss the misconception and then I can either write directly on the mini-whiteboard or directly on the interactive whiteboard on the left hand side. Students are becoming more and more confident discussing what they have done and as its been created in the classroom it gives it a freshness compared to something I could have pre-prepared. I love trying to find one that I cannot explain and then we have a really good discussion with 20+ sets of eyes trying to unpick what has happened.

Routines are becoming more and more embedded with classes but it is always a matter of spinning these plates ensuring that students are doing them really well. An area that I have looked to improve this year is the efficiency of getting equipment out to students where required.

The students think I am slightly bonkers with my cupboard as I have set things up so I can visually scan at the end of the lesson to check everything has been returned. I can see in this picture that all my pencils are back (in the groups of the 8 tables in 4’s I have in my room) and I have 6 purple pens currently being used as the top shelf should have 4 groups of 5 there. Each table is numbered in the room and the students know that if something runs out of ink or is broken they can get the equipment that they need. If a student now forgets about this when they ask i will simply point to the cupboard to remind them. This is a particularly powerful routine at the start of the lesson as this is the time you really want to be focussed on settling them into work quickly.

A new tweak to my starting routine has been to model on the board any hints or tips on the 4 retrieval questions when I have walked the room. I actively praise the quick starters being very explicit over what the praise is for “excellent start 2 questions already done”, “Love that working out, great effort” … this indirectly affects the other students and improves the focussed start in the classroom. Once I have done this as the students are working i’ll start writing some hints/tips on the whiteboard for the 4 questions and in doing this shows models the focus I want to see from them. Instead of just watching them as I am actively doing maths it seems to support the students work for a slightly longer period of time.

The final part for this blog is my greater use of the whiteboard on the wall instead of the interactive whiteboard as a default. It’s really easy to remove some good modelling from the board with a click on a button when they could student in the independent practice phase.

This photo is from a feedback lesson where I had modelled at pace the correct solutions to a few questions which the students had struggled with. This was then left on the board for students to refer to. I feel I have had particular success with boys using this strategy as they may not have written the solution as I was verbally explaining it but when they realise they need it to solve a new question they can refer to it or write it down. Modelling is really powerful and when carefully planned the whiteboard in the room can still make a very strong impact.

Have a good week everybody

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