For our pupils to become able and confident mathematicians in Primary school, it is essential that they have a bank of key number facts they have learnt stored away, which they can draw on at any time. However, we must work to incorporate new ways to help them memorise these facts so that they have them at their disposal whenever they’re needed.
‘Too much to do and too little time’ is a cry I often hear in schools, and yet how is it that some people have enough time and other people don’t? An ex-colleague used to say: “If you want something doing, give it to a busy person”. So is it that busy people are better with time management, or could it be that they have less to do than they are letting on?
“Brrr, it’s too cold, I’m not going out in that!”... “Yuk! It’s raining, I HATE getting wet, and my shoes aren’t waterproof.”… “I know they aren’t going to hurt me, but I’m scared of things that fly and buzz.”... “I don’t like getting dirty”. Familiar excuses they may be, but they rarely come from the mouths of children. Too often it is teachers who reluctantly drag themselves outside, feeling like fishes out of water and miles away from the comfort of the classroom.
So, it’s the beginning of July and I find myself on train zooming through the French countryside back to Toulouse after an important sporting occasion up in Lille. After quite a late night, my phone buzzed this morning at 6am and through heavy eyes, I saw that Penny, mother of one of my Year 12 students, had just let me know that her lad Jonathan and his best friend, Patrick, had just left Toulouse airport and were on their way to Madrid. Sounds like nothing overly special, as Madrid is reasonably close by. However the exciting bit is that they were then catching a connection flight to Miami before taking a short hop to Kingston, Jamaica, where they will stay for the next three weeks. At the same time, another of our Year 12 students, Grace, tweeted that she was sad to say goodbye to Rio de Janeiro after spending the last four weeks there. Shortly, one of our Spanish students, Bernardo, is heading off to the Galapagos too.
1. Grade the teacher!
One way we can improve the learning in each lesson is to get the children to openly ‘grade’ the teaching and learning that has gone on in the lesson (pictured above). This allows children to take responsibility of their input into the lesson, and allows honest dialogue between teacher and pupil to take place. it helps to develop the teaching and learning that goes on by allowing the pupil to be in control and take ownership of their effort, something some children find challenging to understand. This method develops a pupil’s understanding of the need to engage actively with their learning opportunities and to allow active thinking to help them learn.
Whether it be individual lessons, schemes of work or curriculum, it’s very easy to focus on what is being taught in a school. But how often do you stop to consider effective ways to ensure that students remember content and are able to recall and utilise it at a later date? What strategies can be used to ensure that the teaching going on in their establishment really ‘sticks’ and in doing so, ensure long-term value to planning, quality and practice? Being aware and engaging in the science of learning and the research that surrounds it, means that practitioners not only concentrating on passing on knowledge, they’re taking steps to ensure that it isn’t lost after they do.
There seems to be a recurring theme to my lessons of late: I can link any learning moment to a Disney and/or Pixar reference. Some may see this as a distraction or a problem, but I’m in constant contact with my inner child and honestly, the students almost always get it. I was particularly proud of my efforts in a single Year 7 Science lesson one morning. We have been learning about food chains and webs and relationships between organisms. Enter the first reference:
Intellectual Property is essential for nurturing innovation and creativity, but what exactly is IP and why do pupils need to know about it? What are the consequences of downloading films illegally? Should things that are online be free? In our ever more digital and connected world, it is increasingly important for young people – many of whom may have future careers in the creative industries themselves - to consider these questions and understand that artists must be properly paid for their work in order to continue creating.
A Levels students across the country are being encouraged to submit their questions for Hay Levels Live, an education panel that is part of Hay Festival (26th May – 5th June). Kicking off on Friday 27 May, this is a new initiative offering Sixth Form students the chance to quiz distinguished speakers live at Hay Festival 2016 and online. Questions on Physics, Maths, Biology, Tudor history and Shakespeare can be submitted online now at the Hay Levels Live website, or through Twitter using @HayFestival / #HayLevels, before the experts take to the stage to offer their answers.
A community-driven platform for showcasing the latest innovations and voices in schools