Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Maths - GTC research - three simple steps to success

A report from the GTC (General Teaching Council) recently showed three factors which can significantly lead towards success in maths.

These include:

  • viewing mistakes as positive – identifying them and using them in subsequent discussions;
  • allowing students to develop and justify their own varied methods;
  • encouraging students to set each other problems to solve.

The research concluded that student-centred, collaborative and discussion based approaches to learning were more effective than more traditional transmission methods, especially in the development of conceptual understanding of mathematics.

Nothing too new or earth shattering, but quite reassuring.

Friday, 19 February 2010

What's the point of school? Guy Claxton

This is a great book which prompts lots of thinking!

I read it over the half term break after hearing about the author from Anne (she went to see Guy Claxton when he was in Phuket) and Paul Ginnis (see previous post).

It is an inspirational book which asks the reader to think carefully about how schools are (or aren't) preparing children for life after school.

For me the main messages were the magnificent 8, as well as the importance of modelling being a fallible, eager, curious learner. Thanks to Bruce Hammonds blog, leading and learning for his summary which I have included below:


1 Powerful learners are curious. They are born curious and are drawn to learning. They wonder about things, and know how to ask productive questions. They enjoy the process of wondering and questioning. Curious people, however, can be demanding and skeptical of what they're told.

2. Confidant learners have courage. They are not afraid of uncertainty and complexity. They have the confidence to say, 'I don't know?' - which is always a precursor to, 'lets find out'. They are willing to take risks and try new things. They 'stick' with things and 'bounce back' when things go wrong. They also know when to give up. They have 'mental toughness' or resilience.

3 Powerful learners are good at exploration and investigation they like finding out and are good at seeking and gathering information. They take the time to attend carefully and do not jump to conclusions. They are good at 'sifting' ideas and trust their ability to tell 'good evidence'.

4 Powerful learners requires experimentation. This is the virtue of trying things out to see if it works, or just to see what happens. They make mistakes, keeping what works for 'next time'. They like adjusting things, enjoy admiring their work in progress, and seeing how they can continually improve things. They say, 'lets try'...and, 'what if?' And they also know the importance of practice.

5 Powerful learners have imagination. They know how to use their 'inner world' to explore possibilities. They know how to make use of 'mental rehearsals' of how they might act.They also know how to relax and let idea come to them, finding links and connections ; they have a good feeling of 'rightness'.

6 The creativity of imagination needs to yoked to discipline. They have the ability to think carefully, rigorously and methodically. They are good at 'hard thinking' and ask, 'how come'? They are good at creating explanations, making plans, crafting ideas, and making predictions based on their evidence. They are also open to serendipity and to changing their minds if necessary.

7 Powerful learners know the virtue of sociability. They are happy collaborating and sharing their ideas and resources. They are good members of groups able to help groups solve problems. They are able to both give their views, receive feedback, and listen respectfully to others.8 Powerful learners are reflective. They are able to step back and take stock of progress. They are able to mull over their actions and consider how they might have done things differently. Good learners are self aware, able to contemplate their actions to continually 'grow their learning power'.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Double Whammy with Paul Ginnis

A Saturday course today with Paul Ginnis. He's a great presenter, mixing a blend of theory and in-school evidence backed up by lots of photos. I had seen him almost 2 years ago at NIST.

The double whammy is content and metalearning...his idea is that learning could/should contain both.

Varied approaches to learning, catering for many learning styles, were included in the session. See video below of a re-enactment of the moment of conception. Note the wiggling sperm and the fiercely defensive ovule cell membrane! video

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Maths assessment at Year 3

In our year group we were talking about how we could best assess children's maths progress and attainment throughout year.  We know what many children are good at, can give next steps and are good at this kind of assessment.  This is the bread and butter of teaching.

It is the big picture/national curriculum level description which is hard to judge for me and many other teachers.

Different strands of maths have different weightings or importance in the maths levels, surely?  How can we judge children's levels if we are unclear about how much importance should be given to each strand?

The APP suggests a solution, but seems to be unwieldy and a huge marking burden.  It is suggested to be used on a sample basis, but how does that inform your judgement of the cohort as a whole?

Here are some things I stumbled on:

curriculum map for Y3 from South Gloucester

simple selection of level descriptors for maths from learninglive

various uninvestigated maths assessment links from the shambles site

I feel I have been trying to figure this one out for many years.

At my last school I tried using key objective lists which were organised by year group...this could then be used to infer a level.

Does anyone have any answers?

Are there any online maths assessments out there? Are there any which are free?  How do these weight the strands of maths?