Ramblings from the Maths Classroom – Week 6

With most of my teaching groups into their eighth week I feel like the feedback cycle is beginning to embed more and the quality of their responses is improving. As a quick summary this is the routine:

  • Students complete an assessment looking to work over roughly last two weeks
  • I mark it, QLA it and rank the worst answered questions
  • Student get assessments back and spend around 10 minutes improving from an abridged mark scheme or asking other students
  • I model around 6-8 questions on the board highlighting the common errors
  • Students complete new versions of the questions they got wrong using the format below (answers are provided on final part of this double sheet)

The week 3 update here gives further details if you want them. What I have really had to focus on is the quality of response on the two questions above and have tried different routines to encourage this. The key to this is not particularly the routine I embed its the discipline that I encourage in the students. Probably for the first time in my career I am really insisting on silent periods in lessons and it is working as long as I vary this within the other lessons activities.

So within the first 10-15 minutes when they get the assessments back they get collaboration time with other students to learn from each others mistakes. You can generally feel a change after around 10 minutes in the classroom and know that students then need more structured support from me to correct these misconceptions. I then insist on silence as I model the solutions to the 6-8 questions on the board. I have to be really disciplined that at this point I purposely try not to take much student input and encourage them to correct over their assessments as I talk through them. I rarely ask for students to put their pens down in the classroom in general – only when I am at the start of the new concept as I want them continually making notes, writing things down and think this allows them to concentrate for longer periods.

The students then work through the new questions I have provided answering the two questions for each question that they made a mistake on. The addition of the solutions at the end has meant that students are now persevering as they are gaining success in questions which they previously misunderstood. I have changed a routine of mine now where I will sit at the front of the classroom and then tell the students to come to me if they need any support. Previously I was literally running around the classroom trying to solve every immediate issue, now the physical act of a teenager having to get up and walk means that they will try and solve it themselves before asking!

The feedback lessons and ones where I have had more impact in general have been where my whiteboard work has been well structured. This has been an unexpected result of @olicav dual coding book that I read over the summer.

My writing is a definite weakness and have been working really hard this week on displaying ‘a story of the lesson/learning’ on the board. Using Hierarchy here by circling the question I have corrected and then started using a second colour to highlight the point where the error generally happened – purple and black are probably not the best combo though!

This idea of ‘discipline’ is something I think I am going to develop more over the coming weeks starting to reframe it from purely a thing connected to a follow up on behaviour and more looking at how I need to be disciplined in my practice in the classroom and the effect this has on the students.

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