U.K. Cycle 2 – PD 1

Date and Time: 21/6/11    9:30 to 11:30

Participants: Two teachers:

Michael (Assistant Head of Maths & Director of ICT and Numeracy across the school – main teaching subject mathematics)

Andrew (Head of STEM – main teaching subject, design and technology)

Researchers/Designers: Gill (Pedagogical NC)

Scenarios Discussed: Embedding exam preparation in learning activities

Q: Did the story generate any thoughts?

Students’ revision and research skills are limited. Experience suggests that they seldom question what they are copying and pasting from Google/ Wikipedia. A scenario that questions their choice would be good.

Peer review is very important. Students need lots of guidance. They are able to review/ evaluate presentation skills well but content less so.

Using Mind maps is a good way of drawing out what they know. Smart phones/ handhelds with APPs would give quick access and do not rely on getting to a PC. Access to good information quickly is crucial.

Timing is really important for students to understand how long they have for particular tasks and this needs to link to external demands such as exam boards criteria. A visual cue, such as a Cascade chart or Gantt chart would help.

Illustration by participants

A Gantt chart for examination groups with number of units identified and associated resources linked could work across any subject.

Q: Is this a possible story?

The story was seen by both teachers as a feasible scenario but with some potential problems specifically around developing independent learning skills of secondary aged students is a challenge.

The Gantt chart could replace a scheme of work mapping what needs to be covered and by when adaptable for teachers and students.  

There are not many students who are able to produce meaningful resources out of the box. It would take time to embed this practise. Exam preparation embedding over the course of a year is a good idea.

The potential barriers to the story are the quality of student resources and the amount of direction required. There is a risk that if there is too much teacher input then every student would produce the same thing which makes the peer review process a non starter.

This scenario would require a lot of preparation beforehand to enable students to product meaningful resources and meaningful peer reviews. It appears overambitious for one teacher with one class. It should possibly be at least whole department or a whole school approach.

Collaborating on a video would need teacher guidance in advance of the activity.

The issue of how to monitor the relevance of the student’s resources would need to be addressed.

Q: Is there something they would like to change in it?

Working with Year 10 students, age 15, could bring more problems than benefits. It will take time before you get meaningful output in terms of resources or peer reviews. Developing these skills is a long term strategy starting with year 7.

The importance of having the easily accessible resources eg requiring the collaboration on a video resource will need a huge amount of additional planning and preparation. Ok if students have laptops with cameras but if not and the teacher has to spend curriculum time showing them how to use the technology- this could be a distraction and a barrier for the teaching of mathematics. Whatever they need to do needs to be accessed quickly and with accessible materials.

The teacher liked the idea of being able to like/dislike on facebook but there would be practical considerations needed to be taken into account such as is facebook allowed in school. A website that they could quickly access and evaluate work is a good idea.

Make the mind map more interactive with links.

One of the problems with peer review is not having a common review framework. Developing a common process and a common set of criteria would make it easier to roll out across the whole school. Again the scenario was thought to be too ambitious for one teacher and one class to undertake.

Q: Could they imagine themselves in the role of the teacher?

Yes – One of the teachers described how he had been working with Year 7 students, age 11, using multimedia to prepare a script, film and evaluate after a unit of work on how they approach different fraction, decimal, percentage calculations. The videos then provide a resource for next year’s classes. Building in the peer review process in subsequent years is important with key questions such as how would you do it? Would you approach it differently?

Q: What part would they find most difficult to manage if they were in the role of the teacher?

Time span of activity and access and availability of resources – see previous comments.

Q: How would the story continue? What would the design/ technology look like?  The teachers chose to revisit the initial idea of the Gantt chart and suggested that a cell linked to an interactive mind map. The interactive mind map would allow students to link resources to it, text, pictures etc The interactive mind map may already have some preloaded examples for reference.

The teachers then discussed how assessment could be linked to the interactive mind map.

 The resources the students created for revision would then be reviewed on line or through the interactive mind map. The resource would already be linked to specific curriculum content by the Gantt chart and exemplification of what success looked like would be provided to mirror the whole school assessment criteria. In this school, 4 Cs would be the criteria for assessment. (Creativity, Communication, Critical thinking and Collaboration). Students could review each others’ resource and rate it using the sliders. This information would be stored and available online helping students to decide which areas they need to improve on and also to look up others examples of good work on their own weaker areas. Over time the reviews would increase and change to reflect a more general consensus.   The teacher would have a bank of resources, easily accessed for supporting student exam preparation.

Illustration by participants

Mathematics in a mulitcutural setting

Q: Did the story generate any thoughts?

This story generated quite negative feedback.

Immediate feedback from one of the teachers was that mathematics was not a universal language, particularly if you had dyscalcula.

There was concern that if there were  different languages being used to compare mathematics this would be confusing.

However the teachers felt that if the mathematics was placed in a practical context then it has potential to bridge the language difficulties.

Concern was raised that for students to explain their mathematics to others implied they would have to have a secure grasp of the mathemaitcs themselves, which is not always the case.

One teacher was concerned that different methods would confuse and  possibly cause misconceptions and reduce understanding. Eg In China the axes are labelled from L to R.

The story runs the risk of putting additional barriers in the way of students who already are struggling with mathematics. They could say “ well I didn’t understand this being explained in my lanaguage so why am I lucky to explian it in a different language?”.

Language and mathematics are often seen as the two most difficult subjects so using a probability model we can see that we have 4 paths  already with different issues arising for the teacher, ie

–        Students understand the maths but not the language

–        Students understand the  maths and the language

–        Students dont undertand the maths  but do understand the language

–        Students don’t understadn the maths or the language.


However after the initial negative feedback the teachers started to see some positives of the story.

Studying different approaches to the same problem can help understanding of mathematical concepts.

Evaluating the effectiveness of different approaches improves review skills.

Seeing mathemaitcs in context, through applications being used in different countries increases engagement and interest of the students.

Taking the context and using it to explore  and celebrate cultural differences was a good idea. Eg

–        Probability through card games is not acceptable in some countries because of potential links with gambling.

–        Negative numbers in cold countries gives it a real and relevant context for understanding.

–        Percentages used in street markets encourages mental mathematics

Also looking at the history of mathematics in different countries could enhance understanding. If students are given the chance to learn about problems from the past that led to the development of particular areas of mathematics, they can begin to appreciate that people of all cultures use mathematics to make sense of the world around them. They may be fascinated to find out that pure mathematical findings sometimes precede practical applications, and their curiosity may be aroused when they learn that mathematics continues to develop and evolve. This will engage and motivate pupils to become more aware of the nature of mathematics and of the mathematics around them.

The technology would require the same platform. There are currently ways of ding this; Skype, Elluminate, Promethean Planet etc However the different school timetables and problems with live connections would be a problem.

A LIVEWALL was suggested. Ie a screen that is common to the classrooms in the different countries. The problem would be set and then students could work on it and this would be seen in real time in other classrooms on the live wall.  This could also support peer review.

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