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NCETM - Working collaboratively to enhance mathematics teaching

Module for mathematics specialists in post 16 education and training

Session 3: Working with learners

The Improving Learning in Mathematics resource, available from the National STEM Centre e-library, contains over 50 exemplar sessions. The card-matching activities in session 1 of this module are excerpts from sessions A1 and N1.

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Task: Choose a session from sessions A1 and N1
Source: Improving Learning in Mathematics, DfES, pages 10 and 109

If you have a colleague who can look at a session with you, you can discuss it together. You may find it more convenient to print out your chosen session.

The first page of each session describes the starting points and learning goals and the materials that should be prepared in advance. It also suggests how long the session might take, but this is only a guide and will vary from one group of learners to another. Experience will tell you how long to allow for each session. The subsequent two pages describe the process and activities of the session. Most of the sessions involve learners working in pairs or groups and there are some suggestions about how this might be approached.

The Reviewing and extending learning section includes suggestions that could be followed up either in the same session or at a later session.

The What learners might do next section describes learning activities that are probably best suited to a later session.

The Further ideas section, which appears in most sessions, includes suggestions for other learning activities based on the session and, particularly, cross-references to other sessions.

The remaining pages are photocopiable resources for you to use in the session.

Using a session with learners

Planning

Decide which activity you are going to try. If you are adapting an existing one for a different topic, think carefully about the learning that the activity will facilitate. You might want to find out whether other teachers have tried the activity out and what learning they thought was facilitated. If you think it would be helpful you can post a question on the community discussion forum.

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Planning

Please record your thoughts

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Task: Using the session with your chosen group of learners. You might find it helpful to ask a colleague to observe the class so that you can discuss it afterwards.

If the activity is very different from your usual approach you might like to explain to your learners that you are trying out a new approach and to ask them to evaluate it afterwards.

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Sample learner evaluation sheet

If your learners are not used to discussing mathematics together, then it is also important to establish some ground rules. To help with this there is a sample set of ground rules for learners in the Professional development section of Improving Learning In Mathematics. You may find that some of your learners are unwilling to talk about mathematics; this sheet gives some justifications for using discussion. Many teachers encourage their learners to create an agreed list of ground rules for themselves.

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Ground rules for learners
Source: Improving Learning In Mathematics (Professional development section), page 45.

 

Reviewing

As soon as is possible after the session, give yourself some time to review how the session went and whether it achieved what you had hoped. If the session was observed by a colleague, you could do this review together.

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Reviewing

Please record your thoughts

Adapting

In discussion with your colleague, decide whether you would use the activity in the same format again in the future. If you feel there are changes you would make, note these in your diary.

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Adapting the session

Please record your thoughts

Finally, think about how you would normally teach this particular topic and whether this approach was more or less effective for the learners and whether they were more or less engaged.

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Final reflections

Please record your thoughts

If you get the opportunity, share your experience with a colleague or colleagues, or add your thoughts to the community discussion group.

If you would like to do more