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...

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Key Stage 4 Tutor Numeracy Challenge

Last year I set up a Tutor Numeracy Challenge for KS3 tutor groups to complete during tutor time. I used mainly UKMC questions to create PowerPoints of 5 questions which I emailed around to each KS3 tutor once a week, and put answer forms in their register folders which had to be completed and handed back to me by the end of the week. It was fairly successful, I got about an 80% response rate but found some tutors would complete it every week and some did not do it at all, which meant the same tutor groups were winning each term. It was also quite a lot of work on my part, I would write the quiz each week along with the solutions to the previous week onto slides and email around the tutors, then collate all the answer forms, mark them and input the results onto a spreadsheet. What I wanted to do was try to get something online so questions could be accessed each week by the tutor and solutions submitted online but I haven't yet found a way of doing this, so I will be writing them all on PowerPoint again for this academic year. One plus point the school will be introducing in September is more structured tutor times so each tutor group will have a designated slot to complete the tutor challenge meaning I should get a 100% response rate and therefore this should encourage competition between the tutor groups. This is an example of one of my slides I used last year:

This year the KS4 leader has approached me to come up with something for Year 10 and 11 who will have a 15 minute designated tutor slot once every 2 weeks. I have decided to go down a similar route but this time with only two questions - a green question and a red question. The green question will be aimed more at Foundation level and will be worth 5 points whilst the red question will be aimed at Higher level and will be worth 10 points so all of the tutor group should be able to be involved. I looked at using Socrative, which I haven't used properly yet but I think is excellent, but it didn't do quite what I wanted it to do and I think it will be complicated for the tutors to access the specific quizzes on there so I have gone back to PowerPoint. Ideally I would love to have something where the questions could be accessed by the tutor, displayed on the interactive whiteboard during tutor time and the tutor submits the solutions to me there and then. It would also be useful to have some way of displaying a 'Leaderboard' which I am going to try and use our numeracy board in the Maths department for to try to drum up some competition between the tutor groups. This is something I will have to look into at a later date and try to find to be able to centralise the tutor numeracy challenges across the school.

Both the green and red questions for the KS4 tutor challenge I have tried to get to be problem solving to encourage teamwork among the tutor group. So far I have found both ilovemathsgames Puzzle of the Week blog post and Corbettmaths Corbett's Conundrums, some of which are very challenging to source my questions, so thank you to the authors of both of those fabulous resources.

I would love to hear what other schools do for tutor time numeracy so please leave a comment or tweet me @Mahoney_Maths if you have any ideas you would like to share. Thanks!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Strategies for Increasing Numeracy Skills

September will be my second year in my current role as Numeracy Co-ordinator, a role which I have found both challenging and exciting if a little daunting developing the numeracy skills of our students across the school. The role was brand new last year and in a year I have managed to write our numeracy policy along with resources to help support the numeracy skills of staff, co-ordinate our 1:1 intervention sessions and establish a weekly Maths challenge for KS3 tutor groups. To be honest I have sometimes found it challenging to know what direction to take with the role and how to make an effective change. A lot of this past year has been a matter of 'trial and improvement', some things have been successful and others have taken a total nose dive (such as the weekly staff numeracy challenge!). My husband has just taken on the role of Literacy Co-ordinator at his school and it seems to me there is a lot more published information about what to do and how than with numeracy (possibly something to do with the literacy basis of the job?!) and from my experienced seems to be a policy much more established in schools than numeracy which is comparably in its infancy.

So this year I have got a lot of ideas to develop, one of which I am working on at the moment. I have spent some of my Year 11 gain time last year (and some holiday time) developing our KS3 assessments and as a part of that I wanted to include a numeracy assessment. I have focused on the basic numeracy skills; operations, decimals, percentages, angles and a few other aspects and created (well in the process of!) six almost identical and substantial "Challenge" papers which the KS3 students will sit every September and February. All students with the exception of the bottom year 7 nurture set will sit these papers across their KS3 school experience, and will hopefully see an improvement in their key skills. I have already created a tracking spreadsheet which calculates their percentage change from one assessment to the next and from there I am hoping to rank them to see who is the most improved. This will hopefully also help highlight students across the ability range who struggle with their basic numeracy skills but more importantly put more of an emphasis on the key skills and give students a sense of progress and therefore confidence before they reach KS4.