I am a Secondary Mathematics teacher in my sixth year of teaching. I teach at a local community college in Sussex where I am Assistant Curriculum Leader for Maths. Welcome to my blog...

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

#MathsMeet, Oakwood School

On 20th October Paul Collins (@mrpcollins) hosted a Maths Meet at Oakwood School where he is Head of Department. I have never presented at a Maths Meet before, so when Paul asked for speakers I was keen to get involved. When thinking about what it was I wanted to present I considered something my school did well and decided on our marking and assessment structure.

Firstly, a bit on the other sessions:

Session 1 - WAGOLL (What A Good One Looks Like) by Ryan Foster
This session focused on how Ryan's school used and promoted good examples of student work. This is something we are working on as a department and as a school ourselves so it was good to hear about ways other schools were achieving this. Ryan's school had displays around the department which showed worked examples of exam questions and of what students needed to be able to do to achieve an A/A*. I also liked the WAGOLL book that he had put together of students' work so students knew exactly what was expected of them. I think it is really important to show students what we are looking for because it is easy to assume they understand. This is something I find challenging with my students, especially middle ability who do not take as much pride in their work. At my school we have decided to put together WAGOLL displays in our own classrooms as we don't have a lot of display space in the corridors and it is difficult to change over. My colleague Harriet Lambert (@harrietlambo) has a great "Learning Wall" display in her classroom which she updates regularly with recent examples of great work by just pinning it to the board like a scrap book and it looks fab!

Session 2 - Engaging Students with Book Work/ Worksheets by Paul Collins
I thought this session was fabulous and something that I am looking forward to trying out to motivate my middle ability students after half term. It is basically a more flexible version of a codebreaker activity (which I love using with my students anyway). Paul has a coded message on the board using numbers in place of letters which students have to decode. On slips of paper he will have a random 3 or 4 letters of the alphabet decoded and students have to earn the decoding slips according to a predetermined number of questions answered correctly. For example for every 3 questions they answer correctly from the book/ worksheet they earn a piece of the code. Students will get a random part of the alphabet which sometimes doesn't even include letters from the code on the board at all, but it keeps students going. Paul usually uses song titles as his coded message and tries to match it with the students' interests which I thought was a lovely touch. Here are some tips for Paul's codebreaker activity:

  • Use TA's in the room if you have them to help mark the answers and hand out parts of the code.
  • Work until the first student finishes then use them to write up the decoded message on the board using clues from the rest of the class.
  • Try not to have too many of the same letter in the code otherwise it can be easily guessed.
  • Have different targets to gain parts of the code to differentiate the work e.g. students have to answer 6 easier questions or 3 harder questions before they get a piece of the code.
Paul did say it can get a bit manic, especially with large classes but you can also get students to help with the marking if they finish quickly. I think it is a great way to remind me to mark during the lesson and am looking forward to trying this out,

Session 3 - The Power of Boxes and Circles by Mark Horley (@mhorley)
This session reminded me of a training session I went to last year on Shanghai teaching methods for Maths, and is something which also comes up in Numeracy Ninjas. I'm really glad Mark reminded me of this as it is an excellent way to easily challenge understanding of what is happening, and it is so straight forward! All you do is replace a number with a box, and an operation with a circle, and students have to fill in what is missing. Mark has put his presentation on his blog here along with resources which use this method. My favourite version of the resource was for factorising and simplifying algebraic expressions as it really structured the process which I can see really helping with students understanding:

I also really like the simplifying one as the boxes can stand for different numbers so you can really get students to think about things like negative numbers as a different approach to "The answer is 3x + 2y, what is the question?" and the students all going x + x + x + y + y.

However, it did come with a health warning that it couldn't be used for equations due to the boxes being able to be replaced with a variety of values and not just one. Another great idea though which I am eager to try out next term.

Session 4 - 5 Maths Websites you Need to Know by Jo Morgan (@mathsjem)
Jo has already started to blog about this on her website Resourceaholic (which is my number one go-to website!) so I will keep it brief. Although I did already know about all the websites it was still great to have a reminder, and to find out about some new features some websites had to offer, so here goes!

1). Mr Carter Maths - This is a new discovery of mine, and I have used it a lot over the past few weeks. It is just so easy and simple and ideas if you just want to find some quickfire questions with answers. I have been using it mostly for snipping starter questions and adopting the "Silver" "Gold" option for my students as there is such a wide range of abilities in many of the classes I teach. I love how easy it is to use!

2). Mathsbot.com - This is one which I have used in the past but have sort of forgotten about more recently so thank you to Jo for reminding me! Jonathan Hall (@StudyMaths) who runs this site also runs formtimeideas.com which has been a lifesaver in the past for me, and if you have a form group is well worth checking out. Mathsbot has a great starter generator tool with a countdown timer and what I like the most about his site is how you can choose the topic of questions, or just set it on random. It is also worth checking out the bank of new style GCSE questions he has (always nice to know a good source for these!), and you can create your own worksheets by selecting which topics you want to include which is a great revision tool. Jonathan doesn't have every topic up yet, but what is on there so far is excellent.

3). MathsPad - We are not subscribers of this website (although Jo is, and does recommend it) but I have used some of their free resources, I expect found through Jo's Resourceaholic website! The resources I have used I have found useful for low ability, and really like the clear distinct layout of them. Saying that Jo showed us a resource using prime factors which was more challenging which I really liked, so I think it is just a matter of finding out what they have in their free resources if you do not wish to subscribe. I really like what Jo said about some of their resources though that it has made her think about the way in which she teaches some topics, and I agree that it is exciting when you find resources like that!

4). Corbett Maths - This is a website I go to all of the time, mainly for their practise questions and text book exercises. It is so easy to find questions on any topic, and everything you could possibly want is on there! I also use the 5-a-day, especially in the build up to exams. A fantastic new feature that Jo told us about was the Class Quizzes which look great. There are currently only 4 weeks worth, but I love the "Study Sheet" which goes with them and will definitely be using for my Year 11s in the run up to the GCSE.

5). Resourceaholic - Not much to say about this website really except that it is my BIBLE when it comes to planning, and always my first port of call. I really like that Jo has also blogged about many of the topic areas too, so you can get some more generalised teaching ideas as well as great resources!

Session 5 - Assessment and Homework without Levels by me (@Mahoney_Maths)
When considering what I wanted to present at the evening I thought about what my school does well. In our department at Heathfield we have worked a lot on the abolition of levels, and students are now given a "Pathway" to achieve their target grade at GCSE right from Year 7. Everything we then do to assess is linked directly to these Pathways which in Maths is 10 key skills we want those students to be confident in by the end of the year. We spent a long time as a department deciding what we wanted those skills to be and what would be the best for our students. It was really challenging to narrow it down to only 10! The skills also feed through the Pathway from Year 7 to Year 11 as far as possible.

In terms of our assessment, we then assess weekly in two ways. One week students have a "Key Skills" assessment which is 8 key questions they have to answer which feed into the Pathway skills and the scheme of work. The questions stay the same for an entire term, it is just the numbers that change, so they don't get any harder. What we are aiming for is consistency with these skills, so would hope by the last 2-3 weeks students are getting 8 out of 8 each week.

The second week they complete a "Functional Skills" assessment which consists of short exam questions, one for each Pathway. As our Pathways are a range (e.g. Pathway 5 will cover 4-6), this is usually 3 questions which all students in the class attempt. We mark it with minimal feedback, then RAG the skill at each grade. Students then get more detailed feedback and a "Moving On" question to complete which focuses on one particular mistake they have made. We would usually produce 3-5 Moving On questions per class each time with feedback relating to that question. This makes it quick to mark, and as the feedback is given with the Moving On question means you are not writing out the same feedback 10 times. I find this saves a lot of time and is a much more sustainable way of giving students timely and relevant feedback.

Scores from both assessments are then tracked, and when we come to complete the report data we have to select one of the Pathway strands the students need to improve on. We will then use the RAG data to select the most relevant skill that each student needs to focus on. As there are only 10 skills throughout the year, it is likely that assessments will hit the Pathway strands multiple times, and the RAG rating will be altered accordingly, hopefully making it more accurate and relevant when reporting home to parents.

The slides I used in the presentation can be found here. Please feel free to contact me if you would like any further information on what we do, or would like to arrange a visit to our school, you would be very welcome!

Session 6 - Numeracy Ninjas at Oakwood School by Paul Collins
I just love Numeracy Ninjas and this year I have set it up with bottom sets in Year 7 and 8. There are a lot of split classes in KS3 this year (our KS3 is only Y7 and 8) so this works really well for teachers who only teach a class once a week, giving them a designated 'numeracy day'. I also use it with my foundation Year 11 class who absolutely love it.

It was really nice to see how Paul uses it at Oakwood. It is similar to how we do, tracking the results to show the students how they are progressing through the belts. Some aspects of what Paul does that I really liked were actually using the results in data lessons. For example creating pie charts of how many students are getting each colour belt. It will mean more to the students using their own data, and I can see how this would motivate them to work on the skills and get better marks. I also really liked the display that they had at Oakwood and is something I would love to find time (and space!) for at Heathfield. Each student has their own "Ninja" and they are moved up through the strips of colour for each belt so they can see their progress. I think we will try to get a small display for this in each classroom, but a corridor display would be great to promote and celebrate success.

All in all an excellent evening with lots of ideas to take away and try. The raffle was also a nice touch (I managed to win a few Numeracy Ninja's prizes for my students!), and it was a really great group of people. Thank you very much to Paul for organising, and I look forward to the next!

No comments:

Post a Comment