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Maths Mastery - #CelebrationofMaths

After the twitter maths teachers, told me last week about #CelebrationofMaths, I signed up late. I have to say I am so glad that I did. I met with the exam board’s @AQAMaths and @OCRMaths to talk about the new exams, resources and specimen papers.  Unfortunately Edexcel didn’t attend the event. It was great to meet the @AQAMaths team in person after recently writing an article for them on why I give all my resources away, BetterMaths.org.uk.

I attended several workshops throughout the day and the key message that kept coming across was Mastery; students need to do and then undo the mathematics, not more of the same. Examples were provided which had been designed by Jane Jones the lead Maths HMI. These were designed to use HOT skills after the initial understanding was gained by students.  

Example 1 clearly shows a typical worksheet that I’m sure we have all used at some point. Continuous practise of the same task. After the first five questions what is the student learning? Time should be thought about wisely when planning extension or stretch activities. We should be thinking about ‘HOTs and not MOTs’. (HOTs - Higher Order Thinking Skills not MOTs – More Of The Same).  

If you look at example 2, I apologise for my scrawled notes, you can clearly see after five questions of doing, the students are now asked to undo the learning. They are using their HOT skills and have to show a deeper level of conceptual understanding. 

@MrReddyMaths gave a great talk earlier in the day on teach like a champion and Mastery. His methods have a proven track record and gained amazing sets of maths results, 95% C+, 75% B+ and 40% A+. This is in a school with over 50% of the students being on FSM. The school focused on getting behavior right as a unit, there was consistency across the full school. The phrase “Every Teacher, Every Classroom, Every Day” was applied and the students within the school understood the expectations of them. Tasks were presented to students in set ways using VAT, (Voice level, Activity they should be doing and Time the students have). Students are always provided with a model question so they understand what to aim for.

@MrReddyMaths then said two things which had caused a lot of teachers in the room to have a 'penny drop' moment. The first was to make worksheets and questions minimally different to begin with so students could grasp the concepts and clearly see what was happening. (See example ). The second was to isolate decisions and make them a 'thing' in a lesson. The step that you know is going to trip most students up. For example whether to add or subtract the simultaneous equations. (See example). 
For more information check out Mr Reddy's site, www.MrReddy.com.

Following this talk @dmthomas90 continued on with the mastery theme and developing your Schemes of Work. Again there were a lot more penny dropping moments. Mastery of a topic is gained, and then made explicitly clear to the students that it’s mastered and isn't coming up again in its own segment, not as harshly as that of course. The students are aware these concepts, which have been mastered, will continuously appear throughout the course by being applied to different topics. The students are motivated to learn because the need to know the knowledge to be able to access the next topic. The mastered skills then come up continuously by being linked into the other learning by using HOTs skills.

For example
‘1+1 = 2’ would transform into ‘a + a = 2a’ and over time this would transform into ‘write an expression for the perimeter of this shape’ … I’m sure you get the picture. 

I'm not sure I have summarised all these talks and what I saw at the conference the best and I'm still getting my head around all my notes and ideas. However I feel I came away from the conference with many fresh ideas, to research. To be able to support my students and develop my own and departments practice. 

Miss B

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Danielle Bartram

Maths Lead Practitioner

Acklam Grange School
Middlesborough
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